The Cost of Making My Own Peanut Butter Popcorn

So… remember when I was like “do I really want to spend $5 on a bag of peanut butter popcorn every time I finish a 14-mile bike ride?”

And then you all were like “why don’t you learn how to make your own peanut butter popcorn?”


I was a little hesitant to invest in popcorn-making because I thought you had to have a special appliance to do it (we had a popcorn popper growing up) but then I figured out that all you really needed was a stove and a saucepan, and YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MUCH POPCORN I’VE POPPED IN THE PAST WEEK.

(Fun fact: the first time I popped corn on the stove, I started laughing and said, aloud, “This is magic!”)

The hard part was figuring out how to add the peanut butter. When you look up “how to make peanut butter popcorn,” you get a lot of recipes that involve extra sugar or corn syrup or chocolate chips, and all I wanted was plain, no-oil popcorn mixed with the kind of peanut butter where the only ingredient is “peanuts.”

(Savvy Billfolders might have guessed that my real aversion to buying the bag of peanut butter popcorn after every bike ride wasn’t the $5. It was all the sugar and corn syrup. Delicious, but I’d much rather have that as a monthly treat than a weekly one.)

For the first batch, I plopped 1.5 tablespoons of Smucker’s Natural Creamy Peanut Butter into three cups of popped popcorn (3 tablespoons unpopped kernels) and tried to stir things around. This did not work. I ended up with a clump of peanut butter studded by a few popcorns, which was delicious, and something like 2.9 cups of plain popcorn, which was also delicious. (Stovepopped popcorn tastes so much better than the microwaved stuff.)

For the second batch, I thought to myself “well, some people make stovetop popcorn with oil… and peanut butter is kind of an oil… so what if I tried to pop the corn in the peanut butter?”

Do you know what happens if you heat up peanut butter on the stovetop and then toss popcorn kernels into it? You get smoke. And bad smells.

Then I finally figured it out: you pop the corn on the stove, you microwave the peanut butter until it’s runny, and then you pour the peanut butter into the saucepan you just used to pop the popcorn and shake everything around. (With the lid on. Always use the lid when you’re popping popcorn.)

I like a 1:1 ratio of popcorn to peanut butter: if you use 1.5 tablespoons of popcorn kernels, you’ll want 1.5 tablespoons of peanut butter — and if you’re me, that’s a perfectly-sized snack.

Since I paid $2.69 for 90 tablespoons of Hy-Vee yellow popcorn and $3.89 for 28 tablespoons of Smucker’s Natural Creamy Peanut Butter, this means my usual serving of popcorn costs me 25 cents.

I am so glad you motivated me to do this.

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