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How to Microwave Popcorn – Ultimate Guide

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Do you know the best way to make popcorn in the microwave? From instant pop to paper bags or glass bowls, there are wide range of methods to achieve fluffy and buttery tasting popcorn for a quick snack at anytime. 

How do you microwave popcorn? Microwave the popcorns on high heat setting for 2-4 minutes. Switch the microwave off when the popping sound pauses for 2-3 seconds.

After 15-20 seconds, you should hear the kernels start popping, but stay near as some popcorn may not take that long in the microwave. When the popping slows down too long, the popcorn is at risk of burning. 

Allow the popcorn to cool down for 60 seconds before opening the bag and use caution as it contains a lot of steam that can burn your face or fingers. Season the popcorn with your choice and serve. 

Microwave popcorn generally comes in prepackaged bags with already added flavors, seasoning, and oil, otherwise it is plain kernels that need a bowl or bag to pop in. Always read the cooking instruction since the kernels may require different wattage and microwave time for best result.

No matter what microwave method you choose, in this article we are going to reveal the best way to microwave popcorn to save time and produce the results you are looking for. Answered below are frequently asked questions about microwaving popcorn including tips and tricks to make popcorn taste better and alternate ways to make the snack both healthy and low calorie.

Why Is Microwave Popcorn Bad for You?

Generally, popcorn by itself is not harmful at all. However, consuming commercial instant popcorn that is already packaged can be bad for you due to multiple microwave popcorn dangers that leads to potential health risks and cancer. 

Here are detailed reason why microwave popcorn may be bad for you:

  • Perfluorinated Compounds on Popcorn Bags: The worst thing about microwave popcorn bags are the chemicals that are contained inside the bag. Popcorn themselves don’t cause cancer, but the harmful chemicals known as perfluorinated compounds in the bags do. The perfluorinated compounds is added to microwave popcorn bags to hold the grease and prevent it from leaking out. The compounds breakdown into perfluorooctanoic acid, a known carcinogen that is linked to multiple cancers.
  • Preservatives: Most brands of microwave popcorns use preservatives that cause various health issues. Microwave popcorns commonly contains a chemical compound used to prevent the snacks from becoming rancid and extend the shelf life on the kernels.
  • Diacetyl: There is a link between microwave popcorn and a severe lung illness known as “popcorn lung.” Manufacturers use the chemical diacetyl to offer microwave popcorn aroma and buttery flavor. The chemical can cause severe lung disease resulting in irreversible damage when inhaled in large quantities.

Most of commercial flavored popcorn does contain these elements, so evaluate the contents beforehand. If you are looking for safe and healthy way to make popcorn in microwave, then the solutions are upcoming.

Can You Pop Regular Popcorn in The Microwave?

Yes, you can safely pop regular popcorn in the microwave. All you need is a microwave-safe container or bowl with a lid to cover the top to avoid spills or explosion. 

Depending on your personal preference, you don’t have to add oil when microwaving popcorn as it is an option ingredient. 

Control the ingredients used, so that you avoid artificial flavoring that come with instant microwave popcorn. 

How Do You Make Popcorn in The Microwave?

The easiest way to make popcorn in microwave is to use paper bag that microwave-safe. It is convenient and does not require cleaning dishes afterwards.

Measure a ¼ cup of popcorn and pour the kernels into a lunch size brown paper bag. Double fold the opening and close tightly to prevent the corn kernels from flying out of the bag as they pop.

Microwave the popcorn on the highest heat setting for 2 to 3 minutes. Stop the microwave when the popping sound slows to 2 second intervals between pops.

The cooking time might vary depending on the wattage of your microwave oven and the quality of the popcorn. 

Shake the bag to let all the unpopped kernels settle at the bottom since they are heavier. Now separate them out from the popped ones and leave unpopped kernels to re-heat once again for about 30 seconds. 

Season with salt and herbs and shake them well to serve.

How Do You Make Microwave Popcorn Better?

If you are looking to make microwave popcorn taste better without a bag, we highly recommend Pyrex glass bowl or microwave-safe bowl with vented lid. These tools are alternative ways to microwave popcorn without bag to achieve fluffy and buttery taste. 

In order to make popcorn taste better, all you need is a microwave-safe bowl, butter, olive oil or coconut oil, popcorn kernels, and any kind of seasonings you desire. 

Make sure the bowl is big enough so that the popcorn will also have enough space to expand.

