Instant Pot Popcorn 2.0 – The Great Popcorn Experiment

Instant Pot Popcorn Experiment
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I love popcorn, and I still love Instant Pot popcorn ๐Ÿ™‚ After writing the entry about making Instant Pot popcorn, I had been contacted by several people regarding other oils, successes, failures, and everything in between. It got my wheels a-turning, and I set out on an adventure! Cue The Great Popcorn Experiment! This journey uses 8 oils – almond, avocado, canola, unrefined coconut, grapeseed, extra virgin olive, peanut, and vegetable, Wegman’s unsalted butter,ย Wegman’s yellow popcorn kernels, and of course my Instant Pot and a glass lid (any glass lid that fits would work – Instant Pot also offers their own glass lid). Just a short disclaimer about the oils I chose to use. This test does not factor in any form of nutritional value, nor do I recommend any specific oil for individuals. I have a personal preference for taste, and it is up to each person to choose what works for them. This was to try to gather information about why some people have better success with some oils than others.

Instant Pot Popcorn The Great Popcorn Experiment

For reference, I am at 386′ above sea level for elevation according to this website ๐Ÿ™‚ Some people have mentioned that altitude may impact Instant Pot results. I am not an expert on this, and cannot provide any further information on this. I was curious how each oil would handle the “pressure” (see what I did there? ๐Ÿ™‚ ). This is the most lengthy of our posts so far, so here is a spreadsheet that compares everything – kind of a popcorn at a glance if you will ๐Ÿ™‚

Keep reading for more in depth information ๐Ÿ™‚

Disclosure: Please note that most of the links included are affiliate links. There is no additional cost if you decide to make a purchase โ€“ we will simply earn a small commission that supports our time with Sisters Under Pressure ๐Ÿ™‚

ย Onward!

Each oil was tested in the same manner – with the exact same procedure, same amounts, and with a ten minute time limit. This may not be right for each oil, but I wanted to eliminate as many variables as possible. Each test began with a clean insert – I have two of them, so while one was cooking, I would wash the other so it would be ready for the next batch. Here are the basic steps I followed for each oil:

Instant Pot Popcorn Directions
Note: The timer began when the oil went into the pot. The times reflected for first pop, second pop, and stopping are from when the oil first went into the pot.

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Let’s start withย the results, from biggest yield to smallest.

Coconut Oil

Instant Pot Popcorn Coconut Oil


This is by far my favorite way to make Instant Pot popcorn, and has been the way that I have been making it all along. I like the crunch and the overall slightly sweet taste – a very very faint coconut taste (my husband strongly dislikes coconut and loves this popcorn). I ended up accidentally doing 2 batches with the Nutiva coconut oil – this was the second. For the first coconut oil batch, I had just finished with the vegetable oil experiment, and forgot to swap it for the clean insert. Having the vegetable oil leftover coating seemed to affect it because the yield was very very low. I had no pop of the single kernels at all, and only had about 2 cups of popped corn at the end. I then swapped for the clean pot, and had great results – the ones I expected to have. Coconut oil has a fairly low smoke point – 350ยฐ F. The Instant Pot sautรฉ “more” setting is listed at 338ยฐ F, so the pot temperature may come close to that smoke point (a smoke point is the temperature an oil will begin breaking down and may begin to burn and smoke -more information aboutย smoke points here). It has also been brought to my attention that some coconut oils are labeled with a lower smoke point. If it is any lower than 338ยฐ F, the results will not be the same and is is possible that the coconut oil will burn.

Instant Pot Popcorn Coconut Oil 2
This is Spectrum Organics Unrefined Virgain Coconut Oil from Walmart. It is listed at 280ยฐ F. The Instant Pot heats up to 338ยฐ F on “More.” This oil would not be advisable to use. I have an empty jar of Spectrum OrganicRefined Coconut Oil, and the temperature listed is 365ยฐ F. Thank you Sheri A. for this nugget of information!!

