This movie theater popcorn recipe is the answer to that question we all ask ourselves at the movies..."Is it possible to make popcorn this good at home?" YES IT IS! My recipe is easy to follow, fast, and foolproof.
What's not to love about movie theater popcorn?
The rich buttery flavor...the saltiness...how it's still a bit warm from just coming out of the cooker.
I can think of one thing we don't love, though: THE COST!
Paying $10 for something I can make at home for under 50 cents is outrageous.
Well, not anymore!
My movie theater popcorn recipe is the real deal. It will have you saying "good-bye" to the movie theaters and "hello" to your big screen TV.
Just like at the movies, you get the option of adding melted butter. But trust me, you won't need it!
For those of you that are into nutrition, I have a section that details the calories, fiber, protein and fat for each serving.
You'll be surprised what a low calorie snack this is when you make it at home!
This stuff is so good that it's become a weekly treat at our house.
Want another recipe that will shock you on how good it comes out? Check out my Cold Fermented Pizza Dough recipe. Your basic home oven will deliver a Neapolitan type crust that is airy and light and simply amazing.
Ingredients for movie theater popcorn
Making basic popcorn is as simple as popping kernels in oil. But we aren't making basic popcorn: we want movie theater popcorn!
This requires some special ingredients. They aren't expensive, especially when you price them per serving, but they are necessary.
When shopping for popcorn you may see a choice between yellow and white kernels. Choose YELLOW.
This is what the theaters use because it puffs larger, which means that more buttery seasoning can stick to it.
Also, make sure to buy a quality brand. It does make a difference, and the average cost per serving will be only pennies more than the cheap stuff.
To make buttery flavored movie theater popcorn, you need to use butter flavored coconut oil. The brand I buy from Amazon is Golden Barrel.
Although coconut oil is solid at room temperature, it doesn't have any more calories than typical vegetable oils. Both have 120 calories per tablespoon.
Movie theaters use a special seasoning salt called Flavacol.
Flavacol is made by Gold Medal Products and they own about 90% of the movie theater popcorn market. So yeah, you need to get this.
Saying this is optional may seem a bit strange but you will see that this popcorn has great buttery flavor without adding any.
(Let's not kid ourselves though, adding butter will take this popcorn to another level of nirvana.)
Concerned about buying these ingredients? Don't be. This popcorn is so good that you'll blow through these ingredients in no time.
Movie theater popcorn nutrition
Below is a nutritional breakdown of calories (Cal), fiber (Fib), protein (Pro) and fat (Fat).
While this recipe yields a total of 8 cups popped, the numbers below are for one serving, or 4 cups popped.
|87||3 g||3 g||1 g|
|Coconut Oil |
|Totals||177||3 g||3 g||11 g|
These numbers may vary slightly depending on the brands you use.
Want even lower calories?
Reduce the oil (recommended)
Reducing the coconut oil from ¾ to ½ tablespoon per serving saves another 30 calories. Now we're at 147 calories per serving.
I make it this way all the time and it still comes out awesome.
Choose your popcorn pan wisely
There are four main characteristics to look for when choosing your pan:
- It needs a lid.
- It needs ample room when the popping begins.
- It needs a wide base to allow for a single layer of kernels.
- It needs to be a good conductor of heat.
I find my non-stick dutch oven works best for making popcorn.
Enough talking, let’s get to popping!
How to make movie theater popcorn
This recipe yields a total of two 4-cup servings (8-cups total). Feel free to double this recipe if you want more—as long as you keep a single layer on the bottom with some space so the kernels can move around as you shake the pan.
Start by heating the oil
Add the coconut oil to your pan and turn the burner to just past medium.
For example, my stovetop has a heat range from levels 1 to 7. I set my burner to level 4.
All stovetops vary in temperature. After your first cook, you may need to increase or decrease this temperature.
As the oil heats up, swirl it around so the bottom is fully covered.
Then drop in just one kernel and place it near the edge of your pan.
We want this kernel farthest from the heat source. When it pops after a couple of minutes, we will know the entire base of the pan is properly heated.
IMPORTANT: use caution and protect your eyes from flying popcorn!
Next, add the Flavacol salt and popcorn
Now dump in both the salt and popcorn.
