Darn Near Perfect Popcorn

Darn Near Perfect Popcorn

Popcorn is high in fiber, which we all know is a good thing. Dentists dig it because it is a sugarless snack. And although pediatricians warn against serving popcorn to toddlers because of potential choking hazards, they do like home-popped corn for older kids because it doesn’t contain additives, dyes, preservatives, or other, you know, stuff.

Microwaved and butter-flavored movie popcorn could possibly be another story, so pop your own. It’s good, it’s good for you, and it’s more fun than a barrel full of M.D.s.

If you’re feeling culinarily adventurous, try stirring in 1 to 2 tablespoons of Furikake (a Japanese seasoning packing plenty of umami goodness) before adding the butter.

This recipe originally appeared in Season 10 of Good Eats.

3 tablespoons peanut oil

85 grams (1/2 cup) popcorn kernels

1/2 teaspoon popcorn salt

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Place the oil, popcorn, and salt in the a large, 6-quart, metal mixing bowl. Cover with heavy-duty aluminum foil and poke 10 slits in the top with a knife.

Place the bowl over medium heat and shake constantly using a pair of tongs or kitchen towels to hold the bowl. Continue shaking until the popcorn finishes popping, approximately 3 minutes.

Remove the bowl from the heat and carefully remove the foil. Stir in any salt that has stuck to the side of the bowl. Melt the butter in the microwave. Slowly drizzle over the popcorn while spinning the bowl. Serve immediately.

Yield: 3 1/2 to 4 quarts

Active time: 5 minutes

Total time: 8 to 10 minutes

Alton Brown's Perfect Popcorn with Furikake


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  1. 2

    I have an electric oven, the kind with coils instead of burners. How would I have to modify this recipe/process in order to get good results?

    • 3

      I’ve done this on coils on my old oven, and I have done this on a ceramic top. I’ve even done this on the BBQ. The technique is the same. And it you don’t have the bowl, use a pot. I have stainless steel pots that work beautifully for this recipe.

  2. 4
    Lisa Clark

    Alton’s way has been the only way I have made popcorn since I saw the recipe 3 years ago. And I highly recommend the addition of the furikake. Have also sprinkled on hot paprika from Spain. Yummy!

  3. 6

    For those noting the need for oil for the salt to stick on the airpopped version, I use the misto sprayer with evoo in it and toss salt as it is coming out of the popper. I must try the salt – that makes perfect sense! Thank you.

  4. 7

    On our popcorn we use a mix of EVOO and butter to top it, then sprinkle it with Brewer’s Yeast and then salt. Lastly, drizzle Sriracha on the sides of a bowl and toss in the popcorn. Still until evenly coated.

  5. 10
    Gail Offen

    try this: 2 generous teaspoonfuls of corn oil
    6 generous tablespoonfuls of a mix of 1/4th white, red, black, and yellow popcorn
    salt to taste

    Place in a self-agitating popcorn popper. Pop until done. You may wish to wait an extra minute or two for any unpopped kernels to pop. Already popped corn shouldn’t burn. When done, decant into another bowl. Enjoy the delight of pure popped corn flavor.

  6. 11

    I worked in a movie theater for close to 4 years. I think the key here is not so much the kernels, but the oil you pop it in. Most movie theaters use coconut oil for the popping. There’s definitely a difference in taste. Also, for the love of all that’s holy, DON’T USE MARGARINE!!! Soggy popcorn is not good.

  7. 12

    Mr. Brown: leave it to you to make my favorite snack in the whole world simply and deliciously. No unitaskers invited to the party. But WHAT is in your glass??

    • 19

      If you don’t want to shake the metal bowl against your glass cooktop, you could insert a “stirring tool” to keep the kernels rotating. This kitchen tool has 3 legs, runs on battery, and keeps my gravy from burning at holiday cookathons. I see it these days on Amazon called Robo Stir or Stir Crazy.

  8. 20

    I love this method for making popcorn–one thing I do is to use a combination of clarified butter and canola oil to pop it (rather than pouring butter on the popcorn after it’s made). I use about 75% clarified butter and 25% oil. It more evenly distributes the butter.

  9. 21

    Isn’t it, “seaweed?”

    Kasandra Maidmentt, I’ve eaten that yeast on popcorn since I was little. I think it’s a BC thing. Too funny you’re in Roberts Creek. I’m in Sechelt 😀

  10. 24

    Here is another trick, heat the oil with one kernel until it pops. Then pour the rest of your popcorn in, take it off the heat for exactly one minute then put it back on the heat. You have gotten the kernels up to temp and they will pop at one time. Results, less unopened kernels if any at all.

  11. 26

    My most interesting popcorn comment is….guess what was used to pack fragile items prior to packing peanuts? You guessed right!!! Plain popcorn!!!

  12. 27

    Haters hate. Gosh. Keep it light. Alton knows what he is talking about. Pots wouldn’t distribute the oil the same way. In fact, using a bowl seems perfect because the surface area of the bottom would make for the perfect amount of heat and the scoopy sides would make the popped kernels get out of the way. Don’t you guys ever listen to Alton?

  13. 28

    Just use a wok. I have for years. Med. to high heat. Love ya, Alton. You’re off on this one. More important here is the quality of the popcorn. I’d rather you rate brands than tell me how to pop. Like wine, there’s a lot of crappy popping corn out there.

    • 29

      Personally, since I switched to a wok there’s no such thing as crappy popping corn. I buy whatever’s cheapest, and it turns to fluffy, crunchy goodness with a scant few unpopped kernels. The constant movement prevents burning, and the steam release ensures crunch. Easy and consistent.

      Problems with the popping corn might be due to age or humidity.

  14. 30

    I grew up with an air popper and still prefer them for reasons other than nostalgia for my misspent youth. First, it’s no big deal if you don’t have the appropriate oil, since all you need is the kernals. Secondly, you don’t need a stove or microwave. (which is a consideration for me) Also, air-popped corn can be used in crafting (think old-fashioned tree garlands) without worrying about it going rancid. Not only that, but you can ALSO use the popper to roast coffee beans or even toast seeds and nuts (very handy if you don’t have a stove or oven).

  15. 31

    While on vacation in Hawaii I had to improvise a meal. I made a sort of salad of avocado, lemon and Furikake. It was fab. Now I make a similar concoction, but more like guacamole, and put it on toast. I also love Furikake with butter on sweet potatoes.

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