a peek inside the fishbowl

13 Jan, 2010

Popcorn made the quick and easy way (no popcorn maker required!)

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Recipes and Food

I didn’t realize that I could make popcorn faster and easier than we already do.

We have a hot air popper, but I like it better when Mark makes it on the stove.

How to make popcorn on the stove

  1. 1. Put a splash of canola oil in the bottom of a heavy pot (ours is glass – much easier to see the popping action!)
  2. 2. Pour in enough popcorn* kernels to cover the bottom. Swish it around so that all the kernels are coated in oil.
  3. 3. Cover with tight-fitting lid and pop on medium heat, shaking the pot constantly.

* Don’t be fooled into thinking at all popcorn kernels are created equally. There is a difference! We have tried a few different brands but keep coming back to Orville Redenbacher kernels. The resulting popcorn is lighter and fluffier. We’ve recently discovered that the type of oil you use also makes a difference. We just bought a slightly more expensive brand of canola oil at the grocery store and I sweartagod the popcorn is better.

I recently realized that all you really need to make popcorn is: popcorn kernels, a paper bag, and about two minutes. Did you know that you don’t need microwavable popcorn to make it in the microwave?

How to make popcorn in the microwave

1. Take a plain “lunch” size paper bag and add 1/4 cup popcorn kernels (no oil required!)

  1. 2. Scrunch up the top of the bag.
  2. 3. Microwave for about 2.5 minutes, being careful not to overcook and burn.

Monday January 11, 2010Add butter and salt to taste.

Sometimes the girls and I also add a pinch of sugar. (And then we lick the bottom of the bowl.)


For me the popcorn craving always hits at night: popcorn hour! But this way of doing it is perfect for that afterschool rush. 

How do you like your popcorn? Extra butter? Kettle-corn style? Hot air? Movie-style? With seasoning? Do tell.

32 Responses to "Popcorn made the quick and easy way (no popcorn maker required!)"

1 | Alina Muresan

January 13th, 2010 at 9:15 am


We eat popcorn when we watch movies and it is always made on the stove with a lot of oil (we found that for us the popcorn tastes better when it is made in a lot of oil) and salt. No butter.

2 | bushidoka

January 13th, 2010 at 9:23 am


I find that I get an extremely high percentage of unpopped kernels when I do it that way in the MW. When you do it on the stove top you don’t actually need to shake constantly. I recently did a piece myself on making popcorn “the old fashioned way”, and did this video


A friend then saw it and told me you do not even need to shake – and sure enough he was right! Put the pot and oil on the stove and turn on about half heat or a bit more, and let it pre-heat about a minute. Then add your kernels and put the lid on, and set the timer for 2 minutes. It may take slightly longer than 2 minutes but not much longer. And just about every kernel will pop. You may want to give a couple of shakes near the end if you are paranoid – but I’ve been doing it without shaking and without burning anything!

3 | Jennifer

January 13th, 2010 at 9:37 am


Hey Andrea! I just tried making kettle corn for the first time at home and it worked well. I added a 1/4 cup of white sugar (but you could also use brown) to the oil in the bottom of the pan you’re going to pop the popcorn in. The corn pops covered in a glossy sugar coating and then you add salt afterwards. YUM!

4 | andrea

January 13th, 2010 at 9:56 am


bushidoka: ok, I’m definitely trying that technique!

Jennifer: I loooove kettle corn. I make it like you do, but with superfine sugar and I pour it in just as the oil is heating up heats up (before the kernels start popping). I am too afraid of it burning!

5 | Marla

January 13th, 2010 at 10:19 am


This is the only way to make popcorn, isn’t it? And I use olive oil, carefully, and while the kernels are heavier, they have great flavour and I use less butter.

6 | AlisonG

January 13th, 2010 at 11:44 am


My husband is the popcorn king at our house, but I recently made the discovery that peanut oil is highly superior to canola oil for stove-top popping.

And I agree on the popcorn brand making a difference. We suffered through a jumbo size bag of no-name popcorn because I was trying to pinch pennies. Never again. Redenbacher rules.

7 | Judy

January 13th, 2010 at 11:45 am


I use the airpopper (we don’t own a microwave) but keep wanting to try the stove.

We often use your preferred brand, but bought some local red coloured popping corn at the farmers market at Lansdowne this summer. This stuff doesn’t need much seasoning.

When I really want a salt fix I put a bit of butter or margerine on with Hy’s Seasoning Salt. This is getting harder to find but there is a cheaper version at Loblaw’s now.

