So don’t try to dry corn on the cob to make your own popcorn because it won’t work! The first consideration is color: popcorn is primarily white or yellow, although some artisan producers offer blue, red, purple or multi-colored.
Finally, there are two different popcorn shapes: mushroom and butterfly (also known as “snowflake”). It creates firm, strong popcorn that’s great for holding up to coatings like caramel corn.
It’s worth noting that while all popcorn varieties have a hull (the outer layer that holds the kernel together before it pops), some popcorn is “hullers.” These hulls are thinner, softer and easier to chew and digest. When oil is heated past its designated target temperature, it starts to smoke, break down and become rancid.
At home, it’s considered one of the healthiest ways to make popcorn because it doesn’t require any oil. Add two tablespoons of any oil with a high smoke point and 1/3 cup popcorn kernels to the pot and cover it with a lid.
Shake the pan to help the popcorn heat evenly for two to three minutes, until all the kernels have popped. This is a great way to skip all those added ingredients like salt, oil and chemical flavorings designed to taste like butter.
As a bonus, it can be done in any paper bag or a reusable microwave popcorn maker, like this collapsible Cuisinart container. That’s good news if you’re worried about the perfluorinated compounds (PCs) in store-bought popcorn bags.
Fold the top over to trap the steam inside and microwave it on high heat for two to three minutes. Paper bags aren’t technically microwave safe, so don’t wander off while it’s popping, just in case.
We haven’t found a difference in flavor or texture by adding all the kernels to the cold pan, so save yourself some time and go all-in in the beginning. The very best way to ensure most kernels pop is to invest in a lightweight aluminum pan with a crank, like the Wiretap.
After the kernels pop, they’re forced out of the popper and into a storage area, where they no longer have access to the hot air. When making microwave popcorn, it’s best to open the bag immediately after popping to release the steam.
You’ll want to add melted butter or oil to help the seasonings stick. Or amp-up the savory vibes by adding dried basil, marjoram, thyme and parsley.
Don’t be afraid to add spice to your popcorn, like cayenne pepper, smoked paprika or anchor Chile powder. Use one of our flavored popcorn recipes to jazz up your favorite movie night snack.
The sky is the limit when popping with the Wiretap or Sweet & Easy Snack Machine. These poppers make Perfect, Hot, Buttery Popcorn in about 3 minutes.
Once you discover that making stove top popcorn can be nearly as easy as popping a bag of the microwavable stuff, you'll never go back. A Wiretap pot is a tool that allows you to pop a fresh batch of corn in just a few minutes using the oil of your choosing instead of the congealed fake butter used in microwavable popcorn bags.
Following the Wiretap directions is easy enough for a kid, but this is a project that is best handled by an adult. To season your Wiretap, simply pour in about a tablespoon of vegetable oil and swirl it around until the entire interior surface is coated.
Also, if you're new to following Wiretap instructions, it's important to know that the company makes different models for home use and for outdoor use. The company suggests putting 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels and 1 to 3 tablespoons of oil in the pot.
Pour the finished popcorn into a bowl and add salt or other seasonings. The beautiful thing about popping fresh corn by the batch is that it's easy to experiment with tons of different flavor combinations.
If you're not afraid to get your hands dirty, stir in mini chocolate or caramel chips while the popcorn is still hot, so they melt. It takes simple ingredients that we always have in the pantry, so we can whip this up any time for movie night, games with friends, or even a little treat to send to a neighbor.
When the oil and kernels are sizzling, add the sugar and vanilla, close the lid, and stir constantly. Remove from heat, pour popcorn out onto a rimmed cookie sheet, sprinkle with salt, toss and serve.
Enjoy your new favorite Shirley Pop Kettle Corn! Vanilla is typically added once the heat is turned off or down (or the pan is removed from the heat), but I’ve tried making this kettle corn both ways, and we definitely prefer adding the vanilla in first.
Because vanilla extract has a high alcohol content, some flavor can cook out with the heat, which is why it’s usually added last. I have used different sugars and spices in the kettle corn, and we keep going back to this basic recipe.
