Homemade Stovetop Popcorn - a healthy whole grain snack that’s easy to make, and pairs perfectly with a great movie!
Popcorn - an easy whole grain snack
Hey friends! It’s been a while. Moving is, well… moving. We’re finally settled in and I’m excited to get back in the kitchen again!
With all the moving and unpacking, we’ve needed some quick and simple snacks. A true favorite of ours—especially for movies—is popcorn! Yes, you read that right, popcorn can be a delicious and nutritious snack. However, not all popcorn is equally nutritious… let’s take a look at the differences.
Movie theater popcorn
Your typical bucket of movie theater popcorn can have almost 1000 calories and 40+ grams of fat! And that doesn’t include the “butter” you can add on top...
That “butter”, which hardly resembles real butter, is a man-made product with a laundry list of ingredients, typically partially hydrogenated soybean oil with plenty of added colors and flavors. Totaling nearly 130 calories per tablespoon, and housing more trans fat than anyone wants in a day. To be honest, nobody should eat trans fat - get the lowdown on fats here.
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What about microwave popcorn?
Microwave popcorn, what could be easier? This quick and easy way to prepare popcorn may be better in terms of calories and fat, but unfortunately is shown to contain some questionable ingredients.
Even if you buy the unflavored version, microwave popcorn bags themselves can pose health issues.
The microwaveable popcorn based used to be lined with a substance called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) (the same substance that’s in teflon), which can stay in your body for a long time and has been associated with cancer and ADHD.
The health concerns surrounding these substances have led to an FDA ban. However there are dozens of new chemicals being used in popcorn packages, and as of now, little is known about their impacts.
Many microwave popcorn brands are also saturated with unsustainably-produced fat. The bottom line is that it’s hard to know exactly how your food products are produced when they come fully prepared.
Try a stovetop pop
Have you tried making your popcorn on the stove? It’s delicious and definitely the healthier popcorn option! Air-popped popcorn has only 100-150 calories in a 5-cup serving.
Popcorn is a whole grain snack with lots of fiber - a great thing! In fact, a 3-cup serving has up to 4 grams of fiber. Pretty great for an easy snack! It also has 56% of the RDI (Recommended Daily Intake) of Manganese and a surprisingly high amount of polyphenols. Polyphenols are antioxidants that protect our cells and keep us healthy.
What is healthy popcorn?
Okay, so how can we make an even healthier snack out of popcorn? For starters, the type of oil used makes a huge difference.
Certain oils (hemp seed, walnut and extra-virgin olive oils) shouldn’t be heated to high temperatures as some research suggests the fats breakdown and may become rancid—making them harmful instead of healthful.
But ghee, avocado, coconut, and olive oils are great options for popping your popcorn kernels. It’s also a good idea to keep the heat low both for more even cooking and to keep these fats intact and not smoking.
Popping popcorn on your stove top is your best bet if you don’t have a popcorn popper. And it’s always fun to watch those kernels pop! Don’t forget the toppings - which can make or break a good bowl of popcorn.
Popcorn toppings that keep things healthy
Let’s talk toppings. Don’t douse popcorn in fake butter or butter “flavoring”; that’s totally defeating the purpose of making homemade popcorn. There are plenty of variations, spices and other toppings that add lots of nutritional value.
My favorite toppings include garlic powder, onion powder, Himalayan sea salt and nutritional yeast. Or you could go a sweet route by adding cinnamon, dried apples and almonds!
Ready to make this Healthy Stovetop Popcorn? Let’s do it!
1 - Heat oil: In a medium-large pot (at least 3 quarts), heat coconut oil or ghee over low-medium heat. Add a few popcorn kernels and cover the pot. This helps test the heat, so you put in the majority of kernels at the right temperature.
2 - Add popcorn: Once those few kernels pop, remove the pot from the heat and add the remaining popcorn kernels. Shake the pot for 30 seconds to allow the oil to fully coat the fresh kernels and to get all the kernels to the same temperature. Then cover and return the pot to the heat.
You may need to keep the lid ajar to allow steam to escape. As the kernels start popping, shake the pot to keep the kernels from burning. Once the popping slows (several seconds between pops) remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl.
3 - Season: Add your desired seasonings and gently shake to evenly distribute and coat the popped kernels. You can also add a tablespoon of butter, coconut oil or ghee at this time - this will help the seasonings stick better.
4 - Enjoy your snack with your favorite movie!
Healthy Stovetop Popcorn: Tips, Tricks and Tools
Tools: This super simple recipe only requires a medium-large pot with a lid and a serving bowl. Though a good quality, heavy-bottomed pot will distribute heat more evenly. A wide, shallow pan will also be better than a smaller, deep pot. But in the end, use what you have available.
Don’t crank up the heat or you’ll end up with burnt oil and burnt popcorn kernels.
Cover, but keep the lid ajar to allow the steam to release. This will result in drier and crispier popcorn.
Seasoning variations: As a base, I generally add salt and pepper. Always remember, you can always add more salt, but you can’t take it away once it’s mixed in. Some other options include:
- Salt, black pepper and a little extra butter or olive oil
- Garlic powder and nutritional yeast
- Cumin, chili powder and cayenne
- Cinnamon and dried apples
We hope you love this simple Healthy Stovetop Popcorn recipe!
A great homemade snack that’s perfect for movies, when you need a little something crunchy or really anytime!
Craving other crunchy Snack recipes? Check out our Rosemary Roasted Beet Chips or our Roasted Squash Seeds.
Did you enjoy this Healthy Stovetop Popcorn as much as we do?
Comment below! And rate the recipe to let us know how it turned out! Not making it today? Save this Stovetop Popcorn recipe for later by pinning it to your Snacks Recipes Board and make sure to tag us at The Crooked Carrot Instagram to show us your Healthy Stovetop Popcorn creations!
"Don't aim at success - the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue." - Victor Frankl
Healthy Stovetop Popcorn
- 2 tablespoon olive oil, coconut oil or ghee
- ⅓ cup popcorn kernels
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon Himalayan sea salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1-2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- Heat oil in a 3-quart pot over medium heat. Add 3 popcorn kernels and cover.
- Pop: Once the 3 kernels pop, remove from heat, add the remaining ⅓ cup popcorn and wait ~30 seconds before returning the pot to heat. Cover, but keep lid ajar to allow steam to escape. As kernels start popping, shake the pot to prevent burning. Once the popping slows (several seconds between pops) remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl.
- Season: Add desired seasonings and shake to coat completely. You can also add a tablespoon of butter or other fat at this time so the seasonings stick better.
- Enjoy: Have as a snack with your favorite movie!
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I've read that using an enameled cast iron pot is not a good idea as it will ruin it. Have you or others had this issue or are these warnings coming ng from folks who cooked at too high a temperature?
Libby Bloom says
I LOVE my enameled cast iron pot and use it for so many different dishes both on the stovetop and in the oven without any issues. In what context are you worried about it getting ruined?
Rosemary Smith says
i pop my corn in a pot on the stove ..then i season my popped corn with butter flavor cooking spray...it has zero calories and add flavor..then i sprinkle with sweetener or a spice...
Libby Bloom says
That's awesome that you found a way to enjoy popcorn that works for you! Love it!