Our whole family loves popcorn, especially when it’s got some flavor on it. When we make it in the air popper, we top it with butter and salt because the salt alone won’t stick—the popcorn is too dry. For something lighter, though, we pop it on top of the stove in some oil, which gives it just enough moisture to make the salt stick. You can also add different toppings such as Parmesan cheese or ranch seasoning—or some people like something sweet like cinnamon and sugar. Take a look at 23 Ways to Top Your Popcorn (for Under 150 Calories) for more topping ideas.

Cook Time: 5-10 minutes

Yields: 10 cups popped popcorn


  • 6 Tablespoons cooking oil (I usually use canola)
  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 2 ½ quart sauce pan
  1. Put oil in pan.
  2. Pour kernels in the oil. The kernels should cover the bottom of the pan but not build up to a second row. Too many kernels will leave with you with unpopped popcorn at the end. Cover and turn on the heat.
  3. Heat the pan on high but then lower the temperature a bit. Be careful not to let it get too hot as it will burn your pan (and your popcorn!). You want the pan/oil to be hot enough to keep the popcorn popping at a fairly quick rate but not hot enough to burn. Keep a close eye on it. The popping will slow down as it gets close to being finished.
  4. Listen for popping to slow down and eventually stop, and remove from heat immediately.
  5. Top and serve.

Two notes of caution: (1) Have both your popcorn and oil ready to go when you turn on the burner, rather than putting the oil in the pan, turning on the heat so that it gets a head start, and then going to find the popcorn (can you tell that I’ve done that?) The oil heats up fast, and can burn—and at the very least, you’ll get splattered with hot oil when you add the kernels. (2) Stay with the pan once you’ve added the kernels. It seems like a long time before the popping starts but it really isn’t. It’s easy to walk away, plan to be right back, and lose track of time (again, can you tell that I’ve done this?). Once the popping starts, it goes fast and can start to smoke if you don’t take the pan off the burner in time.