Emergency Meals: Stovetop Popcorn

I get it: popcorn isn’t a meal, it’s a snack. But in a pinch, it’s filling, fast, cheap, and healthier than its prepackaged alternative. It’s also a great emergency stand-in when you’re hosting movie or game night. Bottom line: before you settle down to watch Alabama beat the cleats off Georgia in the College Football Playoff National Championship next Monday, give this a shot. If you’re a Georgia fan, which appears to be anyone who never went to Alabama, it could be the best thing that happens.

You Will Need:
  • Popcorn (or, for that matter, quinoa, if you’re trying to be really healthy)
  • Olive oil (you can use any oil, but I prefer olive)
  • Salt
  • [Optional] Additional flavorings such as melted butter, ground mustard or cayenne pepper, etc.

One deep pot with lid, preferably nonstick for easier cleanup

One available burner on your stove

1/2-cup measure (or the top of the Pop Secret popcorn container, which is how I came up with this measurement in the first place)

One large bowl


1. Grab everything you will need for this recipe before you start. Like 30-Second Scrambled Eggs, this process will require you to move very fast once you get going.

2. Pour several glugs of oil into the bottom of the pot and set the burner to medium-high heat. This is the oil that will coat and flavor your popcorn, so think about how much you would need for a large bowl of popcorn and pour accordingly. I used a moderate amount in this version and might have liked slightly more. (IMPORTANT: Do not use butter for this stage, no matter how much you like butter on your popcorn. It will burn while the popcorn pops. If you really want butter flavor, use ghee instead.)

3. When the oil is fragrant (or well-melted, if you’re using a previously-solid oil like ghee or coconut), add the popcorn seeds along with a good pinch of salt and cover immediately. I recommend using about 1/2 cup of seeds per pan, because any more will expand beyond what the pan can hold.

4. Shake the pan back and forth across your burner so that kernels begin to pop (or jiggle the pan up and down if you don’t have a stove that allows for sliding). It is important that you achieve two things: (1) the pan must stay more or less in contact with the heat; and (2) the kernels must stay more or less in motion. If you stop shaking, you will end up with lots of burnt kernels and not much popcorn.


5. If you notice that the popcorn hasn’t filled the pan but isn’t continuing to pop, remove the lid and quickly dump most of the popped popcorn into your bowl. Replace the lid and continue as before. Removing some of the popcorn will allow the remaining un-popped kernels to have the space they need to move around.

6. [Optional] Taste your popcorn for seasoning and toss with any extra components that you like.

Happy popping and Roll Tide.

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