Does Soaking Popcorn Kernels Make It Pop Better?

You are determined to make the perfect batch of fluffy popcorn with a high pop success rate. You have heard a trick about soaking popcorn kernels and wonder if this is a legitimate technique for improved popping percentages. This is a question that will be answered in detail with more ideas on how to make the best popcorn.

Soak your popcorn kernels for 10-15 minutes, drain, and pat dry. This can increase the number of kernels popped if the kernels are old, but makes no difference on new kernels. It will make the kernels pop slightly faster and make some of the popcorn pieces fluffier. 

Soaking the popcorn kernels for a short time before popping may minimize the number of duds you have in your bowl. It may make some of the end product fluffier, too. The only downside is that you may want to eat popcorn now. We will discuss this popcorn hack and other popping tips in this post. Keep reading to learn more.

Corn kernels in a bowl, Does Soaking Popcorn Kernels Make It Pop Better?

Does Soaking Popcorn Kernels Make It Pop Better?

You may soak your popcorn kernels for 10-15 minutes. Drain the water and pat dry. If you have older popcorn kernels, this will increase the number of kernels that pop. If you have newer kernels, your popcorn kernel popping percentage will not noticeably improve.

The water content of the kernels increases when you soak them. This will slightly speed up the time it takes to pop the kernels. If you want to make popcorn now, then the soaking process will only add extra waiting time. The reason for soaking the kernels is to get a better popping yield from older kernels or to make slightly fluffier popcorn.

Close up of popcorn in a glass cup on a wooden table

What Happens If You Soak Popcorn Kernels In Water?

When you soak popcorn kernels in water, the seeds absorb extra moisture. This increased water content causes the kernels to pop slightly faster. The increased speed of popping is not significant when soaking kernels in water. It can and does cause some of the kernels to be fluffy.

Corn frying on the gas stove in the kitchen

Do Wet Popcorn Kernels Pop?

Wet popcorn kernels will not pop. Always drain the water and pat dry the popcorn kernels before you begin popping. Popcorn kernels will pop very poorly or not at all when they are wet. The only risk when soaking your popcorn kernels is not drying them enough before heating.

What Makes Popcorn Pop Better?

You should consider the kernels, the oil, the amount of heat, and the pan when figuring out the best way to make popcorn. The kernels should be fresh for the best amount of popping. You should use just the right amount of high-smoke point oil for best results. The best popping temperature is between 400 and 460 degrees Fahrenheit.

For a comprehensive discussion and tips to make all the kernels pop, check out this blog post: How Do You Make All Popcorn Kernels Pop? [Tips And Tricks]

How Much Oil Should I Use?

Using the right amount of oil is vital to get most or all of your kernels popped. This should be about 1 tablespoon per 1/4 cup of kernels. Popcorn kernels will not pop when they are too wet, which includes using too much oil. If you don't use enough oil, then many of the kernels will burn without popping. You also want to use the correct type of oil for your popcorn to pop effectively.

What Kind Of Oil Should I Use?

You should use an oil that has a high smoke point for making popcorn. High smoke point oils include sunflower, safflower, canola, coconut, grapeseed, and sesame. Always choose one of these oils for popping kernels on the stove. You can choose your favorite tasting oil, butter, or ghee to drizzle on top when your popcorn is ready for devouring.

Click here to see Orville Redenbacher's flavored oil on Amazon.

Preheating The Oil

You can get more kernels to pop if you preheat the oil before adding in the popcorn. You can test to see if the oil is ready by adding in a kernel or two. If the kernel pops within 1-2 seconds, then it is ready to add the popcorn. This will make sure all of the popcorn gets the right amount of heat at the same time.

How Do You Rejuvenate Popcorn Kernels?

Popcorn kernels yield the best flavor and popping results when they are fresh. Older popcorn kernels may provide chewy or stale tasting popcorn, but there is a way to rejuvenate these old kernels. You can steam these kernels over the top of boiling water for 10 minutes. After steaming the kernels, they are rehydrated and ready for popping.

Click here to buy Orville Redenbacher's popcorn kernels on Amazon.

What To Do If All Kernels Don't Pop?

Save the kernels that don't pop in a jar. Add a teaspoon of water for every cup of kernels and put the lid on the jar. Shake the jar and let it sit for at least a day or up to 3 days. This should help to rehydrate these kernels so they will pop the next time you are making popcorn.

Can You Pop Popcorn With Water?

Popcorn can be popped without water, but the results can be finicky or require some trial and error. Many people have tried this method and end up with burnt, unpopped kernels. To try this method, you should have some kernels resting at the bottom of the pot. Add water so the kernels are just barely covered. Place on medium to high heat for 2 minutes, add a little more water, and put the top on. Water evaporates fast under heat, so it does require more liquid than using oil.

When using this method, you want to avoid kernels burning before they get a chance to pop. This requires shaking the pot regularly throughout the process. If you have a stovetop popcorn popper, then you can turn the handle to move around the kernels. This will hopefully prevent your kernels from getting burned.

Scattered simple popcorn

What Pan Should I Use?

Any pan can be used to cook popcorn, but you will want something with a top to prevent kernels from flying around your kitchen. The best way to pop popcorn is to use an air popper. It is the easiest method that doesn't require a stove or oil to complete the process.

The best option for the stove is to use a stovetop popper. This pan gives you a handle to turn the kernels, which prevents them from getting burned. It also allows the kernels to heat and pop evenly.


Click here to buy the Great Northern Popcorn Company stovetop spinner on Amazon.

If you don't have an air fryer or a stovetop popper, there are several other pans that will work. For a detailed breakdown of pans that can be used for making popcorn, check out this post: What Is The Best Pot For Making Popcorn?

In Closing

Soaking popcorn is a useful method for rehydrating old or unpopped kernels from previous popping sessions. This will increase the number of kernels that pop and can make some of the final popcorn fluffier. Cooking popcorn with water is possible, but it may result in burnt, unpopped kernels. When making popcorn, consider the oil, the amount of oil, the pan, and the amount of heat. In order to pop most or all of the kernels in the pan, you should preheat the oil before adding the kernels.

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