How to Make Microwave Popcorn Without a Bag (And No Oil!)

Updated on January 5, 2020
Natashalh profile image

Natasha is a writer, artisan, and recent graduate with a Master of the Arts in Teaching who also loves to forage for food.

Make popcorn in the microwave without having store-bought microwave popcorn.
Make popcorn in the microwave without having store-bought microwave popcorn. | Source

Microwave Popcorn

In the past few years, news articles have popped up about how dangerous microwave popcorn can be. Forget cracking your tooth on an unpopped kernel—evidentially, habitually breathing in the steam fresh out of a popped bag can lead to a serious lung condition called "popcorn lung" and, according to the FDA, microwave popcorn contains likely carcinogens. If you haven't seen any of these news stories, you can read up on sites like News Max Health.

I'm not a health professional or a scientist, but I do know that microwave popcorn, whatever else it may be, is way more expensive than popping it yourself. For the same price, you can usually buy about six bags of microwave popcorn or nearly two pounds of plain popcorn kernels. If you don't have a hot air popper and don't feel like popping it on the stove, you might be tempted to reach for the convenient bags, anyway. The good news is you can actually make your own microwave popcorn from the plain kernels using items you probably already have at home.

3.2 out of 5 stars from 251 ratings of DIY Microwave Popcorn

Make Your Own Microwave Popcorn

Microwave popcorn is, in my opinion, better than stovetop popcorn because it doesn't need any oil or fat. You can always add your own melted butter (real butter, not that chemical nonsense they put in the microwave bags!), salt, sugar, ranch powder, or whatever else you'd like, but you're in control of the situation.

What You Need

  • 1 medium microwave-safe bowl
  • 1 microwave-safe plate that will cover the bowl
  • 1/4 cup plain popcorn kernels

That's really it, but you might want a towel or oven mitts to remove the bowl from the microwave without burning yourself.

All you need for DIY microwave popcorn
All you need for DIY microwave popcorn | Source


  1. Pour about 1/4 cup of kernels into the microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Cover the bowl with the plate. It doesn't matter if it isn't an exact fit or if there is a small gap under the plate—a gap actually lets steam escape and is helpful.
  3. Place in the microwave and cook on full power. The exact amount of time needed will depend on your microwave and the bowl/plate you are using, but it will take longer than a bag of popcorn. With the pictured bowl and plate, it takes me about 5 minutes to pop 1/4 cup of kernels. I've had it take over 7 minutes when I used a heavier bowl and plate. My advice is to put it on 5 minutes and then add time, as needed, if it's still popping.
  4. Once the popping has slowed, turn off the microwave and carefully remove the bowl. It will be hot, so you may want to use oven mitts or a towel. Watch out for hot steam when you remove the plate, too!
  5. Top with melted butter, your favorite seasonings, or just serve plain!

Step 1: Pour 1/4 cup of kernels into the bowl.
Step 1: Pour 1/4 cup of kernels into the bowl. | Source
Step 2: Cover the bowl with the plate.
Step 2: Cover the bowl with the plate. | Source
Popped popcorn. Be careful about steam when you remove the plate!
Popped popcorn. Be careful about steam when you remove the plate! | Source
From kernels to popcorn.
From kernels to popcorn. | Source

How do you usually make popcorn?

See results

Tips for Making Microwave Popcorn

Here are a few things I've learned about making microwave popcorn:

  • Don't try to cover the bowl with a paper towel. The popping corn will easily push past the paper towel and leave you with a microwave full of popcorn!
  • Make sure your dishes are truly microwave safe, not "microwave friendly." We broke a dinner plate making popcorn because it was intended for a quick reheat, not cooking! I highly recommend going with truly microwave safe items like an Anchor glass bowl and a simple Corelle plate.

The first time I made popcorn like this I wondered why I hadn't figured it out years ago! It's so much easier than dealing with the stove, doesn't require a specialized machine like a hot air popper, and doesn't use paper bags like the usual microwave method. It's simple, fast, and doesn't involve oil. In short, it's the perfect way to make a quick snack!

I love to eat my popcorn plain, but my husband enjoys adding butter. What's your favorite popcorn topping?


