When you’re snacking for dinner, popcorn can’t be beat. It’s an ideal “main course” because it’s more filling than other snack foods and doesn’t rely on a fryer for flavor. It also can be made from scratch in minutes with no special equipment other than a large pot, and you can flavor it any which way you want.
It’s not necessary to save popcorn night for a special occasion, either. While you can certainly pair popcorn with a movie-watching evening, there is no law against making popcorn for dinner whenever the moment feels right. Don’t fight the feeling.
Keep in mind, however, that “although popcorn is a great healthy snack, when oil gets added during the cooking process, it can double the calories and the fat,” Chamoun said. He recommends an air popper as the best method to limit the amount of oil added during cooking, but if you don’t want to spring for one, you can still make popcorn with very little oil per serving on the stovetop. Here’s how.
How to make basic stovetop popcorn
To make 16 cups popcorn (about 4 servings), you’ll need 1/2 cup popcorn kernels and 2 tablespoons neutral cooking oil, such as canola or vegetable oil.
Pour the oil into a large pot, at least 6 quarts in volume. Add two or three kernels to the pot, then cover and place over medium-high heat until you hear the kernels pop.
Once that happens, take the pot off the heat, pour in the remaining kernels, and cover the pan. Wait 30 seconds, then return the pot to the burner and cook, shaking the pan frequently, until the popping slows down.
Remove the lid to carefully allow the steam to escape, then transfer the popcorn to a large bowl to season it.
Make popcorn your own with flavor combos
When it comes to flavoring your popcorn, the options are as varied as your cravings. Popcorn can be jazzed up with an off-the-shelf blend like everything bagel or Old Bay seasoning, but it’s always fun to get creative and make your own combinations.
Whether you prefer a salty mix, a sweet treat, or a little of both, you can customize your bowl based on what your tastebuds are telling you.
Toss freshly popped popcorn with melted butter, coconut oil or olive oil to give the seasoning something to stick to, and then sprinkle on your choice of toppings. Try these suggested flavorings to get you started.
If you prefer savory
For a sweet sensation
Casey Barber is a food writer, illustrator and photographer; the author of “Pierogi Love: New Takes on an Old-World Comfort Food” and “Classic Snacks Made from Scratch: 70 Homemade Versions of Your Favorite Brand-Name Treats”; and editor of the website Good. Food. Stories.