Can You Use Jiffy Pop Over a Campfire?

There are few experiences I love more than cooking over an open fire. The crackling of burning wood as it breaks down into glowing coals, the smell of smoke, of the outdoors, the feeling that comes from being surrounded by nature and friends outdoors while preparing the fire for a good meal. I have so many memories tied to cooking over the fire whether spring, summer, or fall, whether for Scouts or with family.

There will be amazing delicious meals that take plenty of effort and planning, but part of the joys of camp cooking are the simple but delicious joys like S’mores and hot dogs, but should Jiffy Pop be counted among these delectable camp treats?

You should not cook Jiffy Pop over a campfire as the uneven heat and flames will create a terrible result of unpopped kernels mixed with badly burned bits of popcorn. If you have to try cooking Jiffy Pop over a campfire you need to cook it over an even spread of coals with no flames.

Let’s dive into why this is, what alternatives exist, and if you absolutely have to cook Jiffy Pop when camping, how to give yourself the best chance of coming out of it with something edible.

jiffy pop on stove
Jiffy Pop is a blast from the past for many older readers, but it might not be the best option when out camping.

How to Cook Jiffy Pop Over a Campfire…If You Have To

The key to trying to make decent Jiffy Pop over a campfire is to simulate a stovetop as closely as possible. That means no open flames, but you need to have the coals from the fire spread out evenly to create an even consistent heat that the Jiffy Pop can be set on.

Because of the way most camp fire pits are set up (with fire safety in mind) you won’t have the space to put the entire pan directly on the coals…and you’d better have a plan for gripping the handle without burning yourself if you do.

You’ll want a grill over the top or a flat baking sheet that can conduct the heat. These are setups that have to be done carefully for safety’s sake but give a flat surface that should allow you to get an evenly distributed heat.

If this setup doesn’t appear to be manageable, then there might just not be a very good way to cook Jiffy Pop over the fire. Most campfire setups will result in Jiffy Pop getting burned badly or having a combination of burned popcorn and un-popped kernels…which is less than ideal much less edible.

campfire breaking down to coals
Great for cooking many things over the fire, but popcorn is not an easy task – especially Jiffy Pop.

But Cooking Jiffy Pop Over the Fire Is Possible….

My opinion based on experience is that it’s just better to go for easier to cook comfort foods like hot dogs, S’mores, and the like. Simply put, it’s easy to ruin Jiffy Pop on the fire and then you have foil, wasted food, and more to properly dispose of and you’re still out a comfort food.

However, if you don’t want your popcorn looking like it does below, then you will want to make sure to set yourself up for success.

Burned Jiffy Pop on Fire

But if done right, getting that perfect series of conditions and cooking you can get the proper results. I’ve seen this done successfully more often with a camping stove than actually using a campfire but as this picture below clearly shows, getting decent Jiffy Pop while camping in the wild isn’t impossible. This is viable for the experienced hand.

Jiffy Pop on Camp Fire

I have never done this successfully without the hot coal and no flame method, but apparently there are ways to do it with flames, as this YouTube video shows, but this definitely takes some work, eye-hand coordination, and expertise.

Here’s a YouTube video of how to cook Jiffy Pop over an open flame, and the emphasis can’t be made enough to not puncture the foil until it is ready for eating.

Not the style I’ve ever used, but I suppose with enough practice it could work – but be careful to make sure it doesn’t explode as he warns – first degree burns instead of popcorn is not a fair trade.

If you’re dead set on cooking Jiffy Pop during your next camp outing give it a practice at the park or backyard fire pit a couple times first so you can give yourself a better chance of success rather than a bust!

In Conclusion

While Jiffy Pop can be a fun and quick way to get a nice batch of popcorn at home, and will bring back some memories for old school generations, it’s not an easy solution to cooking while out camping. While having comfort food around the fire is a great part of outdoor experience, whether or not the Jiffy Pop is worth the effort is going to depend on how much you really need the taste of buttery popcorn during your next camp outing.

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