It's so easy to make your own popcorn, you won't want to go back to the store-bought stuff.

By Melanie Fincher
July 21, 2020
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Movie Star Popcorn in blue bowl
Credit: Buckwheat Queen

I think most of us, including myself, grew up on that store-bought, pre-packaged popcorn that always leaves more to be desired. But there are endless ways to make popcorn from scratch — and word on the street is it tastes way better. 

Learn step-by-step how to make homemade popcorn six ways. We'll show you how to make microwave, stovetop, Instant Pot®, kettle, caramel, and wok popcorn. Plus you'll get recipe ideas and inspiration for ways to dress up your freshly made, from-scratch popcorn.

How to Make Popcorn 6 Ways

1. How to Make Homemade Popcorn in the Microwave

This method for making homemade popcorn in the microwave comes from recipe creator ACONTORER who says, "Believe it or not, you can make your own delicious, low-fat microwave popcorn using standard popping corn and a brown paper lunch bag. It works perfectly." Save money without sacrificing flavor or convenience by microwaving your own popcorn from a brown paper bag. 

Here's What You'll Need: 

  Instructions: 

  1. Combine the popcorn kernels and oil in a small bowl. Pour the coated corn into a brown paper bag and sprinkle with salt. 
  2. Fold the top of the bag over twice to seal. Set the bag upright in the microwave.
  3. Cook in the microwave on high for 2 ½ to 3 minutes, or until you hear pauses of about 2 seconds between pops. 
  4. Carefully open the bag to avoid steam, and pour into a serving bowl. Flavor with additional spices or melted butter if desired.

2. How to Make Popcorn on the Stove

Movie Star Popcorn in blue bowl
Credit: Buckwheat Queen

You're probably familiar with this "old-fashioned" method of popping popcorn on the stove. Some people swear the result tastes so much better than microwave popcorn. Find out for yourself using this easy Movie Star Popcorn recipe from Kali: "I like to use peanut oil due to its high smoke point, but if you have allergies, then substitute vegetable oil."

Here's What You'll Need:

  • 2-3 quart saucepan with lid
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup unpopped popcorn ($5; Amazon)
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Instructions: 

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. 
  2. Pour in the popcorn kernels and sprinkle with salt to lightly cover the layer of kernels. Add the butter to the pot and cover with the lid. 
  3. As the kernels start to pop, shake the pan back and forth across the burner until the popping slows down. 
  4. Remove from heat once the pops are about 2 seconds apart. 
  5. Pour into a serving bowl and season as desired. 

3. How to Make Popcorn in the Instant Pot

Instant Pot Popcorn
Credit: Soup Loving Nicole

Fans of the Instant Pot will be thrilled to learn there's yet another use for this multi-functional appliance. Use it to make popcorn from scratch! The best part? You don't have to worry about grease splatters on your stove.

Recipe creator Soup Loving Nicole says, "I listed salt as a generic seasoning but feel free to experiment with flavors such as powdered cheese, ranch powder, Frank's® powdered Red Hot® seasoning, etc."

Here's What You'll Need:

Instructions:

  1. Turn on the pressure cooker and select the High Saute function. Once the cooker indicates that the pot is hot, scoop the coconut oil in and let it melt. 
  2. Add the popcorn kernels and stir with a rubber spatula until all the kernels are coated. Wait thirty seconds and stir again. 
  3. Cover the pot with the glass lid and cook for 5 minutes. Once the 5 minutes are up, turn off the Saute mode and let it sit for 1 minute, or until kernels have completely stopped popping. 
  4. Transfer the popcorn to a large bowl and sprinkle with salt. Flavor with additional spices or melted butter if desired.

4. How to Make Kettle Corn

Kettle Corn
Credit: Jessica

I don't know about you, but I crave this classic fair food year round. Learn to make sweet and salty kettle corn in your own home using this Kettle Corn recipe. You can use either white sugar or brown sugar depending on your taste: "If you use white sugar, it will taste like popcorn balls and if you use brown sugar, it will taste like caramel corn," says recipe creator SUE202. 

Here's What You'll Need:

Instructions: 

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, stir in the sugar and popcorn. Some reviewers suggest heating a few kernels with the oil, and when they pop you know the oil is hot. 
  2. Cover the pot with a lid and shake the pot constantly to keep the sugar from burning. Once the popping has slowed to once every 2 seconds, remove it from the heat. 
  3. Continue to shake for a few minutes until the popping has completely stopped. 
  4. Pour into a large bowl, and allow to cool. Stir occasionally to break up large clumps.

5. How to Make Caramel Corn

Caramel Popcorn
Credit: gielastic

Everybody loves gourmet caramel corn but it can be so expensive. Why not make your own homemade version to give as gifts or to simply enjoy yourself?  This top-rated Caramel Popcorn recipe from BS4U2C has five stars and over 2,300 ratings. This recipe makes enough for 20, so feel free to scale down as needed. 

Here's What You'll Need: 

  • Large bowl
  • Medium saucepan
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • ½ cup corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 quarts popped popcorn. 

Instructions:

  1. Of course your first step is going to be to pop your popcorn (you can use anyone of the methods above!). Once popped, place the popcorn in a very large bowl. Then preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. 
  2. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. 
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Then boil without stirring for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla. Pour in a thin stream over the popcorn, stirring to coat. 
  4. Place in two large shallow baking dishes and bake in a preheated oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Once the time is up, remove the dishes from the oven and allow the popcorn to cool completely before breaking into pieces. 
  5. Caramel corn makes a great gift when wrapped in cellophane bags ($6; Amazon) and tied with a ribbon ($11; Amazon) as pictured!

6. How to Make Popcorn in a Wok

Popcorn made in a wok
Credit: Vanessa Greaves

Although it might sound strange, a wok is actually the perfect helper for making popcorn on the stove. It's wide, sloped surface allows you to easily shake and toss the popcorn without worrying about burning anything. This method is so good, we've dedicated a whole article to. Read our guide on how to make popcorn in a wok.

More Things to Do With Popcorn

So we've broken down the major (and not so major) methods for making popcorn. But we've haven't even discovered all the fun things you can do to dress it up! If you're looking for popcorn inspiration, look no further. 

Those who like heat (and a little zest) will love this Sriracha-Lime Popcorn. Italian lovers look no further than this Italian Popcorn with Parmesan made with olive oil, Italian seasoning, garlic salt, and freshly grated Parmigiano cheese.  And of course we can't forget snack mix and popcorn balls. Browse our entire collection of popcorn recipes for more inspiration. 

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