Can You Use Butter in a Popcorn Machine?

  • Author: Sue
  • Published: August 11, 2021
  • Time to read: 4 min.

Popcorn machines are popular appliances that many people have at home. They enjoy being able to make a fresh batch of popcorn, and it is a healthy snack with a lot of flavoring options.

Often, popcorn machines are designed specifically to make popcorn. One topping that people love is butter, and they often wonder if they can use it when they make popcorn at home. Continue reading to learn whether you can use butter in a popcorn machine.

How to Use a Popcorn Machine

how to use a popcorn machine

Popcorn machines are popular because they are easy to use. You only need to flip a few switches, and with popcorn kernels and oil, it will make your favorite popcorn in short order. Follow these steps to use a popcorn machine:

  1. Start by turning on the heat and light switch
  2. Add oil and let it heat for three to four minutes to heat the oil
  3. Turn on the motor switch and add popcorn kernels
  4. Let it finish popping and turn the motor and heat switches off
  5. Move your popcorn to a bowl and add your toppings

Can You Use Butter in a Popcorn Machine?

If you are using a popcorn machine, you should not use butter. The problem is that if you put a chunk of butter in the machine, it can sink to the floor and burn. Butter has a lower smoke point than oil does, so it will burn and create smoke more quickly. This can burn the popcorn.


However, some popcorn machines come with a special place to put butter. The way they work is that you put the butter in the special reservoir, and it will melt slowly and drip over the popcorn kernels as they pop. This adds in the buttery flavor without burning your popcorn.

How Does Popcorn Pop?

popcorn popping

Popcorn popping is a matter of chemistry and physics. Popcorn kernels have two layers. The outer layer is the hull, which surrounds the endosperm. The endosperm is made of hard starch with a little bit of moisture. The outer layer holds the moisture in.


When your popcorn kernels are heated, the moisture inside turns into steam, and it heats quickly because it is in a pressurized environment. The pressure grows to the point where the hull ruptures, causing the pop.


The popcorn kernels need heat, and they pop best in dry heat that is made by either air or oil. It will surround the kernel and heat it evenly. If the popcorn kernels heat too slowly or unevenly, they will not expand properly and results in the popcorn being burned.

Why Is Oil Used to Pop Popcorn?

popcorn oil

Generally speaking, when you get popcorn at the movie theater, it doesn’t have any butter in it. They use oil that is flavored with butter. Oil is the best product to use because it doesn’t make the outside of the popcorn kernels moist or soggy, but it also prevents the kernel from drying out and burning. In addition, it surrounds the kernel so that it heats up evenly.


The problem with butter is that it is heavier than oil, and it will sink to the bottom of the popcorn maker. It won’t surround the kernels to make sure that they heat evenly, which will cause them to pop partially or not at all, and it leads to burning.


You can find some oil and butter mixes that are designed for popping popcorn. The key is to use a flavorless oil that has a high smoke point, such as grapeseed oil, and mix it with the butter. This kind of mixture will allow the popcorn to be crunchy and pop evenly.

What Types of Oil Can You Use in a Popcorn Machine?

You can use different types of oil in your popcorn machine. Different oils will produce different flavors and crunchiness. Take a look at the following:

  • Coconut Oil: has a low smoke point of 350 degrees, so it heats up just enough to pop popcorn. It is a healthy oil that is good for your heart.
  • Olive oil: olive oil works well, and it has a neutral flavor that allows your topping flavors to shine.
  • Avocado oil: it has a high smoke point, and it has healthy fats. It also has a strong buttery flavor.
  • Sunflower oil: it works well for popping popcorn, and it has a high smoke point of 440 degrees.
  • Canola oil: it is the least expensive of the oils, and it has a high smoke point. However, it is often highly processed and will remove nutrients from popcorn kernels.
  • Grapeseed oil: it has a very high smoke point of 420 degrees, and it has a neutral, nutty flavor. It can be combined with butter and other fats.
  • Peanut oil: it adds a lot of great flavor to popcorn, but it is a less healthy option.

Find out more about the perfect popcorn oils here.

Final Words

You shouldn’t use butter to pop popcorn in your popcorn machine, but you can find machines that have a dispenser that will drip melted butter over the kernels as they pop.

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