Campfire popcorn in a pan
A simple way to cook a large quantity of great tasting (and not smoky) popcorn.
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Consider the environmental impact of preparing, carrying out & completing this activity. Could this impact be reduced? Specific considerations for this activity could include:
- leave no trace fires
- reusable serving utensils
Health & Safety Considerations
Follow your usual operating procedures and carry out appropriate risk benefit assessments.
Some considerations particular to this activity include:
- fire safety
- hot food/equipment
- hand hygiene
What you'll need
- pan with lid and metal (not plastic) handles
- popcorn kernels
- cooking oil
- large bowl
- cup/small bowl for serving
- fire gloves
This activity has been provided by
Begin by getting your fire down to embers* - you need to cook popcorn on embers not the flames of the fire – see building a cooking fire
* We used the Muddy Faces double fire box as it’s a great way to cook on embers, but you can use any fire pit that produces an ember fire.
Pour in enough cooking oil to coat the bottom of the pan.
Heat the oil up with 3 corn kernels in it, and only once you hear these pop take the pan off the fire.
Add the rest of the kernels and give them a swish around to cover them in oil.
Here’s a bit you may not have tried - replace the lid and count for 30 seconds (everyone can join in) before placing the pan back over the heat.
This allows all the kernels to warm up to near-popping temperature, which should help more of the kernels pop at the same time, leaving less un-popped kernels.
Return the pan, with the lid on, to the fire.
From time to time give the pan a little shake to prevent the kernels burning, as there may be hot spots over the embers.
When the kernels start popping, give the pan a shake once in a while - but avoid taking the pan off the heat for too long - just a few seconds at a time
Tip: keep hold of the lid whilst shaking the pan
As the kernels start to pop, if possible* try keeping the lid slightly ajar to let out the steam. It makes the popcorn a little drier and crisper.
* not always easy when campfire cooking
Ideally, empty out the popcorn into a bowl straight away to prevent it burning on the bottom of the pan.
Alternatively, if you have limited resources outdoors, remove the pan and put it in a safe place to cool for a short while and until you are sure all the popping has finished. Keep shaking throughout this process to avoid the popcorn burning on the bottom of the pan.
Use a ladle or cup to serve into bowls or cups.
Eat and enjoy!
A little note from Liz about which oil to use:
I guess the answer to this is to experiment and find out what works best for you. If you’re not sure, just use your usual cooking oil such as sunflower oil.
The nut oils - hazel, peanut and almond - all have high smoke points as does sunflower oil.
Most unrefined oils have lower burn temperatures. I always thought olive oil had a low burn/smoke temperature but it would appear high quality (low acidity) extra virgin olive oil has quite a high burn temperature.
Sunflower oil gives a slightly nutty flavour and coconut oil is very popular from the taste tests results.
Peanut oil, although a popular taste choice with a high smoke point, is often avoided due to allergies. Interestingly, avocado oil has a very high smoke point – not sure what it would taste like on popcorn though.
Take it further:
- if you are adding flavours (such as sugar or cinnamon) you can sprinkle directly over the warm popcorn
- you can also melt butter in the hot pan, ideally until it goes just slightly brown, and pour over the popcorn. Bake this under the fire box for about 10 minutes if you wish
- always allow to cool before serving melted butter or sugar as they can cause severe burns.
Disclaimer: Muddy Faces cannot take any responsibility for accidents or damage that occurs as a result of following this activity.You are responsible for making sure the activity is conducted safely.