There’s nothing like a hot and yummy bowl of buttery popcorn. Most of the time, I go to my trusty microwave and pop up a bag. However, making popcorn on the stove has some surprising advantages to your go-to bag of microwave popcorn. 

It is cheaper to make your own popcorn than to buy microwave popcorn on the shelf. Popcorn can be a cheap snack if you buy popcorn kernels in a bulk bag, use an air popper, or a brown paper lunch bag.

We are going to unravel the facts about the cheapest way to make popcorn. Let’s take a look at these methods right now. 

Which Way To Make Popcorn Is Cheaper?

We’ll take a logical path to determine if homemade stovetop popcorn is cheaper to make than microwave popcorn and ready-to-eat popcorn. Since we all live in different places and the prices of groceries vary around the country, I choose items from Walmart online. 

The cheapest way to make popcorn is by making it in a brown paper bag with unpopped kernels in the microwave. This allows you to skip the oil expense and gives you the same convenience as commercially prepared microwave popcorn. Stovetop popcorn is the next cheapest option to make popcorn.

I worked out the cost of products I’ve linked below. These ingredients are all different sizes, and you will use different amounts in making your popcorn, so the upfront price you pay at the grocery store may not be the actual value. 

Here’s the rough breakdown of each popcorn cost:

  • A 30 oz jar of unpopped kernels retails for $3.28 on You’ll also buy a 16 fl oz bottle of cooking oil for $2.13, making your total cost be $5.41. 
  • You can buy a 12 pack of microwave popcorn for $5.48.
  • On the other hand, you can buy a bag of ready-to-eat popcorn for $2.69.

Is Ready-To-Eat Popcorn the Cheapest?

Looking at the cost upfront is not where the value of popcorn lies but in the kernels themselves. It takes very few grains to make a lot of popcorn. You’re paying for each precious piece of corn and the quality. 

Ready-to-eat popcorn is not the cheapest option when it comes to your choices. In fact, when you buy a large bag of popcorn kernels, you get the equivalent of 256 bags of ready-to-eat popcorn for a lot less money per serving.

How Much Popcorn Am I Getting?

How much popcorn you get depends on the size of the bag, and your cooking methods. Even though you spend more upfront buying kernels and oil, you are buying enough, in this case, to make 1 cup (8 g) of popcorn 256 times. 

If you think about it, 256 cups (2 kg) of popcorn is a massive amount of popcorn. 

On the other hand, I have 12 packs of microwave popcorn that will produce around 10 cups (80 g) of popcorn per bag. Twelve bags times 10 cups is 120 cups (960 g) of popcorn. The ready-to-eat popcorn is only 8 oz and is only 1 cup (227 g) of popped popcorn. 

What Is The Cheapest Cooking Method For Popcorn?

Microwave popcorn is cheaper per popped cup of homemade popcorn or ready-to-eat popcorn. Microwave popcorn also has the advantage of convenience and speedy cook times. Although this represents the price per popped cup, each microwave bag pops 10 cups (80 g).

Did I mention that it only takes .25 oz (7 g) to make popcorn at home? These kernels are 2 pennies per cup (8 g) serving. You will only use 2 tbsp (30 mL) of oil when making the popcorn, so you will spend 7.3 cents to make one cup of popcorn. 

If you consider that 12 bags of microwave popcorn, which are 3.29 oz (93 g) each, make an estimated 10 cups of popcorn each, for one cup of popcorn, you will spend $.05. 

Measuring by 1 cup of cooked popcorn (8 g), your actual costs are: 

  • Homemade (kernels and oil)———————- $.09
  • Microwave ——————————————— $.05
  • Ready to eat popcorn ——————————-$.33

Is Stovetop Popcorn Healthier?

Stovetop popcorn can be healthier, depending on what type of fat you use. You control how much oil and fat goes into your popcorn when you cook it on the stovetop. You can also control the portion size of your popped kernels and enjoy healthier but still delicious popcorn. 

You can also pop popcorn without oil and control the calories further: 

  1. Add your kernels to a brown paper bag and fold over at least two times
  2. Place the bag in the microwave for about 2 ½ minutes
  3. Season with butter, salt, and nutritional yeast if desired (adding anything adds calories and costs)
  4. Shake the bag to distribute the seasonings and enjoy

How Do I Make Stovetop Popcorn?

To make stovetop popcorn, you’ll need to heat a shallow skillet on medium heat. Add oil, then test a few popcorn kernels to see if they pop right away. If they do, then add a shallow layer of popcorn in the pan. Cover the skillet with a lid, shake it regularly and let it pop until done.

Stovetop popcorn has 10 minutes of cook time and it makes 4 cups (32 g) per serving. 


  • ½ cup (113 g) unpopped kernels 
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) oil or butter of your choice 
  • any seasonings your toppings you’d like to add 

Here are the cooking instructions

  1. Heat a shallow skillet on medium heat and keep your lid nearby. 
  2. Add the oil, then add 3 kernels to the oil and cover. It should take 4 or 5 minutes for them to pop. 
  3. When the 3 kernels pop, add the rest of the popcorn into the pan. 
  4. Don’t overfill the skillet. Grains should be in one layer in your skillet, or they won’t pop. 
  5. Stir the popcorn in the pan to evenly coat them in oil. Cover your pot and listen closely. 
  6. Once the popping slows down, turn off the heat and season as you desire. 

Tasty Popcorn Seasoning Ideas I’ve Personally Tried

  • Simple seasoning salt and butter: This is a personal favorite of mine. 
  • Garlic parmesan: Add some garlic powder and parmesan sprinkles and enjoy. 
  • Sriracha popcorn: This is so tasty! Mix a little sriracha with your butter and spice that popcorn up.
  • Dessert popcorn: A little chocolate sauce, caramel, and sprinkles make this salty snack sweeter than ever. 
  • Trail mix popcorn: Add some trail mix to your kernels and enjoy a different snack attack. 
  • Check your stores: They often have exciting flavor sprinklings you can add to your popcorn and experiment. The cheddar and white cheddar sprinkles are my favorite. 

Enjoy and start popping!!!

Similar Posts