Add your favorite flavors to the microwave popcorns without potentially adding harmful chemicals or excess salts through additional toppings. Ensure the kernels only fill the bottom layer of the bowl before adding a slice of butter or drizzle oil and seasonings.

Close the lid to help create adequate closure while keeping kernels from popping out of the container.

When microwaving, carefully listen and take them out of the microwave immediately when popping slows down to 2 or 3 second intervals.

Sprinkle the popcorns with freshly grated cheese and/or olive oil, or even make without oil for a fat-free and low calorie snack. Try different seasonings such as rosemary, cinnamon, or oregano and enjoy.

Tips to Microwave Popcorn 

To achieve better tasting and fresh microwave popcorn require bit of technique. Other than using correct tools and cooking time, here are essential microwave tips for you to consider:

  • Check the expiration date. See if the popcorn kernels are fresh by looking at the expiry date on the package before tossing into the microwave. Microwaving dry and old kernels can be frustrating since they won’t pop very consistently.
  • Familiarize yourself with the microwave. To get the right timing, you may need to refer to the wattage on the microwave manual. Though your microwave might have a popcorn setting, let it be a starting point and adjust the timing from there.
  • Go through the instructions on the bag. The container of popcorn kernels will have timing recommendations, use them as guidance but realize timing is based on the amount being popped, microwave wattage and the freshness of the kernels. If using an instant popcorn package, typically has manufacturer’s recommended instructions are on the backside. It is crucial to position the right side facing down on the microwave to enhance inflation of the instant pop bag.
  • Stay alert. Consider standing close by the microwave until the popcorn is ready. When pops slow down to 2 second intervals, switch off the microwave, and immediately remove the popcorn.
  • Open carefully. Do not place your fingers or face near the opening when releasing the steam. The bag might contain a cloud of steam that can scald your face. Whether you are using a brown bag or microwave-safe glass bowls, steam is trapped inside the container and will release very quickly when opened.

Best Way to Microwave Popcorn

If you are having difficult time to make popcorn in microwave without burning, it’s important to review the wattage power setting and timing. Also, the moisture content of popcorn kernels and how old they are can determine the cooking time as well. 

No matter what tool you use, follow this set way to microwave popcorn to avoid from burning popcorn while microwaving.

Add 1/4 cup of kernels into a microwave-safe container or bag. Cover the container or double fold to seal that bag and place in the microwave.

Heat on high power setting for 2 to 4 minutes. Stay close by to listen to the popping sound and avoid leaving the popcorns unattended because popping time will vary.

To acquire the best results, switch off the microwave immediately when popping slows to 2 second durations between pops. 

Carefully remove the popcorn container and remember it’s hot. Carefully open and avoid contact with the escaping steam.

Toss with your favorite seasoning and drizzle healthy oil to enjoy.

How to microwave popcorn

Microwaving Popcorn: Conclusion

Unless more manufacturers adopt healthier and non-lined microwave popcorn bags, look for alternative way to make fresh popcorn at home. Using popcorn kernels to microwave popcorn is healthier and cheaper compared to store-bought instant popcorn bags anyways. 

As a result, it’s easy to avoid consuming unnecessary preservatives and additives that are dangerous for health in long term. Popcorns are generally healthy and nutritious snacks, it is matter of what additional ingredients are added and how you cook them that truly matters.

Making plain popcorn will also lower the risk of popcorn lung and cancer associated with microwave bags. All you have to do is to replace commercial coated bag with brown paper bags or a microwave-safe container.

Select any microwave friendly container and add 1/4 cup of kernels. Microwave on high power setting for 2 to 4 minutes. Depending on the amount and wattage the timing to pop will vary.

Once the popping sounds slow to 2 second intervals, carefully remove the container from the microwave. Let it sit so the carryover heat can pop the remaining kernels. 

When there is no longer popping, open the lid and evaluate if there is any unpopped popcorns left. Separate the kernels from the popcorn and reheat the unpopped kernels if needed.

Season the popcorn with herbs, sea salt, and oils to enjoy the fluffy and buttery taste to make your movie night at home enjoyable. There you have it, microwave popcorn is a breeze and you can change up the flavorings to fit your desired taste without having the harmful additives found in instant popcorn.


Tuesday 14th of February 2023

Your popcorn in a brown paper bag is BEYOND Perfection! I have been making popcorn on the stove with a large pot covered with a lid for years. Your method is the best I have made ever! Thank you! ******************* (STARS BEYOND!)


Tuesday 14th of February 2023

Thank you Charlie!


Thursday 16th of December 2021

Thank you! Great guide for microwaving popcorn!