Popcorn is one of America’s favorite snacks, and there are lots of different ways to pop it.
The old-fashioned and original way of popping popcorn is on a stovetop using a pan. But as time has moved in, popcorn cooking methods have evolved. It’s now possible to make popcorn in an air popper, in a skillet, and even in an air fryer.
So, let’s find out more about the many different ways to pop popcorn.
What is the Best Way to Pop Popcorn?
The best way to pop popcorn is whichever method works well for you. Some people find air poppers produce the best popcorn, while others won’t eat anything other than stovetop popcorn.
From our point of view, we think microwave popcorn is best. It’s quick and easy to make popcorn in the microwave, there are several different ways you can do it, and it produces little (if any) mess.
We’ve compiled a comprehensive list of the different ways to pop popcorn – some of which are a little unique even for us!
You can find out more about them below.
1. Microwave in a silicone popper
A silicone popper is an easy way to make popcorn. All you have to do is toss some kernels into the popper and put it into the microwave for 2 to 2 ½ minutes.
2. Microwave in a bowl
Another way to pop popcorn in a microwave is in a bowl. You’ll need a tempered glass bowl and a ceramic dinner plate to do this. Simply add your popcorn kernels to the dish, cover with the plate, and cook.
3. Microwave in a paper bag
Microwave popcorn bags were revolutionary when they launched in the early 1980s. They’re somewhat of a controversial cooking method now, with many people arguing that the chemicals in popcorn bags are dangerous. Despite this, you can’t deny that cooking popcorn in a paper bag in the microwave is quick, easy, and produces great-tasting popcorn.
4. On the stovetop
Stovetop popcorn can be tricky to get right. But when you do get it right, it tastes amazing! To make perfect stovetop popcorn, use a good-quality oil with a high smoke point. You should also shake the pot multiple times when the popcorn is cooking.
Check our guide on how to make stovetop popcorn with vegetable oil.
5. In an air popper
Air poppers are nifty machines that use hot air to pop popcorn in as little as 2 minutes. Air-popped popcorn is the healthiest way to enjoy popcorn as no oil or butter is required to pop the kernels.
Read about how to make the best air-popped popcorn.
6. In a popcorn machine
Another way to pop popcorn is in a popcorn machine. You usually need to put oil in the machine first and heat it up. Then, add the kernels and wait for them to pop. If you’re a real popcorn fan, you can even buy a popcorn machine with a cart that’s reminiscent of the movies.
Next, check out our ideas to make a popcorn bar.
7. On a campfire
You don’t have to be without popcorn on a camping trip as a campfire is an ideal way to pop popcorn. All you need to do is put some oil and kernels into an aluminum pie tin and cover with foil. Then, put it on top of the fire, shaking occasionally. When the popping slows, remove from the heat and enjoy as you sing songs by the campfire.
8. Jiffy Pop
Jiffy Pop is an all-in-one brand of popcorn. The packaging of Jiffy Pop doubles up as a pan which is covered with aluminum foil and cardboard. Once you’ve removed the packaging, you put the Jiffy Pop pan on the stove and continuously shake it in a circular motion until all the popcorn has popped.
Read our full guide on making Jiffy Pop here.
9. In a frying pan
This method is best used with only a small number of popcorn kernels and some oil as frying pans are shallow. You also need a lid on your frying pan so that you don’t end up with popcorn pinging around your kitchen.
10. Under the grill
A grill is a good way to cook microwave popcorn if you don’t have a microwave. You can also use standard popcorn kernels under the grill. The way to cook them is the same as you would do on a campfire.
11. On a barbecue
When you’ve got the barbecue out in the summer, why not make some popcorn on it? Simply put some kernels and oil on some tin foil and wrap loosely to form a parcel. Pop the parcel on the barbecue and wait for the popcorn to appear.
12. Straight off the cob
There’s no need to stock your pantry full of popcorn kernels if you’ve got corn cobs handy. Place the corn cobs in a microwavable bag, fold, and cook. You then get to enjoy picking the popcorn off the cob as you eat it.
13. With an electric skillet
An electric skillet makes popcorn in around 10 minutes. There’s no need to add any oil or butter to the pan, so it’s a healthy and effective way to pop popcorn.
14. In a cast iron skillet
A cast iron skillet can make popcorn just as well as an electric skillet. Skillets are shallow, so you’ll need to limit the number of kernels you put in it.
Check our article on making popcorn in a cast iron skillet.
15. Using a Whirley Pop
Whirley Pop is a specialist popcorn popper made from stainless steel. You can even get ones that have been copper-plated. Once you’ve got a Whirley Pop, you use it on the stove to make popcorn.
16. In a wok
Using a cast iron wok works in the same way as an iron skillet. As woks have higher sides than skillets they’re easier to make popcorn in. You can also fit more popcorn in a wok than a skillet.
17. In a slow cooker
Using a slow cooker to make popcorn is a timely process. On average, it’ll take 30 minutes for the kernels to pop. Slow cookers are also good for keeping popcorn warm.
18. In an air fryer
We’ve mentioned before that if you pop popcorn in an air fryer, you may be disappointed with the results. We stand by this, but an air fryer can be used to cook popcorn if you have no other way. A tip for success is to line the base of the air fryer basket with tin foil before putting the kernels in. You’ll also need to play around with popping times.
19. In the oven
An oven isn’t the best way to cook popcorn as it ideally needs to be swirled around while it’s being cooked. Despite this, oven-cooking popcorn does work. Always cover a dish full of kernels with foil to stop the popcorn from splattering all over your oven.
You might like this – Can You Cook Popcorn in the Oven?
20. In a toaster oven
Toaster ovens can make popcorn, too. Again, remember the foil!
21. With a heat gun
Okay, so we wouldn’t recommend making popcorn with a heat gun, but it is a tried and tested YouTube method.
22. With hair straighteners
Again, we don’t recommend popping popcorn with hair straighteners. It’ll take you a long time to make 1 serving of popcorn, plus there’s a risk that you’ll burn your fingers and the popcorn. If you do want to see this popcorn-popping method in action, check out this YouTube video.
READ NEXT: 80 Topping ideas
The Ways of Making Popcorn
There are some traditional, fun, and original ways to make popcorn in this list. The next time you want to make a bowl of fresh, warm popcorn, why not try cooking it in a different way from usual to see if it tastes any better?
Check out some of our favorite popcorn recipes next.
Sue’s favorite pastime? Watching a good movie with a giant tub of popcorn by her side. Her friends and family know that if they want to get her something, popcorn is always a safe bet. Sue has an adventurous spirit and loves to travel exploring new places – she’s been to more than 40 countries!