Cooking TipsIngredient GuidesMaking the Best Homemade Popcorn: Coconut vs. Olive Oil?

Making the Best Homemade Popcorn: Coconut vs. Olive Oil?

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David Larsen
I’m a husband, dad, food blogger, photographer, writer, social media boss, entrepreneur.

There’s nothing quite like fresh-popped popcorn. When you make it at home, popcorn is more than delicious—it’s an extremely healthy, high-fiber, whole-grain snack that can satisfy your munchies without busting your diet. The American Heart Association states that because it’s a whole grain snack, choosing homemade popcorn over chips or other snack foods can help lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers! 

Most people, however, haven’t ventured beyond the microwave to make popcorn at home. Those bags of microwave popcorn are loaded with unhealthy oils, synthetic preservatives, and other chemicals that are not good for you. To make your own popcorn at home, explore an air or stovetop popper. 

A great stovetop popper will give you the closest experience to a movie theater popcorn without the expensive tickets or concession-stand markup. Stovetop poppers, unlike air poppers, will use a minimal amount of oil to help your popcorn reach maximum fluff and flavor. Popsmith’s stovetop topper is a revolutionary, easy-to-use design requiring little oil. You can pop your favorite flavored popcorn snacks and rest assured that they’ll be as healthy and fresh as possible.

There’s some debate among popcorn enthusiasts about the best oil to use for popcorn, and we’re here to talk about two common and well-loved options and settle the debate once and for all. 

Olive Oil

This healthy and flavorful cooking oil can be found in almost every kitchen. Commonly used for frying, sauteing, and even in cakes, olive oil is a pantry staple that can also be used to make your popcorn.

If you’re trying to maximize the health benefits of your popcorn, using an organic, extra virgin olive oil is a great option. Olive oil has numerous health benefits compared to other oils and has been linked to improved cholesterol, reduced stroke risk, and healthy memory and brain function. 

Unlike other oils, olive oil doesn’t have a neutral flavor. It will impart a savory, robust flavor to your kernels when you use it for popcorn. It’s a wonderful option if you prefer your popcorn salty or savory recipes. A light sprinkle of garlic and parmesan cheese pair perfectly with popcorn cooked in olive oil. 

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil and other coconut products are all the craze in the nutrition community because of the touted health benefits. The truth is that coconut oil is food for you and can be linked to improved “good” cholesterol levels. However, the claims that coconut oil can cause overnight weight loss or cure common ailments are greatly exaggerated. Coconut oils should be eaten only as frequently as any other healthy oil. 

When making your popcorn, there are two types of coconut oil to choose from. Refined coconut oil is more heavily processed but has a significantly higher smoke point and a more neutral flavor.

These qualities make it a very popular and ideal option for home-cooked and commercial popcorn, and it serves as the base for most butter blends used by movie theaters.

Unrefined coconut oil will have a lower smoke point and still have a coconutty, tropical flavor. If you choose unrefined coconut oil to make your popcorn, you will likely want to stick to sweet or fruity recipes to pair best with the nutty, tropical flavor. 

Other Alternatives

The beauty of making popcorn at home is that you can use almost any oil you have on hand. Great choices are oil with a high smoke point and neutral flavors, such as sunflower, vegetable, and soybean.

Other cooking and frying oils like peanut and avocado can also be used for small batches at home but might impact the flavor of your finished product. The most crucial factor is choosing an oil with a high smoke point so you don’t accidentally burn your popcorn! 

Another popular option for popcorn is clarified butter, also called ghee. If you want truly buttery, delicious, movie theater-style popcorn, clarified butter will be your best bet. Be sure to use clarified butter for your popcorn to avoid burning.

In your typical stick of butter, milk solids are still present, and these can burn at the temperatures required to make popcorn. Clarified butter removes those solids completely, making it less likely to burn while imparting that delicious flavor. 

Making Popcorn at Home

Choosing the right oil isn’t the only factor that will impact the flavor of your homemade popcorn. You need to select the right kernels and the right popping method. There are several types of kernels and breeds of popcorn, each with unique flavors and textures to help you mix up your movie nights and find your ideal flavor. When it comes to poppers, there are countless options on the market, so it’s essential to test your options and decide which is best for your preferences and cooking style.

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