Never pop your popcorn from a bag again.
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ck- Umami Popcorn
Credit: Photography: Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Anna Hampton; Prop Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine

There is something mesmerizing about watching corn kernels transform into popcorn right before your eyes. Most people get their popcorn from one of two common sources—the movie theater or the microwave. However, once you make fresh popcorn, it will truly become the only way that you’ll want to consume the airy treat. Not to mention, it’s far more affordable. The best part is that you have total creative freedom over the flavors you coat your popcorn in. Customize each batch of popcorn to however you are feeling that day. If you are craving sugar, make a sweet mix with honey and butter, or if you are feeling spicy, sprinkle with a spice blend of salt, smoked paprika, and cayenne pepper. You can even go the savory route with freshly chopped herbs and toasted sesame oil, or go cheesy with a handful of grated Parmesan. Have the kids join in to make adorable popcorn balls that they can use as an afternoon snack or share with classmates at school. This popcorn life is seriously something you will be hip to in no time.

There are 2 easy ways to prepare fresh popcorn—you can either use a stovetop or a nifty microwavable popper. The stovetop method might sound a little intimidating, but after the first try, you will realize how thrilling it is and wonder why you never tried this before. For the stovetop method, you need a heavy-bottomed pot with a fitted lid. Coat the bottom of the pot with about 3 tablespoons of oil for every ½ cup of kernels. It’s best to use an oil with a high smoke point such as corn, soybean, or peanut. Canola, olive, coconut, avocado and grapeseed oils are the next best options. Add your kernels to the oil, toss, and heat to medium temperature. At this point, you do not want to walk away from your pot. Keeping a watchful eye will prevent you from getting burnt bits. As the oil starts to bubble around the kernels, cover the pot with the lid leaving a slight opening for ventilation. It may seem counterintuitive to cover a pot with hot oil in it, but this helps create the steam and heat needed to pop the kernels. When the kernels start to pop, gently agitate the pot to allow the unpopped kernels to move around. The popping will start to slow and when it does, that indicates that it’s time to remove the pot from the heat.

WATCH: How to Pop Popcorn In a Pan

Another stove top method that a few bloggers swear by is to first heat the oil with 3-4 test kernels in the pot. When those kernels pop, add the remaining kernels, cover with the lid, and remove from the heat for 30 seconds. After the 30 seconds break, turn the heat back and allow the kernels to pop for about 2 minutes, making sure to shake the pot while popping. Once the popping slows, remove from the heat. This is an old-school trick that will help all the kernels pop preventing any burning.

If you want to skip the stovetop all together, try out the Lekue Microwave Popcorn Popper. With over 1,000 reviews and 4.5 stars on Amazon, the internet has spoken and this popper really works well. The popper is made with BPA-free platinum silicone that’s a breeze to clean and is dishwasher safe. It also has a neat collapsible figure for easy storing. The most significant benefit of using this popper is that you do not need any oil or the stovetop. Simply add ¼ to ⅓ cup of kernels to the bottom of the container, cover loosely with the top, and pop for 2 to 3 minutes in the microwave. And like magic, you have freshly popped corn. You can definitely get the kids involved without worrying about hot oil if you use this popper. Whether you prefer the stovetop or the microwave, freshly popped popcorn is here to change your life and bring you much joy. Happy Popping!