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      8 weeks ago

      I grew up popping popcorn on top of the stove but also learned how easy it is to put 2 TBSP of kernels in a brown paper lunch bag and microwave for 2 minutes. I also bought a large rectangular microwavable container with a steam vent lid from Dollar Tree and it worked out fine. The trick is to pop a little at a time, don't let it burn, and let the container cool down before popping 2 or more bowls in succession.

    • profile image

      Ron Olden 

      3 months ago

      'False Info'. .... This article doesn't mention 'Obliterative Bronchiolitis'. The term 'popcorn lung' sometimes refers to the disorder, but it's not a medical term.

      Microwave popcorn however HAS been linked to 'popcorn lung'. Diacetyl, a chemical used to give microwave popcorn its' buttery flavour and aroma, is linked to severe and irreversible lung damage when inhaled.

      Popcorn lung makes the small airways in the lungs (bronchioles) become scarred and narrowed to the point where they can’t let in enough air. The disease causes shortness of breath, wheezing, and other symptoms similar to those of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

      More that twenty years ago the risk for popcorn lung was mainly among workers in microwave popcorn plants or other manufacturing plants who breathed in large amounts of diacetyl for long periods of time.

      Hundreds of workers were diagnosed with this disease, and many died.

      The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health studied the effects of diacetyl exposure at six microwave popcorn plants. The researchers found a link between long-term exposure and lung damage but wasn’t considered a significant risk to consumers of microwave popcorn.

      One Colorado man reportedly developed the condition after eating two bags of microwave popcorn a day for 10 years. So it's reasonable to suspect that children inhaling it at home throughout their childhood has risks.

      In 2007, major popcorn manufacturers removed diacetyl from their products. But that's not to say it's not still present in bags that readers of this articles or other sources relying on it can get in their own countries.

      In any case the article also says that according to the FDA, microwave popcorn contains likely carcinogens. Which is factually correct.

      Some scientists say that there's a possible link between microwave popcorn and cancer from chemicals called perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) that are in the bags. PFCs resist grease, making them ideal for preventing oil from seeping through popcorn bags.

      As a result of research, food manufacturers voluntarily stopped using PFOA in their product bags in 2011. Five years later, the FDA went even further, banning the use of three other PFCs in food packaging. That means the popcorn you buy today shouldn’t contain these chemicals.

      But again, that might not be the case elsewhere, and since the FDA’s review, dozens of new packaging chemicals have been introduced of which little is known about the safety of these chemicals.

      Even if it isn't a detailed scientific analysis, this article is RIGHT to mention the possible health hazards of microwave popcorn. But the article is more illuminating on the subject than is your comment, and removing things that alert people into investigating further and arriving at our own judgement, is a TERRIBLE idea.

      Living in ignorance is not a virtue.

      The main thrust of the article anyway is to reveal what a waste of money microwave popcorn is when it can be easier to do it with loose corn and eat it out of the bowl you've popped it in.

    • profile image

      False Info. 

      4 months ago

      This gives out false information on Obliterative Bronchiolitis and the reference to it should be removed.

    • Tory Peta profile image

      Tery Peta 

      5 months ago from Bulgaria

      I am now very motivated to try this popcorn method myself. Thank you for sharing, this looks like a great idea.

    • profile image


      12 months ago

      My popcorn BURNT.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 

      12 months ago from Germany and Philippines

      Now I miss popcorn. I have not done them in the microwave. I will surely make them when I have bought popcorn kernels. Thanks for the idea of microwaving popcorn without oil.

    • profile image


      13 months ago

      I'm following the keto plan of eating about 85%--my doctor said not to go 100%, for many reasons--so will add a miniscule amount of coconut oil to pop my next batch. SO glad you posted this as I hadn't thought of how super easy it is to make popcorn this way. I have no stove nor cooktop where I live, but I like popcorn a lot, and hated relying on chemical-laden commercially-made microwave popcorn.

    • ChristianWritings profile image

      Christian Writings 

      16 months ago

      sounds healthy! will definitely try this :)

    • profile image


      18 months ago

      Didn't like the chewy taste of cooking popcorn in a pot with oil, this technique has solved the problem. Yummy crispy popcorn, and because the bowl is hot after cooking butter shavings melt evenly with a few tosses. Awesome 10/10!

    • profile image


      2 years ago


    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Oh you are THE BEST!!! I have wondered several times how to make popcorn without oil. Now we have a great new way to do so.

