Why Is My Popcorn Chewy?

Andy Waters
Latest posts by Andy Waters (see all)

One of the main reasons that popcorn turns out to be chewy is because there’s steam that gets trapped in your pot during the popping process.

You can fix this by buying and implementing a well-vented lid for your pot or alternatively, leave it open slightly in order to ensure that your popcorn is light and crispy upon popping. 

Why is my popcorn chewy?

Why Does This Occur? 

There is always time for some farming science when it comes to cooking popcorn. Each popcorn kernel contains a tiny amount of water that is stored inside the soft starch.

As your kernels are heated, this water expands which can build pressure against the harder surface of the starch.

Eventually, this external layer will give way which causes the popcorn to explode. As this occurs, the softer starch will become inflated and burst which turns the kernel inside out and releases any steam. Excess steam inside the pot will lead to chewy popcorn so ensure that your lid is ventilating.

Always remember the key fact that as your popcorn kernels heat up, the natural moisture contained inside of them will heat up and transform into steam so if you are using a pot without a ventilating lid, then ensure that you are lifting the lid slightly in order to release any excess steam.

Or alternatively, place the lid slightly off of the edge of the container itself in order to create a necessary gap in the seal between the pan and the lid. This simple manoeuvre will ensure that the steam is able to escape efficiently. 

Mixing Water With Oil 

The use of oil is paramount to the popping process. The old adage that oil and water should never be mixed is untrue.

Popping corn in oil actually helps to amalgamate the two as the oil will coat the popped corn which helps to repel any moisture (water) from the kernel which acts as a necessary, protective barrier and ensures that your snack is as crunchy as possible.

However, it is important to note that using too much oil can also cause your popcorn to become chewy. Generally, you should use 1 tablespoon of oil for 1/4 cup of kernels in order to maintain the correct ratio and prevent your popcorn from becoming chewy or soggy.

Irrespective of how you pop your popcorn, it is essential that your kernels are heated evenly. If your heat is turned up too high and you fail to shake your pan in a steady manner then your kernels will become too stagnated and still and you can end up burning one side of the popcorn kernel.

This will mean that your kernels either pop too early or fail to pop at all. Conversely, if you heat your kernels too slowly, the moisture inside the kernels may leak and the starch will become overcooked leading to an overly rubbery taste and texture.

Therefore, make sure that you shake your popcorn pot with regularity in order to prevent your popcorn kernels from becoming stagnant. This will help to ensure that the heat is evenly distributed and lead to a greater, tastier experience.

Has Your Popcorn Been Sitting Out In The Open For Too Long? 

If your popcorn has been sitting in the open for too long prior to you consuming it then it will inevitably absorb any humidity or moisture in the atmosphere which will lead it to lose its crispiness and become chewy.

Although this may seem like a weird process, it is undoubtedly true and this can pose a real dilemma for anyone who lives in particularly humid parts of the world. You should try to ensure that your popcorn kernels are stored properly prior to popping also.

Keeping them in a light sealed box or bag within a pantry area or a kitchen cupboard will ensure that they are kept cool and dry. If you leave the container open and don’t store it in a moist place like a basement or fridge-freezer, your kernels will be kept in peak condition for popping.

However, if you fail to do this, your popcorn’s moisture level will not be maintained at the correct level and thus, your kernels will not pop correctly.

To conclude, your popcorn can become chewy for a wide range of reasons. There is a small amount of natural moisture that is contained within any popcorn kernel and this moisture will be covered into steam upon heating.

If you do not have a ventilated lid for your pot then you should ensure that you allow a slight gap between your lid and pot to ensure that any excess steam can escape.

Your popcorn will also become chewy if it is overloaded with an unnecessary amount of oil and you should ensure that you use appropriate amounts of oil during the heating process to avoid any burning which will also prevent your kernels from popping properly.

Popcorn that is exposed to the open air post-popping will naturally absorb any humidity in the atmosphere and become chewy. Conversely, kernels that aren’t stored correctly in a dry place will also absorb any moisture in the air which will prevent them from popping correctly.

Therefore, you should store your kernels in a dry space in order to ensure that they can be popped to their maximum, crispy potential! There is nothing worse than chewy, soggy popcorn but if you implement these essential precautions, your popcorn will remain crispy and tasty without the headache of buying a fresh pack of kernels prematurely and wasting copious amounts of time trying to perfect the process of achieving delightfully crispy popcorn.

This healthy, delicious snack undoubtedly deserves to be enjoyed at best and if you follow these steps, you will never have to stress over chewy popcorn again!