HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Microwave popcorn

  • j

Anyone know how to microwave plain popcorn kernels? I don't have a hot air popper, but enjoy plain popcorn. I don't want all the additives and chemicals of regular microwave popcorn.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. very easy, just use a brown lunch bag.

    I grab a handful of kernals and throw them in a small brown bag (enough to cover the bottom of the bag) and fold the rim down twice, & lay it horizontal in the microwave. I zap it (about 1.5-2.5 minutes in my microwave) until I only hear 1-2 pops left.


    1 Reply
    1. re: jill (too)
      Michele Cindy

      Just be careful very doing it this way, the bag can catch fire.

    2. Alton Brown has a good recipie for that.

      I think you can google the instructions, but it is basically a brown paper lunch bag that has been sealed. He even puts a staple in it to keep it closed and it does not spark.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Tugboat

        I have all the respect in the world for Alton Brown, but DO NOT put a stapled paper bag in the microwave!! I started a fire in the microwave that way.

      2. Don't waste your time with microwave popcorn.

        Get out your WHIRLEY-POP and make it fresh in the same amount of time. Much healthier and much more delicious.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Fleur

          I make my popcorn on the stovetop in a pan, but I am not sure how it can be more healthy to do it that way as you need to use some oil.

          In the microwave, you don't use any oil. It just pops from the steam the builds up inside the kernel.

          1. re: Fleur

            I don't think Jill was asking about pre-packaged microwave popcorn, but ways to cook regular popcorn in the microwave.

            Assuming that you don't load up on butter, oil salt (or who knows what else they put in that pre-packaged stuff), cooking it in the microwave is no different than stove top, air or other methods healthwise.

          2. You don't need a special popper.

            I just popped several batches for the first time using a metal pot with a slightly thick bottom and a glass lid. The glass lid isn't necessary, but it really helped me see what was happening.

            I put in barely any canola oil (a tablespoon?), then turned the heat to medium and put in one kernel of popcorn. As soon as the single kernel popped, I put in a half cup to a whole cup of popcorn. When more start popping, I put on two oven mitts, held the pot closed, and alternated between shaking and letting the pan touch the stove to retain heat (I have electric coils). As soon as the poporn stopped popping, I sprinkled with salt or other seasonings and shook well. I managed to pop almost every single kernel this way when I used 1/2 a cup. 1 cup was a little too much for my pot.

            1 Reply
            1. re: nooodles

              noodles, that's exactly how we did it when I was a kid, in the pre-microwave days!

            2. keep your corn kernals in the fridge.....it's suppose to help build up more moisture/steam in the kernal & it's suppose to pop bigger

              1. Just wanted to report that the brown paper bag (sans staple) worked absurdly well. Popped better than the microwave bags you buy, and was many times tastier than my air popper.

                6 Replies
                1. re: a_and_w

                  I do this daily. Its totally the way to go!

                  1. re: a_and_w

                    Ditto on the brown paper bag, no oil.

                    I then melted a small pat of good butter in the microwave, drizzled it over the air-popped (nuked) popcorn, then dusted the lot liberally with powdered brewers yeast.

                    Extremely delicious and relatively good for you!! (butter notwithstanding...)

                    I'm sure the whirley-pop thing that Fleur recommends is great, but I just don't need another kitchen gadget when a paper bag will do.

                    BTW - I am not a huge fan of cooking in the microwave and tried the stove top first and ended up burning the lot!! pee-yew!

                    At least my micro oven is a PhD one -- ("push here, dummy!") with popcorn settings.

                    Plus, I noticed the popped corn was WAY bigger when nuked than the early, okay ones that popped stovetop. Interesting..........

                    1. re: Maxmillion

                      I just started making it this way in the microwave in a brown paper bag, folded and taped. After some experimentation, I don't add any oil or butter pre-popping. My early attempts at tossing the kernels with olive oil and cajun seasoning didn't work well. Oil was unnecessary and the spices burned a bit in popping. I like to season the beautifully fluffy popped corn with some melted butter and a bit of salt. Or better yet, black truffle butter. That's my new favorite. Delicious and perfect with champagne.

                      1. re: Maxmillion

                        what exactly does brewers yeast taste like? i've heard it mentioned in other threads about poporn too. and pardon my ignorance, is it the stuff you make bread with? thanks

                        1. re: geminigirl

                          brewers yeast is actually the by-product of brewing fermentation, and it's surprisingly nutritious - particularly rich in B vitamins. and no it's not related to baker's yeast. i don't use brewer's yeast because of the gluten content, but i can vouch for the brilliance of nutritional yeast [another non-baker's yeast supplement] sprinkled on hot popcorn. it adds a great umami tang, and melts/dissolves right onto the fluffy kernels.

