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Everybody loves popcorn! Not only is it a healthy treat, but it’s relatively simple to cook at home. You might wonder, “Can I make popcorn in a toaster oven?” We’ve researched various cooking techniques for popcorn to get the answer for you.
It is possible to make popcorn in a toaster oven, but it is not the best technique. Do not attempt to make popcorn in the toaster oven by putting kernels into a paper bag because the bag can catch on fire!
Keep reading, and we’ll tell you step-by-step how to make popcorn in a toaster oven. We’ll also share some more efficient techniques so that when you make a batch of popcorn, you can be sure every last kernel will pop.
How to Make Popcorn in the Toaster Oven
If you thought popcorn was just for the movie theaters and sports stadiums, think again. According to The Popcorn Institute, nearly 90% of unpopped popcorn is sold for home consumption. The next time you get a hankering for popcorn, fire-up the toaster oven.
- Preheat the toaster oven at 400-450°F.
- Pour 1/3 cup popcorn kernels into an oven-safe bowl. Cover the top of the bowl with aluminum foil.
- Set the bowl into the oven. Wait, and listen for popping.
- When the popping subsides, remove the bowl. Use an oven mitt because it will be hot!
- Carefully remove the aluminum foil, steam will escape.
- Let the popcorn cool. Enjoy!
What is the Best Way to Cook Popcorn?
We think the best way to cook popcorn is the traditional stovetop technique.
- Select a heavy-bottomed saucepan with a lid.
- Coat the bottom of the saucepan with cooking oil (approximately 3-tablespoons).
- Add two, ‘test’ corn kernels to the saucepan. Place the lid on the saucepan, and heat at medium-high. Wait, and listen for the test kernels to pop. When the kernels pop, the oil is hot enough to add the remaining kernels.
- Add 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels to the pan. Place the lid on the pan. Gently shake the pot occasionally as corn kernels continue to pop.
- When popping subsides, remove the pan from the heat. Pour popcorn into a serving bowl. Enjoy!
To understand why the stovetop cooking technique works best, let’s discuss how to achieve each perfectly puffed morsel of popcorn.
Why Does Popcorn Pop?
The secret to popcorn’s remarkable pop-ability is found inside of the kernel. Not every type of corn will pop, but inside one specific variety, you will find trace amounts of water and starch.
When you apply heat to popcorn kernels, the water inside begins to steam. The steam cannot escape the kernel’s hard, outer shell, so as the temperature rises, pressure builds inside of the kernel. When the internal temperature reaches 355°F/180°C, the kernel can no longer contain the pressure created by steam. The shell bursts open.
The white, airy part of the popped corn that we munch is actually starch from inside the kernel. Just as the kernel was about to burst, the starch instantaneously cooked. Popped corn is essentially turned inside out.
Should I Shake or Stir Popcorn?
Agitate the kernels by shaking or stirring the batch as it heats. Circulating heat (either air or hot oil) throughout the batch of kernels will allow each kernel an opportunity to heat efficiently. If the batch sits in a pile as it does in the bowl in the toaster oven, the kernels least exposed to the heat will not burst.
Try the stovetop popper, with a cool-touch stir handle to keep those kernels agitated.
What if the Kernels Don’t Pop?
We just learned that water inside the kernel is popcorn’s key ingredient. Lacking moisture is another reason why using the toaster oven is not the best cooking technique. If the popcorn kernels dry-out, because it takes longer to heat in an oven, less water inside means less pressure build-up. Too little moisture, and you’ll get either a partially popped kernel or no pop at all.
Stovetop popcorn bathes the kernels in oil, so they will not dry out. Most cooking oils have a smoking point between 350°F and 450°F, similar to that of popcorn’s ideal popping temperature. So, when you add kernels to pre-heated oil, they heat instantly and fully burst. Any mild-flavored cooking oil will do, like canola, coconut, sunflower, or grapeseed oil.
How Do You Make Popcorn Without a Stove or Microwave?
Probably the best alternative method to cook popcorn without a stove or microwave is to use an electric air popper.
Air poppers are compact, lightweight appliances that are easy to store in your kitchen. These handy gadgets can either pop-up a single-serving of popcorn, or fill a generous serving bowl with up to 16-cup capacity to share. Forced hot air rapidly circulates, tossing the kernels, so each one heats efficiently to burst into popped corn.
By using an air popper, you get a quick, healthy snack. No oil is needed for kernels to pop. Just fill the popper with kernels by using the measuring cup lid. Place a bowl beneath the spout. Turn on the air popper and get ready for a delicious treat! You can even use the measuring cup lid as a butter melting dish for a savory drizzle over popcorn.
Check out our blog, “How Big Should a Serving Bowl Be?” to find the best-matched bowl for your popcorn batch.
Is a Toaster Oven Healthier Than a Microwave?
While the health risks remain unclear, research has concluded that microwave popcorn does contain harmful chemicals. But, did you know that you can avoid the processed, bagged popcorn and make plain kernels in your microwave just as easily?
- Put 1/3 cup popcorn kernels into a microwave-safe bowl. Cover the bowl with a microwave-safe lid (an overturned plate works great). You can alternatively place kernels into a paper bag and loosely roll down the opening to close.
- Microwave kernels on high for 3-minutes. If popping subsides before the timer, stop the cook-time and remove the bowl early.
- Remove the bowl using an oven mitt as it will be hot. Carefully lift the lid, letting the steam escape.
- Let the popcorn cool. Enjoy!
For maximum cooking flexibility, why not try a microwave toaster oven combo? Check out our blog post, “Best 8 Walmart Microwave Toaster Oven Combos,” to select the best for your kitchen.
Have fun, and experiment with different popcorn cooking techniques in your kitchen. Don’t forget to share popcorn with family and friends!