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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October 10, 2014 4:14 pm

I toss mine with a mix of grated parmesan and a salt free seasoning blend. Yum.

October 9, 2014 3:22 am

Lately, I have preferred to making it on the stove top. I use a pot with a clear lid that has steam vents. Coat the pot with olive oil, add a layer of kernels and get popping. Shake the pan as it pops to avoid burning.

October 8, 2014 6:36 pm

I have an air popper. Its great and it wasn’t expensive. Just popcorn nothing added but salt, pepper or another seasoning of choice. Great snack!

September 19, 2014 9:14 pm

I like to make my popcorn on the stove top in a large skillet. If I were to make it in a bag, I wouldn’t get very much (I really like to go to town with popcorn and pig out on it! – plus I have to share it with my hubby). I like to make mine with coconut oil, and then I put salt and pepper on it, and sometimes Parmesan cheese.

November 3, 2013 11:51 am

Your recipe called for 1/4 cup kernels in a brown bag, but doesn’t say how big the bag needs to be. I bought some lunch bags, added 1/4 cup kernels and the bottom of the bag blew out! Hahaha…it was pretty funny but a little messy. Obviously too much popcorn for the size of the bag. so now I just make smaller batches. I also thought I had to add oil to the kernels first…but apparently not so that makes it easier and the bags reuseable.
Favourite toppings are chili-garlic flax oil, Tabasco and nutritional yeast. Good to read other ideas here.

October 5, 2013 7:24 pm

Tried it two times in a bag in micro now and the popcorn tastes burnt. Maybe I am using too large a bag? Anyhow, made it on stove with just e Pugh canola oil to make the kernels “shimmy” when shifting the pan over med high heat. Have to keep pan moving over heat or kernels will burn instead of popping!

August 19, 2013 2:07 pm

We pop ours using a little coconut oil in a Whirly pop style popper on the stove. Favorite toppings are still butter and salt. I will admit we use a half a stick of butter for a pretty good sized bowl of popcorn. One particular batch that stands out however, was the one my husband used a half stick of Kerrygold butter–which really equaled a whole stick of butter:-)

Summer Hansell
October 24, 2012 8:18 pm

Favorite topping this month: Virgin Coconut Oil (very coconutty!), turmeric and nutritional yeast….oh my, so so good….

October 10, 2012 5:17 am

Bragg’s Liquid Aminos–(natural soy sauce). I know this sounds weird, but it is delicious and Bragg’s comes in a spray bottle, which makes it really easy to spritz on! I have this snack almost every day! Yum!

October 9, 2012 2:44 pm

Holy Sh**. My life is forever changed! I never knew this. Wow, thank you!

Reply to  Alice @ Hip Foodie Mom
October 9, 2012 7:34 pm

I agree!! Love this tip and made it tonight – tastes so much better than the microwave stuff.