Movie Theater Popcorn: The Secret to Making it at Home

It’s difficult to deny that movie theater popcorn is the best.  When I figured out that it could be recreated at home for a fraction of the cost at the concession stand, I knew I would never microwave another bag again.

Not only can it be made at home, but it’s easy!  The trick is in the ingredients.

Movie theater popcorn requires a few ingredients:

Vegetable Oil
Coconut Oil
Whirley-Pop Popcorn Popper

If you’ve ever popped popcorn on the stove before, the oil and popcorn won’t come as a surprise.  The trick to getting the movie magic is in the coconut oil and Flavacol. These two ingredients give the popcorn that unique flavor we are willing to spend $10 a bag on.

Flavacol is just salt, butter flavor, and coloring.  A container of it can be found at any commercial food store (I purchased mine at GFS).  It’s very cheap (about $3) and lasts forever.

Coconut oil is a sweeter oil and gives the popcorn a flavor that vegetable oil just doesn’t add.  It’s kind of pricey (around $10 for 15oz).  Health food stores are a good place to find it.


Before I go on, I have to praise the Whirly-Pop.  Alton Brown inspired me to do away with unitaskers in my kitchen (anything that can be used for only one purpose), but I just can’t live without my Whirly-Pop.  What makes it great is the stirring mechanism built into the lid and handle.  It makes all the difference over a normal kettle on the stove.  Stirring prevents the kernels from burning, and helps mix the salt and oil.  I’ll never go back to just a kettle. Besides – that’s how they do it at the movies!

How It’s Done

Turn your stove on to exactly medium heat.  Add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. I use half coconut and half vegetable.  I’ve tried all coconut oil before, and it’s just too bold of a flavor for me, and it’s expensive so I try to make it last.  I suggest you try it both ways to see which you prefer.  Then add enough popcorn to cover the bottom of the pan.

Add the Flavacol.  I use about a teaspoons worth, spread evenly across the kernels.  This is a very fine salt, so a little bit goes a LONG way.

At this point, close the lid and stir.  Don’t stop, keep stirring even through the popping.  You’ll know it’s done once you can’t stir anymore, or the popcorn has stopped popping.  Popping time will vary, so don’t leave it unattended.  It’ll be done faster than you expect.

Quickly remove it from the heat, and transfer to a bowl.  Leaving it in the kettle will cause it to burn.  Be careful when you open the lid – lots of hot steam will escape.

It’s amazing how good this popcorn is, it’s just like the movies.  I really enjoy popcorn, and this can’t be beat.  It’s very simple to make. Some of you may be disappointed that I didn’t provide measurements, so I’ll apologize now.  When I make popcorn, I just don’t measure!  Enough oil to cover the bottom, then popcorn, and lastly salt.  It’s easy!


Get a Whirly-Pop.  You won’t regret it.  Buy Flavacol, it’s a must.  Grab a jar of coconut oil.

Stove on medium, add 50/50 mix of oil to cover bottom of pan, enough popcorn to cover bottom of pan, about a teaspoon of Flavacol spread evenly. Stir.  Enjoy.


About cookingnate

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6 Responses to Movie Theater Popcorn: The Secret to Making it at Home

  1. Recently picked up Flavacol at GFS and was searching how to use it in my Whirley Pop. Found this. Just made it! Thank you! Tastes great!

  2. Cory says:

    1/2 cup of kernels is the right amount for a whirly pop. I put just under a teaspoon of flavcol to not be overpowering on the saltiness.

  3. coloradogeek64 says:

    If you don’t like the taste of Coconut oil, even though it’s not as good for you, buy the refined stuff (unscented) – even the unscented stuff is way, way better for you than “vegetable oil” (especially if it’s Corn, Soy or Canola)

    Yes, I know it’s popcorn, but Coconut oil is vastly more healthy for you than the other crap they sell out there.

  4. SirWired says:

    You can get refined coconut oil from Amazon for cheapity-cheap-cheap. An entire gallon is only $20. And it has had the off-flavors removed during the refining process, so you can use it without mixing with veggie oi.

  5. I just want to add that coconut oil with beta carotene will give your popcorn that lite yellow appearance. Also here is another secret, Naks Pop Oil bars, coconut oil bars that look like margarine sticks, artificial butter flavor is the topping “butter” oil used by every theatre.

  6. BeachDude says:

    A Whirly Pop is convenient for car camping! But, (ignoring Alton Brown), a Weat Bend Kettle Krazy or Stir Crazy popcorn popping machine makes perfect theater style popcorn, (and kettle corn, ….. roasted nuts if you find the Kettle Krazy model). They are fun to use!

    The 1/2 coconut oil and a little flavacol make it taste just like the movie theater product.

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