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Perfect Stovetop Popcorn: Buttery Flavor Without Butter

Popcorn is one of my favorite snacks of all time. Since it reminds me of happy events, I like to eat it when I need a quick pick-me-up.

I’ve made it a lot of different ways, and in my opinion, this is the perfect stovetop popcorn. It’s easy, and if you follow the directions, it comes out good every single time!

popcorn in a pan and in a bowl

Growing up, my mom popped corn in a large covered saucepan. She poured just the right amount of oil, got it hot, and added the corn. After it started popping, she shook it until the popping ended. That meant it was done.

Then I graduated to the old-timey popcorn popper with the little rod that keeps it from sticking. After that, I used the hot air popper. I also tried the different brands of microwave popcorn. While all of it was good, I kept looking for something better. Because that’s what I do.

During my search, I ate every kind of popcorn you can imagine—some from a bag and some that’s home-popped. A little more than a year ago, Costco carried a brand that I couldn’t get enough of. I purchased at least one monster-sized bag every time I went there.

Bowl of popcorn next to a glass of ice water

Making Stovetop Popcorn

Yes, I know it’s an old-school method. But there’s something special about making it the way our grandparents did. Plus it’s easier to control what’s in it. This method came about after I couldn’t find my favorite pre-popped popcorn. More on that later.

I’ve used the microwave popcorn packs. And although the results taste good, I don’t know what all that stuff is in the package. The way I make it gives me a chance to only put the good stuff in the mix.

Disappearing Snack

I assumed they would always have it. But then one day, I headed straight for the snack section for my popcorn fix. To my dismay, they no longer carried it.

Since that was basically the main reason I was there that time, I decided to figure out the secret. After all, if someone else could make such deliciousness, so could I.

On my way home, I stopped off at a grocery store where I could purchase smaller quantities of popping corn. I picked up several different brands, and all of them were good. However, nothing was as tasty as the one I’d purchased at Costco.

Secret to the Best Popcorn Ever

So I went online and looked up the ingredient list of the brand I liked. And there it was—the secret to the best popcorn ever. To my surprise, it was coconut oil. And if you’ve ever wondered how to get seasoning to stick to popcorn without butter, this is the key.

Armed with this information, I started cooking the different brands in varying amounts of coconut oil. One thing I discovered was that more was better. Isn’t that often the case? Anyway, I love the buttery flavor of the corn popped in coconut oil.

Amazingly, if you use the right amount of coconut oil, you don’t need any butter at all. Not even a smidge. And you only need a tiny bit of salt. It’s that good.

The true test of how good this tasty treat is was when one of our granddaughters took a bite. Her eyes lit up as she said, “This is so buttery. I love it!”

After you taste this popcorn, you’ll want to serve it any time you have people over for sports parties, reality TV viewing, or just sitting around playing board games. Serve this in addition to the party mix, and your friends will think you’re the most brilliant host in town.

If there are kids, also serve this sweet and salty snack mix. In fact, it might be fun to put out the ingredients and let them make their own. It’s a fun activity that will undoubtedly make them happy.

I’ve also made popcorn with avocado oil. It’s good, but the flavor isn’t as buttery. In fact, it’s a little bit on the bland side.

How to Make the Best Popcorn

I’ve resorted to making popcorn the old fashioned way—with a covered saucepan. After all, it’s not what you make it in. It’s more about what you put in it.

Measure a heaping spoon of coconut oil and melt it in the saucepan.

Overflowing spoon of room temperature solid coconut oil
Coconut Oil

After the oil heats up, add your kernels. I just dump them in as quickly as possible.

Pouring small glass bowlful of popcorn kernels into the saucepan
Popcorn Kernels

Put the lid on the saucepan and wait for the first pop. If the oil is hot enough, it shouldn’t take long.

Red saucepan with the lid
Covered Saucepan

Once it starts popping, jiggle the pan every few seconds to make sure the not-yet-popped kernels make it to the bottom where the heat is.

After the pops are more than a second or two apart, remove the pan from the heat. Keep the lid on it until the popping stops, or you’ll wind up having to get the broom.

Popped corn in a red saucepan with a lid on it
Popped Corn

Add salt to taste. If you’re making this for other people, go light on the salt. Provide the salt shaker so they can add more if they want.

