Chef's Selection · In The Kitchen

Olive Oil Stovetop Popcorn


Recently, I’ve been totally in the mood for POPCORN. I love Trader Joe’s Olive Oil Popcorn because it’s healthy and delicious, and usually satisfies my popcorn craving – but sometimes you just want that fresh HOT popcorn to eat when you’re binge watching Fuller House.

Popping your own corn is so liberating – you can add whatever spices or oils your heart desires! – and also really exciting. Watching those little kernels sizzle and crack is a great activity for children and almost-26 year olds alike. Just ask me and my roommate. We got a huge kick out of it.

The other great thing is that it’s cheap – I recently found a store-brand, 2lb bag of popcorn kernels (makes 4 big bowls) for ~$2.50, (about $1 cheaper than your average box of Pop-Secret).

This recipe is very simple to make. Some might argue that microwave popcorn is just plain easier – while it is convenient, microwave popcorn comes with its own set of headaches;

  • You’ve got to be the master of time: it takes serious practice and attention to detail to be able to maximize amount of popped kernels you get without crossing over into burning territory. It is (obviously) surprisingly easy to burn popcorn. And then the whole kitchen smells weird!
  • “Well why wouldn’t I just use that handy little popcorn button on the microwave?” NO. WRONG. DO NOT EVER use the little popcorn image. It will disappoint you 99% of the time – you’ll end up with too many kernels, or burnt popcorn – guaranteed.
  • State of the Microwave: Is your microwave old? Is your microwave new? WHO CARES – there is a universal understanding that every microwave is different and you have to test for yourself (see first bullet point) the amount of time it takes to pop yourself the perfect bag.

The best recipe I’ve found so far for stovetop popcorn is from Simply Recipes, and I am happily surprised to report that most of the kernels actually pop when using this method (vs. a traditional bag of microwave popcorn where you’ve got tons of unpopped kernels). Even though this recipe calls for a high smoke point oil (i.e. canola, peanut, or coconut), those aren’t as healthy and the recipe worked just fine with olive oil when I tested it. You could even pre-make a batch and save the leftovers in a ziplock bag for a healthy snack – I’ll definitely be bringing some to work this week!

Olive Oil Stovetop Popcorn

by Elise Bauer via Simply Recipes

Yield: 2 quarts (nice serving size for 2 people)


  • 1/3 cup popcorn kernels (and a few extra)
  • 3 tbsp Olive Oil (too much can cause the popcorn to be slightly wet)
  • Salt to taste – I used sea salt.
  • 1 3 quart covered saucepan or a large pot with a lid


  1. Heat the olive oil in the saucepan/pot on medium high heat.
  2. Distribute some salt evenly on the bottom of the pan.
  3. Place 4 popcorn kernels into the oil and cover the pan.
  4. When these kernels pop, add the rest of the 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels in an even layer at the bottom of the pot.
  5. Cover the pot, remove from heat, and count 30 seconds.
  6. Return the pan to the heat. The popcorn should begin popping all at the same time. Once it starts popping at a steady rate, lightly shake the pan back and forth over the burner.
  7. If you keep the lid slightly ajar to let the steam release, the popcorn will be delightfully crisp and dry.
  8. Add additional salt or other spices to taste.

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