Pop That Corn the Right Way: Popcorn Kernel Tips and Tricks

Learn to select fresh corn kernels, choose the right popcorn oil, dry them well and pop them out; just make popcorn the right way with the right tips. Did you know that if you get the right kernels then you can pop them all and almost never leave any single one unpopped? Corn is underrated. It is actually very healthy; gluten-free, sugar free, fat free, whole grain, and the list goes on. Get your facts right and don’t turn this nutritious gift into a harmful snack.

If you want to buy some awesome popcorn kernel, don’t miss out our post on how to choose the best popcorn kernels for your taste.

Some common popcorn methods:

  • Stovetop: get a medium size pot and put 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Heat it up for 30 seconds and then add 2 tablespoons of corn kernels. Bring the burner to medium-high heat and wait for that popping sound.
  • Microwave: these are sold in every store anywhere. You just put it in the microwave and follow the easy directions.
  • Air-popped: use an air-popper, nothing can be simpler – no oil necessary.

Stovetop and air-popper versions are definitely healthier due to their low oil consumption. They are easy and fast enough, so stay away from the microwave popcorn as it contains artificial flavors and too much salt.

Does Popcorn Have More Calories Popped or Unpopped?

Popped corn will always have less calories because it loses the kernels. 1 cup of air popped popcorn approximately has about 31 calories.

How Much Does 1 Cup of Popcorn Kernels Make?

1 cup of kernels is equal to 8 ounces of kernel (oz) and makes about 32 cups of popcorn. Calculating popcorn from kernels is a tricky business since the final product, popcorn, does not fit well into a cup.

Is Popcorn Measured Popped or Unpopped?

Popcorn is measured unpopped. If you check corn package labels then you will find out that the popcorn is measured in tablespoon servings on most of them. That is actually the tablespoon serving of unpopped corn kernels. Popcorn measuring is never accurate so we measure the kernels instead.

What Is The Ratio of Unpopped Popcorn To Popped?

In general; 1 cup of kernels make 32 cups of popped corn; you can say the ratio is 1:32. Now, that is a lot of popcorn. So, almost everyone prefers tablespoons for measuring the kernels unless you have an army of guests coming by. 1 tablespoon of kernels makes about 2 cups of popped corn.

Are you confused? Don’t be, here is a table to be more precise:


Kernels to Popcorn Ratio

Kernels In Ounce (oz)


2 tablespoons

(1 oz) 4 cups (1quart)

¼ cups of kernels

(2 oz)

8 cups (2quarts)

½ cups of kernels

(4 oz)

16 cups (1 gallon)

1 cup of kernels (8 oz)

32 cups (2 gallons)

Source: Popcorn board. Actual results may vary because of the irregular form of popcorn.

Movie theater popcorn sizes in cups (approximate):

  • Small; 8-10 cups
  • Medium; 12-14 cups
  • Large; 16-18 cups

How Do You Make Popcorn Kernels from Fresh Corn?

You need to select the hard kernels in order to make popcorn from fresh corn. Sweet corn and the corn used for popcorn are two separate things. All the corn kernels must be dried out very well.

First, start with removing only one row of the corn. You might ruin some and that’s ok, we are going to rescue the rest! It is much easier to take out the rest of them once you create an empty row. Push the next row of kernels from the side with your thumb or with a help of a spoon. You’ll see that they come out perfect most of the time. Heat your oven to 200°F. Put the kernels on pan and put the pan in the oven. Leave the oven door slightly open (door ajar) and dry them for 6 hours.

You can also prefer to dry them the old way. In small villages they hang the fresh corns on rope like they are drying clean laundry. Corns get dried naturally with summer heat in open fields. It is easy to take the kernels out once they are dried whereas to pick kernels from fresh corn. Dried corn makes delicious animal feed in villages and the best customers are geese and ducks.

Do Popcorn Kernels Go Bad?

Yes, they do go bad and taste stale. You should keep them away from water and heat. Popped corn lasts only a few months but the kernels have a very long shelf life, nearly indefinite if you know how to store them.

How to Store Corn Kernels?

Keeping the kernels in an air-tight container is the best way to store them. Check the expiration date of kernels when buying. Old kernels lose moisture inside and it is really hard to pop them. Now you know why you see unpopped kernels at the bottom of the bowl each time you make popcorn. Next time use fresh ones!

What’s The Best Oil For Popping Popcorn?

Canola oil is used the most for popping corn but extra virgin olive oil is actually the best and the most suitable one. You can also use avocado oil for making popcorn. Movie theatres usually use coconut or safflower oil and add butter flavored salt. You can even find organic popcorn oil at online stores nowadays.

How Do You Pop Unpopped Popcorn?

They don’t pop because they don’t have enough moisture inside. Soak them in water overnight and dry on a paper towel. This should fix them up.

In Conclusion

There are very few foods on earth as universal as popcorn; take water, bread, and chocolate for example. Salty or sweet, popcorn goes undeniably good with movies. The only bad part is that you run out of it within the first 15 minutes of the movie! Dating back 5000 years ago (probably more), popcorn is the official snack of Illinois. You can enjoy healthy popcorn everyday by using extra virgin olive oil and less salt.

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