Here in my house, we watch a lot of netflix movies. Typically, we’ll see anywhere from three to seven movies in one week. The netflix convenience is great, and the selection is vast, and we love the comfort of home and being able to watch in privacy without having to get all dressed up and spend gas money to get to the theater. It also has the added benefit of much less money spent on soda and popcorn, however, I must admit that we really miss that movie theater popcorn.
Since netflix does not include on-demand movie theater style popcorn delivered across the internet, I got this crazy idea that I was going to learn how to make it at home. We had been doing microwave popcorn, which is not the same, and air-popped popcorn, which is really very different. Jiffy pop came a little closer, but nothing quite replicated that authentic movie theater taste and texture we love so much. Actually going to the theater to get popcorn would have been so troublesome and expensive, that we would have just ended up seeing a movie while there, thus defeating the purpose.
Not really excited about the idea of buying a $ 200 plus kettle style popcorn cooker plus the special butter and junk to put in it, I decided to research options and conduct cooking experiments with different ingredients. I went to the grocery store and got a bunch of different types of oils, butter substitutes, butter flavor seasoning, popcorn kernels, and so on. It ended up being almost $ 30 worth of groceries.
The result of these experiments is this unique recipe to make a superb batch of popcorn at home without any special popcorn pans or machines and using ingredients readily available at most decent size grocery stores. Note that it’s not a healthy recipe, just a really tasty one that gives you that movie theater taste AND texture. It tastes genuinely buttery and salty, does not burn, is very crunchy, and also not soggy at all but rather nice and dry.
- Morton Popcorn Salt (this comes in a smaller salt container and the salt is a much finer grain than standard table salt)
- Peanut oil (a very light oil, and readily available. Does the trick. I wanted to use coconut oil but could not find it anywhere)
- High quality popcorn kernels – pay extra for the good stuff. Orville Redenbacher kernels work well. So do white popcorn kernels. Avoid ‘jumbo’ kernels. The last batch I made I used Koepsell’s White Rice Popping Corn.
- Butter flavor seasoning – found in the spices aisle. I use Land-O-Lakes butter seasoning.
- Butter flavor cooking spray – like PAM, it’s a spray-on oil. I got the store brand stuff, and it tasted just peachy.
- Real butter. The good ‘ole stuff with salt in it. The real deal. Sticks are more convenient.
You’ll also need a 4 quart flat bottom pan with lid, 1/2 cup measuring cup, hot pads for handling the pan as needed and a big mixing bowl.
- Put two or three tablespoons of oil in the pan, give or take. This is not an exact science. A little more or less does not make much difference.
- Prepare a heaping (higher than top of measuring cup) 1/2 cup of kernels for the pan, but keep them in the measuring cup for now.
- Add three ‘test’ popcorn kernels to the oil on the bottom of the pan. Cover with the lid slightly open to vent steam.
Put the stove on medium heat, and put the pan on the heat, lid slightly open.
- When all three ‘test’ kernels have popped, remove the pan from the heat, uncover it, and immediately add in the heaping 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels. Then shake a bunch of popcorn slat on top of it all quickly, and shake around the mixture to get all the kernels covered in the oily salt. Try to get the kernels into a single layer on the bottom of the pan. While the pan is still OFF the heat, cover it and WAIT 15 seconds or so.
- Return the pan GENTLY to the heat, to keep the single layer of popcorn kernels intact, and leave the lid open slightly.
- When a bunch of kernels have popped already, being careful to keep the lid on but also open slightly to vent steam, quickly shake the pan up and down and back and forth a couple of times briefly, then return to the heat.
After a bunch more kernels have popped, again shake the pan according to #7. Do this three or four times through the course of popping.
- When popping has slowed down, but not stopped completely, shake pan one last time and remove from the heat. Let it sit still with the cover still slightly open for about one minute while the stragglers finally decide to pop.
- Remove the lid from the pan and pour the popcorn into the bowl. The pan should be about 3/4 full of popped popcorn, and most kernels should be popped without any popped corn burnt at all. (If you do have burnt popcorn, you did not shake it enough or you kept it on the heat too long or both)
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in the measuring cup by microwaving it for about 25 seconds. You could also “double boil” it (heat water to boiling, turn off heat, place melting container in boiling hot water) if you don’t have a microwave, such as if you’re camping. Set aside to cool just a bit, we will use it soon.
- Spray top of popcorn in mixing bowl with butter flavor spray to get a good coating on the entire surface, about three seconds. IMMEDIATELY sprinkle butter flavor seasoning and more popcorn salt over it, one in each hand, at the same time, before the spray dries so it sticks.
Mix up the popcorn in the bowl. I prefer to put the bowl on an angle in my hands, and then hold one side of the bowl down as a pivot point while shaking the other side of the bowl up and down. If you get it right, the popcorn rotates from top to bottom through the bowl without ever leaving the bowl and without needing to be touched.
- Drizzle the melted butter as evenly as possible on the top of the popcorn.
- Add more butter flavor seasoning and popcorn salt to top of that.
- Mix again in the same fashion.
Wait a couple of minutes for it to dry out and cool off.
- ENJOY the great buttery, salty popcorn flavor and crunchy texture at home, just like from the movie theater!