Friday, September 30, 2011

Movie Theater Popcorn

Have you ever wondered why movie theater popcorn tastes so good, while popcorn that you make at home just doesn't?  Microwave popcorn is a great convenience, but you will be surprised how fast, easy, and cheap it is to make your own movie theater popcorn at home.  You will also want to get your torches and pitchforks and go after the guy at the movies who has the nerve to charge $6 or more for basically $0.10 of popcorn ingredients.

I have been on a quest to make good popcorn at home for awhile now.  Movie theater popcorn is one of my favorite snacks, and I have even been known to stop by the theater, buy the popcorn, and take it home to watch a movie.  It was great, but a hassle and pretty pricey.  I foolishly tried multiple varieties of microwave popcorn and owned an air-popper at one time.  It turns out that the secret is in the oil.  Movie theaters use coconut oil, which is hard to find and which makes all the difference in taste.  Once I discovered this, it was so easy to get good results.

Like I said, you need to start by getting ahold of coconut oil.  Unless you happen to live on Gilligan's Island, this is not an item that your local grocery is going to carry.  I bought my supplies online at the Popcorn Supply Company (  For about $25, I have enough supplies to last several years.  It would have been even cheaper if I hadn't bought the unpopped corn from them, enough to last the rest of my life and to leave in my will to Sean.  The corn doesn't matter so much, so if you have the jumbo bag that you bought from the Boy Scouts in 1988, just use that.

You do need to buy two things:

  1. A jar of "Real Theater Coconut Oil" (the 1 lb. jar should last you around a year) ($7.95)
  2. Flavacol Butter-Flavored Seasoned Salt (this is what makes movie theater popcorn yellow, even before you add butter) ($2.25 for a quart, which will last you the rest of your life)
Once you have your supplies, it takes little effort to crank out delicious popcorn at home.


3 tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp Flavacol butter-flavored salt
1/3 cup unpopped popcorn

First, you will need to melt your coconut oil.  It is a solid at room temperature, much like Crisco, so set it in a warm place until it is liquid.  I used my sunporch in the summer and tried to use the "warm" setting on my oven last time.  Not my best idea.  I almost melted the plastic jar and would have spilled all of the oil into the oven.  You can sit the jar in a bowl of hot water, too.

Put the oil in a medium saucepan for which you have a lid.  Heat it over medium heat for about 10 seconds, then add the Flavacol.  Stir to dissolve the flavacol in the oil.

To test the oil for the perfect popping temperature, put 5 kernels of unpopped corn in and close the lid.  Just let it sit there until all 5 kernels have popped.  Now you can add your 1/3 cup of popcorn.

Close the lid quickly and gently shake the pan on the burner.  Shake, shake, shake while the kernels pop.  My measly 1/3 cup of kernels expanded to completely fill up this pan.  Just like microwave popcorn, you are done when the popping sounds are about 2 seconds apart.

You can see that the popcorn looks like the pricey kind you buy at the theater.  We have been having "at-home date nights" with this popcorn and movies for awhile now and find that the experience is just as good at the theater and definitely cheaper.

If you are looking for a good snack to feed hungry crowds for any reason (my husband is getting ramped up for college basketball), this is definitely a hit.  You will be amazed at how cheap and easy it is to get great results.  You will never buy microwave popcorn again, I promise.

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