Popping Indian Corn

I absolutely love the way Indian corn looks – it’s colorful, shiny kernels make it excellent for decorating during fall nestled with some funky gourds and cute mini pumpkins. Only recently I found out that some of it is food grade (though some is not because it is treated to only be used as decorations). I was eager to pop some with my daughter. We tried it three ways – on the stovetop, in the microwave and in our popcorn popper.

To prepare the corn for popping, I removed the kernels from one of my ears of Indian corn. It was tedious work but came off easily by applying pressure with my fingers.

I put the removed kernels into a strainer then rinsed them and dried thoroughly with a towel.

Onto the popping – I tried out a variety of ways and actually found that I liked the microwave the best. It was super easy and oil free but all three methods produced yummy popcorn.

Stovetop: Coat the bottom of the pot in a little oil (I used peanut oil) and set the stove on med-high. I let the oil get warm for a while then put a test kernel into the pot. Once my test kernel popped, I put a handful of kernels in and covered the pan. I shook the pan while it popped. Once the popping had really slowed down, I dumped it into a bowl.

Microwave: Put the kernels into a brown paper lunch bag and stick it in the microwave with a dish of water (so the bag doesn’t burn). Microwave for 3-5 minutes. You could also do this right on the cob without removing the kernels. Once the popping slows down, I remove the bag from the microwave and stick it in my bowl.

Popcorn Popper: Just put a little oil in your popper, add the kernels and let it whirl. Again, once the popping slows, I dumped the popcorn into a bowl.


A variety of toppings are yummy on the popped Indian corn – melted butter, parmesan cheese, nutritional yeast, cumin, hot sauce, chili seasoning, cinnamon and sugar… I could go on and on.

So once you are done enjoying your Indian corn as a decoration, enjoy it popped and get creative with some toppings.  


  1. I just went to the Farmers market an hour ago, and thwy had some of the biggest ears of indian corn I’ve ever seen. I almost bought them but I always thought it was kind of a waste seeing as they were purely ornamental. Now I wish I would have bought them, because I would have enjoyed their beauty for quite some time, and then made some delicious popcorn when I was through.

  2. Did this today with some of the corn in my harvest pack. Used olive oil and some kosher salt for mine. It was delectable, a little hardier than some of the normal “pop corn” you get at the store and perhaps a bit meatier in that I had to chew a little bit more. But such a fresh taste and really good.

  3. Umm… You say that some is food grade and some is treated and therefore not safe for food? Do we have anything that tells us which type is in our packages from bountiful baskets?

  4. Karmen Kiler

    Handy tip – thanks Nancy!

  5. The easiest way to shell the corn from the cob is to rub two cobs together – the kernels will come right off.

  6. I make our popcorn in a brown bag all of the time – no need for water though!

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