Easy Camp Popcorn in a Dutch Oven

Do you love popcorn and just can’t go a weekend without it?  Or maybe you’re looking for a healthy camp snack.  We like to string up a sheet at camp and play movies.  Can’t do a movie without popcorn.  But how do you make it at camp?  If you’re in a camper you probably have a microwave so you could do that variety, and it’s OK, but if you’re a true connoisseur you want it homemade.   I’m going to talk about making dutch oven popcorn, but before I get into that let me share a few of the other ways I looked into if you want to avoid the cast iron.

There’s always Jiffy pop, and Amazon has a campfire jiffy pop holder for just that.  That’s probably the simplest method.

You could get a stovetop popcorn popper and use your camp stove.  That’s going to give you an authentic, even nostalgic, popcorn like your grandparents used to make.

Coleman also makes a campfire popcorn popper that’s pretty nice.  I’ve never used it but the concept is sound.

These options are all great, but I didn’t feel challenged enough by them.  Like with most things I really wanted to do this in my dutch oven.  If you’ve read even a few of my posts you know that I really like cooking with my dutch oven.

Related: I made 40 pizzas in dutch ovens once

Break Out the Cast Iron

To be honest I actually got this working much easier than I expected.  Here’s how I made a dutch oven full of the lightweight treat.

  1. 1 – 2 Tablespoons of Oil
  2. 1 – 2 tablespoons of butter
  3. 1 – 2 teaspoon salt
  4. 1/4 – 1/2 cup popcorn kernels


The key here is minimal heat.  You want enough to get the kernels popping, but not so much that the popped corn starts burning.  I had about 8 – 10 coals under my 8 qt dutch oven and it was perfect.

Preheat the dutch oven on the coals for about 15 minutes.  Once it’s ready melt enough butter and oil to fully coat the bottom.  Add enough kernels to cover most of the bottom as well.  I prefer to add my salt at this point too and let it stick to the popcorn as it pops but you can also add afterwords.

With the lid off stir the popcorn kernels.  After about 5 minutes you should get your first pop.  Sacrifice the first couple kernels to make sure it’s popping.  At this point place the lid on your dutch oven.  The trick is to monitor the popping frequency, just like you would microwave popcorn.  You may have to keep your head reasonably close or leave a slight gap in the lid.

As long as their is vigorous popping the popped corn will move around enough to keep from burning.  Wait until you are down to a pop every couple seconds and remove from heat.  Remember, cast iron is great at retaining heat and you will get a small amount of residual popping. 

Your popcorn should be ready now

Note: I haven’t tried this yet but adding about 1/4 cup of sugar should give you some really good kettle corn!

Freshly popped popcorn in a dutch oven


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