8 | sherry

January 13th, 2010 at 12:18 pm


I’m actually not crazy about popcorn because I worked for two years in a video store years ago. I liked Saturday nights off so I worked Saturday mornings which, for our store, meant making popcorn for 3-4 hours straight (we sold big bags of popcorn to go with the movie rentals).

I ate so much popcorn while just standing behind the machine that I rarely eat it now. But when I do I love some parmesan cheese sprinkled on mine, or a pinch of cayenne.

9 | bushidoka

January 13th, 2010 at 12:36 pm


I use the no name (yellow) brand and still get almost every kernel popped on the stove top

10 | andrea

January 13th, 2010 at 12:42 pm


bushidoka: we used to use no-name too, but seriously, once we switched to a different brand the popcorn seemed lighter … even better than before!

11 | Alison in Ottawa

January 13th, 2010 at 1:30 pm


The microwaving method can result in burning, as well as fire! I got flames once too with the home made paperbag in the microvave :) Just don’t overcook!

12 | Alison in Ottawa

January 13th, 2010 at 1:31 pm


The microwaving method can result in burning, as well as fire! I got flames once with the home made paperbag in the microvave :) Just don’t overcook!

13 | Jennifer

January 13th, 2010 at 1:35 pm


Andrea: forgot to mention that oh yeah, the kettlecorn burnt with the sugar in the pan. I will be more careful and more diligent about the shaking of the pot next time :)

14 | Kim

January 13th, 2010 at 1:48 pm


We used to buy the microwave popcorn until I read bad things about it. About four months ago I purchased a Whirley Pop stovetop popper and I’ll never make popcorn any other way!
Like you, Andrea, we have tried no name brand, Orville R’s and organic. We prefer the organic, using olive oil or canola oil to pop. The best part is that it takes just under 4 minutes to make light and fluffy popcorn with no unpopped kernels left over.

Now you have me craving Kettle corn :)

15 | andrea

January 13th, 2010 at 1:50 pm


Ok, what is this Whirley Pop???

16 | andrea

January 13th, 2010 at 1:52 pm


Scratch that — I just figured it out. Oh. My.

My mouth is watering just thinking about eating 6 quarts of popcorn.

17 | Shannon

January 13th, 2010 at 2:01 pm


Looks like I’m the minority! I love the Orville Red. extra butter kind. The more chemicals/salt/fake color the better! And even better, the kind from the theatre. :)

18 | bushidoka

January 13th, 2010 at 2:03 pm


What is Kettle Corn?

19 | andrea

January 13th, 2010 at 2:06 pm


Salty popcorn with sugar added. They sell it at the fair… it’s hard to replicate exactly at home.

Shannon: I love it too… but it’s terrible stuff!

20 | Alison @ Hospitality Haven

January 13th, 2010 at 3:41 pm


You know, that’s how we used to make popcorn too, but then one time my husband forgot about the oil, and the kernels didn’t pop, and it lit on fire…let’s just say it wasn’t ideal. ;) A newly painted ceiling and a few months away from popcorn and we’re back at it!! LOL.

21 | Big popper

January 13th, 2010 at 4:03 pm


OK, first of all THANK YOU for writing this. I am from Ontario’s popcorn country and was raised on popcorn. Literally…two or three huge bowls of it every night to fill the stomachs of growing kids (no other snacks in the house). We made it in the pan with Crisco oil (the solid transfat stuff) and Blue Bonnet margarine (more transfat and cheaper than butter). How much did we eat? A lot. As in 75 lb bag of local popcorn (burlap pouch) per year. I learned to make popcorn in a pan when I was 6 (standing on a chair over a gas stove…scary thought)…and have made it that way ever since. I now use canola or peanut oil (superior flavour for popcurn) and butter/salt. Ontario used to produce some of the best popcorn in the world. The local place got bought out by US firm (a guy names Orville). Reddenbacher is the best popcorn you can buy. Thompsons (Ontario) is still available in some stores – I think? Good but not as good as O.R.

OK, so I’ve been shaking the pan for many many moons and will try the no-shake method. I was told that kernels would get caught in the popped stuff and had to be shaken down to the hot oil. Maybe not. You learn something every day… ;-)

And I’ve always eaten it with salt and butter (after the margarine years). Mmmmm…. A few years back I tried a tablespoon of maple syrup poured over it the salty buttery popcorn. Toss it vigorously to distribute the syrop evenly. VERY good. And so easy.

