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

Updated on March 16, 2016

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 6 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 - a bowl and a plate.

2.9 out of 5 stars from 105 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. All you need is:

  • A medium, microwave safe bowl
  • A microwave safe plate that will cover the bowl
  • 1/4 cup of 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

Making microwave popcorn is really simple. Here's all you need to do:

1. Pour about 1/4 cup of kernels into your 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!


Top with melted butter, your favorite seasonings, or just serve plain!


How do you usually make popcorn?

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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?

Questions & Answers


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      • profile image

        Shivani 7 weeks ago


      • profile image

        Carmen 10 months 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 22 months ago

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

      • Ann810 profile image

        Ann810 2 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

        Wayne 3 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 image

        Natasha 3 years ago from Hawaii

        Thanks so much!

      • Natashalh profile image

        Natasha 3 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 3 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

        Carole 3 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 image

        Natasha 3 years ago from Hawaii

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

      • Perspycacious profile image

        Demas W Jasper 3 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 image

        Natasha 4 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 4 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 4 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 image

        Natasha 4 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 4 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 image

        Natasha 4 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 4 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 image

        Natasha 4 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 4 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 4 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 4 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 image

        Natasha 4 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 4 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

        FlourishAnyway 4 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 4 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

        emilybee 4 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 4 years ago from Fountain, CO

        Here, here!

      • Natashalh profile image

        Natasha 4 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 4 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 4 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 4 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

        kidscrafts 4 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 4 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 4 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 image

        Natasha 4 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 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

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

      • RTalloni profile image

        RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

        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 image

        Natasha 4 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

        Glimmer Twin Fan 4 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

        Anna 4 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 image

        Natasha 4 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 4 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 4 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

        Chace 4 years ago from Charlotte, NC

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