Tips for Perfect Popcorn

Tips for Perfect Popcorn

Now that we’ve taken a look at most of the ingredients (and variables) that go into popcorn, it’s finally time to go over making the snack for ourselves. In this entry, we’ll go over a few tips for getting the best results from your kernels in a popcorn machine and on the stovetop. 

Popcorn Machine Tips 

For the most part, it’s true to say that a good popcorn machine does most of the heavy lifting for you. But there are steps you can take to experiment with the snack that your machine produces, often for the better. Some of these principles will also apply to stovetop popping, but the processes will likely be different. 

  • Preheat the kernels. You can spread your kernels out in a thin layer on a cookie sheet or other baking tray and put them into a low oven (the lowest temperature your oven will manage) for about two minutes. You want the kernels to feel warm but not be too hot to hold barehanded. Load them into the popcorn machine while warm and start the cycle. This will ensure more even popping with fewer old maids or under popped kernels to deal with. 

  • Stick to the manufacturer’s recommended cleaning procedure. It might be cheating to call this a “secret” or “lesser-known” tip, but most machines—popcorn machines included—perform better when they’re properly maintained. Adhering to the manufacturer’s recommended cleaning schedule and procedures is an easy way to ensure the best popcorn and longest life from your machine.  

Stovetop Tips 

While we’re obviously huge fans of popcorn machines, there’s something to be said for stovetop popcorn—especially in the late fall and winter. Making it, though, requires a more active role and finer attention to detail than using a popcorn machine. 

  • Preheat the oil and kernels. This is the same idea as above, but different execution. It’s also a much more crucial step when making stovetop popcorn. You should heat your oil until two popcorn kernels—dropped into opposite sides of the pan—both pop. When that happens, remove the pan from direct heat and add the remaining kernels, gently tossing to coat them evenly. Leave the pan off the heat for about one minute while the kernels come up to temperature, then put the pan back on direct heat. This ensures even, quick popping. 

  • Use a pan with a round bottom and, if possible, a glass top. A wok, with it’s narrower bottom and curved sides, is a great pan for making popcorn because it allows the lighter, popped kernels to rise to the top of the pile and away from the heat while simultaneously channeling unpopped kernels to the hot oil at the bottom of the pan. A glass lid, while not always an option, is useful because it allows you to see when your popcorn is getting close to fully popped. 

Following these tips will get you well on your way to butter, salty bliss. But remember that Home Theater Express’s customer service representatives are available to answer any questions you might have.