How to Make Microwave Popcorn Without a Bag (And No Oil!)
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.
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.
- Pour about 1/4 cup of kernels into the microwave-safe bowl.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
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?