How to Make Popcorn in a Wok

by Bob | Last Updated:  October 15, 2020
WokOwner is owned and operated by WokOwner.com. WokOwner is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. WokOwner also participates in affiliate programs with Avantlink, Impact, CJ, ShareASale, and other sites. WokOwner is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.

If you own a wok, you may know that it’s possible to make popcorn with your wok. Using only oil, popcorn kernels, butter, and salt, you can make popcorn in just a few minutes. If you’re not sure how to go through the process, these are the basic steps to follow.

This is my wok and lid setup for popping corn.

Ingredients:

Popcorn

One of the popcorns I use is: Orville Redenbacher’s Gourmet Popcorn Kernels, Original Yellow, 8 Lb. (I eat a lot of popcorn!)

Another brand of popcorn I like is this 6 lb bag of white Amish Country Popcorn.

Popcorn Oil

I want to talk to you about popcorn oil for a few minutes.

Using a 14-inch wok, either stainless steel, carbon steel, or cast iron, I use around 1 Tablespoon of oil. Some recipes recommend that you use two tablespoons of oil. By oil, I am referring to popcorn oil, canola oil, or even solid coconut oil.

If you use coconut oil, make sure you use unrefined coconut oil.

Whether you use 1 or 2 TBLS of oil will depend on:

In general, I try to use the least amount of oil as possible. It is just my thing! You will have to experiment to see how much oil you want to use.

Be careful with applying too much heat to the coconut oil or leaving your popcorn in the wok for too long because your popcorn will burn.


Coconut PopCorn Oil

My favorite popcorn oil is coconut oil. If you want you can use inexpensive unprocessed coconut oil like this. This oil will work fine and you can use it for other purposes besides making popcorn. Coconut oil is my favorite kind of oil because it gives the popcorn a very buttery flavor and smells great.


If you want to step up to coconut oil that has a little more flavor then I would suggest you try Dutchman’s Buttery Coconut Oil from Amazon.


If you would really like some high quality and safe popcorn oil, I recommend that you take a serious look at this Amish Country Popcorn Butter Flavored Canola Oil. This oil comes with a free old fashioned popcorn recipe guide.


If you desire more of a “Theater Flavored Popcorn” try Snappy. Snappy is made in Breda, Iowa and they have been making popcorn oil and other popcorn related products since 1940. I finally found something older than me!

You can find Snappy popcorn oil here at Amazon. Check em out!


Start by pouring in 1.5 TBSP oil and setting the heat under your wok to high. Once your wok has been heated for a few minutes add 1-2 popcorn kernels in the wok on top of the hot oil. When those one or two kernels pop then you can add the rest of the popcorn to the wok.

I always preheat my wok for a few minutes on high before I add the oil. If you want to preheat the wok like I do be careful not to let the wok gets too hot before adding the oil or it may spash on you. Caution is the word here.

Woks for Popcorn

The wok I like to use when making popcorn is this Lodge Pro-logic cast iron wok. Any 14-inch wok would work great but I like this wok because it sits solidly on the stove. If you do not have a cast iron wok, any 14-inch carbon steel wok would work fine.

It’s best to use a round-bottomed wok that’s 14 inches. However, you can adjust the recipe based on your wok size if desired. Cover the wok and then place over high heat until the kernels start to pop in a few minutes.

Wok Lids For Popcorn

Make sure that you cover your wok with an adequate lid or you will have popcorn all over your kitchen. If your wife or significant other comes home and finds popcorn all over the kitchen…you might be sleeping in your car for a few nights!

Prices and images pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

I really like this lid because the handle is big and it’s easy to maneuver. Take a look at Amazon for this lightweight wok’s availability.

Remove the lid and pour the rest of the kernels in the wok. Immediately cover the wok and leave the heat on high. You should start to hear the kernels popping. Do not remove the lid until you no longer hear corn popping.

If you use a round-bottomed wok you will NOT have to agitate the wok to allow all of the kernels to pop. As the kernels pop they slide down the side of the wok to make perfect popcorn. I usually set my timer to 3 minutes with my heat on high.

