Homemade Popcorn

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While talking to one of my friends last week, I mentioned that I refrain from the store brought popcorns and usually make popcorn at home. She was taken aback and thought that it was a complicated process, involving lots of steps and could not imagine preparing it at home. I don’t blame her, because of the amount of commercialization, the high tech gadgets that is used for making popcorns makes us feel that it is time consuming and tedious. I walked her through the steps and finally convinced her that it could be made in a kitchen with just 2 basic ‘gadgets’ a pan and a lid!

This is an old time recipe that I have learnt from my mother and she had been following this stove top old fashioned way of popping kernels for almost 15 years now.

Air-popped popcorn is naturally high in fiber, low in calories and fat, contains no sodium, and is sugar free. This can make it an attractive snack to people with dietary restrictions on the intake of calories, fat, and/or sodium. (Source)

A note about the buttered popcorn available at the stores; it is not real butter but it is just flavored butter. What is shocking is that this is offered to kids at school on the pretext that it is low fat and also a healthy choice.

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(Popcorn Kernels)

Diacetyl and acetoin are two compounds that give butter its characteristic taste. Because of this, manufacturers of margarines or similar oil-based products typically add diacetyl and acetoin to make the final product butter-flavored, because it would otherwise be relatively tasteless. Diacetyl, when used in artificial butter flavoring (as used in many consumer foods), may be hazardous when heated and inhaled over a long period. (Source)

Making popcorn at home is really simple; it does not take more than 5 minutes and as an advantage we get to control the amount of oil or salt that goes into it making it really healthy and nutritious. Just a little bit of kernels goes a long way in making a small bagful of popcorns.

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  • ½ small cup popcorn kernels
  •  3-4 teaspoons oil ( I use canola oil)
  • Salt


  • Use a good quality, heavy bottom Kadhai/karahi/Wok for making this. If the base is not thick then kernels will begin to burn at the bottom.
  •  Try with lesser quantity of kernels if making for the first time.
  •  Have a lid handy that will completely cover the wok, when the kernels begin to pop.
  •  Please exercise caution when handling popping kernels with open lid, as it splutters oil. 

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  •  Please read the note carefully (above) before proceeding.
  • Take a heavy bottom pan/Kadhai and heat the oil on medium high heat.
(Kadhai/Wok with a lid that I use for making popcorn)

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  •  Temperature test: Drop 2-3 popcorn kernels and wait until they pop up. Once they pop, this means that the oil has reached the correct temperature.
  •  Note: Please stand back, when the kernels pop as they tend to splutter the oil along with the popped kernel.
  •  Now add the remaining kernels, mix it so that it forms a flat layer and cover it with a lid. Covering with a lid is an important step otherwise the kernels will fall all over the place when they pop.
  •  Give the kadhai/wok a slight shake about 2 times to prevent the kernels from sticking to the bottom.
  •  After a minute or two, you will begin to hear the sound of the kernels being popped one by one and they sound like fireworks! Resist the urge to remove the lid as the kernels might pop out and it could be little dangerous.
  •  Let the popping continue. The moment the sound of the popping dies down, switch off the heat and remove the lid. 
  •  If seeing this for the first time, it is really an amazing sight! You will see the kernels popped up like delicate flowers. (There could be some kernels on the bottom that have not popped).
  •  Sprinkle salt over this just when it is hot and stir it with a wooden ladle. Be cautious as the pan/kadhai is very hot.
  •  Set aside and allow to cool and then transfer to paper/plastic bag. Store it in airtight container/bag for future use.
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  1. indosungod says:

    The best whole grain snack there is when homemade and without the additives. I add a bit of turmeric and chili powder for masala popcorn.

    So true RC. I read that the employees who worked in the plant making these butter flavorings have some sort of lung disease too, I forget exactly what.

    Cannot agree more ISG. Adding turmeric and chilli powder is a good idea. Apparently the ung disease is called ‘Popcorn lung disease’.
    On a side note, when I sat down to write the post, I realised about corn and it being GM and i thought of you. Somehow this dry popcorn kernel being GM did not cross my mind. I always had the fresh corn in mind.

  2. soumya says:

    I used to do the same way when i was in India.But need to do it here aswell as my son loves it.nice clicks RC.

    Thanks soumya. I prepare the popcorn mainly for the kiddo, sometimes I make some in advance. So after we come back home in the evening, he snacks on some. That way it fills him up a bit and it is not that bad either.

