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

Updated on March 16, 2016
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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 36 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.

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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.

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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!

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

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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?

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    • NornsMercy profile image

      Chace 3 years ago from Charlotte, NC

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

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 3 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!

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 3 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.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 3 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!

    • Global-Chica profile image

      Anna 3 years ago from New York, NY

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

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 3 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.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 3 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.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

      Oh ho ho! And we didn't think of this before becauseā€¦? 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!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

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

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 3 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. =)

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 3 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.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 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!

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 3 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!

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker suzettetaos 3 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!

    • janetwrites profile image

      Janet Giessl 3 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.

    • VVanNess profile image

      Victoria Van Ness 3 years ago from Prescott Valley

      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!

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 3 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 3 years ago from Prescott Valley

      Here, here!

    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 3 years ago

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

    • Angela Kane profile image

      Angela Kane 3 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.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

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

    • starstream profile image

      Dreamer at heart 3 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?

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 3 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!

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 3 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.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

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

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 3 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!

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 3 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!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 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
      Author

      Natasha 3 years ago from Hawaii

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

    • Christy Kirwan profile image

      Christy Kirwan 3 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
      Author

      Natasha 3 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.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 3 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.

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 2 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.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 2 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!

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 2 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
      Author

      Natasha 2 years ago from Hawaii

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

    • Carole 2 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.

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 2 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.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 2 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!

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 2 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks so much!

    • astevn816 profile image

      Wayne 21 months ago from Gainesville , Florida

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

    • Ann810 profile image

      Ann810 10 months 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.

    • carol morris 7 months ago

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

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