Depending on the oil you use, the popcorn type, and the type of wok…the cooking time will vary plus or minus 30-60 seconds. With my cast iron wok, I have found the time around 2minute and 30seconds works perfectly every time.

If you do not have a timer and you start to notice a few seconds delay between pops, remove the wok from the heat.

I usually use 1/4 to 1/2 a stick of butter melted in the microwave. I pour this melted butter over the popcorn while it is still in the wok. Add butter and salt to your taste. You can enjoy your popcorn right away or store any remaining popcorn in an airtight container.

I found that if you reduce the heat to mid-range after you add all the popcorn, you will have unpopped kernels at the bottom of the wok. If you leave the heat on high for 3 minutes maximum and don’t adjust the heat all the kernels will pop. Keep the top on for 30 seconds more just to make sure all the kernels pop.

The amount of time may vary depending on the type of oil used.

For Nerds Only

I live in Northern Illinois and my altitude is 715 feet above sea level. Why is this important and what has this got to do with making popcorn in a wok? It is important because the amount of time I set on my stove (3 minutes) for making popcorn may have a different setting than what you need at your altitude! You will have to play with the time plus or minus depending on your altitude! Got it?

PopCorn Video Tutorial

Why Use a Wok to Make Popcorn?

Although you can use this recipe with any pan, most people find that they prefer making popcorn in a wok. The large size and wok shape make light and airy popcorn. The wok’s large surface area also helps avoid missing kernels, so you end up with more popcorn in general.

The sloping sides of the round-bottomed wok help the popcorn to pop without burning. It is a gravity thing!

Since you’re cooking with oil, making popcorn also helps to establish a patina on the surface. When you cook regularly with your wok, it seasons it more quickly, making it a better pan over time.

You have probably noticed that I sometimes call a wok a pan or a tool, and other times I call a pan a wok or a tool! Confused yet? If you find that you’re not using your wok very often, then you may want to use it for popcorn as well.

One expert tip that some people use is covering the lid of the wok in aluminum foil. Expect the oil to splatter on the bottom side of the lid while cooking.

Using a wok lid is not necessary, but it does make cleanup more challenging. The downside is that you won’t be able to see the contents cooking if you don’t have a clear lid, but the easier cleaning may be worth it.

Seasoning Your Popcorn

Although you can stick with salt if you prefer a basic popcorn recipe, however, for people who may want to spice up their popcorn, the sky is the limit! After making your popcorn is you can add any number of spices or seasonings to your popcorn after it.

Prices and images pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

There are many favorite popcorn flavors, but one great use for your popcorn is making caramel popcorn. Caramel popcorn is especially popular around the holidays. It makes a great gift, and you can also make caramel popcorn balls, which are fun and festive.

The first ingredient for caramel corn is usually 6-8 cups of popcorn so make sure you have freshly popped popcorn and then use your favorite recipe to get started.

Sweet popcorn is only one of the options you have for popcorn, though. Many people prefer more spicy flavors in their popcorn. You can purchase seasoning for popcorn but don’t be afraid to make your own as well. For a simple addition of flavor, add a dash of cayenne pepper, and you’ll notice that your popcorn starts to pack a punch.

Search through your spice drawer and decide on which seasonings you’d like to add. Remember that less can be more when you’re getting started, so don’t go overboard at first. Over time, you’ll find the optimal blend and amount to get great-tasting popcorn every time. There are also numerous recipes to help you get started so consider this when you’re unsure what to try.

Enjoy Your Popcorn

Now that you know how to cook popcorn in a wok, what are you waiting for? Get started, and you’ll never go back to either your other pans or, even worse, the microwave version! Woks make up one of the most versatile tools in a kitchen. Although many people don’t know that they can use a wok for cooking popcorn, they find that it’s fast, simple, and makes the perfect popcorn every time.

Final Note

After you made your popcorn, all you need now is a good movie and a nap!