Skip to Content

How to Microwave Popcorn Without Burning – Best Way

Sharing is caring!

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

Are you having difficult time to make popcorn in a microwave without burning it? There are many ways to microwave popcorn including without a bag and in a glass bowl. 

Achieve that airy and crunchy textured popcorn that you desire, and season to perfection before serving. However, popcorn can burn without caution, so there has to be ways to microwave popcorn without burning it.

How do you microwave popcorn without burning? In order to prevent from burning popcorn in the microwave, pay close attention on the power and time setting. Select the high power setting and microwave for 2 to 4 minutes. 

Catching the start of burning is the key. When the popping sound slow down to once every 2 to 3 seconds, immediately remove the popcorn from microwave to save the popped kernels become burning.

As moisture content in kernels evaporates due to how old they are and the amount your are making, the microwaving time will vary. 

The microwave oven is one of the most convenient cooking methods in household kitchen. When improper steps are followed, you will be left with a bowl of half-burned popcorn.

However, there are methods to avoid only having a few good pieces, and more of the tooth-cracking un-popped corns. 

In this article, we are going to talk about preventing the popcorn from burning when you use a microwave. Answered below are frequently asked questions about the perfect cooking time and best power setting to prevent from burning popcorn in the microwave.

Why does my popcorn keep burning in the microwave?

Popcorn has between 14 and 20% moisture content by weight, densely packed inside a hard outer shell. It’s only when the moisture inside is sufficiently heated that steam forms and exerts pressure on the outer shell until the corn pops.

The optimum temperature for popping corn is nearly 190°C or 375°F. To achieve a uniformly popped batch, it’s important to heat all the kernels to that specific temperature. 

If some of the grains don’t attain the ideal temperature, they will be left un-popped when the first batch is ready. By the time the un-popped kernels pop, the finished batch will start getting burned, and this cycle is how popcorn gets burned in the microwave.

Another reason you could be burning the corn is if the moisture content is lower than the required percentage. This is a characteristic of old, and thus dried-out corn kernels.

Heat regulation is also a known cause of burned microwave popcorn. If the temperature is higher than the recommendation, some kernels will pop prematurely and get burned by the time the other half of the batch is done.

How do you stop popcorn from burning?

When the popcorn is already in the microwave, it’s challenging to control what moisture content it has. All you need to do is to play around with the power level and the cooking time.

In most cases, to microwave the kernels require a short time, stop the microwave, shake the grains to redistribute the heat, and turn the microwave on again. Remember, microwaves heat unevenly so flipping, rotating and shaking the cooking container are recommended.

Another way of ensuring from burning the kernels is by listening the sound of  the “pop.” When you hear the popping rate slowing down to two or three seconds between pops, stop the microwave and shake the corn to redistribute before firing up again for 30 second increments.

If the corn looks dehydrated or passed the expiration date, rehydrating can help. Put the kernels in a freezer for about an hour, or even boil an ounce of water in the microwave just before using it to pop the corn. The latter method gets the microwave space humid and ready for the drier corn.

What is the perfect time to microwave popcorn?

The ideal period to microwave popcorn varies from one microwave oven to another. Generally, the time ranges from 2 to 4 minutes on high. 

A high-powered microwave can pop most of the corn kernels in about 3 minutes. On the other side, it’ll take up to four minutes if the appliance is under 1000-watts. 

Beyond four minutes of microwave time, the popcorn will start scorching. Nevertheless, not all the kernels will actually pop and starts burning.

Will a 900 watt microwave pop popcorn?

Yes, a 900W microwave will pop popcorn quite nicely. Most current 900-watt microwave ovens have an already built-in popcorn preset button, follow the manufacturers instructions for best results. 

All you need to do is to set the dial to popcorn setting and let the popcorn kernels pop for three and a half minutes. Then, set the microwave to full power and run for a minute and a half. 

As a result, most 900-watt microwaves will have popped 80% of the kernels. Remove the popped kernels and run the un-popped corn for an extra 45 seconds. 

By separating them, you won’t have any burnt popcorn in the mix.

How long do you microwave popcorn without burning?

If the microwave is set on high, never let it run for more than four minutes. 

Generally, most pre-bagged popcorn will come with cooking instructions on the back. 

It’s also a good idea to pop the corn in two cycles, the first one lasting between 2 to 3 minutes while you listen for the time between pops to slow. Then, subject the un-popped popcorn for an extra 45 to 60 seconds of heat to completely pop all the kernels.

Tips to microwave popcorn without burning 

Without paying attention, popcorn can get burnt quite easily. Whether you choose to microwave popcorn with paper bag or without oil to make it less calorie version for loosing weight, always check the power and cooking time to avoid popcorn from burning.

Here are some microwaving tips to make popcorn without burning it:

  • Ensure the popcorn has not been on the shelf for longer than 18 months. Overextended shelf life probably means the kernels are dried out and may not pop.
  • Use microwave-safe container with lid to make popcorn, these microwave popcorn poppers are ideal for the task.
  • Listen to the pop sound as the popcorn cooks. Stop the appliance when the popping slows down to a single pop every two to three seconds.
  • Never leave the microwave unattended when making popcorn, the transition from popping to burning is almost instantaneous.
  • Add some oil to the kernels to further lock in the moisture. This reduces the chances of moisture escaping if your microwave is underpowered and the timing lapses.

Best way to microwave popcorn without burning

The best way to not burn popcorn in the microwave is to pay attention throughout the entire process. Do not trust the time setting and simply walk away!

It is really hard to know how much moisture is in those kernels! So, when the popping has slowed down, remove the ready batch and run the un-popped kernels for a shorter time until all have popped.

Popcorn manufacturers typically have recommended settings as a guideline for you to follow, so read the instruction for the suggested temperature.

The weight of popcorn input in microwave matters and result the appropriate setting. Some modern microwaves have a popcorn setting that automatically sets the time to compliment the amount of kernels being microwaved. 

Most microwave do not have humidity sensor that can detect the popcorn burning. So, always listen for the popping frequency and do not abandon while microwaving popcorn. 

Wattage of microwave is related to cooking time. To make ¼ cup of popcorn without burning in a:

  • 700-watt microwave, it take 2 minutes and 15 seconds. 
  • 900 watts, it takes about 2 minutes. 
  • 1100 watts, it takes about 1 minute and 50 seconds. 
How to microwave popcorn without burning

Microwave Popcorn Without Burning: Conclusion 

A microwave can make the best popcorns at home without burning or unpopped kernels being left at the bottom. No matter what kind of microwave-safe bowl or paper bag method you use, burning can be avoid with diligence.

To prevent burning from happening, select the correct power wattage of microwave and time setting based on the amount of popcorn you are microwaving. 

In addition, the moisture content of kernels and how old they have been on the shelves can determine the length of microwave cooking time as well. 

Looks for what the wattage of microwave is and always select high power setting and run for 2 to 4 minutes. It’s good practice to stay close to microwave and observe the sound popping. 

Once the popping sounds slow down to every 2 to 3 seconds, check the container and take out the popped popcorn, and leave the unpopped kernels for further microwaving. 

When microwaving popcorn for the first few times, pop a small batch to get comfortable with the process. Once you get comfortable with the techniques, you can try a larger amount at once, but remember to follow the microwave tips above to avoid burning your popcorn.


Wednesday 6th of July 2022

👍amazing technical approach to microwave popcorn without burning