Eat Well: Coconut Oil (Popcorn)

The following post was written by my mom, WWW. Thanks mom!
For the last several years, I have been hearing a slew of stories about the virtues of coconut oil…a wonder food that should be almost worshipped for its healing and nutritional benefits. Displays of it overflow the aisles in my local market; ads saturate my magazines. I ignored all the hype, thinking it was the latest fad, until a few weeks ago when I decided to try it.

I was making a curry using coconut milk as a base and the recipe called for quite a bit of oil. I thought coconut oil would be better for us and would perfectly complement the dish. And it did. What I hadn’t realized is how wonderful it is to cook with. And absolutely delicious. That’s when I decided it was time to educate myself about its uses, benefits, and how to incorporate it into my cooking. After a little bit of research, I quickly learned that coconut oil IS a wonder food. It lowers your blood sugar, makes you loose weight (this is the weirdest statistic since it is pure fat), lowers cholesterol, is good for the immune system, keeps you from getting heart disease, is a natural antibiotic, is good for the skin and hair, helps you absorb minerals such as calcium and magnesium….I could keep on going but you can look here and here for more information.

I grew up believing that coconuts are high in saturated fat and therefore aren’t good for you. This was during the time when we were told that margarine was the cure for heart disease and high cholesterol. We now know how wrong that is and as it turns out, the type of saturated fat contained in a coconut is good for you and, surprisingly beneficial to our arteries and heart. Make sure to buy organic coconut oil. Also, you can buy coconut oil that is stripped of the flavor, but it also has some of the health benefits taken out, so it’s best to stick to the pure stuff. That being said, it does have a mild coconut taste, so you probably wouldn’t want to use it in dishes where the coconut flavor would conflict with other flavors.

Coconut oil is a great substitute for oil or shortening and can be used in baking, pastries, waffles and pancakes, and curries. I spread it on toast instead of butter (coconut oil is solid at room temp but spreads easily). Especially now that I can’t have any sugar, it’s a treat to eat a piece of gluten free toast oozing with delicious coconut oil. Coconut oil tolerates high heat so it is a great oil to use for frying or high flame cooking. You can add some to your smoothies to aid in digestion and to reap some of the health benefits. Of course I still use my olive oil on a daily basis, but I have replaced butter and vegetable oil (safflower or canola) with coconut oil in most of my recipes that call for them.

One of my favorite uses of coconut oil is on popcorn. Either plop the corn kernels in heated coconut oil and cook on the stove traditionally, or pop the corn in an air popper and toss with a couple of tablespoons of the oil. Salt lightly and add either cinnamon and sugar or my favorite, nutritional yeast (or any other flavors that you like—it’s yummy with cayenne pepper). This is no-guilt popcorn that is rich and decadent tasting. I made it for Archer and Fable two weekends ago and they loved it! What a great and healthy snack!

No-guilt Coconut Oil Popcorn 

½ cup organic, non GMO, popcorn
4 tablespoons coconut oil

Optional flavorings:

-nutritional yeast (my FAVORITE) (add cumin and chili powder to this for a kick!)
-cinnamon and sugar
-cayenne (or chili powder) and cumin
-curry powder and pepper
-onion salt and oregano with parmesan cheese
-lemon zest and dill weed
-taco flavoring and nutritional yeast

...Or experiment with your own favorite flavorings!


1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy bottomed large pot.
2. When oil is hot, put a kernel or two of corn in it and wait until it pops.
3. When it pops, add the rest of the corn, cover the pot, and gently shake over burner until the corn stops popping for 5 seconds.
4. Take pot off of the heat and lift lid, being careful of the hot steam and random kernels that might still be popping.
5. Add the rest of the coconut oil to the popcorn and toss till coated. Sprinkle with flavorings and salt, and toss until coated.
Or…pop as directed by your air popper, toss with 2-4 T coconut oil, and add seasonings.



Anonymous | 11:48 AM

Thank you for this. Although it doesn't overflow the shelves of my Brooklyn supermarket, they do carry it and have been curious. Popcorn would be a great intro to it. Cheers! JenW

Jimmy | 11:53 AM

We're big on "long-hand" popcorn in our household. My wife makes it almost every night. Don't believe me? Look in our couch cushions.

We'll have to give the coconut oil a try. Sounds interesting.

E | 12:11 PM

I love Parmesan cheese on my popcorn!

