Campfire Popcorn

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Looking for a salty and crunchy snack to munch while you’re sitting around the campfire? Then this campfire popcorn recipe has your name on it! 

Popcorn in a blue bowl with a campfire in the background.

Not only is making popcorn over a campfire super quick and easy, but it is also a ton of fun! It’s a great activity for kids and adults alike and makes for a great pre-dinner appetizer.  You don’t need any fancy equipment or ingredients: just a pot with a lid, some popcorn kernels, and a bit of cooking oil. That’s it! 

While salty, buttery popcorn is a perennial favorite, you can also get super creative with the seasonings. Experiment with salty, savory, spicy, or sweet. There are so many ways to make each batch of popcorn your own!  

Okay, this is a really easy recipe so let’s jump straight into it. 

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Looking for more camping snack ideas? Check out the Best Camping Snacks to enjoy this summer! 

A jar of coconut oil next to a bowl of popcorn kernels.

Ingredients

Popcorn kernels: At most grocery stores, popcorn kernels can often be found in the chips aisle, usually next to the bags of popcorn. You may also find it in the bulk food section. 

Cooking Oil: You can use a variety of different types of oils, depending on the particular flavor profile you are looking for in the final product. Coconut oil will give you that classic movie theater taste. Olive oil lends well to savory seasonings. Clarified butter (ghee) will give your popcorn a rich buttery taste, without the tendency to smoke and burn like normal butter does. In a pinch, unflavored vegetable oil will work as well. 

Seasonings: You can really take the flavor profile in any direction you want: simple, savory, spicy, cheesy, or sweet. You really can’t go wrong. Popcorn tastes good any way you make it. 

We go over our favorite seasonings below, but generally speaking, we’re big fans of all of the spice blends from Trader Joe’s. Everything but the Elote, Chili & Lime, Cheesy, and Ranch are all classics! 

Equipment

Large pot & lid: There are a lot of ways to make campfire popcorn, but a pot and lid is our preferred setup. It is also a very common piece of camp cooking equipment that you likely already own. 

Using a pot with a lid just gives you a lot of control over the process, allowing you to vigorously shake to prevent the bottom layer from burning, crack the lid to vent out steam, and quickly and easily reset for a second batch. If you have a lid with a glass lid that’s even better, so you can monitor what’s going on inside. 

Other (less ideal) options: 

Foil Packet: Using a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil, you can fold your popcorn into a foil pouch. Crimp around the edges to seal the kernels inside. Downside: difficult to prevent burning & accommodate expansion. 

Pie Tin: Additionally, you can use either a single or double pie tin to make popcorn over a fire. Either cover the pie tin with heavy-duty aluminum foil or use a second pie tin to create a clam shell. Downside: Difficult to manipulate and shake.

Camp popcorn popper: You can also use a specialty campfire popcorn popper, which is essentially a large, vented box on the end of a long handle. Downside: an expensive piece of equipment with only one function. 

Popcorn kernels in a pot.

How to Make Campfire Popcorn — Step by Step

The first step is to prepare your heat source. If you’re cooking over a campfire, the process works best if done over embers but can be done over an open flame as well. If you are unable to cook over a campfire, then a camp stove set to medium heat will work just as well! 

Next, add the oil to the pot along with three popcorn kernels, and place over medium heat. As the oil heats up, shake the pot to evenly coat the bottom. The three kernels will indicate when the oil has reached the right temperature. Once all three of the popcorn kernels have popped, REMOVE the pot from the heat entirely. Otherwise, you risk overheating the oil.

[Note: If the oil starts to smoke/burn, stop. Remove from the heat, carefully clean out the burnt oil, and start over again. Once the oil burns, it will make the whole batch of popcorn taste burnt.]  

Add in the rest of the popcorn kernels, cover with the lid, and shake to allow the oil to evenly coat each of the kernels. Try to keep the kernels in a single layer. Then return the pot to the heat.

Once the kernels start to pop, crack the lid slightly to allow steam to escape, and gently shake the pot over the heat. The shaking motion prevents the popcorn that has already popped from burning as well as helps work unpopped kernels sift down towards the bottom. 

Since the oil is already warm, you’ll hear the first pop relatively quickly. The frequency will intensify and then start to peter out. Once the popping stops, remove the pot from the heat. Better to have one or two unpopped kernels than to burn the whole batch.

Finally, transfer the popcorn to a serving bowl. 

A variety of seasoning blends in jars.

Seasoning Ideas

Get creative with your seasonings to find your perfect flavor! Salt and pepper is a great place to start, but we’re also big fans of any sort of powdered spice blend. Here are some of our favorite seasonings we’ve used over the years. 

  • Salt & fresh cracked pepper
  • Parmesan & garlic salt
  • Nutritional Yeast 
  • Chili powder 
  • Ranch seasoning
  • Trader Joe’s Cheesy Seasoning
  • Trader Joe’s Everything But the Elote
  • Cinnamon & sugar

How to Season Your Popcorn 

Obviously, you can just sprinkle your seasonings on top of your popcorn. However, we’ve found the ideal way to get each and every popped kernel covered is to place them in an oversized bowl and toss them in the seasoning. 

Holding the bowl with both hands and rocking it forward and back. This lifts up the popcorn and seasonings, and helps ensure total and complete coverage! 

Additionally, if you have some extra melted butter or good olive oil you want to integrate, drizzle it on and give it a toss. 

We hope you try this campfire popcorn on your next camping trip!

Popcorn in a blue bowl on a stump.
Popcorn in a blue bowl

How to Make Campfire Popcorn

Looking for a salty and crunchy snack to munch while you're sitting around the campfire? Then this campfire popcorn recipe has your name on it! 
Author: Fresh Off The Grid
5 from 41 ratings
Pin Rate
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons oil, like coconut oil, vegetable oil, or ghee
  • ¼ cup popcorn kernels

Seasoning ideas:

  • Salt & fresh cracked pepper
  • Cinnamon & sugar
  • Parmesan & garlic powder
  • Powdered cheddar chesse, or nutritional yeast
  • Ranch seasoning, taco seasoning, or another favorite spice blend

Instructions

  • Add the oil and three popcorn kernels into a metal pot. Heat, covered, over medium heat (either over a campfire or camp stove) until all the kernels have popped. Remove the pot from the heat.
  • Add the rest of the popcorn kernels and shake to coat them in the oil. Cover, and return to the heat.
  • Once the kernels start popping, crack the lid a bit to allow steam to escape. Gently shake the pot every now and then.
  • Once the popping slows (a second or two between pops), remove from the heat. Transfer the popcorn to a large bowl and season.

*Nutrition is an estimate based on information provided by a third-party nutrition calculator

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2 Comments

  1. I love this post! I have to try popcorn this way, I have always been a fan myself of old school popcorn using a pot and everything.5 stars

  2. Great job guys. Looks like you are having great time out in the nature.5 stars