How to Make Perfect Popcorn

Get your popcorn fix with this easy-to-follow, homemade popcorn recipe. Learn how to make popcorn on the stove, in an instant pot, or in the microwave. I’ll teach you how to make movie theater popcorn at home with two “secret” ingredients and it’ll be ready in less than 10 minutes!

Bowl full of popped popcorn on top of white and black checked towel.

Why This Recipe Works

If you can’t get to the movie theater or you want to bring that movie theater experience home to you, this is a quick and easy way to make popcorn at home.

  • Super crisp popcorn. Using ghee guarantees that the popcorn doesn’t get soggy or stale-tasting.
  • Movie theater-quality! If you have a huge soft spot for that big tub of popcorn, you are going to be in disbelief that you can make it at home. The combination of a couple of special ingredients helps make this happen (read below!).
  • Quick! Grab your ingredients and in less than 10 minutes you’ll be on the couch with your bowl of popcorn.
Ingredients for homemade popcorn prepped and labeled.

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Coconut Oil: This is the secret ingredient in movie theater popcorn – they pop their kernels in coconut oil! It has a high smoking point, which helps deliver that crisp popcorn and signature flavor. If you need a substitute, reach for vegetable, canola, or peanut oil.
  • Popcorn Salt: This specialty ingredient is superfine, which enables it to be infused into each kernel. I use Morton’s Popcorn Salt in this recipe, but you can also make your own. Process kosher salt in your food processor until ultra-fine, then store it and label it as “popcorn salt”!
  • Popcorn Kernels: There are so many options here – yellow, white, Amish; use your favorite!
  • Ghee: Also known as clarified butter, water and milk solids have been removed, which is the key to keeping the popcorn from getting soggy! You can buy ghee at most stores now, but you can also make your own clarified butter at home! See below for instructions.

How to Make Clarified Butter

The process is super simple and doesn’t take long at all. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Melt 1 pound of butter in a small saucepan over low heat, allowing it to simmer gently.
  2. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface and discard it.
  3. Place a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl.
  4. Line the sieve with cheesecloth, coffee filter, or two layers of paper towels.
  5. Strain the remaining melted butter through the filter into the bowl.
  6. Allow to cool to room temperature, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

Stovetop Popcorn Directions

  • Melt oil: In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, melt the coconut oil over medium-high heat.
  • Add popcorn: Once melted, add 3 popcorn kernels. Once those three kernels pop, add the salt and the rest of the popcorn kernels and swirl. Cover and remove from heat for 30 seconds.
Photos of melted oil and popcorn kernels in a pot.
  • Cook popcorn: Return to medium heat. Leave the lid slightly ajar so steam can escape and shake occasionally while the popcorn pops. 
  • Remove the popcorn: Once you hear the popping slow to 2 or 3 seconds between pops, remove the pot from the heat and transfer the popcorn to a large serving bowl.
Side by side photos of popcorn kernels in the bottom of a pot and then fully popped.
  • Heat the ghee: Add the ghee to the hot pot (no need to turn the heat back on), then once it’s melted, drizzle over the popcorn and toss to combine. 
  • Adjust flavor and enjoy: Taste and add more clarified butter or salt, if desired, then serve.
Bowl of popcorn with clarified butter being drizzled over top.

Alternative Cooking Methods to Make Popcorn

If you want to try some way other than the stove for cooking popcorn, here are a few different methods you can try!

Instant Pot

  • Turn the Instant Pot to Sauté, then click adjust once to make it hot.
  • Heat for 2 to 3 minutes to heat the pot.
  • Add the coconut oil and melt in the pot.
  • Once melted add the salt and popcorn kernels and sauté for 1 minute to coat the kernels in the oil.
  • Cover with a glass lid (you can use one from another pot) and cook for 5 minutes.
  • After 5 minutes, cancel the sauté setting to turn off the pot and let sit 5 minutes.
  • Remove from the pot and flavor with ghee or additional spices and seasonings.

Microwave

  • In a small bowl, mix melted coconut oil and the popcorn kernels.
  • Pour the popcorn kernels into a small paper bag and season with salt.
  • Fold the top of the bag over twice to seal.
  • Cook in the microwave for 2½ minutes or until the popping slows down to about 2 seconds between pops.
  • Carefully open the bag and pour the popcorn into a serving bowl.
  • Top with melted ghee and additional seasonings.
Overhead photo of popcorn in a bowl.

Seasonings and Toppings

Once you’ve mastered how to make popcorn, the flavor possibilities are endless – sweet and savory alike. Here are a few fun flavors to try out!

  • Cinnamon-Sugar: For a sweet flavor.
  • Ranch: Sprinkle some ranch on your fresh-popped popcorn.
  • Smoky Spices: Try chili powder, cumin, paprika, or cayenne!
  • Powdered Cheese: You can have your very own white cheddar popcorn.
  • Nutritional Yeast: This can also impart a cheesy flavor!

Fun Recipes to Make with Homemade Popcorn

Once you make a batch of homemade popcorn, you can turn it into other delicious treats:

Keep it Fresh

If you have any leftover popcorn (we rarely do!) and want to save it for a future snack, allow the popcorn to cool completely, then store it in an airtight container for 2 to 3 days.

Pot full of popped popcorn.

More Favorite Salty Snacks

Learning how to make popcorn has never been easier! With directions for stovetop, instant pot, and the microwave you can quickly whip up a bowl of popcorn for your at-home movie nights!

If you make this recipe and love it, remember to stop back and give it a 5-star rating – it helps others find the recipe! ❤️️

How to Make Popcorn

Servings 14 cups
Prep 5 minutes
Cook 5 minutes
Total 10 minutes
Course: Snack
Cuisine: American
Author: Michelle

Perfectly salty, buttery, and crunchy this homemade popcorn recipe makes the ultimate bowl of popcorn.

Ingredients:

  • 3
    tablespoons
    coconut oil
  • ¼
    teaspoon
    popcorn salt
    (see note)
  • ½
    cup
    popcorn kernels
  • 4
    tablespoons
    ghee (or clarified butter)
    (melted)

Directions:

  1. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, melt the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Once melted, add 3 popcorn kernels. Once those kernels pop, add the salt and the rest of the popcorn kernels and swirl. Cover and remove from the heat for 30 seconds.

  2. Return to medium heat and, leaving the lid slightly ajar, shake occasionally while the popcorn pops. Once you hear the popping to slow to 2 or 3 seconds between pops, remove the pot from the heat and transfer the popcorn into a large serving bowl.

  3. Add the ghee to the hot pot (no need to turn the heat back on), then once it's melted, drizzle over the popcorn and toss to combine. Taste and add more salt, if desired, then serve.

Recipe Notes:

  • Coconut Oil: This will impart the best taste and texture, but you can substitute vegetable oil, canola oil, or peanut oil.
  • Ghee: The key to keeping the popcorn crisp and not soggy! You can buy ghee at most stores now, but you can also make your own clarified butter (see post above for instructions).
  • Alternative Cooking Methods: See the post above for instructions on making popcorn in an InstantPot and the microwave.
  • Storage: Allow the popcorn to cool completely, then store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Nutrition:

Calories: 85kcal
Fat: 8g
Saturated fat: 5g
Cholesterol: 11mg
Sodium: 42mg
Potassium: 16mg
Carbohydrates: 4g
Fiber: 1g
Sugar: 1g
Protein: 1g
Calcium: 1%
Iron: 1%

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!