      I was thinking my largest corningware dish should work perfectly. Thanks for the great tip

    • profile image

      carol morris 

      4 years ago

      Great idea, we're always looking for healthier ways to make popcorn.

    • Ann810 profile image


      4 years ago from Sunny Cali

      I will definitely will try his bag-less popcorn in microwave. It's cool to know there's no oil needed. Thanks for the cool idea.

    • astevn816 profile image


      5 years ago from Gainesville , Florida

      I like the fact that you can make your own without butter or salt, plain popcorn is a healthy treat

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks so much!

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Hawaii

      The paper bag trick is a classic so many people don't know about! Weirdly, I have kind of a difficult time finding lunch bags where I live. Hawaii is beautiful, but sometimes our shopping choices are a little limited!

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 

      5 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      Resurrecting to get it back t the top of the pile. Have a great weekend.

      And the weekend and football championships is a great time for popcorn of any variety.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I have been making it in brown paper lunch bags in the microwave for years. It takes 2 1/2 minutes and then I drizzle olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Absolutely the best treat ever and guilt free for me.

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Hawaii

      I guess you'd have to ask him. =)

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 

      5 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      How can it be that this "simple" but simply great Hub doesn't have a comment yet from breakfastpop?

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      I'm so glad you found it helpful! Our microwave died about a month ago and we just got a new one this week. I look forward to having popcorn again!

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      6 years ago from Philippines

      Popcorn is a great diet snack, and this article is very useful. I am gonna make use of this article, and share it, too.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 

      6 years ago from Long Island, NY

      I recently read about eliminating all oil from cooking since it's bad for our arteries. So I stopped making popcorn. I didn't know there was a way to make it without oil. Thanks to your article I now have a solution that is "heart friendly." I always focus on health, so I'm going to try this. Thanks for writing about it.

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      It always seems like such a shame to use a bag for 3 minutes and then toss it! I'm glad you stopped by and hope you get the chance to enjoy popcorn soon.

    • Christy Kirwan profile image

      Christy Kirwan 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      This is an awesome, healthier alternative to the oil popping that I usually do, and I don't even have to feel bad about wasting paper bags! Love it. :)

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      It's so much easier than the stovetop! I hope you have the chance to try it soon.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      Popcorn is our favorite snack when watching movies at home. We use the stove top but this idea may be a new adventure for us soon.

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      Tirelesstraveler - I hope you enjoy when you get the chance to try this super easy way to make popcorn!

      Heidithorne - Thanks so much for sharing! I appreciate it. =)

      Randomcreative - I didn't realize it, either, until pretty recently. We had popcorn, no bags, and no desire to clean up the pot we would have needed and decided to try something new. It really worked out well!

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 

      6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Wow, I'm blown away! I had no idea that it was so easy to make popcorn in the microwave without a bag. I am dying to give this a try now. Thanks for sharing!

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 

      6 years ago from Chicago Area

      I didn't even know you could do this! Great and healthy snack idea. Voted up & shared!

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 

      6 years ago from California

      We have a bubble hot oil popper. It is wonderful when you have little kids around. I was craving popcorn the other day, but cleaning the popper was more work than I had energy. Three cheers for "The no mess microwave method". Have to share this one.

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      Emilybee and Flourishanyway - it definitely is one of those things that makes you wonder why you never tried it before!

      Angela - Yes, the oil (or butter!) is tasty, but not so healthy!

      Starstream - When I want it sweet, I melt butter on the stove and then whisk in light brown sugar. I just pour it over the top of the popcorn!

    • starstream profile image

      Dreamer at heart 

      6 years ago from Northern California

      Great plan. I will go to my favorite thrift store and look for a corelle plate. Do you have any suggestions for a sweet flavored popcorn recipe?

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      6 years ago from USA

      Who knew? So simple we're probably all wondering why we didn't try this years ago. Pinning this!

    • Angela Kane profile image

      Angela Kane 

      6 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      Great and useful hub. I usually make popcorn on the stove with a lot of oil and even though it may taste good, it's more healthy without any oil.

    • emilybee profile image


      6 years ago

      I never knew you could do this. Gotta try this. So easy and 5 minutes isn't long to wait :)

    • VVanNess profile image

      Victoria Van Ness 

      6 years ago from Fountain, CO

      Here, here!