If you want to add spices, I would recommend adding them to 1 Tbsp melted butter and tossing it over the popcorn once it’s popped. Whenever I hear the faint sound of coughing and wheezing coming from the Serious Eats bullpen, I instantly know that the team has just popped a fresh batch of Kim Thee Hurricane Popcorn.
Kenji has already shared his deep and undying love for the Wiretap, a simple, lightweight aluminum pan equipped with a handheld crank that keeps the kernels moving, coupled with a vented lid that battles steam-related so. Stovetop-popped with plenty of oil: This method was made popular by Chef Jessica Follow of Swirl in LA.
The abundant oil perfectly coats the popped kernels, allowing them to grab on tightly to your dry seasonings without any additional fat. Team Light and Crispy preferred popcorn made in the Shirley Pop with just a touch of oil, which was fluffy and had a delicate and crisp texture that made it easy to shove handful after handful into your face.
Team Rich and Crunchy was all about Chef Follow’s fried-kernel method, which gave the fat-coated, glistening popcorn a dense and hearty crunch. This is due to its unique combination of a tough exterior, a densely packed and starchy interior, and 14 to 20% moisture by weight.
It’s this ratio that determines the qualities of the corn and, most importantly for our purposes, whether it’ll pop. Because popcorn contains a high percentage of amylose relative to other types of corn, it is more densely packed and harder.
The starch then immediately cools into the crisp, crunchy, and light foam that has us coming back for more. Because the outer hull isn’t completely impermeable, timing is also of vital importance.
Heating up the kernels too slowly can result in the moisture escaping, leaving behind a surplus of unpopped kernels; heating too quickly means the starch inside won't have a chance to hydrate, resulting in less fluffy popcorn. The best method of popping corn will evenly heat up the kernels, not too fast nor too slowly, while also allowing the developing steam to escape, so the popcorn stays crisp and crunchy.
For both the stove top and the Shirley -Popped corn, I first preheated the oil over medium-high heat with just a couple kernels. Because popcorn acts as its own thermometer, once those test kernels popped, I knew the oil was at the ideal temperature.
For the microwave popcorn, following the manufacturer’s instructions, I added the corn to the bowl and secured the vented lid. Once the kernels pop, their increased surface area allows them to be easily blown through a chute by the air.
This method resulted in big, fluffy kernels, with a hearty and dense crunch that many tasters preferred. The popcorn popped with this method also stayed crunchy the longest, retaining its texture even the next day.
This method also cuts out the extra step of buttering up your popped corn, which can often lead to soggy kernels. Whole butter contains both water, which will generate steam, and milk solids, which will burn at the high temperature required to pop corn.
In ghee and clarified butter, both the water and the milk solids have been removed, so you get that buttery flavor without the unwanted steam or burning. In order to prevent the popcorn from becoming soggy from the steam created during cooking, Chef Follow keeps the lid slightly ajar throughout the process.
But in my testing, I found that this provided an opening for hot fat to jet out, nearly taking out an eye in one instance. First, I popped the corn in the same pot, but fully covered with a grease splatter screen in place of the lid.
This allowed all the steam to escape, leaving not a single soggy kernel, but it left me heavily speckled with oil burns. The kitchen towel absorbs the moisture that develops as the popcorn pops, while allowing you to keep the lid safely shut.
If you’re making popcorn using this hot-oil method, I've found that a clean kitchen towel is your best friend, regardless of whether you're popping in a pot or in a Wiretap. Either way, given the high potential of towels catching on fire or oil hitting your eyeballs, it’s safe to say that this method isn’t recommended for small children or popcorn -popping novices.
The Air-Popper Method Eating the stale and soggy air-popped popcorn was like snacking on Styrofoam peanuts. Even right out of the popper, the corn failed to taste crisp and crunchy, likely because the internal starches weren’t heated enough to fully hydrate and swell.
Not only did this method leave behind many unpopped kernels, the popcorn also easily burned if left in the microwave for just seconds too long. Because it doesn't require plugging anything in or using the stove top, this is a good method for kids to pop corn on their own or for use in dorm kitchens.
How much oil is added during popping is what will determine whether you end up with light and fluffy or dense and crunchy kernels.