Karen Chatters | 12:15 PM

OMG, I've NEVER thought of coconut oil!! This is 100% absopositively our snack for today. And maybe tomorrow. And the next day.

Elise | 12:27 PM

I adapted your granola bar recipe to be gluten-free using coconut oil and Shana Ahern's gluten-free whole grain flour mix and they are wonderful. Stored in the fridge they are just the right combination of chewy and crunchy.

Love your posts, WWW, and am selfishly hoping that there will be many more gluten-free recipes on the horizon.

avb | 12:28 PM

Also great for removing eye make up!

Rochelle | 12:35 PM

Strangely enough, I have a scleral shell (fake eye) and it's one of the best lubricants for putting the fake eye in.

Jessica | 12:35 PM

Great info on coconut oil! I assumed the same things about it as you did. And I eat air popped corn almost every night, I'm excited it try it a new way, thanks!

Lindsay - Shop Ella Lou | 1:46 PM

Coconut oil has been my go-to oil since I discovered it a year ago. It really is a nearly perfect food (I also love coconut palm sugar - much better than the traditional white refined stuff). I will have to try it on popcorn with some of your delicious topping suggestions!

Stephanie | 3:28 PM

I bought some through vitacost a while back because it was a good deal but wasnt sure what to do with it. I have been using it as a moisturizer for my face for about 2 months and I love it. Will have to try in food next.

Up | 4:06 PM

Try adding a spoonful of honey and brown sugar to your popped popcorn along with the coconut oil. It's my favorite not-guilty treat.

dgm | 5:33 AM

I use coconut oil to cook and bake with, but also as a skin moisturizer (lotions have too many chemicals); a deodorant (mixed with baking soda and cornstarch); and, believe it or not, when I'm out in the sun (topically, and I don't fry.) A lot of fair-skinned people (I'm not fair) report that since they've incorporated coconut oil into their diets as part of a paleo lifestyle (I'm not paleo), they notice they no longer burn in the sun without sunscreen. It's a controversial position, but for those who do not like all the chemicals in sunscreens, ingesting coconut oil might be an option worth looking into.

Missy | 6:20 AM

Thanks for this recipe! I'm going to try it tonight.

I'm a HUGE coconut oil fan. I've got a big tub of it in my kitchen and one on my bureau too! I've been using it as my daily facial moisturizer for about a year now and my skin is been looking the best it's ever looked!

SarahSylvester | 9:31 AM

WWW - I made this last night. Just delicious! I ate an entire bowl to myself and didn't feel (too) guilty.

Ami | 9:42 AM

Help a girl out. What's nutritional yeast?

Wendy Woolf | 10:12 AM

Ami...Nutritional yeast is inactive yeast that tastes kind of like cheese, is high in B vitamins, and is a great cheese substitute for vegans. Bragg makes it but you can also buy it in bulk at health food stores.

ruby | 8:14 PM

I just brought some coconut oil today after reading this post, and watching a video ( I decided to cut out vegetable oils and switch to coconut and olive oil in my cooking; according to the video, coconut oil and olive oil are the good fatty oils that helps burn fat, while other vegetable oils doesn't.

I picked up a jar of coconut oil at fresh and easy today and made some seaweed popcorn as a snack and it was delicious! I love how the coconut oil doesn't have a strong smell and is easy to cook with!

<3 thanks for sharing!

Prasti | 3:38 AM

we switched to using coconut oil about 6 months ago. we use it for high heat cooking and baking and for popcorn making. tastes so good!

coconut oil is very healthy for you and so much better than the vegetable oils like soy, canola, etc. weston a. price foundation has some good info. on healthy fats/oils. i actually get mine through (nutiva brand) through their subscription program. i think it ends up being cheaper for us to do it that way instead of buying it at the natural food store. especially since we use it a lot.

Alisha | 9:09 PM

I didn't know you could make popcorn this way. It's amazing!!! This satisfies my cravings for a crunch late at night. What else does your Mom have up her sleeve??? I'll be waiting.

Kirsten | 8:32 PM

I tried this and it burned the bottom of my Le Creuset. :( What temperature should the burner be on? I had mine on medium high, perhaps I'll try it on medium next time.

Anonymous | 5:01 PM

Great instructions! I had very few unpopped kernels and none were burned! Yum! I cooked mine on medium in a stockpot on a flattop stove. Whole foods 365 unrefined virgin coconut oil and organic pop corn from the bulk bins. We love ours with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Thanks!