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks, everyone!

      Crystal - Yes, it is so much cheaper!

      ChitrangadaSharan - One of the reasons I don't like the stove popcorn is all the oil. This is so much healthier!

      Kidscrafts - Thanks for stopping by and I hope you get to try this method soon!

      suzettenaples - Ugh, that stuff is so gross! I've discovered a lot of it leaves your mouth feeling all funny and slimy, too. That can't be good!

      Janetwrites - I hope you get to try it. It's so much better for you without all those chemicals! Some people even call homemade, plain popcorn a 'super food.'

      VVanNess - No kidding. It's amazing how many extra ingredients are in so many products from the store. I guess some of them are necessary if you want things to have a long shelf life, but I'd rather not eat them.

    • VVanNess profile image

      Victoria Van Ness 

      6 years ago from Fountain, CO

      With all of the chemicals and preservatives we are putting into our bodies by buying and eating pre-made food products at the store, it's nice to know that we can still have some of our favorites in a light and healthy way!

      Thank you for the wonderful recipe! Voted up!

    • janetwrites profile image

      Janet Giessl 

      6 years ago from Georgia country

      This is a really great idea. Store-bought microwave popcorn is indeed a healthy risk. I should really try out your version. Thank you for sharing this.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 

      6 years ago from Taos, NM

      Thanks for sharing this with us. I have never thought or tried to do this. Your instructions are simple to follow. I actually prefer to pop my own popcorn on the stove - I think it tastes better and I agree with you the nasty stuff put in the bags of microwave popcorn can gag me. LOL! I will be trying this!

    • kidscrafts profile image


      6 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Great idea, easy to follow instructions :-) I don't have a machine and I like to have popcorn not greasy!

      Thank you for sharing!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      6 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Very nice idea, more because it is oil free. I do make it but had no idea, it can be done without oil.

      Thanks for this, voted up and shared!

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      I love popcorn but always buy the bagged variety. Thanks for sharing this. I'm sure buying the kernals are much cheaper. Sharing and pinning this one.

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      RTalloni - I also think a lot of folks who have heard about it think it's just a bunch of hype and/or simply don't care. Humans tend to be pretty good at ignoring risks in order to do things they want to do! Hot air poppers are cool, but kind of a bother sometimes. There's something really classic about them, though!

      Billybuc - It's so easy! I hope you have the chance to give it a try sometime. Thanks for stopping by. =)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      We eat a lot of popcorn but have never tried this...thanks for the tip young lady.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Oh ho ho! And we didn't think of this before because…? I like to use a hot air popper with coconut oil, but I don't like pulling out the popper and cleaning up the stuff and such. I would've thought that everyone was by now aware of the concerns re store bought microwave popcorn. This just goes to show that recycling information is not always a bad thing, especially if it's wrapped in a solution for a problem. Looking forward to trying this soon!

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      Global-Chica - Thanks so much! It's the rainy season, but the weather really cooperated today. =)

      Glimmer Twi Fan - Yeah, it's pretty unnerving, really! I have very fond memories of using a popper with my grandmother, but I don't own one now.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Claudia Mitchell 

      6 years ago

      This is awesome. We no longer buy microwave popcorn after all the info about it came out some time ago. We have a microwave popper, but this is a great way to do it. Thanks for a really useful hub.

    • Global-Chica profile image


      6 years ago from New York, NY

      Awesome, I don't know why I hadn't thought of that. BTW, I absolutely LOVE your graphics!

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      Wow - it's been so long since I had time to write a hub I'd forgotten how exciting it is to see comments pop up!

      NornsMercy - I hope you do try it and love your fresh popcorn!

      Rebecca - Ahaha. I know! I love microwave popcorn and have eaten a whole lot of it in the past. Eek!

      Bdegiulio - Yeah, it's pretty frightening, really. Apparently there are all sorts of potentially hazardous chemicals in the popcorn flavorings and bag!

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Great idea. I was not aware of al the issues with microwave popcorn but this is good to know. Thanks for sharing.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 

      6 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Very clever! I have been hearing the bad scoop on microwave popcorn, too. Now they tell us. Thanks for this awesome tip. Shared!

    • NornsMercy profile image


      6 years ago from Charlotte, NC

      Thanks for this. I'm gonna try it this weekend! :D


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)