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Put popcorn on your Super Bowl snack roster

Go plain, stick with traditional flavors, or try some different tastes

Published: February 01, 2014 01:35 PM

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The salty—or sweet—goodness. The crispy crunch. The buttery, finger-licking mess. It’s hard to imagine that those little, white fluff balls of deliciousness are whole grains wrapped in only 133 calories per cup—well, when “lightly” buttered, that is. Yet it’s not difficult to understand why Popcorn Day exists. After all, Americans chow down on 16 billion quarts of popcorn annually, according to the Popcorn Board. Opinions differ on when Popcorn Day is; some say Jan. 19, while others opt for Super Bowl Sunday.

No matter the date, there are no shortages on how you can enjoy this snack—from caramel-nut popcorn crunch to popcorn con pesto. But before you start popping, learn how to prepare popcorn.

Stovetop popping directions

You will need:

  • A 3 or 4-quart pan with lid
  • Popcorn kernels
  • ⅓ cup of oil for every 1 cup of kernels
  • Salt or other seasonings of your choice. (Try one of these: Cinnamon, brown sugar, and nutmeg, cumin; dry taco seasoning mix, garlic salt,; lemon pepper; oregano; parmesan cheese; or thyme.)

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil to 400° to 460° F.
  2. Test the oil by tossing in a few kernels.
  3. When they pop, add the rest of popcorn. Use enough kernels to cover the bottom of the pan—about one kernel deep.
  4. Cover the pan and shake it to evenly coat the kernels in oil.
  5. When the popping slows down to about 2 to 3 seconds apart, remove the pan from the stovetop. (The heated oil will still pop the remaining kernels.)
  6. Salt and/or season to taste. (Never presalt the kernels because the salt toughens popcorn.)

—Kaitlyn Wells

If you don’t want to pop your own, check the results of our recent taste tests of cheddar cheese and caramel popcorn.

Sharp R-323TKC, $140

Find the best microwave—for making popcorn and everything else

What’s the easiest method for popping your own? Nuke it. Indeed, making popcorn is one of the main uses for microwave ovens, says the Popcorn Board. Just follow the manufacturer's directions to get perfectly popped kernels every time. If your microwave tends to burn or under pop the kernels, skip the automatic settings and follow the directions on the popcorn bag.


Each microwave oven in our Ratings gets evaluated with a number of different tests, including heating evenness, defrosting, and ease of use. (While we don't break out a separate popcorn score, how well each microwaves makes popcorn is a part of the overall score.)


We use the automatic popcorn setting on each microwave to pop a 3.5-ounce bag of a national brand’s natural-flavor popcorn. The vast majority of the machines we test do at least a good job, producing a minimum of 9 cups of popcorn.


   

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