Beef Fat Popcorn

You don’t need a fancy popcorn popper to make this traditional, back-to-basics recipe. Today we are also going to give your microwave a break. Toss out the artificial butter-flavored bags of kernels, and make this recipe the old-fashioned way – on the stovetop!

This snack is perfect for movie or game night. It is simple and fast, and requires nothing more than a large, heavy pot with a lid, wooden spoon or stirring utensil, popcorn kernels, a few tablespoons of beef fat or tallow, and salt to taste. Nothing is more satisfying than the sound of popcorn popping on the stove, coupled with the delicious smell wafting from the kitchen.

In order for this recipe to work, you must use a fat or oil with a high smoke point. Luckily, animal fats such as lard and tallow (beef fat) are perfect for this endeavor. They provide a wonderful taste and add a down-home, farm-to-table quality as well. Perfect for snuggling up on the couch with a cup of cocoa when a good book (or your Netflix queue) is calling your name.

What you will need:

  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 3 tablespoons rendered beef fat
  • Salt to taste
  • Heavy bottom pot or wok with lid
  • Large bowl for serving
  • Measuring cup and measuring spoons
  • Slotted wooden spoon or other stirring utensil


  1. Place the heavy pot on the stove and turn the burner to medium-high. Immediately add 3 tablespoons of beef fat to the pot. Once melted, add a few test kernels to the pot.
  2. Once these test kernels pop, you know that your oil is ready. You can then add the ½ cup of kernels. Gently toss, shake, or stir the kernels until they are evenly coated in the oil, then cover with the lid.
  3. The kernels will begin to pop rapidly; once the popping slows down to 1 – 2 seconds between pops, carefully stir the popcorn, or shake the pot with the lid in place.
  4. Turn off the heat and remove the pot from the burner. Carefully crack the lid to allow any steam to escape. Do not allow the steam near your hands or face.
  5. Pour popcorn into a large bowl, salt to taste, and serve!


  • If the popcorn overflows the pot while cooking, simply remove the lid and remove some of the excess popcorn into your large serving bowl.
  • You may also want to keep your lid slightly ajar during the popping process to allow steam to escape.

Popcorn is very versatile, and there are many fun seasonings you can experiment with. You can sweeten it up with honey and cinnamon-sugar. You can spice it up with cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes. You can cheese it up with grated Parmesan. Or you can keep it traditional and simply toss in salt.

A Healthy Alternative?

Popcorn is a whole grain, and when cooked and seasoned with simple and natural ingredients such as beef fat and salt, it can be a tasty alternative to processed snacks high in sugar and preservatives. Microwave popcorn is a different story. The bags themselves are often coated with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFQA), and the popcorn is usually made with highly processed oils and artificial butter flavoring. At South Chicago Packing we advocate for using natural ingredients both for taste and nutrition purposes.