Stovetop Popcorn with Chili Powder and Dark Chocolate

chili powder and dark chocolate popcorn

I used to cringe at the word “domestic”. To me, the term implied a docile housewife whose goal in life was to please her family members and keep the home in order. It seemed condescending. Since developing an interest in cooking, however, I’ve changed my mind about the word. Being able to feed myself (and others) well is empowering, and there’s nothing wrong with enjoying time at home.

Beyond that, while I’m living as a single woman, learning how to cook what I like to eat without any other palates to accommodate is a welcome challenge. I eat what I want, when I want! Sitting down to enjoy a plate of food that I made all for myself is a thrice daily triumph.

stovetop popcorn with chili powder and dark chocolate

It turns out that stovetop popcorn is what I often like to serve myself. I love it because I can make as much or as little as I want. It’s a healthy, whole grain snack that costs mere pennies to make. Once popped, it’s consumed pretty much immediately, so I don’t have to worry about my beloved crunchy ‘n salty snack food going stale. Fresh popcorn is always minutes away, and I like knowing that I can always pop some up during impromptu entertaining.

how to pop popcorn

My parents always made popcorn on the stove and taught me how early on, so I consider myself a popcorn connoisseur of sorts. Fun fact: I nearly burned my house down while making stovetop popcorn at age 10 (lesson learned: do not leave hot oil on the stove unattended!). I have always preferred stovetop popcorn to that greasy, microwavable, artificial ingredient-laden abomination that calls itself popcorn. Seriously, the fake butter flavor chemicals in microwave popcorn are so toxic that factory workers have developed “popcorn lung“.

Stovetop popcorn is such an easy, healthy, quick and tasty snack that it’s something I want everyone to know how to make at home. I’d like to give Mark Bittman a high five for selecting popcorn as the first recipe in The Food Matters Cookbook, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to encourage my fellow members to try it. You’ll find his recipe below, but I never measure the ingredients; just add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan and toss in a small handful or two of kernels, depending on the size of the pan. I hope you’ll try it!

how to cook popcorn at home

How to Make Stovetop Popcorn, Mark Bittman's Way
4.8 from 4 reviews
Recipe type: Snack
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil (I prefer to use coconut oil or olive oil)
  • 1⁄2 cup popping corn
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons butter or olive oil, optional
  • Salt and other seasonings, optional (I added chopped dark chocolate and chili powder)
  1. Put the vegetable oil in a large, deep pan with a lid. Turn the heat up to medium, add 2 kernels of corn, and cover.
  2. Once the kernels pop, remove the lid and pour in the remaining popcorn kernels. Cover and shake the pot, holding the lid on. At this point, I like to remove the pot from the heat and let it sit for a minute before continuing.
  3. Cook over medium heat, shaking the pot occasionally, until the popping sound stops after about 5 minutes. Based on the sound, take the pot off the heat around the same time that you would take a bag of popcorn out of the microwave. Meanwhile, if you’re using it, melt the butter or gently warm the olive oil.
  4. Quickly pour the popcorn into a large bowl; sprinkle with chopped chocolate immediately, or drizzle with butter or olive oil if you like. Sprinkle with salt and seasonings (like chili powder) while tossing the popcorn. Serve immediately.
Recipe adapted from The Food Matters Cookbook.
Serves 4 to 8.
Make it vegan: Use olive oil rather than butter, and chop up your favorite dairy free chocolate to add to the popcorn instead.
Preparation tips: I honestly don't measure ingredients when I make popcorn. I just pour in enough oil to cover the pan, let two kernels pop, and then pour in a small handful of kernels. If you're new to making stovetop popcorn, you might want to try Mark's recipe as given so you can get the feel of it.

Microwave Popcorn
Serves 2 to 4

  • In a small glass container or brown paper lunch bag, combine 1⁄4 cup popping corn with 1⁄4 teaspoon salt. Fold the top of the bag over a few times.
  • Microwave for 2 to 3 minutes on high, until there are 4 or 5 second pauses between pops. Open the bag or container carefully (beware hot steam).
  • Toss with your seasonings and a drizzle of butter or olive oil or serve as is.

Recommended popcorn seasonings:

  • Finely chopped dark chocolate, or dark chocolate chips, and chili powder (and maybe a dash of cayenne pepper)
  • Chopped fresh herbs
  • Black pepper
  • Curry powder
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • Cayenne or red chile flakes
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Brown sugar
  • Finely ground nuts or shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • Chopped dried fruit


  1. says

    Confession: I’ve never made stove top popcorn. It’s on my food “bucket list”. The chocolate + chili powder combo out of all those topping possibilities sounds like the best one to me!

  2. says

    Stovetop popcorn reigns supreme!! I’ve only been popping on the stove fro 2 years, but am hooked. I even got my husband popping it!! :) This looks like the perfect snack for a valentine’s day movie night.

  3. says

    I live alone and LOVE cooking for myself. It’s great to make exactly what I want just how I want it and not worry about anyone else’s tastes/preferences. It also means leftovers for later in the week :)

  4. says

    I felt the exact same way about anything labeled “domestic”! Funny how our viewpoints can change so much in such a short period of time :D I usually make popcorn for us in a very old hot air popper. It works great for now, but it’s so nice to be prepared with other options to make it when our popper breaks because it’s one of our go-to snacks. I really need to branch out with different flavorings though!

  5. says

    Such a great pick!

    I also have to agree- I love cooking only for myself. I feel like I try more combinations than I would have if I was cooking for more people!

  6. Maria says

    Love this combination. Ever since I graduated from college and really paid attention to what’s in fake popcorn, I avoided it. Until last year when I got an air popping machine and love it. Good quality popcorn is so good in itself, a sweet corny flavor.

