Air-popped microwave popcorn is a healthy snack that is simple to make and done in less than 10 minutes. Made in the microwave with no added oil, the kernels come out perfect every time - season with your favorite oil or seasoning blend to kick up the flavor.
I'm assuming there is only one way to eat popcorn - constantly putting handfuls in your mouth until the bowl is gone. Are there people that eat a couple of pieces at a time and stop? I usually finish my bowl before the movie even starts.
I'm not a fan of buttery popcorn, though. I like it very likely coated in oil and seasoned with salt or our Smoky Cheddar Popcorn Seasoning. Most storebought microwave popcorn comes pre-seasoned and can be too salty and oily. For years, I've cooked my popcorn on the stovetop - I hated having to shake the pan the whole time. One night, I randomly decided to throw the kernels in a glass bowl with a plate on top. I placed the bowl in the microwave and have made it that way ever since. The process isn't set it and forget it, but I'm not stuck standing over the stove shaking a pan for 10 minutes.
Around the internet, you can find recipes for DIY microwaved popcorn made in brown sandwich bags. This way is not recommended as the brown bag could catch on fire in the microwave or release toxins into your popcorn. Plus you have to buy the bags. I have a better method! And you likely have all the equipment in your cabinets right now...
Equipment Needed for Air-Popped Popcorn
The equipment needed for this recipe is simple:
- Large glass or ceramic bowl - make sure the bowl is microwave safe. I do not recommend using plastic for this method.
- Large glass or ceramic top or plate - again microwave safe, no plastic. I've used ceramic plates, a pie dish, and a lid to a casserole dish.
- Potholders or kitchen towel - the bowl will be extremely hot when you remove it from the microwave!
Tip - Look for a plate or lid that fits snugly over the bowl. This holds the steam in and allows the corn kernels to pop.
Buying Popcorn Kernels
On the popcorn aisle at the grocery store, you can find large bags or containers of popcorn kernels. Look for ones that only have one ingredient - corn. Two of my favorite brands are Market Pantry from Target and Pop Secret Jumbo. The Jumbo is my favorite and number one choice when shopping - the kernels are twice the size of regular popcorn. Any brand or style will work for this method, and most grocery stores have a few options, including organic and non-GMO. You can even get blue corn kernels.
How to Make Air-Popped Popcorn in the Microwave
You'll need ¼ cup popcorn kernels to start. Add the kernels to the bowl and cover it with a lid. Place in the microwave and set for 6 minutes. Cook until the popping slows to 2-3 seconds between pops. Stop the microwave. The popcorn usually takes around 4-5 minutes to cook, but the time could vary with different microwaves. Listening to the popping is the easiest way to know when your popcorn is finished.
Sidenote - there will still be unpopped kernels in the bowl. If you cook for too long, the popcorn will start to burn, and your house will smell like burnt popcorn.
Once finished, remove the popcorn from the microwave using potholders or a kitchen towel. The bowl will be very hot. Carefully remove the lid and drizzle with olive oil or melted butter. Season with salt or your favorite seasoning blend.
How to Season Popcorn
Butter and salt are the most common seasoning for popcorn, but the possibilities are endless. Ghee or olive oil can be used in place of butter, and any blend of your favorite spices could be used.
When adding the oil, slowly drizzle it over the kernels. Toss and add more oil as needed. Dumping the fat in the middle of the bowl and trying to coat will leave uneven coverage.
Do the same for the seasoning. Sprinkle a little over the popcorn, toss, and add more as needed.
Popcorn Stovetop Directions
If you prefer to use the stovetop to make your popcorn or do not have a microwave, I've included the directions for that as well.
To start, heat a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high. Add 1-3 tablespoons oil and 2-3 corn kernels to the pan. Cover with a lid. Once the kernels pop, add the remaining popcorn and shake the pan to coat with oil. Cover the pan with a lid, slightly ajar, to allow steam to escape. Shake the pan during the cooking process to prevent kernels from burning on the bottom of the pot. When popping slows to about 2-3 seconds apart, remove the pan from heat. Pour into a large bowl and top with the desired amount of melted butter or oil and seasoning. Toss to coat popcorn evenly.
Storage and Make-Ahead
Air-popped popcorn can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container for 1-2 days. The kernels will start to become stale after a couple of days, so I do not recommend making it in large batches.
For a fun movie night or party, serve the popcorn in cute popcorn boxes. You can find them on Amazon, and they're inexpensive.
Other Recipes you May Like
If you like this recipe, check out our homemade horseradish cheez-it. Both are perfect snacks for movie night.
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