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Canola Oil

Instant Pot Popcorn Canola Oil

The popcorn that popped the second most was the canola oil. I don’t usually cook with canola oil, and to be honest I don’t know much about it. The bottle I used was Wegman’s brand. The yield of this popcorn was almost near what I had with the coconut oil at 9 cups for half a cup of kernels. It tastes rather delightful ย – kind of that ‘expected’ taste that popcorn should have. It reminded me the most of “movie theater” popcorn. Add a little butter and salt, and I think it would definitely be the closest to it!

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Almond Oil

Instant Pot Popcorn Almond Oil

I happened to have this oil in my arsenal, and decided to give it a go. I have never cooked with it, and only have it on hand to make serums and other non-edible things (yeah, I’m a weirdo ๐Ÿ™‚ ). As I’m sampling the popcorn – eating it right now in between types to give an accurate description – I went from “Eh” to “Ok” to “Alright” to “This is tasty.” Maybe almond oil is an acquired taste? The popcorn isย light and crunchy, and definitely has some kind of almondy flavor to it, but seems slightly bitter at the same time.

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Vegetable Oil

Instant Pot Popcorn Vegetable Oil

This is another oil I don’t cook with often.ย It is usually only used in baked goods in my house, and sometimes not even that – I’ll use applesauce instead. That being said, I still had to try it for the popcorn. The yield wasn’t bad, but I am not a fan of the taste. It doesn’t seem as light as the previous ones, and has a weird taste to me. It isn’t burned at all, but almost gives me that impression, and it just tastes heavy.

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Extra Virgin Olive Oil

This popcorn was also one of my favorites – I just wish the yield was better. It is probably the lightest of the entire experiment – fluffy, crunchy, and just a hint of flavor. I have heard of people having mixed results with this oil, but in this experiment enough ended up popping to share (or to not share).

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Peanut OilInstant Pot Popcorn Peanut Oil

Peanut oil. Oh peanut oil. I wanted to love you – I call my nephew peanut – but I just can’t. The single kernels didn’t pop, so the half cup of kernels went in at the 6 minute mark. The first kernel popped at 7:42 and I called it a fail at the 10 minute mark. As you can see, not many kernels popped. I tasted it and the taste was just “blechy” for lack of a better word. You know, that sound when a toddler dislikes something and goes, “BLECHHHH!” It was that. It is quite possible the popped popcorn took on more of the oil flavoring since so many kernels were left unpopped in the leftover oil. I personally wouldn’t use this oil again due to the results and the taste.

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Grapeseed Oil

Instant Pot Popcorn Grapeseed Oil

I love grapeseed oil so much! This is another oil I don’t use much for cooking, but more for personal serums and things like that. The yield was not great, and like the peanut oil I called it at the 10 minute mark. This was another taste I didn’t enjoy, but again, like the peanut oil, it is possible that the popped popcorn soaked up some of the grapeseed and butter, resulting in a very undesirable taste. Based on all of this information, I would not personally use grapeseed oil again.

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Avocado OilInstant Pot Popcorn Avocado Oil

Poor avocado oil. This picture just makes my heart sad. Avocado oil and popcorn didn’t get along well in The Great Popcorn Experiment. I have heard feedback from people that they have blended this oil with coconut oil, or other oils, but I can’t attest to that (but if you experiment with it, definitely let us know!!!). I love avocado oil, and wish it had turned out better.

Instant Pot Popcorn Page Divider


The oils definitely make a difference. Coconut oil may have a lower smoke point depending on the brand it seems, and I have had many readers with varying results. There are other factors – kernels, butter type, amount of butter, amount of oil, temperature setting, and altitude, that may all impact the results. I think there is definitely room for a Great Popcorn Experiment 2.1!! ๐Ÿ™‚

If you made it this far, thank you for sticking around ๐Ÿ™‚ This was fun and shows that different oils do yield different results. ย For now, this was a great place to start, and I hope it helps all of our popcorn loving friends ๐Ÿ™‚ Let us know if you have any questions, or if you decide to hold your own Great Popcorn Experiment ๐Ÿ™‚





    • Hi! I have a bunch of commercial bagged popcorn that i really do not want to waste/toss (i usually buy raw kernels and pop in microwave). My new home does not have a microwave so thank you for the IP popcorn solution. Question: How would you think i could pop those corn inside the IP? Would i still need to add oil since they are already pre-coated?