  7. says

    yes. to all of this. and i love how our generation is trying to throw out the old ideals of “domestic” and promoting that hey, i can be a feminist and a good cook.

  8. says

    I love this idea! I’ve always enjoyed chocolate dark chocolate bars laced with chilies. I would have never thought to combine them as a popcorn topping, but I’m so very glad you did!

  9. says

    I was definitely excited when I saw that you had picked popcorn. It’s something we eat a few times a week around here, but I’ve never actually blogged about the possibilities it holds! I know I’d enjoy the dark chocolate and chili powder popcorn combo – amazing. Thanks for the fantastic pick :)

  10. says

    Great pick Kate! I have only made stovetop popcorn once after my roommate inspired me to. It is a million times better than microwave popcorn. I’m never going back!

  11. says

    Thanks for encouraging us to make this popcorn. I used to eat stovetop popcorn all the time when I lived in Peru, but I had stopped making it for awhile. Now I’m hooked again and after seeing all of the different variations of it, I think I’m going to start eating it everyday! Yummy!!

  12. Mary says

    I love making my own popcorn- why ever buy that store-bought junk?! One trick I learned for the microwave was to tape the bag shut with a bit of scotch tapes. Helps the steam stay in! yum. I love a bit of coconut oil and salt!

  13. says

    Power to all the domestiques! I’m a lover of stovetop popcorn myself. We’ve got this whirlypopper thing which has a crank shaft that you spin to keep the kernels moving while they’re popping. A weekend just isn’t a weekend without a big bowl of buttery popcorn with nutritional yeast and Old Bay seasoning. Yum!

  14. says

    To keep my popcorn extra crispy, I use a spatter screen and a paper towel on top of the pot when popping rather than the lid. Be careful to avoid the steam when shaking the pot and no more soggy puffs of deliciousness! Lemon pepper and Old Bay are two current seasoning favorites for me.

  15. says

    I love stovetop popcorn! I have wanting to make it with my daughter for a while now but never got around to making it. After reading your post though I think I should definitely make it with her :)

  16. says

    I’m with you…the only popcorn I really want is the stovetop variety. It’s definitely my favorite snack and sometimes dinner :) Your post inspires me to fancy it up some! I love the chili powder/dark chocolate combination!

  17. says

    I, too, used to cringe at the word ‘domestic’ but somewhere between my early and late (gah!) twenties, I realized that you can be a totally modern, career-oriented, single power woman and still be domestic. In fact, being a modern woman who embraces domesticity just means you have that much more to offer the people around. Hello? Who doesn’t love to have a friend who knows how to make you a delicious dinner and hold an intelligent conversation?? You’re totally inspiring me to make popcorn. I must admit, it’s not the first thing I reach for when I want a snack, but with dark chocolate? I can definitely get on board.

  18. ilovecooking says

    Nice idea to make homemade popcorn. It’s always better than store-bought. It reminds me of the times when I was a little girl, and we use to pop corn kernels in a hot air popcorn machine.

    I have never thought of chocolate and chilli combined as a popcorn topping. I wonder what that tastes like? You have an interesting choice of toppings here though. Not what I’m used to. Thanks for sharing

  19. Healthy Mike says

    I love popcorn so much that it is frequently my evening meal. It is never boring and never gets old. I confess that just plain popcorn has always been a favorite, but I will definitely give this a try!

  20. Heather says

    I love stove top popcorn…This sounds sooo good. I received some chocolate olive oil (Lucero) for Christmas and I’ve been trying to come up with different ways to use it. I never thought about putting it on popcorn. I might try using it in place of the dark chocolate.

    • says

      I’ve never heard of chocolate olive oil, but I love both chocolate and olive oil and I bet they would make an interesting and delicious pair! If you try making popcorn with it, please let us know how it turns out!

  21. Lauren says

    I tried making stovetop popcorn for the first time after reading thi and I liked it a lot! My dad had made it a couple times and it had always burnt or tasted funny but it worked out well today. Thank you for sharing your tips and tricks of the trade! Popcorn is my best friend and it is a lot cheaper to airpop or make it on the stovetop than microwave bags. Being a student cost is important!

  22. sandy says

    I love your site…it’s really nice
    pls when do I add sugar to my popcorn
    …and can I use butter to grease my pan instead of oil?

    • says

      Sandy, thank you. I’m sorry, I’ve never added sugar to my popcorn so I’m not sure when to add it. You might find some tips by googling for “kettle corn” recipes. I have also never tried popping my popcorn with butter, but I’m doubtful that will work like you want it to. I’m sorry I can’t be more help!

  23. Lisa says

    Too funny! I thought I was the only one who nearly burnt the house down from making popcorn as a kid!

    I make stove-top popcorn 2-3 times per week, and have just started experimenting with extra toppings so its always good to have further inspiration!

    • says

      Nope, you’re definitely not the only one! I really like sprinkling my popcorn with a little bit of real butter and smoked salt these days.

  24. JimDander says

    Yeh it’s a decent recipe you’ve nicked, why you began the piece with some pseudo-feminist ramblings about domesticity is beyond me.

  25. Pat says


    Just thought I’d let you know that I had a rare and sudden craving for popcorn tonight and it’s been so long since I last made it on the stovetop that I thought I’d better google for some tips lol! This page was one of the top results on my google search….and I’m so glad it was!

    I followed your directions to the letter and I’m simply amazed at how good it came out!!! I will definitely be doing popcorn more often and this same way from now on and also I now look forward to exploring your site for future ideas too! Thank you very much

  26. Pat says

    Oops, I only noticed I could rate this recipe *after* I submitted my last post. So I’m commenting again but this time with the rating your recipe deserves

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