Using a flexible rubber spatula, mix the kernels and salt with the oil. After mixing for about 15 seconds, spread the kernels so they're in a single layer across the base of your pan.
Mixing the salt at this phase ensures good coverage on each popped piece and eliminates the need to salt at the end.
Continue to watch this mixture until another kernel pops.
Shake, shake, shake
Once a kernel pops, it's telling us that a popping frenzy is about to begin.
The first thing to do is to lid the pan to keep the popcorn from exploding everywhere.
Then, with one hand on the lid and the other hand holding the handle of the pan, gently shake (or slide) the pan back and forth. The pan should only be moving about 4-5 inches back and forth.
The purpose of the shaking is twofold: first, it allows the kernels to cook more evenly. Second, it jars free any unpopped kernels that may get lodged up into the popped kernels. We want those kernels to fall to the pan to pop.
Every 15 to 20 seconds during this popping phase, crack the lid for a second or two to release the steam inside the pan. This will keep your popcorn crisp and light.
When is the popcorn done?
Your popcorn is done when you notice that the popping has slowed way down and the kernels are popping about two or more seconds apart.
Once the popcorn is done, immediately remove the pan from the heat and dump that glorious buttery flavored popcorn into a large bowl.
The total popping time averages about 3 minutes.
This time is from when the popcorn and salt is added until you dump it into your bowl.
Top with melted butter (optional)
Your popcorn pan should still be very hot after dumping the popcorn into your bowl. Just add the butter to this pan to melt. Once melted, drizzle it over your bowl of popcorn.
It's best to mix the popcorn halfway through the drizzle to get better coverage.
Only thing left to do now is to dig in and ENJOY!
Prefer a sweeter popcorn? You have to check out my Homemade Kettle Corn recipe. It's so much better than anything you would buy.
Will there be unpopped kernels?
I always have 5-15 unpopped kernels each time I make popcorn. This is to be expected.
Personally, I prefer to remove the popcorn from the heat a bit early rather than risk burning it.
Obviously, watch out for unpopped kernels to avoid chomping down on one!
How to store movie theater popcorn
You’ll be happy to know that popcorn stores really well.
Just add it to a Ziploc bag or Tupperware container with a good lid. It should stay fresh for up to a week in your pantry.
Other treats & party appetizers
If you're looking for more great party ideas, check out some of our favorites:
- Easy Spicy Hummus
- Chicago Style Hot Dog
- Monster Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Deviled Eggs with Relish
- Michelle's Sweet & Zingy Asian Meatballs
- Perfect Loaded Nachos
- Cutting-Board Guacamole
I hope you enjoy this popcorn as much as we do!
Now get popping!
- ¼ c popcorn kernels
- 1 ½ tablespoon coconut oil, butter flavored (see Recipe Note #1)
- ½ teaspoon Flavacol Salt
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (optional)
- In a large pot, add the oil and turn your burner to just past medium (see Recipe Note #2).
- Once oil is heated, swirl it around to cover the entire base of your pan and add ONE kernel of corn to the far edge of the pan (see Recipe Note #3).
- When this kernel pops, immediately add the salt and popcorn and stir for 15 seconds to mix thoroughly with the hot oil. Then spread the kernels in single layer along the base of pan.
- When another kernel pops, lid the pan and begin to shake the pan back and forth over the burner.
- Continue shaking the pan until the popping slows down to the point where a pop occurs every 2 or more seconds. Immediately remove the pan from the burner and pour the popcorn into a large bowl and serve.
- (Optional; see Recipe Note #4) Add butter to hot pan. Once melted, drizzle half of the butter over the bowl of popcorn, then mix in thoroughly. Pour remaining butter over the popcorn, mix again, and serve.
- Reduce oil to 1 tablespoon if you are trying to reduce calories. This substitution will still produce great tasting kettle corn.
- Stovetop temperatures always vary. After your first cook, you may need to increase or decrease the recommended temperature.
- Use extreme caution and guard your eyes from flying popcorn.
- Note that the butter adds approximately ~50 calories per serving.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 2 Serving Size: 4 cups popped popcorn
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 177Total Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gSodium: 635mgCarbohydrates: 15gNet Carbohydrates: 0gFiber: 3gSugar: 0gProtein: 3g
Nutrition data provided here is only an estimate: if you are tracking this information for medical purposes, please consult a trusted external source. Thanks!