The Lost Art of Making Popcorn From Scratch

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Popcorn From Scratch

I never quite took to the whole microwave popcorn thing. Sure, it’s easy, but making popcorn from scratch is easy, too—and it tastes so freaking delicious! Even better with real butter! Hmmm, it’s better with butter…isn’t that some sort of ad slogan? If it isn’t yet, it should be. Butter is key. Remember those hideous air poppers? They were all the rage in the 1980s when fat was evil.

Anyhow, I make homemade popcorn all the time, and my kids have requested I put it in writing because it’s an essential snack in our house. And while my oldest has mastered the art, my middle is still working on it (and the youngest is too young to work the stove).

This is a recipe that involves listening.

Popcorn from Scratch


  • ½ cup organic popcorn
  • ¼ cup organic olive oil
  • Organic butter
  • Salt


1. Start with a LARGE PAN WITH A LID. No lid? Forget about it! Bigger is always better because popcorn needs room to explode. My kids suspect that a better-quality pan with a thicker bottom is also key. But that’s all I ever use, so I don’t know for sure.

2. Place the oil and popcorn in the pan and turn the stove burner to high. (These quantities are very flexible, but don’t skimp on the oil because it’s necessary to make the popcorn beautiful and delicious. You can also use other oils like coconut. Whichever oil you choose, just make sure it’s organic.)

3. Put the lid on. I repeat, put the lid on. Keep the heat on high.

4. You should start to hear popping after a minute or two. And it will quickly turn into a crescendo of popping, kind of like the grand finale at a fireworks show. At that point, TURN THE HEAT DOWN to medium-low! If you’re using an electric stove, you should turn it down even before the crescendo, since electric heat cools off slower than gas heat.

5. When the popcorn popping starts to slow, turn off the heat. But let the pan sit on the burner and continue to pop. UNLESS you smell burning. In that case, you didn’t turn the heat down quickly enough and you should remove the pan immediately.

6. Place the popped popcorn in the bowl.

7. Melt as much butter as you like—more is always better and appreciated, not less. Melt it in the microwave or on the stove. Add it to the popcorn. Stir. Now, this is important, always put the melted butter on before the salt; that way the salt sticks to the popcorn instead of going to the bottom of the bowl.

8. Add salt.

9. Voilà…watch it disappear!

P.S. If you find yourself wanting popcorn but can’t make it from scratch (like when you’re at the office), the organic Quinn microwave popcorn we sell at Rodale’s is superyummy! I keep a stash at work so that if I’m simply starvational and can’t find any other food, I pop some and become one of those annoying people who make the whole area smell like popcorn.

DISCLAIMER: Feeding yourself and your children organic foods may cause extreme health, healing, and happiness.


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13 Responses to The Lost Art of Making Popcorn From Scratch

  1. Barbara October 20, 2014 at 11:56 am #

    YUM! I was craving popcorn yesterday and did not make any. NOW my craving has returned! I use my cast iron dutch oven for perfectly popped popcorn. We also vary our seasoning occasionally. One of our favorites, besides lot of organic butter, is to ‘salt’ it with organic tamari (stir as you drip it on slowly) and sprinkle with nutritional yeast and garlic. You have to add the tamari and seasonings to the popcorn while it is still in the hot pot and stir well to keep it from getting soggy, but yum. Not sure this would work in a non-iron pot as the residual heat is what makes it possible. Careful not to add too much tamari. Once I get dinner started, I think I will serve popcorn for an after school snack! Thanks Maria!

  2. Donna Marks October 20, 2014 at 12:11 pm #

    You can cook popcorn in a paper bag in the microwave oven at work. No need to buy any microwave packages! Just put 1/2 cup popcorn in the a lunch size paper bag, fold the top over twice to form a tight top and cook like you would normal microwave popcorn – set the timer for about 3 – 3 1/2 minutes, but turn it off when the popping slows. Add seasoning after, as you normally would. I’ve been doing this for the past year or so; the results are a delicious treat.

  3. Donna in Delaware October 20, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

    I do the same! Not using real butter on popcorn is sacrilegious! Why would one use anything else? I sprinkle a little kosher salt and sometimes a thyme and rosemary blend on mine to give a Mediterranean flavor, it depends on my mood. Sometimes I just eat them with plain old butter and salt. Delicious! Why would anyone use the prepackaged popcorn, when doing it yourself is so much more fun, delicious and healthy!

