Instant Pot Popcorn 2.1 – The Great Popcorn Experiment

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Another Instant Pot Popcorn post? Yes friends, another Instant Pot Popcorn post. I have been contacted by so many people, and have seen so many comments about Instant Pot Popcorn failures. Clearly there is a need for another Great Popcorn Experiment! *cue the cool music*

Instant Pot Popcorn…but….why?

Because…this is my blog and I said so. Just kidding (it’s really only half mine 🙂 ). In all seriousness, I really want to understand the Instant Pot and why it cooks the way it does, what the temperatures are, how food works in it. I am NOT a science-y person (I’m a music teacher, a free spirit, a crazy crazy woman!), but I am LOVING experimenting with the Instant Pot. And…..


National Popcorn Day
If you are reading this blog and today is not 1/19, then it is no longer National Popcorn Day. But you can still go make popcorn! 🙂


“My whirly pop makes popcorn faster… so does my air popper…and my microwave..and my stove…”

To that – I will not disagree. All of the methods above may be faster, so this method may truly not be for you. Not everything needs to be cooked in the Instant Pot (even though I try to cook everything in my Instant Pot….), and that’s okay! If you like your whirly-ma-jig, make your popcorn that way. If the microwave is your jam, pop away! I am not writing to tell you how to cook popcorn, but to perhaps help those who want to troubleshoot and figure out why our results may differ. If you’re not sure how to make popcorn in your Instant Pot, head over to our original popcorn post here.

The Results

 I tried to keep this as similar as I could to the first experiment. My biggest question from the first has been, “Would changing from MORE to NORMAL make a difference?” I was thinking yes, but needed to know for sure. Both of my experiments have been done using an Instant Pot DUO-60. See the document below for an at a glance comparison of the 4 oils I revisited, and continue reading for the official breakdown.

Experiment 1 VS 2:
8 oils VS 4 oils
Saute MORE (347~ 410°F)* VS Saute NORMAL (320 349°F)*
2 TBS oil (SAME)
1 TBS butter (SAME)
1/2 cup kernels VS 1/4 cup kernels
(same Wegman’s Yellow Corn kernels both experiments)
*Temperatures taken from the Instant Pot website*

PS. The amount of kernels changed because I only had enough for 5 experiments with 1/4 cup. Otherwise, this post would be VERY short with enough kernels for only 2 results! 🙂

The Breakdown

Instant Pot Popcorn Experiment Ingredients

I decided to use the same ingredients from the first experiment, along with butter. These are the oils I am most frequently asked about. Canola and coconut oil were my best poppers last time, olive oil was okay, and avocado oil simply stunk the big left toe. Let’s take a look at the results from biggest yield to smallest.

Instant Pot Popcorn Page Divider

Coconut Oil

Instant Pot Popcorn Coconut Oil

Once again, coconut oil prevailed! Nutiva Coconut Oil (Unrefined) has consistently produced the best results for me. I measured 5 cups (2.5oz) of delicious and delightful popped corn, and very few unpopped kernels. I must note – my coconut oil is labeled as having a smoke point of 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Some coconut oils have been reported to me as only having a smoke point of 280 degrees Fahrenheit. I would be very curious for someone to use one of those on the NORMAL temperature setting, as they do not work well in the MORE temperature setting.

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Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Instant Pot Popcorn Olive Oil

Olive oil came in a close second! This produced 5 cups (2.4 oz) of popped popcorn! When I had done the first experiment with 1/2 cup kernels, it produced 5 cups of popped popcorn as well! Soooo…I used HALF the amount of kernels, and ended up with the same amount of popcorn in nearly the same amount of time! There were only two variables here – the amount of kernels I started with (1/4 cup vs 1/2 cup), and the temperature.

Instant Pot Popcorn Page Divider

Avocado Oil

Instant Pot Avocado Oil

This one makes me so happy!!! It has a great taste and is so crunchy! The Olivado Avocado Oil produced NO cups of popcorn last time, but look at it now – four and  a half cups of popped popcorn goodliness 🙂 Coconut oil has always been my favorite, but I think this oil may be my new go-to when I want popcorn.

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Canola Oil

Instant Pot Popcorn Canola Oil

This one SHOCKED Me! Canola oil was a top producer in the first experiment – 9 cups of POPPED popcorn! Look at this sad picture! Somebody give poor canola oil a hug! If you look above at the document, I TRIED so hard to make it work. I shook the pot insert (with my cool silicone mitts of course!), I lifted the lid to let some of the steam out, and I jumped up and down and danced a jig in hopes that it would pop some kernels. The canola oil was clearly not amused, and did not befriend the NORMAL temperature setting.

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Bonus! Butter!

Instant Pot Popcorn Butter

Someone better break the news gently to Paula Deen. Butter did not fare well in this experiment. It seems to perform fine when it is paired with an oil, but alone – it just burned and turned into brown butter. Like the canola oil, I tried so hard to make this one work. There isn’t much else to say about this result except that it is also sad with canola oil. Save the butter for a delightful drizzle on your popped corn that you made using another oil or method.Instant Pot Popcorn Page Divider

The Conclusion

Well, after all of this delicious testing, it appears that the temperature makes a difference. It may take more time than other methods, but I really really love the taste of Instant Pot Popcorn made with coconut oil. Several people in the Instant Pot Community on Facebook have recommended Amish Country Popcorn to me, so I am curious how the kernels impact the results as well.

If you’d like to test popcorn result using different variables (altitude, kernels, new oils, etc), we’d love to hear from you 🙂

Now…go make some popcorn 🙂




  1. I just tried (for the 4th time) to make popcorn in the Duo-60 with Olive oil and butter and every time there were only about 20 kernels that popped and the rest just left a burning smell in the room. This was after 15 mins of waiting. The machine also kept saying ‘HOT’ and I think the heat turned off at that point. We will stick to microwave for the boat and Whirley Pop at home.

    • Hi Mary Ellen! It should definitely take no more than 10 minutes – I’ve done the experiments (as you’ve seen) with butter and the oils. I truly do feel that the lid type (depends on how much air is going in and out of the pot while cooking) and elevation are also factors. The heat won’t turn off when it says HOT – it’ll keep going, but it’s letting you know it’s ready to be used 🙂 Everyone has to cook popcorn the way that works best for them 🙂 I wish I lived more places to continue the experiments and gather more info!

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