How To Make Popped Sorghum

Heather Dessinger

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popped sorghum recipe

These crispy roasted chickpeas have been my “go to” popcorn alternative for awhile now, but when I shared them on Instagram a couple of months ago a reader asked how they compare to popped sorghum.

That comment led to some googling.

And some ordering.

And a declaration from my daughter that popped sorghum is more popcorny than actual popcorn.

Of course the best part – at least for me – is that snacking on a bowl doesn’t negatively impact my heart rate variability (HRV).

HRV is an indirect measure of overall well-being, and when I eat corn it almost always drops my score. Sometimes I can eat a little without experiencing a noticeable impact, but for the most part it’s just easier to avoid it.

If you’re sensitive to corn and miss buttery, crunchy, salty bowls of movie night popcorn goodness, you might be wondering . . .

What is popped sorghum, exactly?

Sorghum is a naturally gluten-free ancient grain that’s native to Africa, India and Southeast Asia, but is also grown in the United States.

Although the grain can be ground into flour for baking (hello gluten-free graham crackers), it can also be popped into light, crunchy little bites of goodness that taste nearly identical to popcorn. In India, seasoned popped sorghum is called jowar dhani, and it’s very popular for good reason.

Now, one thing you should know is that popped sorghum is small – about 1/3 the size of regular popcorn. It’s more dainty than “Honey I Shrunk The Kids” tiny, but it does take some getting used to.

how to make popped sorghum

2 Quick Tips

  • Add the kernels to hot oil and work in small(ish) batches – Adding the kernels to lukewarm oil tends to cause them to toast instead of pop. Overcrowding the pot with too many kernels can have the same effect, but don’t worry. Each batch makes about 2 cups VERY quickly, so you can make a lot in very little time.
  • Whirley Pop – As mentioned above, sorghum needs to be added to hot oil in order to pop correctly, so you’ll want to follow the instructions below instead of typical method used to make popcorn.
  • Air Popper – Because sorghum is smaller and more lightweight than popcorn, it tends to fly out of standard air poppers while still in hard kernel form. Cooking on the stovetop produces more consistent results.

Big thanks to Treva for sharing this healthy snack idea with me. I hope you guys love it as much as we do!

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Popped Sorghum Recipe

If you’re sensitive to corn and miss buttery, crunchy, salty bowls of movie night popcorn goodness, you're going to love popped sorghum. My daughter says it's more popcorny than actual popcorn. Makes approximately 2 cups.
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 3 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 83kcal
Author Heather Dessinger

Equipment

  • 9 inch pot with lid
  • Stainless steel Whirley Pop (currently out of stock) or similar stovetop popper

Ingredients

  • cup organic sorghum grains
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (can also use avocado oil or ghee)

Optional Toppings

Instructions

Stovetop Instructions

  • Place the oil in the pot and heat it over high heat.
  • When the oil is shimmering (very hot, but not smoking) add the sorghum kernels and cover with a lid.
  • The kernels should start popping fairly quickly. Shake the pot occasionally to move the popped kernels around so they don't burn while the remaining kernels pop.
  • When the frequency of the popping slows significantly, remove the pot from heat and pour the popped sorghum into a bowl. Season as desired and serve.

Whirley Pop / Stovetop Popper Instructions

  • Place the oil in the stovetop cooker and heat it over high heat.
  • When the oil is shimmering (very hot, but not smoking) add the sorghum kernels and close the lid.
  • Reduce the temperature to medium high heat and start cranking the handle to stir the kernels around. They should start popping fairly quickly.
  • When the frequency of the popping slows significantly, remove the cooker from heat and pour the popped sorghum into a bowl. Season as desired and serve.

Notes

Nutritional estimates do not include optional toppings. 

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 83kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 56mg | Fiber: 1g | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 1mg
popped sorghum recipe

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use quinoa instead of sorghum? No. Quinoa can be puffed and the texture is somewhat similar to puffed rice, but it does not pop.

Can I microwave sorghum in a paper bag? Yes. I use my microwave for storage so I’m not sure what the best technique is, but it is possible.

Will this popped sorghum make every movie I watch just a little bit better? Probably.

Can I use my grandmother’s bear tallow (rendered in 1973) instead of coconut oil? Seriously, please don’t.

More Healthy Snack Ideas

Kale Chips – My kids love these crispy and salty chips, and I love that they’re rich in antioxidants.

Nut, Honey & Oat Granola Bars – Sweet and chewy, these healthy granola bars have a delicious honey oat flavor that can be customized with different mix-ins. They’re perfect for packed lunches, afternoon snacks, road trips, beach days, forest walks and more.

Strawberry Jello – If you love strawberry jello but not the congealed red #40 and artificial flavors found in boxed versions, you’re going to love this healthy version. It’s super easy and – unlike store-bought versions – contains real strawberries!

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About HEATHER

Heather is a holistic health educator, herbalist, DIYer, Lyme and mold warrior. Since founding Mommypotamus.com in 2009, Heather has been taking complicated health research and making it easy to understand. She shares tested natural recipes and herbal remedies with millions of naturally minded mamas around the world.