10th Day of HTCE: Real Popcorn


I’m giving away copies of the new How to Cook Everything iPad App, one every day until new year’s eve. Just sign up for the newsletter (look to your left) to enter the running. I’ll pick an email address at random and send you the App.

Real Popcorn

 Makes: 4 to 6 servings

Time: About 10 minutes

Unless you’re at work, please forget about microwave popcorn. It doesn’t compare to the real thing (especially if you don’t store the kernels forever), which takes at most twice as long. And popcorn takes brilliantly to real butter (instead of that artificially butter-flavored oil), cheese, and many other seasonings.

2 tablespoons neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn

1 /2cup popping corn

4 tablespoons (1/2stick) butter or extra virgin olive oil (optional)


1. Put the oil in a large, deep saucepan (6 quarts or so) with a lid. Turn the heat to medium, add 3 kernels of corn, and cover.

2.When the 3 kernels pop, remove the lid and add the remaining corn. Cover and shake the pot, holding the lid on. Cook, shaking the pot occasionally, until the popping sound stops, after about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the butter (or gently warm the oil) if you’re using it.

3. Turn the popcorn into a large bowl; drizzle with the butter and sprinkle with salt while tossing the popcorn. Serve immediately if possible; popcorn is best hot.

Salty-Sweet Popcorn. Serve with or without the butter: Sprinkle the popcorn with salt and superfine sugar as soon as it’s done, tossing to coat evenly. Taste and add more seasoning if needed.

Parmesan Popcorn. You can use whatever cheese you like here, but Parmesan is the best; grate it as finely as possible: Add 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan and toss with the hot popcorn.


Posted in American, Behind The Scenes


  1. vicuna1 said...

    Easier yet: add oil and popcorn all at once, moving the pan around to coat the popcorn with the oil. If you want, you can add some sugar now, too. Pop on medium heat, shaking once in a while (not necessary, but gives you something to do while you wait). That’s it. This is how I make it every time and it turns out perfect. I use to wait for the 3 kernels to pop first, but just eliminated that step with no problem. I have no problem with adding sugar to the pan from the beginning, either. It doesn’t scorch if the pan is removed and the popcorn emptied as soon as it stops popping.

  2. Ryan Stenson said...

    Why don’t you make your current iphone app a universal app? If this is the same content, why should customers have to pay twice?

  3. Paul Rauber said...

    I’m with vicuna1: No need to pre-heat. Also, the trick is to take the pan off heat when there it’s been 5 seconds since the last pop. Works perfectly.

  4. Schipman1 said...

    As simple as this recipe is, my friends and family are always wowed. Everyone seems to have forgotten the popcorn of 20 yrs ago.

  5. Gatsbyj2 said...

    I’ve had problems adding the sugar too early, I’m with Bittman!

  6. Judith Liebman said...

    Another option: season with Cajun spices along with salt

  7. Katy Avery said...

    I’ve been making popcorn this way forever…but my new favorite spin on this is to chop a couple of cloves of garlic and add to butter while it’s melting. Then pour all of that over the popped corn and add a sprinkle of nutritional yeast. Soooo good!

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