Chewy Popcorn – And Other Popcorn Mistakes

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Making popcorn seems to be an easy task until you end up with chewy and rubbery popcorn. 

Why is my popcorn chewy? The main reason popcorn turns out chewy is when steam is trapped in the pot while the kernels are popping. You can avoid this when making popcorn by using a well-vented lid or by leaving it slightly open to make a light and crispy popcorn. 

In this article, you will learn how to make popcorn that is not chewy and what other popcorn mistakes you should avoid. 

Why Is My Popcorn Chewy?

The main reason popcorn turns out chewy is when steam is locked into the pot or popper. 

There is already moisture in every kernel. As the kernels heat, that moisture turns into steam, causing them to pop. Later, the steam collects in the pot or the popper.

That can lead to excess moisture in the pot or popper if they are not properly ventilated.

Two other factors yield chewy results:

First, when you wait too long to eat the popcorn, it gets rubbery and chewy. Popcorn is at its best a few minutes after it has been popped. The more you leave popcorn uneaten the more moisture it absorbs from the air. 

And second, using too much oil can also be the reason for chewy popcorn. In general, 1 tablespoon of oil for ¼ cup of kernels is a good ratio to keep your popcorn from getting too chewy. 

How Do You Make Popcorn That’s Not Chewy?

Letting the steam out when making popcorn is the key step to prevent it from becoming chewy. 

Whether you make popcorn on the stovetop in a large pot or a popper, make sure they are well vented to let the steam from the popping kernels out. If the lid of your pot doesn’t have holes or sits too tightly, leave it slightly open.  

Once the popping is over and you can count 3 seconds between the pops, turn the heat off and take off the lid. The sooner you let the steam escape, the lighter and crunchier the popcorn will be. 

Transfer the popcorn into a large bowl and wait a few minutes to eat it. Do this to let all the moisture evaporate, even though you’ll be dying to dig in.

If you have guests over and want to make sure you are serving them crunchy popcorn, serve it in paper bags. These will absorb the moisture from popcorn. 

To improve chewy popcorn, you can try spreading it on a baking sheet and placing it in the oven for a couple of minutes. Keep the heat low to not burn the popped kernels but only make them a little crunchier. 

5 Other Popcorn Mistakes to Avoid 

If chewy popcorn is not something you struggle with, here are a few other common popcorn mistakes. Unless you are a popcorn pro, you most likely make at least one of them. 

1. Not Storing Kernels Properly 

What can be worse than chewy popcorn? Popcorn that doesn’t pop at all!

Keep popcorn in a tightly sealed container or bag in the pantry or somewhere cool and dry. Don’t leave the container with popcorn open and don’t store it in the fridge or the freezer either. 

Storing unpopped popcorn properly preserves the moisture level in the kernels and ensures that they pop. 

2. Putting Too Many Kernels in the Pan

If you put too many kernels in the pan, you are risking burning at least half of them. While you wait for some of the kernels to pop, the ones that are already done will burn. 

A quarter cup of kernels will make around two bowls of popcorn. Thus, there is no need to use a lot anyway.

3. Not Heating the Pan Before Adding Kernels 

The pan should be well heated before you add the kernels. Additionally, you should turn the heat down to allow the kernels to heat evenly. With high heat, you will only burn one side of the kernels. 

Additionally, shake the pan frequently to make sure all kernels heat and pop. 

4. Salting the Popcorn Too Early 

Certain culinary sources suggest pre-salting popcorn. Many others, however, have proven that salting the kernels while they are still popping makes the popcorn tough. 

Add salt and other spices once the popcorn is ready and out of the pot

5. Using the Wrong Oil

It is not just any and every oil that you can use for popcorn. 

Firstly, use a neutral-flavored oil or oil the flavor of which will pair nicely with the popcorn. Neutral-flavored vegetable oils are a good choice. 

Secondly, make sure the oil you are using has a high smoke point

Lastly, pick an oil that is thin enough to evenly coat the kernels when heated but thick and firm when the popcorn has cooled down. This will prevent the popcorn from becoming oily and slippery. In this respect, coconut oil is the best. 

Up Next: The 5 Best Oils For Popcorn Machines

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