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Movie Theatre Popcorn at Home

Ingredients - 

1/2 cup of kernels
1 stick of butter (salted or unsalted, either works)
Two tablespoons cooking oil.


Steps - 


The first step in my movie theatre popcorn process is actually to clarify the butter. If you have ghee kicking around (which is more or less a version of clarified butter), you can skip this part and just melt your ghee and use it straight on your popcorn. But for those of us ghee-less folks, here’s how to do a quick and dirty clarification. Put stick of butter in a glass measuring cup (you’ll need to use the spout later).

butter measuring cup

Microwave on high for 30-40 seconds, or until the butter is all melted and foamy.

melted butter

You should start to see the butter separating into three layers—foam, clarified butter and milk solids. Don’t worry if the layers aren’t super clear when you first take it out of the microwave, the layers will settle more as the butter cools. Plus, we’re not looking for perfection here, just to get rid of enough water to keep our popcorn crunchy.

clarified butter

Take a spoon and skim off as much of the foam on top as you can. Again, no need to be perfect. Just get as much as you can.

clarified butter

You’ll be left with a very clear, very yellow layer of clarified butter, with a layer of milk solids underneath. Awesome work! Set that aside.

clarified butter

Now onto the actual popping process. You’ll want a big pot with a lid for this. Why? Well, popcorn expands (duh)! I don’t recommend using a heavy pot (like a Dutch oven), because you’ll need to shake the pot throughout the popping process. And man, cast iron is hard to shake.


Put your pot on high heat and add in the coconut oil.

coconut oil pot

Once the oil is completely melted, toss in your popcorn kernels.

popcorn pot

Swirl the pot around so that each and every kernel gets a nice little coating of coconut oil, and is more or less in a single layer.


Every now and again, give the pan a good shake to mix up the kernels and keep them from burning.

pot shake

Soon enough, you’ll have the very exciting moment where your first kernel pops. After that, things happen quickly! Action shot.


Hurry up and put on the lid of the pot, slightly ajar to release steam, because if you don’t you’ll have popcorn flying all over your kitchen. I’ve had kernels fly 15 feet—no exaggeration. You want to save all that popcorn goodness! But you also want to make sure to release the steam, because that’ll also make your popcorn soggy.

pot popcorn

While the popcorn is popping, keep shaking the pot frequently. For the most part, the cooked kernels float to the top of the pot, which keeps them from burning, while the unpopped kernels stay at the bottom. It’s a good system, and means that I almost never burn popcorn on the stove (I can’t say the same for in the microwave), but it’s still good to give the pot a little jiggle every now and again.

Within a few minutes, you’ll hear the popping slow down to almost a crawl. Turn off the burner and just let it sit for a few minutes. Because you’ll have some slow-pokes still popping. Even still, trust me, the second you take off the lid, a straggler will pop right into your eye. Not that I know from experience or anything.


You’ve got yourself a beautiful pot full of popcorn! Now, grab your measuring cup of butter and start to slowlystream it onto the popcorn. At first you’ll see nothing but clear, bright yellow clarified butter.

popcorn butter

But as you get to the end of the clarified part, you’ll start to see that third opaque, white layer—the milk solids. Stop right then! We just want the clarified butter on our popcorn—not the milk solids. Go ahead and reserve those milk solids for something else; they’re a great addition to pasta sauce, omelets and baked goods to give a bit of creaminess. Lots of folks just toss them, but I’m way too cheap frugal to do something crazy like that.

butter popcorn

Stir up your popcorn really well to make sure every kernel gets a touch of butter.


Sprinkle on your desired amount of salt (if you use salted butter, you might want to go light on the salt at first). You can also feel free to add other flavorings (garlic salt, ranch mix, etc.) during this stage—but I’m a purist.

popcorn salt

And then go pop in a movie, get cozy and enjoy your much healthier, much tastier (in my opinion) movie theatre popcorn! The popcorn tastes even better if you serve it up in some mega cute popcorn boxes.

How to Make Movie Theatre Popcorn at Home