  4. Susan October 20, 2014 at 12:57 pm #

    My parents used to pop corn every Sunday night. (we would have a big dinner after church and then popcorn in the early evening). They used an electric fry pan and made two batches for us six kids while we watched Land of the Giants and Journey to the Bottom of the Sea. i still make it on the stove top in a big copper clad kettle. Ah such memories.

  5. Linda October 21, 2014 at 8:34 am #

    I always pop my organic popcorn with coconut oil & lots of grass fed butter. I’m so glad butter no longer suffers from the low fat bad reputation. For years I had to hide my butter addiction! Haha!

  6. melissa October 21, 2014 at 10:04 am #

    I grew up on stove top popcorn. But we only did salt. At times popcorn was dinner, it was a huge hit with my friends. I still make it for my son now and then.

  7. Annie Brown October 22, 2014 at 11:29 am #

    Love this post! I make a batch of popcorn nearly everyday after school for my girls. I’ve been using a Whirley Popcorn stove top popper for over a decade — It’s the bomb. I add a big spoonful of pure organic coconut oil b/c it has a higher heat point and pop away. And, yes, of course, organic butter and sea salt on top!

    Thanks Maria for reminding us of the simple pleasures in life!

  8. Audrey October 23, 2014 at 9:10 am #

    Yup…..I make my popcorn the old fashion way…always!!! I use coconut oil in the pot,then I melt REAL BUTTER, pour over the popped corn,sprinkle with a bit of garlic powder,sea sale,and parmesan cheese …..oh my gosh!!!!!!!
    Next time I’m using my cast iron DUTCH oven like Barbara does….

  9. Roger October 23, 2014 at 10:31 pm #

    Great posting. Let me share a tip with you. Put the oil on the stove, with 4-5 kernels in the oil. When you hear THEM pop, the oil is ready. Pour the half cup of popcorn in and the fun begins! You can turn down heat almost immediately because the oil and your thick pan are doing most of the work. This oil temp trick keeps burnt popcorn to a minimum, as well as unpopped kernels.

  10. Granann October 24, 2014 at 11:24 am #

    Gee Whiz Maria, you forgot about planting the organic popcorn seeds, waiting for it to grow and tassel, then waiting some more for it to mature and dry on the stalk. Then comes all the fun (wear gloves for this) of removing the kernels from the cobs. It’s all worth it. There is nothing in the world like homegrown popcorn no matter how it was popped even using one of those “hideous” hot air jobs. Ours didn’t even need the butter or salt it was so fresh tasting and delicious. However, butter and salt did add a new dimension to the experience.

  11. Desiree October 25, 2014 at 11:52 am #

    I have been a popcorn fanatic for more than 35 years!! It sustained me through
    College ( ” that’s all you are having for dinner?” Yes!!!!)…and now raised a family that all love it too. No micro popcorn for any of us- yuck and so bad for you.
    Another tip is the crazy pop – electric popper. I use organic coconut oil, Amish ( non GMO/ organic) popcorn bought by the 60# ( yes sixty! Popcorn is heavy! ) twice a year via online at amishmart. Once you taste Amish PC you will become hooked. I top with seasalt, grass fed butter or clarified ( maybe better for you ? ) also a favorite long time topping of mine is Vegit – very low sodium seasoning only found at health food stores. It has a different tast but most of my kids like it- one does not. Herbamare is another herb salt mixture that we all have come to like.
    I can’t tell you how many times I have thought – If i could only live on 2 foods— popcorn and water I think I’d be ok. And maybe some peanut butter or almonds!!
    Try Amish popcorn –not easy to find ( William Sonoma but so $$) so best buying in bulk online. Great post- the art of popcorn making is not lost in the Collings family in Palm Desert, CA!!

  12. Pork Rub October 29, 2014 at 8:37 pm #

    Lengthy after his football and racing careers, Dan partnered with Lee Donabedian whose loved ones owned and operated Rube’s Steakhouse in Simi Valley California. They became fantastic pals over the years and along with mutual buddy Manny Asadurian, the 3 formed ‘Christmas for Young children,’ a non-profit fundraiser hosted each year at Rube’s where they served the BBQ rubs.

  13. door lock February 4, 2016 at 5:03 am #

    exactly right

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