Making popcorn with no oil is easy to do. Traditionally, popcorn is cooked in oil because it gives it a crisp texture and heats the kernels evenly in a pan.
But, there are more and more news pieces detailing the health risks of eating oils, which is probably what has led you to this article.
The good news is you haven’t got to give up your popcorn addiction just because you want to avoid oil. Let’s find out more about making popcorn with no oil, as well as good cooking alternatives.
What Can I Use Instead of Oil to Make Popcorn?
If you’re a fan of stovetop popcorn but don’t want to use oil, you need to use an alternative conductor of heat to make your popcorn kernels pop. Your options are:
- Butter – check our full guide on how to make popcorn with butter instead of oil here.
Butter and ghee are the better options as your popcorn is less likely to burn or stick to the bottom of the pan. They can also be used interchangeably as they are so similar.
Another option if you don’t want to use oil to make popcorn is to use a microwave. You can use a silicone popcorn popper, a bag or a microwavable bowl to make popcorn in a microwave and there’s no need to add any oil.
Why Would You Not Want to Use Oil to Make Popcorn?
Some reasons why you may not want to use oil to make popcorn include:
- Increased risk of heart attack
- Contributes to weight gain
- Impacts endothelial function
- High in fat, including saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and trans fat
- Increased inflammation in the body
- Increased risk of cholesterol issues
How Do You Make Popcorn Taste Good Without Oil?
To make popcorn taste good without oil, you need to use seasonings, toppings, or flavorings. If you’re not worried about calorie content, then you can have your pick of any topping, including:
If you’re hoping to cut back on calories, then you can make your oil-free popcorn taste good with some of the following flavorings:
- Salt & pepper
- Cinnamon and apple
- Lime zest
- Chili powder
Can You Pop Popcorn with Butter?
Yes, you can pop popcorn with butter. You’ll need to use clarified butter rather than normal butter, though. Clarified butter is cooked to remove all water and milk solids from it.
How Do You Make Butter Air-Popped Popcorn?
You can make butter air-popped popcorn on the stove and in the microwave. The stove is usually the best method.
To make butter air-popped popcorn on the stove you’ll need to:
- Measure out 2 oz of popcorn and 2 oz of popcorn kernels.
- Place 4 or 5 popcorn kernels into a large saucepan with the butter, cover, and put on medium to high heat.
- When these kernels start popping, the pan and the butter are at the optimum temperature. Add the remaining popcorn kernels to the pan.
- Cover and occasionally shake the pan.
- When popping slows to one pop every 10 seconds, remove the pan from the heat.
- Leave to cool, season, and enjoy!
If you’d prefer to make butter air-popped popcorn in your microwave, here’s how:
- Measure out ¼ tsp of clarified butter and ¼ cup of popcorn kernels.
- Place the butter and kernels in a brown paper bag with a pinch of salt and mix.
- Fold over the open end of the bag several times to seal it.
- Place the bag in the microwave and cook on high for around 2 minutes.
- When the popping slows to 3-second intervals, remove the bag.
- Pour the popcorn into a dish, leave to cool, and tuck in.
How Do You Make Salt Stick to Air-Popped Popcorn Without Oil?
Salt is one of the most popular popcorn flavors. Oil helps the salt to stick uniformly to popcorn, ensuring that every single piece you pop into your mouth is bursting with flavor. Don’t worry if you’re going oil-free, as you can cover your popcorn with one of the following ingredients before adding salt:
- Plain water
- Warm honey
- Warm coconut nectar
- Hot sauce
- Lime juice
- Melted butter
Is Popcorn Healthy Without Oil?
Popcorn can be healthy without oil. But, it does depend on what you cook the popcorn in and what toppings you add to it.
The most common oils used for cooking popcorn and their calorie content per 1 tablespoon are:
- Coconut oil – 120 cals
- Canola oil – 124 cals
- Peanut oil – 120 cals
- Sunflower oil – 124 cals
- Olive oil – 133 cals
If you made 3 cups of air-popped popcorn with no oil or butter and sprinkled a small amount of salt on it, you’d consume just 93 calories.
By skipping oil with your popcorn, you’ll also avoid unhealthy fats. Polyunsaturated sunflower oil, for example, contains 11% saturated fat, 23% monounsaturated fat, and 66% polyunsaturated fat.
Can You Pop Popcorn in Water?
Yes, you can pop popcorn in water. This is a good way to make popcorn without oil and it’s an easy process. All you have to do is cover your pan with a couple of tablespoons of water and follow the butter air-popped popcorn method above. You may just need to be a little extra vigorous when shaking the pan to prevent the popcorn from sticking and burning.
Making popcorn without oil is a good way to cut calories and reduce unhealthy fats from your diet. Thankfully, it’s really easy to make popcorn without oil, so there’s no need to avoid eating popcorn if you want to cut your oil intake.