What Makes Popcorn Pop?

bowl of homemade popcorn

Have you ever eaten popcorn at the cinema and thought about what makes popcorn pop? How are those weird shapes made, and what is popcorn even made of? Let’s find out…

What Is Popcorn?popcorn and sweetcorn

Popcorn is made from a type of maize (or corn). It comes from the same family as sweetcorn, but it is different. There are six types of corn, and popcorn is the only one that pops. Even though unpopped popcorn looks like dried up sweetcorn, it isn’t the same.

Let’s make some popcorn and find out how popcorn goes from…

popcorn transform

Stuff You’ll Need

  • 100g popcorn kernels
  • 1 tbsp oil (we used mild and light olive oil)
  • Large pan with a lid
  • For a sweet coating (optional):
  • 20g butter
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar (caster or light brown)

Let’s Get Going

1. Put your popcorn kernels in a pan with the oil and give them a shake around. Put the lid on the pan and make sure it’s on properly.

2. Get a grown-up to put the pan on a moderate-high heat on the hob.popcorn on the hob

3. After a few minutes you will hear the popcorn start to pop. Let it pop on the heat until the popping slows down. Get your grown-up to shake the pan around and put it back on the heat until the popcorn slows down again.

4. Remove the lid with care, and you’ve made popcorn!

5. If you want to make your popcorn sweet, then melt the butter in a small dish in a microwave. Once it’s melted, stir in the cinnamon and butter. Use a teaspoon to drizzle it over the popcorn and shake the pan around to coat all the pieces. Put into a bowl and put on a DVD 🙂

Why Does Popcorn Pop?

There is something in popcorn kernels called starch, and this starch contains moisture. When the popcorn kernels are heated, the moisture in starch becomes steam. The steam builds up pressure inside the hard outer part of the kernel. Eventually this pressure builds so much that it causes the inner part to explode and the starch puffs up. This mini explosion makes the popping sound.

Why Do I Need a Lid on my Popcorn Pan?

Because if you didn’t, popcorn would be all over the kitchen and could even hit you–and it’s hot, remember. Popcorn kernels can pop up to almost a metre in the air!


Was this a fun and yummers thing to do in the kitchen? Share this post with your friends so they can have this much yummy fun too!

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