This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please visit the disclosures and privacy policy page.
Jan 17, 2021

How to Make Popcorn in a Wok

Making popcorn in a wok is a great way to both season your carbon steel wok and make amazing popcorn. 

Popcorn in bowls

I have always liked making my own popcorn in a pot. While microwave popcorn is pretty convenient, freshly popped "real" popcorn is so much better. Plus, you can make enough for a crowd and the only ingredients are corn, oil, and salt (unless you add your own flavorings).

Once I started learning how to stir-fry, I bought a carbon steel wok, which I needed to season before using. Once you season your new wok and begin using it, making popcorn in it is a great way to begin to speed up the beautification of the wok's surface. 

While it's no substitution for years of constant use, making popcorn in your wok does help infuse more fat into the porous metal. 

Popcorn popped in a wok

On top of that, the resulting popcorn kernels are large and puffy, and there are very few unpopped kernels. In fact, I counted only ten unpopped kernels in my last batch. 

To take this popcorn to a whole new level, you can also pop it in bacon drippings instead of oil, or a combination of oil and bacon drippings. The resulting popcorn is amazing. 

By the way, you can use it to make sweet treats such as popcorn cookies or popcorn balls

wok over the stove

If you don't have wok, you can easily make this popcorn in a lidded saucepan. I like to use a 3 or 4-quart heavy bottomed stainless steel saucepan with a lid. Be sure to set the lid slightly ajar so that the steam can escape from the pan and the popcorn remains crispy. 

Once you turn the popped popcorn out into your serving bowl, toss it with a little bit of salt. You can also add butter, parmesan, cheese powder, cinnamon sugar, paprika, or anything else you like at this point. 

My favorite topping is a little bit of salt and some cheese powder. Here are a few of my favorites. 

Yes, I have a collection for popcorn emergencies.

Popcorn toppings

I've pretty much taken it for granted that everyone knew how to make "home made" popcorn until I mentioned it at work... and got the look. The one that says "you mean you can make popcorn without a popcorn maker or a microwave?"

And then I brought in a big bowl of the stuff.... LOVE all around!!!! 

Then I started bringing in multiple flavors. More love! 

Homemade popcorn in a bowl

If you have never made popcorn in a wok or a pan, you need to give it a try. No special equipment needed. Just a sauce pan with a lid and a stovetop.

I have been guilty of making a big pot of popcorn and eating it in lieu of lunch or dinner when I have a serious craving. 

I love that you can control the amount of salt too. 

One more selling point. Popcorn is great when you are having a family gathering and you need an appetizer that kids will enjoy. The kids crack up when the growing popcorn begins to lift the lid off of the top of the pan.

From our dinner table logo

Welcome to this week's From Our Dinner Table theme, which is popcorn. I'm excited to try everyone's recipes. 

Popcorn Recipes

We share Recipes From Our Dinner Table! Join our group and share your recipes, too! While you're at it, join our Pinterest board, too!

Homemade popcorn in bowls

This is an updated post. I originally posted this recipe in August of 2013. I've taken new photos, updated the instructions, and added a printable recipe card. Plus, I got to have more popcorn! 

How to Make Popcorn in a Wok

How to Make Popcorn in a Wok
Yield: 6 servings
Author: Karen Kerr
Making popcorn in a wok is a great way to both season your carbon steel wok and make amazing popcorn.


  • 3 T oil or bacon dripping or a combination. 
  • 1/2 heaping cup of good quality popcorn kernels such as Orville Redenbacher. 
  • Salt to taste. 


  1. Place the oil in the wok with three kernels of the corn and heat with the lid on at medium heat.
  2. When all three kernels have popped, add the rest of the kernels, place the lid back on and remove the pan from the heat for about 30 seconds and then move the pan back onto the heat.
  3. Cook the kernels on medium low heat with the lid on but slightly vented so that some air can escape.
  4. As the kernels begin to pop, shake the pan a few times back and forth (no need to go crazy on this) to distribute the kernels evenly.
  5. Keeping the lid on but slightly vented, cook the popcorn until the popping begins to slow, lower the temperature, and remove the pan immediately when the gaps between pops are several seconds.
  6. Dump the popcorn into a large bowl and salt to taste. You can also add butter, parmesan, cheese powder, cinnamon sugar, paprika, or anything else you like at this point.



Fat (grams)


Sat. Fat (grams)


Carbs (grams)


Fiber (grams)


Net carbs


Sugar (grams)


Protein (grams)


Sodium (milligrams)


Cholesterol (grams)

Did you make this recipe?
Tag on instagram and hashtag it #karenskitchenstories

Would you like to comment?

  1. Oooh I want to make it with bacon drippings! Also, I've never seen that Penzey's cheese sprinkle, I have a gift card there so off to order it!

    1. That Penzey's cheese sprinkle is wonderful, and you MUST try it with bacon drippings!

  2. We love our air-popper for making popcorn, then liberally drizzling it with butter and grated parmesan cheese. But. We've never thought of using bacon dripping!! What a great idea for making popcorn AND for seasoning the wok.

    Suddenly, I can't stop wondering how the popcorn would taste if it were popped with duck fat....


I would love to hear from you! If you comment anonymously, be sure to leave your name in your comment.