Homemade Air-popped Microwaveable Popcorn

June 17th, 2009 by katie

Don’t you just love popcorn?  I think popcorn is one of those few perfect snacks.  It is high in fiber and protein, it counts as a whole grain serving, it is fun to eat and quick to make, and you get a lot of it for not too many calories.  Between myself and the kids we could easily go through a couple boxes of microwaveable popcorn a week.  That is not cheap and those bags sometimes contain some questionable ingredients.  I recently experimented with buying actual popcorn kernels and making kettle corn on the stove-top.  I was surprised and pleased by how easy and delicious it was-and the fact that you didn’t need to buy a popcorn popper!

The kettle corn is a wonderful treat but with 1/4 cup of oil and 1/4 cup of sugar it isn’t the healthiest of snacks.  Also, getting out a heavy pot and shaking it over the heat for ten minutes or so to make the popcorn is pretty time consuming when the kids are whining and you just want a quick snack.  This method is great.  You get the ease and convenience of microwavable popcorn with the nutritional benefits or air-popped popcorn and all this for the low price of a bag of popcorn kernels ($2 for 20 oz. organic) and a pack of paper bags (which you can re-use by the way).  Update:  This method also work just fine with just a glass bowl.  Place the bowl in the microwave with the kernals inside then cover it with a glass lid or a microwaveable plate.  One bag of pop corn kernels will make you between 11-14 bags of microwaveable popcorn depending on how much you want per bag.  My generic pack of paper bags cost $1.50 for 50.  So each bag of popcorn costs about 20¢.  If you consider that the process doesn’t damage the bag and you could re-use it multiple times that price gets even lower.

Microwaveable Air-Popped Popcorn

makes about 5 cups per bag, prep <1 min, cook time 2 min
  • 3 tbsp popcorn kernels
  • paper bag
  • stapler or scotch tape if desired
  1. Add popcorn kernels to a paper bag or a glass bowl.
  2. Close bag. You can fold it over once or twice, you can tape it closed, or you can even staple it.  We have tried all of these methods and they all work the same. If using a bowl, cover.
  3. Microwave the popcorn as usual for approximately two minutes.  I found that ours was usually done after about 1 minute and 45 seconds.  By two full minutes the popcorn was starting to burn.
  4. Open the bag, carefully if you plan to re-use it, and season to taste or eat plain. If using a bowl, handle it carefully as it will be hot.

We tried adding salt and pepper to one bag but the seasonings just don’t stick, even if we spray the kernals lightly with spray oil.  So season the popcorn once it is finished popping (or eat it plain like we do).  What I like is this method is just as portable and convenient as the store-bought bags.  Just portion out the popcorn kernels, staple the bags closed and store them in the pantry or in your desk drawer.  Each bag has about 100 calories and no creepy ingredients!

You can also use a glass bowl with a lid instead of the paper bag.  Just place the popcorn in the bowl and then then place it in the microwave.  Cover the bowl either with a glass lid or with a microwaveable plate (this just keeps popcorn from flying all over the microwave) and pop until there are two seconds between pops.  The bowl will be hot so use a towel or mits to handle it and transfer the popped popcorn to another bowl for serving.

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Posted in Budget, Cooking with Kids, Easy, Fast, Snacks/Appetizers, Tips and Tricks

40 Responses

  1. Joe

    I never knew you could make popcorn that simply, I’ll have to give it a try. My current method is using a Whirley Pop (http://www.popcornpopper.com/24000.html) – only needs about 1/2 teaspoon of oil and 2 or 3 minutes on the stove. I highly recommend it but I’m going to give your microwave method a try too. Thanks!

  2. Melissa

    I bought a jar of kernels a couple of months ago and still I have yet to make a batch. Thanks for the reminder. And homemade is definitely the way to go. Not only for the price, but the microwaveable has so many chemicals in it. Bleah.


    my mother in law has been doing this for over 20 years, to make salt, pepper or any other seasoning stick, spray a couple of sprays of pam inside of bag and it helps it stick with minimal amount of calories.

