If you’re wondering how to make stovetop popcorn without burning the kernels, then you have to try this trick to get perfect Foolproof Stovetop Popcorn. It is one of my favorite snacks, because it comes with a HUGE nutritional bonus: It is whole grain, high fiber and only 55 calories per cup. Whew! Now that’s a powerhouse snack that also happens to be ready to chow down on in less than 10 minutes!

stovetop popcorn in a large bowl next to playing cards

I originally shared this recipe on September 2, 2011. I have updated the images and some of the text today.

Why We Love This Recipe For Stovetop Popcorn

This is one of those recipes people are always asking for. I regularly get calls from friends and neighbors who have had stovetop popcorn at my house and want to try it on their own. I even found myself in the bulk section of the health food store reciting it to a perfect stranger the other day.

There I was, filling up my bag with popping corn minding my own business, and before I knew it I was telling a woman about the three kernel technique. I truly swear by it!

After that, I realized it was a sign I should share it here. It is so easy and only takes a few minutes, but there are a few things to keep in mind that I’ll be going over down below.

The best thing about this recipe is that it’s an incredible low-calorie snack. And, it’s not a fruit or vegetable. How awesome is that? You can also flavor it in so many ways. Savory, sweet, salty, umami, spicy–you name it!

holding a large bowl of stovetop popcorn

Key Ingredients For This Recipe

Avocado oil

Avocado oil is the best for this recipe because it has a higher cooking point than most oils (like olive oil). If you don’t have avocado oil the next best thing would be organic canola oil.

Popping corn kernels

You can buy popping corn kernels in bulk at the whole foods store OR at any large grocery store. If you buy them in a plastic jar just make sure they’re not expired! (Take it from someone who has accidentally bought expired corn kernels…)


Season the popcorn to taste with salt.

stovetop popcorn in a bowl

Step-by-Step Instructions to Make This Healthy Stovetop Popcorn

You don’t need a fancy popcorn machine to make stovetop popcorn. All you need to make perfect popcorn on the stove is a heavy bottomed pot (preferably one with taller sides), a little oil, popcorn kernels and salt. The basic steps for making stovetop popcorn are: 

Step 1: Add oil & kernels

When making stovetop popcorn, you want the oil to be at exactly the right temperature when you add in the popcorn kernels. How do you know when it’s hot enough? Just toss 3 kernels into the oil, then cover the pot with the lid and wait for the kernels to pop.

Step 2: Coat kernels in oil

Once those first few kernels pop, you can add in the rest of the popcorn kernels! As soon as you add the rest of the popcorn kernels to the hot oil, briefly take it off the heat and swish the pot around so that the kernels all get covered in oil. Return the pot to the heat and continue cooking (if you keep the lid on, make sure it’s cracked slightly so the steam can escape!). 

Step 3: Pop kernels

Take the popcorn off the heat once the popping slows down. Pour the popcorn into a big bowl and immediately top with salt, plus any other toppings you want. 

stovetop popcorn in a bowl next to a bag of popcorn

FAQs and Expert Tips

Which pot is best for popping popcorn

Use a heavy-bottomed pot. It is really easy to burn the popcorn if you use a flimsy pot.

How to pop the corn perfectly without burning any kernels

Remember to start by adding the oil and test kernels to an unheated pot. After you put it on the heat, listen for the three pops. You’ll know that the oil is hot enough, but it won’t get too hot to burn the kernels or popcorn. Then as soon as the popping slows down, get it out of the pot and add the salt.

How often should you shake the pot

Shake the pot every 30 seconds to help the un-popped kernels fall back down to the bottom.

What to season popcorn with

You can season popcorn with so many different things! Sprinkle with nutritional yeast for a healthy and vegan cheesy flavor, drizzle with chocolate (great for those sweet-tooth nights), or drizzle with some melted butter.

How to Store Popcorn

You’ll never in a million years guess where the best spot to store popcorn is …the freezer! I know it sounds crazy, but freezing popcorn is a total game changer. To freeze popcorn for later, simply pour it into a freezer-safe baggie and place it in the freeze. The popcorn never hardens in the freezer, so you can take it out and snack on it whenever you want! If you think you’ll be eating the leftover popcorn that same day, it’s probably safe to store it in an air-tight container on your countertop. But otherwise, the freezer is the way to go. 

bowls of stovetop popcorn

Additional Healthy Snack Recipes to Try 

Thanks so much for reading! If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my email newsletter to get a free weekly menu plan and the latest recipes right to your inbox. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review. I would love to hear what you thought!

Happy Cooking! ~Katie

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Foolproof Stove-Top Popcorn | Fiber | Vegetarian | Low Calorie | Snack | Healthy Seasonal Recipes | Katie Webster

Foolproof Stovetop Popcorn

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5 from 3 reviews


Here is the best way to make Foolproof Stovetop Popcorn. No burning, no missed kernels! It’s a gluten-free, whole grain snack and only 54 calories per cup.


  • 3 tablespoons avocado oil or organic canola oil
  • 1/2 cup + 3 kernels popping corn kernels, divided
  • Salt, to taste


  1. Pour oil into the bottom of a heavy-bottomed large saucepan or soup pot. Add 3 kernels corn, cover and place over medium-high heat.
  2. When the three kernels pop, add the remaining ½ cup kernels. Cover the pot and swirl to coat the kernels with oil.
  3. Return to the heat and cook, shaking the pan occasionally to redistribute the un-popped kernels to the bottom of the pot. Continue cooking until the popping slows to less than one pop in 4 seconds. Immediately pour the popcorn to a bowl and add salt.


Cooking Tip:

Remember to start by adding the oil and test kernels to an unheated pot. After you put it on the heat, listen for the three pops. You’ll know that the oil is hot enough, but it won’t get too hot to burn the kernels or popcorn. Then as soon as the popping slows down, get it out of the pot and add the salt.

  • Prep Time: 0 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 minutes
  • Category: Snack
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American


  • Serving Size: 2 cups
  • Calories: 111
  • Sugar: 0 g
  • Fat: 6 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Protein: 2 g