      • Hi Jin! I would think some oil would still be necessary in the pot. I’m honestly not sure what comes in the prepackaged kinds. If you try it, please let us know how it turns out! You could always heat some oil like in the recipe and try just a few kernels to see what happens.

  1. Thank you so much for doing all this work! This is so helpful! I’m disappointed about the avocado oil as that has been the oil I’ve been using as my go to oil for the last couple of months! I normally make stove top popcorn with coconut oil and guess I’ll just stick to that! But now in my IP!

    • You’re so welcome! I want to give avocado another go – I was super disappointed too. I have heard of people using it, so maybe there are other factors in play and my controlled experiment just wasn’t suited for that oil. Maybe there’s a popcorn 2.1 in the future!

  2. So I’m kinda a popcorn nut, it’s what I love to snack on all the time. It’s so weird the popcorn gurus say oil flash oils are best to make with few unpoped or burnt popcorn. I wonder why those gave you the worse results? Mmmmmmm I am curious now.

  3. Did you try the actual popcorn oil or butter in the Instant Pot? I was just wondering how they would turn out in it. I currently use the Orville Redenbacher popcorn oil in my Whirlypopper popcorn maker. I wonder if it will pop the same. I have also used the thicker butter kind that you can get at places like Sams Club. I am wondering the same about this.

  4. Hi!! I have tried this 2x and am still getting lots of unpopped kernals! I am using spectrum coconut oil with up to 365 degree smoke point and earth balance butter! My coconut oil is refined. Should I get unrefined? The kernels that do pop are delicious!! Just can’t figure out why i get so little popcorn! Thanks!!

    • Hi Robyn! I’ve heard issues with Spectrum Coconut Oil, although I have not personally tried that brand. I Googled Earth Balance and couldn’t find any information on the temperatures it would be best suited for. As I’ve done a bit more research, I’ve found that the saute function heats up a bit more than I referenced in the experiment, which could definitely make a difference! The information I now have states the more function may heat up to 347-410 degrees Fahrenheit, which may exceed some of the oil’s smoke points. It may be worth trying on the “normal” mode ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I love that you did this! Thank you for taking the time. I’m sure that it definitely took some. ๐Ÿ™‚ Before I saw this link at the bottom of your video, I had tried popping 1/2 cup in 3 TBSP of olive oil, and it didn’t turn out so well (about like what you have stated above. I am looking forward to trying it with the coconut oil and butter soon to see if that works better. Thanks again for taking the time to do all of this. I LOVE popcorn!

  6. I tried the coconut oil/butter combo 2x the other night and both times it failed miserably. The butter (I used kerrygold) starts to burn before the kernels start popping, and it only yielded about 2 cups of popped corn. I can’t figure out what it wrong!

    • Hi Erin! I’m unfamiliar with Kerrygold butter, but have found that even brands of coconut oil can make a difference. Does your coconut oil have a high temperature on the label? We’ve found some to be labeled with a temperature of 280 degrees F, which would definitely result in burning or unpopped kernels. I’m planning to experiment with the “normal” temperature setting – I am curious if it would work better with the lower temp oils, and if it would get hot enough.

  7. I tried your guideline twice and failed miserably. I ended up with about 6 popped kernels. I used the coconut oil/butter combo and I also ensured my coconut oil had the high temp capability. After 16 minutes, I finally gave up and turned it off (on first attempt, I gave up after about 12 minutes).

    • Hi Mariam! I’m sorry it didn’t turn out for you. I’m visiting Melissa and my family in South Dakota this week, and had a bummer popcorn batch too! I used land o lakes butter and it didn’t work at all. I switched to blue bonnet butter and had much better results! I’m at a higher altitude than when I’m in NY so I’m still not sure if that affects it. If popcorn doesn’t work, there are still plenty of other dishes to be made and and enjoyed ๐Ÿ™‚

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