Microwaveable, air-popped, stovetop or straight out of the pre-packaged bag: whatever the form, popcorn is the classic movie companion and a frequent favorite among healthy-ish snacks.
While it doesn't pack a lot of nutrients per pop, we can all take comfort in the fact that when we jam 50 handfuls into our mouths, we're consuming mostly air anyway—assuming you didn't coat it in butter or opt for a caramel-covered version.
Yet, just as there is a hierarchy of healthiness among snacks, there is also one among the different types of popcorn. Whether you're considering calories, fat, preservatives or all of the above, a microwave bag of popcorn dripping in "movie theater butter" is obviously going to fall short when compared to the air-popped brand Skinny Pop or my personal favorite: all-natural stovetop popcorn that you can make for yourself right at home.
While stovetop is healthier than many other kinds of popcorn, it is less popular because making it requires planning ahead. You don't always have access to a stove, or if you try to wing it, you may burn the whole batch or leave half of it un-popped (RIP). As a stovetop popcorn expert, I'm here to help you deal with all of the above (or any other difficulties you might encounter) when trying to make your own perfect, all-natural popcorn.
To begin your batch of popcorn, you'll need a stove and a pan. I know college life can make these two items hard to find, so I'm not telling you to ditch your other popcorn faves like Skinny Pop or Boom Chicka Pop as the ideal between-classes snack. Instead, just store this recipe away for winter break or a movie night in when you're ready to embark on a delicious homemade popcorn journey.
You'll also need popcorn kernels, olive oil and (if you want) salt and butter.
Cover the bottom of the pan with olive oil. This should be a thin layer (like Oreo Thins thin). Wondering if you added too much or too little? You added too much oil if your popcorn tastes oily or seems wet. In general, though, it's hard to go overboard. If you instead pour in too little oil, the popcorn won't pop and you'll be left with some kernels in the end.
Cover the bottom of the pan with kernels. This will pop enough popcorn to fill your pan to the brim. If you want more popcorn, you can coat the pan with 1.5 layers of kernels. If you want even more than that, just make a second batch because adding more than a layer and a half of kernels will just make the same amount, but leave you with some un-popped kernels, too.
Turn on the burner to medium heat and get hype. If the top to your pan doesn't have holes, then hold the lid and shake, shake, shake (like a Polaroid picture) the pan on the burner once you hear the first kernel pop.
This prevents the already popped corn from just sitting there and burning while the other kernels are still popping. Approximately five minutes later, just dump the popcorn into your favorite bowl and enjoy!
This recipe is not exact because stovetop popcorn is all about trial and error, depending on the pan, stove temperature, oil and the kernels themselves. The good thing about trial and error is that you'll (hopefully) end up with even more popcorn than if you'd only made one batch (#winning).
Whether popcorn is straight from the bag, microwaved or fresh from the stovetop, it's always going to be my #1 snack of choice.