Fresh, hot popcorn is an easy fireside snack whether you’re camping off the grid, RVing at a campground, or just hosting a backyard bonfire. (And it’s a great complement to sweet s’mores.) All you need—besides the fire, of course—is popcorn kernels, cooking oil, and a campfire popcorn popper.
If you’d rather not add another piece of equipment to your camping kit, you can make campfire popcorn using a pan. But if popcorn is a frequent camping snack—or you want to involve kids in the process of making it—a popper is a convenient and relatively safe way to cook popcorn.
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How to Make Campfire Popcorn
Making popcorn over a fire couldn’t be easier—and it’s more fun than the microwave version. Here’s the basic method for campfire popcorn. (Be sure to read the instructions for your specific popcorn popper because sizes and instructions may vary.):
- ¼ cup popcorn kernels
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- Salt, to taste
- Other seasonings (see below for ideas)
- Build a campfire and let it burn until there is a good coal base. (Similar to what you’d want for s’mores.)
- Pour the popcorn kernels into the popcorn popper. Drizzle the canola oil over the kernels and stir until the kernels are coated. Close the popper’s lid.
- Hold the popcorn popper over the fire and shake it to keep the kernels moving. Once the kernels start popping (you’ll be able to hear them), continue shaking the popper over the fire for 1–2 minutes. When there are a few seconds between pops, the popcorn is done.
- Remove the popcorn popper from the fire and use an oven mitt to open it. Pour the popcorn into a bowl and mix with salt or other seasonings. Serve while the popcorn is still warm.
Popcorn Flavor Variations
For sweet and salty popcorn, add about a tablespoon of sugar after you pour the oil over the kernels. Stir or shake the kernels so they mix with the sugar. Then once you’ve made the popcorn, be sure to add some salt.
While the popped popcorn is still hot, stir in a teaspoon or two (more or less to taste) of taco seasoning.
Cheese & Herb Popcorn
Shake 1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese and 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning over the hot popped popcorn. Mix well.
Cinnamon Sugar Popcorn
In a separate small bowl, stir together 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 2 teaspoons granulated sugar. Pour over hot popped popcorn and mix well.
Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon powdered ranch dressing mix over hot popped popcorn and mix well.
Best Campfire Popcorn Poppers
While you can use a Dutch oven or other pan to cook popcorn over a fire, it’s hard to beat the convenience of a ready-made campfire popcorn popper. Here are some of the best:Camp Chef Popcorn Popper
This popper from Camp Chef is made from powder-coated steel and has a 19.5-inch handle with a wooden grip. It’ll hold up to 3.5 quarts of popcorn.
- Out of the box ready to cook in seconds
- 3.5 quart capacity so you cna easily make enough for the family
- Comfortable wood handle
- Dimensions: 19.5" x 8.5" x 10.5"
- Weight: 3 lbs.
Coleman’s steel popcorn popper has a convenient sliding lid and two-part handle that’s 16 inches long. Although the product description says that you don’t need to use oil, we recommend you do. This popper is not made from a nonstick material so without oil, kernels (and popcorn) could potentially stick to it and burn.
- CAMPFIRE POPPING: No need for oil
- EASY TO USE: Simply slide the lip open, throw in some kernels, slide the lid back into place, and hold it over the fire
- SAFE: Cool-touch wooden handle
- CAPACITY: Cooks up to 2 qts. of popcorn at a time
- BUILT FOR CAMP: Intended for outdoor use
This popcorn popper from Great Northern combines a fun retro look with modern features. Its specially designed “cool tube” handle is the longest on our list: it’s adjustable up to 24 inches long and will help prevent burned hands and faces. This is also the largest popcorn popper on our list. It’ll hold up to 4 quarts of popcorn.
- ►Takes camping out to a whole new level - no electricity needed
- ►Make 4 quarts of popcorn in just minutes
- ►Innovative cool tube handle extends to 2 feet to keep you safe and away from the fire.
- ►Quick clip lid makes for easy clean-up. Simply wipe with a paper towel and store for later use.
- ►Great for campouts, or backyard parties!
Rome Industries’ popcorn popper is a classic-style popper with a hinged lid, long handle, and wooden grip. While it has a smaller capacity than some of the others listed here, on the plus side, it’s also lighter and takes up less space.
- Sierra Head Gasket
- Meets or exceeds the original equipment quality
- Sierra part number: 18-2962
- Interchangeable with the following: Evinrude/Johnson 322332 and 306163
- Fit specific, check part numbers to ensure proper fit
This popcorn popper has a hinged lid and handle with a wooden grip like others campfire popcorn poppers on our list, but it has one feature that sets it apart from the others : a nonstick interior. We still recommend using a little oil when making popcorn in this popper, but clean-up will be easy.
- Use over campfire, in fireplaces, or stoves for delicious fire cooked popcorn
- Non Stick popper pan allows for easy clean up
- Removable two piece wooden extension handles allow for ample room from fires
- Handles aides in preventing burns from fire
- Pan Size: 9" x 7" x 2 3/4", Length 26"
Uses for Leftover Campfire Popcorn
It’s easy to get carried away when making popcorn and sometimes you end up with a bowl of leftovers. Instead of throwing popcorn away, use it in one of these recipes.
- Cooking spray
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 (10-oz) bag mini marshmallows
- 2-3 cups popped popcorn
- Optional mix-ins such as M&Ms, peanuts, chocolate chips
- Coat an 8×8-inch pan with cooking spray.
- In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and marshmallows together. Stir until smooth.
- Add the popcorn (and mix-ins, if using) to the marshmallow mixture and stir until it’s completely coated.
- Pour the popcorn mixture into the greased pan and press into a flat layer. Let set for 1–2 hours.
Popcorn Trail Mix
- 2-3 cups popped popcorn
- 1 cup pretzel twists
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup almonds
- ½ cup chocolate chips
Make sure the popcorn has cooled, then mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Store in sealed containers so the popcorn doesn’t get stale.
- Cooking spray
- ½ cup butter
- ½ brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 5 cups popped popcorn
- Preheat oven to 250°F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Spread the popcorn in an even layer on the baking sheet.
- Place butter and brown sugar in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once it comes to a boil, let it boil for 5 minutes.
- Remove the pan from heat and stir in the vanilla, salt, and baking soda.
- Pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn. Stir until the popcorn is mostly coated with the caramel sauce.
- Bake the popcorn in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes. Stir well, then bake for another 15 minutes.
- Cover a countertop with wax paper. Spread the hot caramel corn onto the wax paper and let it cool completely. Once the caramel corn is cool, store it in a sealed container.