Popcorn is the perfect light snack to munch on when pre-dinner hunger strikes or while you’re watching a thriller on the edge of your seat. But the microwavable packages we’ve always loved aren’t maximizing popcorn’s true potential.
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Microwave packages contain chemicals that keep the butter flavoring shelf-stable as it sits in the back of your pantry. These chemicals are not only preservatives, but also dyes that give your kernels a vibrant yellow, “movie lover’s” hue. Among the list of ingredients in popular popcorn brands are TBHQ, citric acid, soy lecithin, and propyl gallate. And I won’t even get into the FDA claims of perfluorinated compounds (likely carcinogens) that leak from the bags.
If you buy butter-flavored popcorn, do you really want it to be chemical-flavored?
Read more: Popcorn and Milk Is the OG Breakfast Cereal
Popcorn is healthier (and cheaper) when you buy dry kernels. Pop them in butter for a true butter flavor, or go with your cooking fat of choice, like coconut or olive oil. You can still cook the popcorn in your microwave so the process is just as convenient. Use a microwave-safe bowl with a plate secured on top to trap the steam necessary for making those kernels pop.
But if you want to take your popcorn skills to the next level (and make a whole lot of it), follow along with Chef Adam Hickman as he demonstrates how to prepare it on a conventional stovetop.
WATCH: How to Pop Popcorn in a Pan
Popcorn in a Pan
All you’ll need is about 2 tablespoons of butter or oil, popcorn kernels, and table salt. Start by setting a large pan to medium-high heat on the stovetop. Test the heat of the oil by tossing in just one kernel, then wait until it pops to pour the rest of the kernels in.
Cover the pan with a transparent lid (just to see when they’ve all popped) and give the pan a shake to coat the kernels in hot oil. As the kernels pop, shake the pan every once in awhile to prevent any popcorn from burning on the bottom. Sprinkle with salt while the popcorn is still hot.
Don’t Skimp on Seasonings
If you’re one that usually eats popcorn right out of the bag, get ready to experience the snack in a brilliant new way. Start with salt, then let your spice cabinet take the lead. Some of our favorite homemade popcorn toppings include:
- Ranch powder
- Nutritional yeast
- Trader Joe’s Everything Bagel Seasoning
- Chaat masala
- Pico De Gallo Hot Chile and Salt
- Cinnamon sugar
- Old Bay Seasoning
If you’re feeling even more creative, check out these 21 freshly-popped popcorn recipes, where you’ll find everything from maple-chile popcorn to rocky road popcorn balls.
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