  4. Liz

    This is by far the best way to make popcorn! I usually add some kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to the bag before popping – works pretty well. So much cheaper and somehow it seems “fancier” than the chemical yellow popcorn. Add some sliced apples and you’ve got my dinner tonight!

  5. p-chan

    I’d be weary about putting staples in the microwave, Isn’t that usually a bad thing?

    I thought so too, so I tried it very cautiously-but it worked just fine! No sparks, no explosions, we’ve used the staple method a couple of times now and it has been fine each time. But if you are worried you can also fold over the top or use tape, both of those methods also work just fine. -Katie

  6. Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary

    I had someone show me this method just last year and we love it. We also love our Whirley Pop too. We bought some popcorn kernels in Amish country and it was the best popcorn we’ve ever had.

  7. Judy

    I discovered this a couple months ago. It’s so good and I’m having fun trying different gourmet popcorn origin I buy online.

  8. Avalyn

    You do have to be careful when putting staples in the microwave. You should be fine as long as the metal isn’t directly touching any part of the microwave. But even something as small as a staple can still shatter the glass in the microwave if it touches the bottom or side. (Trust me…I know.)

  9. Jessica

    I ate “microwave” popcorn all through highschool. When I met my boyfriend, I thought he was so “old fashioned” when he insisted on using the microwave popper (~$10 at the grocery market) to pop corn. You know what though, it tastes so much better without all the “fake butter”, colourings, and artificial flavours. We’re on a search for a gourmet popcorn. I know I’ve seen it, you know, like a red or blue popping corn…

  10. Liz

    What a great technique, I pop loose kernels on the stovetop but I’ve never tried doing it with a paper bag in the microwave. I like adding hot pepper and cumin to my popcorn — with that kick, you won’t miss the butter.

  11. J

    Just tried this paper bag method. The paper bag nearly caught fire at the folds. We used clear tape which melted. But we were paying close attention and removed the bag and doused the folds. The popcorn isn’t bad, but the fire hazard is!

  12. Renata

    I have made popcorn like this for years. Stapling and taping the bag is unnecessary.
    Another thing I do is listen and stop when the popping slows down to about 2 seconds between pops.

  13. Gnatmo

    I tried this last night with a glass casserole dish & lid and I had to keep adding time, and keep adding time- finally at about the 9 minute mark it started to pop- popped about 10 pieces and then my microwave shut down- gone. Its only 18 months old, but it is now dead. I guess I should have used a glass bowl and plate? I kind of always hated that microwave, so, obviously, I’m not too sad, but I wasn’t expecting to have to replace it yet either.

    If I try again, I will use a bowl and plate or a bag.

  14. Heather

    What a great recipe. Thanks for sharing. I love popcorn, and our air popper is on the fritz. I think my family will love this.

    I am having a link party featuring healthy snacks. I would love it if you would link up.


  15. Tiffany

    I know this post isn’t recent, but thank you for it! I was searching Google to see if it’s possible to air-pop kernels without a popper, so this post is just what I needed! No more store-bought nasty-ingredient popcorn for us! (Now off to see your kettle corn recipe – my husband’s favorite!)

  16. Chloe

    AH staples (metal) in the microwave? explosion waiting to happen!

  17. Dave

    What? Its safe to staple the bag and remicrowave??? I thought it was a big no-no to put metals through the microwave.

    I was skeptical also, so I risked a ruined microwave and tried it. There were no sparks and it didn’t seem to have any trouble. -katie

  18. eddy1

    I use a clear glass bowl, and place a plate on top… perfect evertime.

    nb… are the walls of a microwave not metal?

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  20. ann

    The way I usually season this is to spray it with a bit of olive oil with a misto or trader Joes spray and then sprinkle it with some sea salt! So good!

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