  3. Priya says:

    I too can’t believe you make popcorns at home that too with kadai..all credit goes to your mom. 🙂 very nice pictures as usual..

    thanks so much Priya, I do think of my mom whenever I make this. brings back so many memories.

  4. Suja says:

    looks yummy. I try to make them whenever possible especially when you are stuck in your home due to bad weather. I have made spicy popcorn too. After the popping stops, kill the heat and have a mixture of salt, little turmeric, coriander pdr, chilli pdr/black pepper pdr ready. Sprinkle on top when it is hot, cover with the lid and shake it really well. open the lid and move it to another container. The smell from it is just amazing.

    Very cool idea Suja. I have never tried that topping before, somehow stuck to the original and basic which is salt. Will definitely try it next time, DH will love it.

  5. Desi Soccer Mom says:

    That does sound good not to mention the yummy pictures. I wasn’t aware of all the artificial butter hazards but never did like the taste of it. That is some great information.
    I have a $20 popcorn machine at home and like Indo, I too add a spice mix of cumin powder, black salt and regular salt to it.

    thanks Jaya. The aroma of that butter popcorn sold in the stores, movie theatres just puts me off. We tried making popcorn using the air popper, but somehow felt it had that cardboard type of taste. I aknow, I am biased to this stove top method.

  6. Jyothi says:

    I too make popcorn at home. Hot popcorn are really tasty. Sometimes i try with sugar…

    My best option is to make popcorn in the pressure cooker vessel. Its really heavy bottomed. just heat butter or oil, fry corn and reduce the flame. Cover it . So easy ..

    hey, that is a cool idea of using the pressure cooker vessel. It has a thick base, long and fits the bill right. Thanks Jyothi.

  7. Valerie says:

    When I was a child, this was the only way to make popcorn. I now use an air popper (microwave popcorn smell turns my stomach). I melt butter with Louisiana hot sauce, or cayenne, then pour it over the popped corn. Yummy!

  8. ujwal says:

    Yummy.. I love pop corn.. I too hate the microwave pop corn.. I still love the one we used to get in India.. Plain salted.. I wil try to get hold of some corn kernels

  9. arundati says:

    i agree that the convenience of store bought should not be at alarming health hazards…after years of using ready to pop stuff, i recently shifted over to the dry kernel popping…the control over oil and salt is a huge plus…and its not all that complicated… i am not going back to the readymade stuff!!

  10. prathibha says:

    mom also used 2 make like dis before but not anymore after getting used to these store bought stuff..she evn used to make even with those tiny colored sabudhana which wil be turned to colorful murmur type of mixture..I miss alll of dem now..those corns are puffed up very nicely

  11. Alka says:

    This is so frequently made at my place ..butter, turmeric pwdr,black pepper powder ..I reserve those sachets of masalas like oregano(Dominos) and McDonald masala mix , and sprinkle some over hot popcorns.I am unsure what goes in those masalas, but they do taste awesome.
    Lovely pictures Rc, I know what my kid is about to say, now that he had a DEKHO here !

  12. Mayuri says:

    Umm umm Good, My mom used to make popcorn too and used the pressure cooker as it was thick based n perfect for making it. and sometimes we added spices to it too, but mostly termeric and salt.

  13. Usha says:

    I have been making popcorn on the stove top for a long time, even when I was in college it was my go to snack. And like you I favor that over the air popped ones because it tastes kind of dry..I add chili powder to mine too !

    How terrible that so many additives are added to the store popcorn, in any case they never taste too good, at least in my opinion…

  14. Malar says:

    Can you add the piture of your pan and the lid for us to look?
    Thank you.

    Malar, I will add the picture of the pan and the lid soon

  15. Kusum says:

    Hmm good idea. My Mom used to make popcorn too. But she used a big wok full of sand and then a smaller wok to pop the corn so that the popped corn didn’t burn. I felt that was too power consuming to do here.

  16. Cham says:

    Bit of chili and freshly ground black pepper in oil will change dramatically the store bought one! I do in pressure cooker! or microwave!

  17. redchillies says:

    Thank you all very much for the warm comments. So glad to know that so many of you all prepare it at home with different toppings; thanks for sharing that. I have also updated the post with wok and lid that I use.

  18. Vidya says:

    Home made pop corns are great and i do it often. My friend was surprised we could make pop corn at home the first time i mentioned it to her. Picked this recepie from my aunt and i use pressure cooker. As a variation sometimes i add garlic powder, chilli powder and salt immediately after the kernals are out of the cooker… :).

    First timer in your blog.. simply loving it. Lots of different recepies and great pics!! Thanks.. i think i am going to be a regular!!

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