                    2. Don't do it. Nuking your popcorn is never as good as a WHIRLEY-POP. Cooked on top of the stove in less time than it takes to microwave, it is the best popcorn ever. Plain, buttered, olive oiled, kettle, or flavored.

                      1. I've been using a presto popper for years. You add one teaspoon of oil, put your regular popcorn and in 3 minutes you have the best tasting popcorn. Add salt and/or butter to your tasting.

                        Here's a link to what I'm talking about.


                        1. Bowl, handful of kernels, dash of oil and salt (optional), cover tightly with plastic wrap, microwave until popped. Perfect, clean, no fuss, no muss.

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                            NordicWare makes a microwave popcorn popper that I like. You can pop just dry popcorn kernels. I usually toss the kernels with a tiny bit of olive oil. It adds some nice flavor and helps the salt stick.

                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                              Sam, there's no problem with the plastic melting? Also, what kind of bowl are you using?

                              1. re: a_and_w

                                Someone else mentioned fear of reaction with the plastic wrap. Plastic wrap is inert unless you apply flame, doesn't melt or give off fumes. I use a glass or China bowl.

                                Marcia2, I too use a tad of oil--EVOO or canola--and a pinch of salt.

                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                  We use a plastic bowl with a plastic cover. I don't know if it's meant specially for microwaving popcorn but I imagine any microwave-safe plastic will be fine. I like to add a few drops each of water and oil, some salt and a sprinkle of cayenne.

                                  1. re: cheryl_h

                                    Have either of you tried popping without the oil? I usually add olive oil (or butter) and salt after popping. Does the addition of oil in the container make a difference?

                                    1. re: a_and_w

                                      My husband leave out oil so I think you can too. I think it adds a little bit of flavor and helps the salt/pepper to stick but I can't say it's essential.

                                      1. re: cheryl_h

                                        Right. No need for oil, but I think a little improves flavor and ensures that you don't feel like you're eating packaging material.

                                  2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                    plastic heated in the microwave can leach off additives ...


                                    Even if you think your plastics are safe, all you have to do is to overheat the stuff once and try to peel it off your food and you'll never try it again.

                                    Use glass.

                                2. Plastics and oils, for the most part, does not mix in the microwave.

                                  Manufactured plastic poppers generally have some special trick like, Presto needing the special popper disks, or the use of special plastic-like blends, not found in everyday plastics.

                                  Perhaps Smokey the Bear can move indoors for the Winter... Only you, can prevent kitchen fires.


                                  1. I have found nice organic microwave popcorn at Dominion (in their organic section - brown box- says organic in large letters). NO additives - tastes great. Loblaws has an organic brand that is good as well.

                                    1. so did we decide if it was safe to microwave the brown bag? i live in dorm so it would help if i dont burn it down =]

                                      1. Pyrex makes a crackerjack (pun intended) round 2 quart covered casserole that works GREAT for popping corn. No oil required! No trees downed in the making, no Saran Wrap clogging the land fill, and the extra added super bonus: it can also be used to make those gourmet delights, green bean OR tuna casserole! What could be better than that?

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                          I have that casserole dish. How much popcorn do you put in there...what's the general time frame needed to pop?

                                          1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                            How much? sheesh... I dunno, I just "eyeball" it. But I would say start with about two rounded tablespoons, then keep an eye on it and if it starts to lift the lid off, open the door! I never pop any popcorn by clock time. I listen until there is about three seconds between pops, then open the door. Enjoy!

                                        2. I gave up trying to make decent popcorn using the "plain paperbag in microwave" method long ago. It is very dangerous! Depending on wattage of oven it is a recipe for a fire.
                                          I bought a Whirly Pop type pan years ago and was very surprised by the excellent popcorn it makes with very very little oil.
                                          I guess if a person is lazy and hates having to wash a pan they might take a chance with the paper bag method.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: NickyPicky

                                            Funny, I've been making it that way for years and have never even come close to a fire. Then again, I usually stay nearby while it pops, and I take it out as soon as there are a few seconds between pops.

                                            1. re: NickyPicky

                                              Why do you need a special pan? I've always made popcorn in a regular pan. Right now I'm using my stirfry pan, which is perfect, but any deep pan with a lid will do. It doesn't take any longer then using the microwave, either.

                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                I use my wok with a splatter screen on top.