Popcorn ingredients are simple and few, and this tasty snack is easily adaptable. If you refuse to buy microwave popcorn and prefer making it from scratch with popcorn kernels (which, incidentally, is more cost-effective), you might be looking for the best oil for making popcorn.
Is Oil Important for Popcorn?
You can cook popcorn without oil, but you can also cook a curry without oil: it’s not impossible, but using oil does make a big difference to the overall taste and cooking process.
Oil helps to heat a pan evenly, ensuring that every kernel pops. Plus, oil is an excellent conductor of heat compared to air, which helps the pan to reach a higher temperature, which is required for kernels to pop.
This also prevents any uneven temperatures on the pan, ensuring that all popcorn kernels are cooked evenly and quicker than not using any oil.
Furthermore, there are many oils to choose from (more on this below), which each add a different taste. For example, if you prefer a nutty taste, consider coconut oil, or you can keep the oil neutral with olive oil.
Popping Popcorn without Oil
This method is very popular and easy. If you’d prefer a dryer texture and a healthier snack, eliminate popcorn altogether.
- Empty the kernels into a microwave-safe container. Make sure there’s enough room at the top for the kernels to expand.
- Cook the kernels at a high temperature for around 3–5 minutes.
- Once there’s around a two-second pause between the popping, remove the microwave from the oven.
Stove Top Option
- Preheat a non-stick pan with a lid over medium-high heat for up to three minutes.
- Remove the lid, and add a couple of teaspoons of water.
- Reduce the heat if the water immediately sizzles.
- Add the kernels, and put the lid back on.
- Shake the pot every few seconds until the popping is every two seconds.
- Remove from the heat, and add any flavorings.
What is the Best Oil For Popcorn?
The best oil for popping popcorn depends on 3 things:
- How are you making your popcorn
- The type of popcorn you are making
- Your personal preference
Therefore, the best oil to use with popcorn is subjective and will change depending on the circumstance and the desired flavor profile of your popcorn.
6 Best Overall Popcorn Popping Oils
Here are the best oil for popping popcorn options to consider when making homemade popcorn, including the characteristics and benefits of using cooking oil.
Coconut oil has a low smoke point at 350°F, which means it heats up to the perfect temperature for popping kernels. Plus, coconut is one of the healthiest oils you can consume, as it’s good for the heart. It also provides additional flavor to popcorn with a slight saltiness that works perfectly.
You likely already have olive oil in your pantry, and if you switch to extra virgin olive oil, you’ll make your movie snack even healthier. In fact, extra virgin olive oil is an excellent source of energy. Plus, it’s packed with polyphenols, which helps to reduce inflammation, the chances of heart disease, and more health benefits.
Olive oil also has a neutral flavor that isn’t as overpowering as coconut oil, which is beneficial if you’re looking for a milder taste or would prefer to season the popcorn kernels yourself. Olive oil also has a smoke point at 350–400°F, ensuring that it pops more kernels.
Avocado oil has a high smoke point between 375 and 400°F, and it has a strong buttery, nutty taste, which lends itself perfectly to popcorn.
This oil has a smoke point of 440°F, and it’s one of the simplest ways to pop kernels.
Best of all, sunflower oil doesn’t change its taste as quickly as other oils, which makes it perfect for preserving popcorn.
The cheapest option, canola oil is great if you’re on a budget. It has a high smoke point of 435°F, making it perfect for cooking popcorn, and it’s packed with essential fatty acids to help the body absorb nutrients.
Grapeseed oil for cooking popcorn has a high smoke point at 420°F and carries a nutty taste for gourmet popcorn to produce a full flavor.
In the UK grapeseed oil is a cheap alternative to other oils as it’s locally made.
The Best Oil for Popcorn Machines
If you own a popcorn machine, consider using coconut oil, perhaps the healthiest oil for popcorn, as it’s a healthy alternative to many of the other oils. It’s rich with nutrients, gluten-free, and provides a delectable flavor that’s nutty.
Coconut oil is also commonly used for movie popcorn, so you’ll experience an authentic movie taste from the comfort of your home.
The Best Oil for Stove Top Poppers
Vegetable oil makes an excellent choice for stovetop poppers because it prevents kernels from sticking to your pan and has a high smoke point at 400–450°F. Plus, its neutral taste allows you to season the popcorn to suit you (consider caramel sauce, maple syrup, toffee, salt, chocolate, and more options).