Recipe: Stovetop Popcorn

Makes 4 quarts

Stovetop popcorn is a must have if you’re looking to replicate an Ethiopian coffee ceremony. Sure, you could pop a bag in the microwave in less than three minutes, but… well… sometimes it’s more fun realizing how much you can do without special gadgets and gizmos. As far as who had more fun with this – me, Mr. Picky, or Miss Ava – it might have been me. I spent most of the time squealing while I waited for the first few to explode… I mean… pop.

Also? I ate the most.


3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels


Popcorn needs to be made in a large pot, so there’s room for all the kernels to pop into white, fluffy snack goodness.

It’s a lot like the heart – the bigger our hearts, the more room for all of 0ur emotions to … well… pop into white, fluffy bursts of life. With an open heart we experience so much more.

Never let your heart run out of room.

Or your popcorn.

Gather a large pot and lid. Ours was about 4 1/2 quarts. To find out how much your pot can handle, pour popcorn into the bottom of the pot…

Then measure how much coats the bottom of the pan in a smooth layer. In our case it was 1/2 cup.

Return the kernels to the pan and add about 3 Tbsp vegetable oil per 1/2 cup.

Sprinkle with salt and heat over medium heat.

Cover the pot … unless you want popcorn and hot grease to hit you in the face. Ouch.

That’s what happened when we took this picture.

Keep the pan shaking and moving once the kernels start popping. When 2-3 seconds go by without any popping, the popcorn is done. Remove from heat and eat immediately. Preferably with Ethiopian coffee and friends. Or while watching an Ethiopian movie.

Enjoy these little bursts of life.

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  1. We only eat stovetop popcorn and we eat a lot of it! I realize it is not (as ar as I know) Ethiopian, but for a truly sublime experience, use decent (not super $$) extra virgin olive oil. YUM.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Laura, I’d swim in a sea of olive oil if I could – so I’d probably love it with popcorn too. I think I’ll try it next time :)

  2. As an “old timer”, and the son of a physicist, I have learned a couple of things about stovetop popcorn over the years your readers may want to try.
    1) heat the pan first,THEN add the oil and let it heat a bit, THEN add the popcorn. It is a lot more tender that way.
    2) Speaking of tender, adding salt during the cooking process tends to make the popcorn tough.
    3) For a variation, add a few shakes of hot sauce to the oil before popping the corn, Makes a spicy corn that goes great with cold beer.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Joe, it’s so funny you should put these tips – As for #1, this occurred to me as soon as I’d done it wrong. When the kernels popped, the results seemed okay so I didn’t worry too much about it. It’s probably because I am comparing the results to microwaved popcorn?

      I agree with my mom #3 sounds great!

  3. #3 – way to go…

  4. I love the photos, and especially the photo of the popcorn exploding in your face. You may have gotten burn splatters from the oil but it was totally worth it for that action shot!

    I have a ton of heirloom popcorn that I have bought at farmer’s markets, but I still have yet to make popcorn on the stove. Not that I make a lot of microwave popcorn either, I just don’t make popcorn that often. I need to change that. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Sasha Martin says:

      What I didn’t mention was the cleanup – taking the lid off sent popcorn all over the kitchen, including under and behind the stove. It was pretty comical. Actually, it was time to clean under the stove anyway – it felt good to pull it out and get all the little bits of stuff.

      When you make it – try sprinkling the popcorn with melted butter and brewer’s yeast – my favorite topping! The brewer’s yeast makes it slightly salty/cheesy. And healthy!

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