Help me make 'movie theater' popcorn!

My home entertainment system is complete (for now!), and the only motivation I now have to actually go to a movie theater is for the occasional taste of that wickedly good movie theater popcorn.

Microwave popcorn doesn’t cut it, not by a longshot. I have a old air popper that does a wonderful job at churning out white styrofoam, but certainly not at turning out delicious popcorn.

So what do I need? How do theaters pop their corn? In oil? (If so, what brand or type of oil?) Hot air? And the ‘butter’ topping; I am clever enough to know that it isn’t really butter (not pure butter, certainly), but not clever enough to know what is that heavenly topping made of. Any tips?

I thought they use a popcorn maker that had a stirring mechanism in the pot. The popcorn is stirred throughout the cycle. We make ours in a large pot with a bit of corn oil. I don’t really like microwave popcorn all that much. I use real butter and it isn’t the same without it. You might check out one of these . Orville Redenbacher popcorn does also pop much better than the run of the mill brands that are sold in bags.

Gen-yew-ine movie theatre popcorn popping oil

Try this stuff. But you have to get the Whirley Pop Popper too. :smiley:

Coconut oil is what they use. They have a pan deal that has coconut oil and a wand thing turns around so it doesnt stick to the bottom. I have no idea how they butter them up, though. Maybe ask a prison doper?

I am sort of afraid to ask a ‘prison doper’ about popcorn…

But I did go ahead and order popping oil and topping oil (heh), and one of those Whirley-thingees. I like the Orville Redensomething popcorn itself, so I’ll try with that before I get some other type of popcorn.

We’ll know in a few short days if this was worth it (the stuff seems to get good reviews around the web, but so does trepanning) or if I’ll be chucking a bowl full of fluffy death at Red Dawn. (Blasphemy!)

There is a salt/flavor mix that is put in the oil. I think it’s available at most supermarkets.

(Didn’t click the links so don’t know the specific products that were recommended…) I spent last summer working the concession stand of an 18-screen multiplex in Rochester, NY. The corn popping oil is indeed coconut oil. Ours was hooked up to automatically dispense in two huge squirts into a popper drum with an agitator inside. The corn kernels got mixed with some bright yellow vaguely butter-flavored salt before going into the popper. The “butter” topping is mostly soybean oil, if I remember correctly.

I think you could use any of those Whirly Popper packages and ingredients in a Stir Crazy or just in a pan shaken over the stove (you know the old fashioned way).

I used to work in a theater and it’s all in the ingredients. We used semi-solid at room temperature, flavored coconut oil, popcorn and a large amount of buttery flavored popcorn salt added to the oil and popcorn before it started to pop.

Good luck.

Look in the yellow for a ‘theatre/concessions supply’ in your area. Buy popcorn from them. You would not believe how much bigger the unpopped kernels of ‘movie popcorn’ are than the ‘store brand’ popcorn kernels.

An important factor in good movie theater popcorn, believe it or not, is the heat lamps.

A couple of weeks ago, I was behind a woman who insisted on getting a bag of the “fresh” popcorn currently being popped. “Fresh” popcorn is not good popcorn though, because it is still moist. Once it has a chance to dry out under the heat lamps, it becomes light and crunchy.

I don’t know if you can simulate heat lamps at home, but I just thought I’d mention it.

When I worked at a movie theatre way back when, it was indeed coconut oil. In a big metal kettle with a stirring wand. There is pre-seasoning added as well, butter flavoured salt. The very best way to make theatre popcorn (and I had lots of time to play with the recipie) IMHO, is to tripple the oil, and tripple the salt. The product comes out neon yellow :slight_smile:

Then you have to put it in a small bag, like the kind used for bulk food at the theatre. Add in enough butter (not topping, real butter) for a large popcorn, and cover with another bag and shake. You get a soggy mass of butter/popcorn. Guaranteed to clog arteries, but very tasty.

Brutus I’ve just put in my new Home Theater system. And gave it a test run with Master and Commander followed by FoTR and Two Towers. I’ve got to say the great thing about a 5-disk changer is you don’t need to stop the action long.

I made my popcorn on the stove in a good heavy pot with peanut oil. Topped with melted butter (not margarine) and some salt. It vastly exceeds the quality of the dried out overly salty movie theater stuff.

If you’re really old school you use bacon fat to pop the corn. Mmmm-porky popcorn.

Or just to be odd you could melt equal parts butter and peanut butter and put it over your corn. (kids love this)

And the best “home made” cheese popcorn, butter popcorn topped with the "cheese” packet of mac and cheese.

My dad used to sell poppers, corn, oil, bags, and salt. The main thing you need is Flavacol (about 1/3 of the way down the page). It is that one missing ingredient. You can get close to movie popcorn but without this stuff you’ll never nail it exactly.

That’s the stuff! I couldn’t remember the name of it, we always called it “butter salt.”

To make ‘real’ movie theatre popcorn:

Pop a week ahead of time.

Burn every third batch.

crush every fifth batch to little bits.

Store in trash bags.

Remember, Old Maids are your friends.

reheat in a bin with a heat lamp and hair dryer.

Vary the flavacol in each batch by 75%

Top with mystery stuff that the closest it got to butter was passing a cow on the highway.

Remember, old kernals=dry corn=old maids

Kraft makes blue tubes of the day-glow yellow shakey cheese that is perfect for cheese corn.

Microwave, done right, is a heck of a lot easier. Take it from one who had to pop a tonne of the stuff in 5 days one holiday season.

I don’t know about movie popcorn, but that new microwave kettle corn is yummeroo!!! I didn’t read about the fat and calories involved, I just popped some up. What it reminds me of is popcorn balls, but with just a hint of the sticky, crunchy, sweet stuff. Yaaaaaaa. :o


The stuff I bought is ‘it’ (And I did get some Flavacol). I made popcorn at home that was indistinguishable from the stuff I get at Star Theaters. Quite an amazing amount of salt went into it to get the flavor just ‘right’ (I rarely salt any food at home after the cooking stage, and I really had to dump the stuff on!)

Thanks to all for the help and pointers. Now off to watch The Cannonball Run