Matt Johnson

Master the Skill of Making Popcorn on a Campfire with these Ideas

Author: Matt JohnsonPhotos/Graphics: Mike HawthornePublished: Sep 15, 2023Updated: Dec 11, 2023

Popcorn and camping are two quintessential elements of outdoor fun that naturally come together. Roasting popcorn over a campfire not only provides a tasty treat but also creates an enjoyable activity that involves the whole group.

While making popcorn in the great outdoors might seem like a tall task, it becomes a breeze once you know the different methods, seasonings you can experiment with, and the tips for popping your corn to perfection.

Fortunately, we’ve got a few ways for you to make popcorn while on your next camping excursion.

Using a Campfire Popcorn Popper

Popping Popcorn in a Popcorn Popper Over a Fire

The best way to make campfire popcorn is with a campfire popcorn popper. This specially designed piece of kit comes with a lid, handle, and grate, allowing you to cook popcorn over an open flame without burning it.

The best part about this method is that it’s fast and easy – you don’t even need to stir the popcorn.

Simply put a few popcorn kernels in the popper, mix in a tablespoon or two of vegetable oil, set it over the fire, and wait for them to pop. The lid will keep all of the popcorn kernels inside until they’re ready to be devoured.

Since these poppers have long handles, you make the popcorn like you’re roasting marshmallows. Hold the popper over the open fire and enjoy the ambiance and the sound of popping. As the popping slows to a pop every 1-2 seconds, it should be good to go.

Using a Dutch Oven

Popcorn in a Dutch Oven over a Campfire

Perhaps you don’t have a campfire popcorn popper. That’s okay. Most campers have a Dutch oven in their arsenal, which on top of being amazing for easy camping recipes, it can be used to make popcorn.

To start, you’ll need to grease the bottom of the Dutch oven with one tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add ¼ cup of popcorn kernels and place it over your campfire. Use gloves or potholders to shake the pot occasionally; this will help keep the kernels from burning.

As the kernels pop, they’ll bump against the lid and try to fly out of the pot. Don’t worry too much about this. Most Dutch oven lids are heavy enough and have enough of a lip that they won’t allow the popcorn to escape, though you may need to remove the lid occasionally and gently shake it.

Just like with the campfire popcorn popper, once popping stops and slows to one pop every 1-2 seconds, it’s ready to enjoy.

If you don’t have a Dutch oven, typically, any cast iron skillet will work. You’ll want to ensure you have a lid that can cover tightly and keep the popcorn in, however.

Using Foil Packets

Tin Foil Popcorn while Camping

This method is somewhat of a last resort. You’re out on your camping trip, and you don’t have a Dutch oven or a campfire popcorn popper. What do you do? Make foil packets or use a pie tin if you have one.

To start, you’ll need some heavy-duty aluminum foil. Cut the foil into several squares (2 feet by 2 feet is a good size). Add two tablespoons of popcorn kernels to each square and fold the top edges together to form a packet. Seal it closed by folding the edges of the foil packet. Cover the top with aluminum foil if you’re using a pie tin.

Using tongs, place the tin foil packet over the campfire. Give it a gentle shake every few minutes until you hear the kernels start to pop.

Due to the heat, this campfire popcorn recipe tends to pop faster than the other two methods. As soon as you hear the popping slow to one pop every 1-2 seconds, it’s ready.

Try creating your own popcorn recipe with these tricks.

Plain popcorn isn’t terrible, but there are a few ways you can spice up your popcorn on your next camping trip.

  • Parmesan Cheese. Grated or powdered, this adds a cheesy twist to your popcorn.
  • Garlic powder. For a savory kick, try adding some garlic powder.
  • Chili powder. Give your popcorn a spicy edge with a sprinkle of chili powder.
  • Cinnamon and sugar. For a sweet treat, sprinkle some cinnamon sugar over your popcorn.
  • Cayenne pepper. If you like it hot, add a dash of cayenne pepper.
  • Truffle oil. A few drops can give your popcorn a gourmet upgrade.
  • Lime zest and chili powder. For a tangy and spicy combination.
  • Rosemary and thyme. Dried herbs can give your popcorn a unique, savory flavor.
  • Caramel sauce. Drizzle this on for a sweet and sticky treat.
  • Peanut butter drizzle. Melt peanut butter and drizzle it over the popcorn for a sweet and salty treat.
  • Toasted coconut and chocolate chips. Toss these in after the popcorn has cooled a bit for a dessert-like snack.
  • Ranch seasoning. Sprinkle some ranch seasoning for a tangy and creamy flavor profile.
  • Curry powder. Try adding some curry powder for an exotic twist and a bit of a kick.
  • Maple syrup and bacon bits. Mix in crispy bacon bits and a drizzle of maple syrup for a truly decadent treat.

These are some of our favorite seasonings and dressings for our campfire popcorn but feel free to get creative and come up with your own.

Tips for making the perfect popcorn over a campfire.

You can make popcorn while camping if you have a camp stove and the right equipment. However, over a campfire, getting the perfect popcorn batch takes a bit of skill and patience. Here are some tips to make your campfire popcorn recipe more enjoyable.

  • Use the right amount of oil and popcorn. Aim for about 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels and a few tablespoons of oil. Too much oil can make the popcorn greasy, while too little might lead to burnt kernels.
  • Preheat your popcorn pan. We always recommend preheating your pan, pot, or Dutch oven before adding the popcorn. This helps ensure that the heat is evenly distributed and the popcorn pops roughly simultaneously.
  • Shake the pan or packet regularly. Shaking the pan or packet regularly helps distribute the heat evenly and prevents the popcorn from burning.
  • Let out the steam. Once you hear the first pop of the popcorn, crack the lid slightly to let out steam. This prevents the popcorn from becoming soggy and helps it pop more efficiently.
  • Season, shake, season. When adding seasoning, such as salt, we recommend shaking the pan or packet between each addition. This will help ensure that the seasoning is distributed evenly throughout the popcorn.

We’ve made popcorn on a campfire hundreds of times over the years, and these tips have helped us make the perfect batch every time. With a bit of practice, you’ll be making popcorn like a pro in no time.

Start popping your campfire popcorn!

Making popcorn over a campfire is an age-old pastime that brings joy, warmth, and a delicious snack to any camping trip. Camping and popcorn simply go hand-in-hand.

Whether you’re using a popcorn popper, a Dutch oven, foil packets, or even a pie tin, your chosen method can add unique flavor to the experience. You can customize your popcorn to suit your taste with a wide variety of flavorings, making it a versatile snack everyone loves.

Following our tips, you are sure to create perfect, delicious popcorn every time. Remember, practice makes popcorn perfection. So, get that campfire started, pop those kernels, and let the good times roll!


Matt Johnson

Senior Content Writer

Matt is an experienced camper and glamping enthusiast with a Master's degree in Wildlife Science from Texas A&M University. Authoring posts for GlamperGear, he shares his wealth of knowledge on picturesque campsites, luxurious accommodations, and the best gear for outdoor adventures. His passion for nature and knack for comfort in the wilderness make him an expert guide for your next camping endeavor.

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