Bowl of popcorn with salt shaker and glass of ice water

Enjoy your buttery tasting popcorn without having to add any butter.

Frequently Asked Questions About Popcorn

Popcorn is something most of us grew up eating without thinking twice. However, there are some questions you might have.

Is It Safe to Eat Popcorn Everyday?

Popcorn is actually a nutritious snack, as long as you don’t douse it with butter and a double dusting of salt. It takes three cups of it to have one serving of grains.

Is It Healthy to Eat Popcorn?

Yes, it is a healthy snack. It provides a low calorie option that is also high in fiber.

Does Microwave Popcorn Make You Gain Weight?

Many of the microwave options have extra butter, sugar, and other high-calorie ingredients. You’re better off popping it yourself, either in an air popper or using the recipe above.

Bowl of popcorn with glass of ice water and a black and white towel.

Benefits of Stovetop Popcorn

There are so many benefits of making stovetop popcorn. As I already mentioned, it’s easier to control what’s in it.

Another thing I like is being able to make a large amount. In fact, you’re only limited by the size of the pot you use. If you need more than the pot will hold, make 2 batches … or even 3. There’s nothing better than homemade popcorn that will rival anything you’ll get at the movie theater.

It’s also a wonderful lesson for the kids or grandkids. Show them how to make your old fashioned popcorn and watch their eyes light up with amazement. Use this experience as another way of bonding.

More Tasty Snacks

Since most of us associate popcorn with happy times, I decided to share other snacks that do the same thing.

These coconut macaroons are delicious, and these peanut butter cookies will melt in your mouth.

Air Fryer Corn Tortilla Chips – Craving chips? These tortilla chips are easy to make and so delicious!

Pineapple Rings – If you like pineapple, you’ll love these delicious air fryer pineapple rings. They’re easy, fun, and so yummy!

Bacon Wrapped Potato Wedges – Take 2 of your favorite foods (bacon and potatoes), put them together in one recipe, and you have a little taste of heaven!

Yield: 4 servings

Popcorn - Buttery Flavor Without Butter

Bowl of popcorn and a glass of ice water

This popcorn has a delightfully buttery flavor without any butter.

Prep Time 1 minute
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 6 minutes


  • 1 heaping tablespoon of coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup of popping corn kernels
  • Salt to taste


  1. Put the coconut oil in a large saucepan and heat it on high.
  2. Add the popping corn kernels
  3. Cover the saucepan and wait for the first pop.
  4. Every few seconds, shake the pan so the un-popped kernels will fall to the bottom.
  5. When the popping slows down to more than a second apart, remove from heat but keep the lid on the pan.
  6. After the popping stops, remove the lid and salt to taste.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size

1-1/2 cup popped corn

Amount Per Serving Calories 36Total Fat 4gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 1gCholesterol 0mgSodium 145mgCarbohydrates 1gFiber 0gSugar 0gProtein 0g

The nutrition information is a product of online calculators. I try to provide true and accurate information, but these numbers are estimates.

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Friday 6th of October 2023

I don't mind an appropriate amount of butter in our diet now and then, as a treat--and the trick I figured out a few years ago is to use ghee as the popping oil. (We buy it in jars at the local Indian grocery store.) Same amount as the coconut oil in this recipe, and you can heat it up and pop the kernels in it without burning or browning it. Lots of buttery goodness, with a nice even distribution on the kernels, and no wilting them by pouring gobs of melted butter on them... They stay crisp! :)


Friday 6th of October 2023

Hi Tobu. Thanks for the tip! I'll try that next time I make popcorn.


Sunday 25th of August 2019

Sounds like something I need to try. I actually pop corn in one of my flexipans, covered with a the microwave. It just takes a tiny bit (just a sprinkling) of water. And salt... I don't use butter. I bet the coconut oil will work in this.


Sunday 25th of August 2019

Hi Jane. I've never used coconut oil in the microwave. Let me know how it turns out.

Miz Helen

Tuesday 26th of March 2019

Popcorn is one of my favorite treats, this looks so good! Thanks for sharing with us at Full Plate Thursday and have a good week! Miz Helen

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