The Dirty Little Secret of Microwave Popcorn

I’m going to let you in on a dirty little secret of the microwave popcorn industry: It’s all a sham.

That’s right, I said it. Store-bought microwave popcorn is a lie.

Here’s the scoop: You don’t need to buy those expensive, high-fat, high-salt, individually-wrapped packets. You can just take plain popcorn kernels, toss ’em in a paper bag, and pop them yourself in the microwave.  No oil or grease needed.  No reflective foil in the bottom of the bag needed.  No salt needed.

You’ll get wonderful, fresh popcorn, just like out of a hot-air popper, in about three minutes. It’s 95% less expensive, 99% less wasteful, and 100% better for your health (You do know that popcorn is a whole grain, right?  It’s a perfect snack for October Unprocessed!).

The only downside is that a few less kernels will pop.  Big whoop, I say!

Homemade Microwave Popcorn

1. Add 1/4 cup Organic Corn Kernels to a brown paper bag.

Corn Kernels in a Bag

2. Fold the bag closed, and microwave on high for 3 to 4 minutes. Just like the store-bought stuff, you need to stand there and listen to the popping. Once there’s about 2 seconds between pops, stop the microwave (else you’ll burn some of the kernels.)

Homemade Microwave Popcorn

3. Pour into a bowl, sprinkle on your favorite toppings, and enjoy! (And save that paper bag for next time.)

Freshly popped, fat-free microwave popcorn

Below are a few topping ideas.  I recommend using an Oil Mister — you’ll use very little oil that way, but still get the flavor of the oil (and it’ll be enough to help the toppings stick to the kernels).

– Olive Oil, Sea Salt, and freshly ground Pepper.

– Olive Oil and Nutritional Yeast.

– Butter, Grated Truffle, Sea Salt, freshly ground Pepper, and grated Parmesan cheese. (Too fancy?)

– Tabasco and Garlic Salt. (Kapow!)

What’s your favorite popcorn topping? Share in the comments!

A photo of Andrew Wilder leaning into the frame and smiling, hovering over mixing bowls in the kitchen.

Welcome to Eating Rules!

Hi! My name is Andrew Wilder, and I think healthy eating doesn’t have to suck. With just three simple eating rules, we'll kickstart your journey into the delicious and vibrant world of unprocessed food.

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August 8, 2012 9:24 am

I usually make popcorn on the stove in a pot with oil and sugar (the sugar melts and I get super tasty caramel popcorn). But I don’t like to wash the pot…

Do you know if I can put sugar in the bag with the microwave popcorn? I’ve been meaning to try it, but am kind of afraid! 🙂

July 17, 2012 1:57 am

heres a an idea i have to further good tasting popcorn. in your microwave use the popcorn setting this will cookem all and not burn if you have popcorn next day and there all soft reheat them for 35 seconds in a smal bowl just a hand full it will be as fresh as the day you opned it/

January 5, 2012 9:43 pm

This worked so well, and I just read that microwave popcorn is full of really bad chemicals in the bag. Thanks! I melt a little home-made margarine, then add smoked paprika and smoked sea salt to it, pour it over, then toss. Mmmm.

Reply to  Stephanie, The Recipe Renovator
October 8, 2014 6:21 pm

how do you make home made margarine? Never heard of that before.

October 19, 2011 6:20 am

Wow! what a great tip–thanks for the info. I always feel so guilty when I eat the packaged corn! Now I can save space in the cabinet too and I won’t have to buy an air popper to be healthier! I love to put chili powder on my corn or Tabasco sometimes.

September 28, 2011 3:08 pm

How many uses do you get out of a typical bag? Do you just use lunch bags? I currently use a stir crazy popper, but this could be fun for the kids on special occasions to have their own bag or when I don’t want to do clean up.

My other question is what kind of olive oil mister do you use? I’ve been using the Misto, and it’s ok, but I don’t get that fine spray. If I’m spraying my bread pans I have to rub it in with my hand, which kind of defeats the purpose of using a sprayer.

Reply to  Andrew
December 1, 2011 3:36 pm

I’m back because I found a better sprayer at Williams Sonoma.

I got it last weekend and I really like it. I get a nice fine spray. The Misto is history.

Reply to  April
October 8, 2014 4:40 pm

which one was it the prepara deluxe or the stainless steel? Your weblink doesn’t go anywhwere for me

May 14, 2011 6:02 am

I just found your blog. I enjoy Smart Balance with a few shakes of Parmesan Cheese.

January 30, 2011 7:44 am

I use 1-2 Tablespoons per 1/4 cup of kernels. It really depends on the pot I’m using. I try to get a light coat on the bottom of the pan. The nice part is it doesn’t really taste like coconut, but it gives it a bit of extra flavor naturally.

Barry Sanders
January 13, 2011 12:30 pm

I’ve tried and it turns out well. I’ve also been using the 0 calorie “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” spray to get a butter taste.

January 12, 2011 1:31 pm

I’ve never thought to use paper bags to pop popcorn in the microwave. It’s been a long times since I’ve had microwave popcorn and avoid it at all costs these days. I fix my popcorn on the stove with unrefined coconut oil and salt. I love my popcorn plain. 😀