How to Make Movie Theater Popcorn

Making movie theater popcorn at home isn't as difficult as it may seem. Here's a really simple way to recreate the salty snack favorite. When John and I first started dating, one of the things I absolutely loved was going to the movies together. I still remember one of the first movies that we saw together. It was Safe House with Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds. Have you seen this movie? It’s not bad but I love most things Denzel so I may be biased a bit. Anyway, I don’t usually indulge in a ton of snacks at the movies but movie theater popcorn, I love.

When we go to the movies and I’m in need of a popcorn snack, it’s always accompanied with a cherry Coke then I top it with lime Coke. Oh my goodness, it’s my favorite thing and it’s so bad for me, I know. I justify drinking a big cup of cherry and lime Coca-Cola because I’m already eating a box of buttery, salty popcorn so I might as well go all out, right?

Popcorn is one of my favorite snacks to have when going to the movies. Recreate the salty snack with ease at home.Did you know that the “butter” used on movie theater popcorn isn’t really butter? Of course you knew that because you’re all conscious and aware of what’s happening with your popcorn. In case you aren’t, the “butter” (yes, I need quotation marks) isn’t really butter, it’s butter-flavored oil. Yes, I know you’re shocked and confused right now – I was too when I found out. I want to believe that the substance that being pumped out of a weird container at the theater is actually melted butter but unfortunately, it is not.

One of the tricks to making delicious popcorn at home is clarified butter. Clarified butter won’t make your popcorn so soggy like regular melted butter can. This is one of the reasons why we know that the butter at the theater isn’t really butter. First of all, if it was, your popcorn would be soggy (something about the water content). An easy fix would be to use clarified butter instead but I think we can all guess that most theaters are not making clarified butter in the back room.

By making your own popcorn at home, you can easily enhance the buttery flavors by adding other herbs and spices.So how do you make clarified butter? The simplest way is to melt some butter in a measuring cup then let it sit. Eventually it’ll separate into three parts. There’s the top frothy part, which you can skim off. Then there’s the actual clarified butter. The bottom layer is milk solids, which you can discard. The whole process is quick and in my opinion, really fascinating.  You’ll see other tutorials on clarified butter using a cheesecloth and stuff and that’s great but I didn’t have any on hand and my way worked just fine.

Are you ready to have your own movie night with delicious popcorn? Let’s do it.

Movie theater popcorn gets its buttery flavor from oils. The at home version is a much better option and very easy.

Let’s make movie theater popcorn at home

Movie Theater Popcorn


  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • Favorite herbs, optional
  • Clarified butter (from 1 stick of butter)
  • Salt


  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven (see Note #1)
  2. Once the oil is hot, add the kernels and herbs (if using) and cover. (see Note #2)
  3. Every so often, shake the pot so that the kernels don't burn.
  4. When you start to hear the kernels slow down a bit, remove from the heat to keep your popcorn from burning. Be careful when you open the lid - kernels could pop out.
  5. Remove the herbs, if using, and carefully pour in the butter (excluding the milk solids).
  6. Season with salt to taste.


1. Throw a couple of kernels in the oil and once they pop, it's hot enough to add the rest of the kernels.

2. I used rosemary and basil as an additional layer of flavor.

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