Theater Employees Reveal How to Order Popcorn at the Movies

Want to get the perfect distribution of butter and salt through the whole container of movie theater popcorn? Here's the secret.

Movie theater popcorn is so delicious. The trouble is, the top quarter of the carton is almost always the saltiest and most buttery, and the popcorn gets drier toward the bottom. Unless, that is, you know the secret to perfect movie theater popcorn.

Whether you’re headed to the movies this weekend or taking advantage of AMC’s $5 ticket offer, these tricks will make sure you get the best popcorn every time.

How to Order Popcorn at the Movies

The trick to perfect popcorn depends primarily on the added ingredients: butter and salt—or whatever other popcorn seasoning you use. While the popped corn has some flavor on its own, butter adds essential moisture and richness, and salt or powdered seasonings keep corn from being bland. The trouble is, neither butter nor salt will permeate every kernel if you add them to a full container.

This is what’s really in movie theater popcorn butter.

Add butter twice

To evenly distribute butter, ask the snack bar worker to fill the bucket halfway with popcorn, stop to add butter, add the rest of the popcorn, and finish with a second round of butter. It’s the perfect accompaniment to our favorite food movies.

Ask for a larger container

Here’s a foolproof trick for evenly disbursed salt: Order the popcorn served in a container one size larger than your order. The extra headspace in the tub gives you room to toss the popcorn. Add a dash of salt, shake the tub thoroughly, and repeat as often as you like. This should send salt all the way down to the bottom of the tub.

Use a straw

If you have access to the butter pump, you can try this hack for movie theater popcorn. Just grab a straw, stick it into the popcorn bucket and let the butter flow through it. Then move the straw around to distribute the butter evenly.

Of course, you can also just make your own at home for a great night in…or maybe even sneak it into the theater. The best method is to make popcorn on the stovetop, and don’t forget everything else you need for a movie night!

Gourmet Popcorn Recipes for Movie Night
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Kelsey Rae Dimberg
A former in-house editor at Taste of Home, Kelsey now writes, cooks and travels from her home base of Chicago. After going gluten-free over a decade ago, Kelsey turned to home cooking and baking as a way to recreate her favorite foods. Her specialties include gluten-free sourdough bread, pizza and pastry. When not wrangling her toddler, she enjoys reading, watching old movies and writing. Her debut novel, Girl in the Rearview Mirror, was published by William Morrow in 2019, and her second is forthcoming.