I’ve always wanted to try Olive oil but thought the heat would foul up the flavour. I’ll try it.

Oh and about microwave popcorn. I have had it and it’s not too bad but recently I had some (low fat Loblaws blue label stuff) and it hurt my mouth…like there was something really bad in there. I’m never touching the stuff again. Never tried the paper bag in the microwave thing. Will do.

Man oh man….so much popcorn knowledge. Glad I “popped by” today.

22 | Betsy Mae

January 13th, 2010 at 6:58 pm


Almost everyday we eat popcorn at our house. The kids take it to school for snack (plain air popped) and they like it after school or in the evening before bed. I used to make the microwave popcorn and the kids ate that all the time (almost daily) until I realized it’s probably not all that good for us…scary thought! As a treat I put lots of butter and course sea salt on it and that is the best. Yum!

As for kernals, I personally think that Bulk Food Barn has the best kernals, better than Orville’s, just be sure to buy the yellow not white kernals.

23 | Julie

January 13th, 2010 at 7:23 pm


I love popcorn. I love it because it can be stored in my mason jar for a long time and it doesn’t go bad. It’s like a non-perishable snack. Recently I tried making popcorn in Coconut Oil (which is actually more the consistancy of creamed honey when you buy it). It is the most fabulous popcorn in the universe. I swear. Try it, and you won’t go back to using other oils.

24 | Amy

January 13th, 2010 at 7:45 pm


I got one of those plastic bowl-style microwave poppers and use that, but it has to be constantly watched or it burns. My aunt and uncle have used the paper bag in the microwave for years, but they close it with a staple. I like it with a bit of margarine (Becel original), cumin, garlic salt, and chili powder.

25 | cgb

January 13th, 2010 at 9:11 pm


We used to use the pot-on-a-stove method, but switched to the microwave-paper-bag method after I heard a piece on CBC. I’ve recently switched to an air popper because of the number of unpopped kernals with the microwave. But hearing of the no-shake-stove method might make me switch back!

We usually add the Kernals toppings to our popcorn… but I’m sure its very bad for us! Definitely will try the kettle corn idea.

26 | Carly

January 13th, 2010 at 10:46 pm


Mmm, I am eating popcorn while reading blogs and look – a blog about popcorn!!!

I love it any way, any how. Microwave (my Granny Bobby did the paper bag thing before microwave popcorn was invented), air popped, stove popped, movie theatre popped or Kernel’s popped.

My best friend tried to make popcorn in a paper bag in the toaster oven when we were kids, and she burnt a small part of the kitchen down. It’s funny now because no one was hurt and it all turned out okay in the end, but boy that was scary! She was making it for breakfast after a sleepover and we were in t-shirts and panties. Her mom sent us next door for help in our skivies. It felt very daring.

My favourite is air popped popcorn with melted salted butter and jalapeno jack seasoning from Kernel’s.

27 | mrsgryphon

January 13th, 2010 at 11:08 pm


I bought the Whirley-pop popper for my husband for Valentine’s Day last year (yup, we LOVE popcorn!) and it is awesome. The popcorn is definitely yummier than anything from an air popper or the store-bought microwave kind, and the popper comes with lots of recipes for different flavours (the kettle corn is divine!)

28 | Laura

January 14th, 2010 at 8:34 pm


Mmmm…I love the stove top method, canola oil, organic popcorn, salt & melted butter. Heaven. Great now I have to go make some while I watch the Biggest Loser.

29 | @WannabeMomErin

January 18th, 2010 at 1:40 pm


Okay, I am totally buying some regular kernels and trying the paper bag method… That’s just too cool for words.

I love popcorn in the evenings, and usually I just buy the microwave stuff.

My FAVORITE type of popcorn is the kind I get at the movies. Sometimes, I can find pre-packaged pre-popped popcorn that come close to the same but I don’t have to go to the movies to get it.

30 | sweetandsour

January 23rd, 2010 at 9:10 pm


I like Bulk Barn’s white or yellow popcorn.
I air pop it, add peanut oil or butter, and salt. Sometimes I use cayenne or black pepper; Tabasco sauce; or a squeeze of lime juice. Yummy!

31 | Know More Do More: Can you give one processed food the heave ho >> a peek inside the fishbowl

October 25th, 2010 at 9:03 am


[…] stuff? Just buy the regular dry corn kernels and make it on the stove or in a hot-air popper.  (I have a post about it here, read the comments for some great ideas. Clearly you all had a lot to say about […]

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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