Popcorn can be for a fun gathering with friends, for a movie or a tv show, or even just as a light snack when you get home from work. You can grab a bag that can be ready in just a few minutes, or you can spend some time cooking it on the stove. But, could you make it in an oven?
Popping popcorn in the oven is possible. Popcorn needs a sudden burst of heat to allow the kernels to expand and pop. Ovens are not equipped to make heat so quickly so the kernels may not all be popped perfectly but if it is your only option then give it a try.
There are a variety of ways that popcorn can be popped, and now that you know making it in the oven is doable, let’s get started.
Why Does Popcorn Pop?
To really understand why making popcorn in the oven can be problematic, it is helpful to understand how popcorn pops and why it suddenly bursts into the tasty snack we love. It all starts inside of the corn kernel. Inside of this shell, there are small amounts of water and starch.
At a normal temperature, the water and starch pose no problem, but as they heat up, they expand and put pressure on the outer shell of the kernel. Once the internal temperature gets to about 355°F, the water and starch have enough pressure to burst out of the kernel. At the same moment they burst, the heat essentially cooks the starch and water, creating the white fluffy popcorn we know and love!
Essentially, what we are eating is corn that has been turned inside out, heated up, and slathered with butter and salt. What a great way to enjoy something!
How to Cook Popcorn in the Oven?
We have discussed how popping popcorn in the oven is not the most ideal situation. Even though this is true, it is still possible to pop popcorn in the oven! Here are a few simple steps to follow if this is the method you choose:
- Pre-heat the oven to 400°F
- Find an oven-safe pan/bowl and some aluminum foil
- Add 1/2 cup kernels, 1/4 cup oil into the pan/bowl
- Cover the bowl with aluminum foil. Give it room to expand, but secure the edges tightly
- Wait until the oven is @ 400°F and put the pan/bowl (with the aluminum on) in the oven
- Close the oven, wait and listen for popping (timing varies)
- Once the popping starts, let it continue popping for about 45 to 60 seconds before shaking and removing the bowl (with oven mitts) from the oven.
- Season to taste!
It is not a very complex process, but may not yield the same results as other methods. Some kernels may be burned while others are not even popped! However, it should do just fine if you don’t have another option.
- Everyone’s oven cooks differently so yours might cook faster or slower than anticipated
- I used a cast iron skillet to make the popcorn in the oven
- Do not walk away from the oven as you need to listen to the popping to know when it is done and ready to be removed
- This method is not ideal and I will not be repeating this cooking option – a lot of popcorn was burned or unpopped and it just took to much effort for the outcome
What Are Other Methods for Cooking Popcorn?
So, while it isn’t the best to pop popcorn in the oven, there are many other ways to easily pop this snack instead! Let’s go over a few of those so that we can see which method will work best for us and get popcorn into our mouths the quickest.
The best method is definitely stovetop popcorn as it yields the best results like your grandma used to make you. In recent years, many new inventions have come out that make popping popcorn much easier.
- Stovetop Method: The stovetop method is fairly easy—just put kernels, butter, and salt into a pot with a lid, turn on the heat, and then listen for the pops! This is the most popular method for making popcorn at home for the family. Many families have grown up having eaten popcorn that was cooked this way.
- Air-Popper: An Air-popper is a machine that can sit on your countertop, and it uses air to pop the popcorn rather than large amounts of butter or oil. It pops 2 or 3 tablespoons in 5 or 6 minutes and can put a more healthy snack at your fingertips very quickly.
- Microwave Method: With just a bag of popcorn from the store or a microwave popcorn container and some kernels of your own, you can quickly make popcorn in the microwave! This also only takes just a few minutes and can mean very little work if you just stick a pre-bought bag in and press start. If you want to take a bit more time, you can also use your own bag/container and kernels. Using your own brown paper bags is a great way to reduce your ingestion of unknown chemicals.
- Grill Method: You can also just put some kernels in an aluminum pan with tin foil and pop them in the smoke! This will give them a nice flavor and will not take too long.
- Campfire Method: There is nothing like having popcorn by an open flame! This is also done with aluminum foil and a pan or skillet.
- Whirley Pop: This is another invention that doesn’t require much oil but allows you to do the work with a crank handle. It is a great invention that can sit right on your countertop and give you the experience of cranking your own popcorn into existence.
In the end, there are lots and lots of ways to make popcorn! Some will get you very flavorful popcorn quickly, others will get you healthier popcorn, or maybe a few extra kernels in the bottom. Regardless of how or where it is cooked, it is still a great snack that has been around for a long time and is loved by many.