Homemade Popcorn on the Stove
Hello! Did you have a nickname growing up? Maybe based on some unique attribute or trait you exemplified? Well, my nickname as a kid was popcorn-head. That’s right. Who on earth would be called popcorn-head? Someone who is utterly obsessed with popcorn. (Hi, that’s me!) I’m not picky, anything from buttery movie theater popcorn to stale cheddar popcorn hits the spot. So when I came up with the idea to make homemade vegan caramel popcorn, I was ecstatic. And it’s so incredibly simple! Pop up a batch for your next movie night or picnic!
How Do You Make Popcorn Without a Microwave or Popcorn Maker?
In my opinion, the best popcorn is made fresh on the stove. Forget the packaged microwave popcorn full of harmful chemicals. And I don’t particularly care for an air popper, since that’s one more gadget I would have to store in my tiny kitchen. Instead, you can make fresh, healthy popcorn on the stove with items you likely already have! Just grab some oil like coconut or olive oil, a large pot, Dutch oven or large metal bowl and away we go!
My preferred method is with a large pot or Dutch oven, since it has handles to easily shake while the popcorn is popping. However, you can use a metal bowl to make popcorn on the stove, which is the cookbook author Alton Brown’s favorite method.
Tips to Making Popcorn on the Stove
Patience is a virtue
I worked at a gourmet popcorn stand during high school. From that I learned a few tips to avoid burnt popcorn or too many un-popped kernels. First, have patience. Add two or three kernels to the oil in your pot/Dutch oven/metal bowl. As the oil heats on medium heat, eventually you’ll hear those test kernels pop. That lets you know the oil is hot enough to add all the rest of the popcorn kernels. If you add your kernels too soon, your popcorn may turn out chewy since it didn’t cook at a high enough temperature. And don’t worry, those test kernels won’t burn while all the rest of them pop.
Shake it baby
Once all the kernels are added into the hot oil, quickly add the lid and begin to shake your pot. Do not stop shaking! This is a great arm workout too. As you shake, the heavy un-popped kernels drop down to the bottom so they have more contact with the hot oil, and are therefore in a better place to pop.
Pop it like it’s hot
I wait until there are three full seconds that pass in between each popping sound. This is when I deem the popcorn sufficiently popped and I remove it from the heat. But watch out – I recommend to leave the lid on for a final 20 seconds, just in case there are a few rogue kernels about to pop.
Finally, season as you like and enjoy your fresh stovetop popcorn made at home!
Homemade Caramel Sauce
Recently I made a batch of vegan caramel sauce and I’ve been finding every possible way to include this delicious sauce in my life! From breakfast with baked caramel oatmeal to dessert! Movie night just got a whole lot better with homemade vegan caramel popcorn.
Why is My Caramel Popcorn Soggy?
I’ve been there, done that, trust me. It’s easy to make soggy popcorn when adding a liquid like homemade caramel sauce. There are a few tips to making crispy, not soggy, caramel popcorn. First, if you’re making vegan caramel sauce, use full-fat coconut milk. Low-fat coconut milk will make the sauce too runny so it won’t harden on the popcorn. Second, make sure your caramel sauce has cooled long enough to thicken. If your caramel is too runny, it will make your popcorn soggy. Finally, give your popcorn time to cool and harden after mixing it in with the caramel sauce.
Why Make Homemade Caramel Popcorn?
Listen, I get it. Popping a bag of packaged microwave popcorn for a couple minutes is just so easy. It takes zero effort and very minimal time. But hear me out, once you try homemade popcorn, let alone homemade vegan caramel popcorn, you won’t go back to that microwaved stuff. The taste is infinitely fresher. Microwave popcorn leaves this weird coating on my tongue, which is probably the PFOA that line the bags. Add homemade caramel sauce to the mix and you’ve got a salty-sweet-crunchy extravaganza going on.
I invite you to take a half hour to make vegan caramel sauce and pop up a batch of fresh popcorn. Mix it all together, let it cool on a baking sheet while you find your movie or show, then sit back and enjoy the popcorn of your labor. 🍿
Homemade Vegan Caramel Popcorn
Vegan Caramel Sauce
- 6 Tbsp vegan butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ⅓ cup full-fat coconut milk (don't use light coconut milk)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ½ tsp salt (or use a whole teaspoon for salted caramel)
- 3 Tbsp coconut oil or olive oil
- ⅓ cup popcorn kernels
- ½ tsp salt, to season
Make the Vegan Caramel Sauce
- Melt the butter on medium-high heat in a sauce pan. Stir in the brown sugar until it is smooth.
- Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the coconut milk until it is smooth. Remove the sauce pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt.
- Let the caramel sauce cool and thicken. Store in the fridge in an airtight container if you're not using it right away.
Make the Caramel Popcorn
- In a metal bowl, large pot, or Dutch oven, add the coconut oil or olive oil and two popcorn kernels. Turn the stove on to medium-high heat. Once the popcorn kernels pop, the oil is hot enough. Add the ⅓ cup popcorn kernels and immediately cover with a lid or aluminum foil. Wearing oven mitts to protect your hands, shake the bowl, pot, or Dutch oven vigorously back and forth. Keep shaking until there is a three second pause in between each pop.
- Remove from the heat and let it sit still covered for an additional 20 seconds, in case any last kernels pop. Remove the lid or foil and season with salt.
- Pour the cooled caramel sauce onto the popcorn and stir to fully coat the popcorn.
- Spread out the caramel-covered popcorn onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and allow it to cool and harden. Enjoy!