How To Make Stovetop Air Popped Popcorn

Popcorn is everybody’s favorite snack for movie night or game night. But microwavable popcorn contains lots of unhealthy ingredients, such as sugar and artificial flavorings. Not to mention, the popcorn is usually too salted and the bags contain too much oil or butter. On the other hand, if you learn how to make stovetop air popped popcorn, you can enjoy popcorn guilt-free.

When air popped and lightly flavored, popcorn is not only delicious but also incredibly healthy. Made with two basic ingredients – popcorn kernels and salt - and no oil, no artificial flavorings, and no sugar, air popped popcorn is just as healthy as any other whole grain. In fact, you can skip the salt too if you prefer. And you can use spices and herbs to give the popcorn a special flavor. Even if you choose to use butter, you will still get a healthy snack, as not much butter is required for great flavor.

How Do You Make Popping Popcorn On The Stove?

Easy! You add popcorn kernels to a pot and you shake! That’s pretty much it for the process. Sounds amazing, right? However, there are other things to keep in mind if you want to make air popped popcorn on the stove. For example, the type of kernels you use.

Air popped popcorn requires fresh kernels. Here’s why: fresh popcorn kernels contain a small amount of water. When exposed to heat, the water molecules vibrate, creating a lot of pressure in the kernels and making them pop. Old popcorn kernels, on the other hand, contain less water, which makes them pop harder or not pop at all. Therefore, make sure you ditch any bag of popcorn kernels you opened in the past and buy fresh ones.

What Do You Need To Make Air Popped Popcorn?

You don’t need fancy equipment to make air popped popcorn. Truthfully, all you need is a non-stick pot and a tight-fitting lid. Since you’re using a non-stick pan, you don’t need any oil or butter. If you like buttered popcorn, you can add it after the kernels popped. See below how to butter air popped popcorn without making it soggy. As for the tight-fitting lid, you need it because it helps maintain the heat inside of the pot and increase the pressure, which will make the popcorn kernels pop.

Tips For Making Delicious Air Popped Popcorn

To make air popped popcorn on the stove you need fresh popcorn kernels. With fresh popcorn kernels, you will achieve the best results. Kernels that have been opened for more than a year will not create the best results. Microwavable kernels don’t work either so stick to fresh popcorn kernels.

When making air popped popcorn, it is important to use a non-stick pot to prevent the kernels from sticking to the pot. Adding oil to prevent sticking is not recommended since you have to shake the pot to pop the kernels and you can burn yourself with the oil.   

Shake the pot every two seconds after adding the kernels and don’t stop shaking until the kernels stop popping! This helps the kernels pop and prevent them from burning.

How Do You Butter Air Popped Popcorn Without Making It Soggy?

Butter is great on popcorn! With microwavable popcorn, you don’t have to worry about butter, as it is already added to the bag of kernels. However, when you make air popped popcorn, you have to be a little careful because adding butter directly over freshly popped popcorn can make it soggy. This also tends to happen if you add butter to the pot before popping the kernels. So, instead of adding butter over popcorn in a bowl or in the pot while making it, use a clean paper bag to butter your fresh air popped popcorn. Here’s how to do it:

Start by melting the butter.

Then fill the bag halfway with popcorn.

Drizzle the melted butter on the sides of the bag.

Fold the top of the bag.

Shake the bag vigorously for half a minute.

Add more butter and shake again if the popcorn is not buttery enough for your taste.

How Do You Get Flavor To Stick To Air Popped Popcorn?

Our air popped popcorn recipe is a simple one that makes salted popcorn. However, if you want to add other flavors to your freshly popped popcorn, you should add a little bit of butter or oil right after you removed the popcorn from heat. This will make the popcorn sticky and any herbs, spices, or flavors you add will stick to the popcorn. Follow the steps described in the section above for the best results.

Air Popped Popcorn Recipe

This air popped popcorn recipe makes approximately 7 cups of big fluffy popcorn you can enjoy with your family during movie night. If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container, at room temperature, for a week.


  • 3 ½ tablespoons of fresh popcorn kernels;
  • Salt to taste (we recommend ¼-½ teaspoons);
  • A few drops of water.


Preheat a nonstick pot with the lid on over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes.

Remove the lid and add a few drops of water to the pot.

If the water sizzles, reduce the heat to low and add the popcorn kernels. Place the lid back on the pot immediately. If the water doesn’t sizzle, allow the pot one more minute on medium high-heat and test again.

Shake the pot until the kernels stop popping. You should allow 2-second breaks between shakes. It’s important to note that the kernels will start popping after approximately 2 minutes. Don’t stop shaking and don’t remove the lid during this time!

When the kernels stop popping, remove from heat.

Transfer the popcorn to a large bowl.

Season with salt.

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