Is there anything this mighty multi-tasker can't do?

By Vanessa Greaves
September 01, 2015

A while back when I stumbled across Alton Brown's amazing video showing how to make popcorn in a mixing bowl, I read a comment that suggested you could also make popcorn in a wok. It seemed to make sense, because the bowl and the wok both have the sloped shape that makes the oil and kernels pool at the bottom while the popped corn rises to the top.

Before you ask me why I don't just do microwave popcorn, let me say right now I don't have a microwave and leave it at that. Okay?

I usually make popcorn on the stove in a heavy pot that I have to shake, shake, shake, so I decided to put the wok method to the test, and guess what? It really worked! I regularly use my wok to make everything from fried rice to big batches of scrambled eggs and even spaghetti alla carbonara — I love all the room for tossing and swirling ingredients — so I'm pretty excited to find another use for my multi-tasking wok.

How to Make Popcorn in a Wok

Makes about 4 quarts of popped popcorn

You'll Need

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • butter (optional)


1. Pour 2 tablespoons oil into a cold wok. Use something that can take high heat. I used canola oil for one batch and bacon grease for another (because bacon). I've also used coconut oil, which gives the popcorn a tropical scent and subtle flavor.

Credit: Vanessa Greaves

2. Add popcorn kernels and salt.

Credit: Vanessa Greaves

3. Cover with a splatter screen to vent the steam. In an ideal world, the splatter screen would be large enough to cover the wok. As you can see, mine was a bit smaller, which allowed a few popping kernels to escape. But it wasn't the end of the world.

Credit: Vanessa Greaves

4. Turn the heat to medium high. It takes a few minutes to get going, but then it's pop pop pop. I gave the wok a little shake once in a while to coax the kernels to the center, but I'm not really sure I had to do that. It's just that I'm used to vigorously shaking the pot when I make popcorn on the stove to keep it from scorching. Old habits die hard, right?

After the popping slowed down to nothing, I turned off the heat, melted some butter right in the hot wok, and tossed the popcorn around a bit.

True, there were a few more unpopped kernels at the bottom of my wok than I usually get when I make popcorn in a standard pot. But on the plus side, the popcorn didn't scorch even though I really didn't shake the pan very much.

As a result, I'm officially adding popcorn to the long list of things my mighty wok can rock.

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