How to … Pop Your Own Popcorn in the Microwave

We all love popcorn. It’s a great snack – filling, full of fiber, low calorie, etc. But have you ever read the list of ingredients on the box of your favourite brand of microwave popcorn? Here is but one example:

Popcorn, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil and Cottonseed Oil, Salt, Modified Cornstarch, Maltodextrin, Monosodium Glutamate, Natural Flavor & Artificial Flavor, Color (Yellow 5 Lake & Yellow 6 Lake), Nonfat Milk, Freshness Preserved by Propyl Gallate (Source: Pamela Salzman)

And that’s just the popcorn itself. Published results from various studies have found that microwave popcorn eaters are exposed to toxic vapors, and consuming a lot of popcorn popped in those little white bags has been associated with lung disease (called Popcorn Lung!). That alone is enough of a reason to stop buying these “healthy” snacks in the supermarket. Don’t even get me started on movie popcorn!

In my eyes, there are two healthy options for your popcorn eating pleasure.

1) Buy a machine that air pops the kernels or uses oil.  Personally, I have a machine called the “Stir Crazy Popcorn Popper”. You add a bit of oil, the kernels, and watch as the magic happens. The best part is that you know you are consuming only two ingredients (3 if you add salt).

2) A second option is microwaving your own popcorn … in a paper bag! Yes, it can be done! Not only is this healthier than store bought popcorn bags, but it will save you tons of money!

Okay, here are the steps ( based on Squawk Fox).

Step 1. Find a brown paper bag. Any will do.

Step 2. Bag your popcorn. Add a 1/2 cup scoop of bulk popcorn kernels to your brown paper bag (a serving is about 1/4 cup but who are we kidding). Fold the bag over twice. Don’t use staples to secure the bag — this might spark in your microwave.

Step 3: Pop it in the microwave. Stick the popcorn bag into your microwave and set for 3 minutes on high (experiment a bit with this, as every microwave will vary). Do not leave the room! Stop the microwave when the popping slows to one to two pops per second, you do not have to wait for the 3 minutes to finish as you don’t want to burn it.

Step 4:  Add gourmet toppings.  I just eat it with salt! Lots and lots of salt. I know, don’t hate me.

Some other topping ideas:

  • Mexican: Add chili powder, hot sauce, and salt.
  • Kiss My Breath: Shake in onion powder and garlic powder
  • Cheese Please: Mix in Parmesan cheese with a little salt
  • Sweet Tooth: A dash of cinnamon, a sprinkle of sugar, and a topper of honey.
  • Yeast or West: spread some nutritional yeast (sounds gross I know but it tastes like butter and is a source of B12 for all you vegans out there!)

13 Responses

  1. Michelle
    January 26, 2012 11:46 pm #

    Our friends are amazed when my husband tells them he cooks popcorn on the stove. They say, Oh you mean the Jiffy pop thing? No, in a pan. They stare at him blankly like he’s an alien. LOL. I’ll have to try the microwave if I can find a paper bag!

    • Rebecca the Cherry Picker
      January 27, 2012 1:25 am #

      haha thats hilarious! Hopefully they will have the same reaction when they find out how easy it is this way too!

  2. January 27, 2012 12:20 am #

    This is such a great idea. I love popcorn but don’t eat it often because I am afraid of all of those chemicals. You’ve unleashed a new snack!

    • Rebecca the Cherry Picker
      January 27, 2012 1:24 am #

      Thanks Sarah!! This “recipe” is too easy!

  3. Terry
    January 27, 2012 3:12 am #

    Do you add any oil prior to popping?

    • Rebecca the Cherry Picker
      January 27, 2012 3:18 am #

      None! It’s fully air popped… healthiest snack ever!

  4. January 27, 2012 8:06 am #

    I do this all the time. My friend was shocked and refused to believe it worked and wasn’t dangerous until she saw it done the other week,

  5. January 27, 2012 9:14 am #

    why did i not realise i could do this? i feel stupid! thanks!

    • Rebecca the Cherry Picker
      January 27, 2012 4:45 pm #

      most people dont!

  6. January 28, 2012 11:43 pm #

    Ahhhh I love this idea!!

  7. Travis
    February 5, 2012 12:36 am #

    I will never buy microwave popcorn again!

    It’s so easy; honestly pretty much the same amount of work as microwave popcorn bags.

    It’s so healthy this way, both because of no oil/butter and because it doesn’t have all those chemicals and carcinogens! Popcorn is such a healthy thing when done correctly.

    It’s also SO cheap! A 2-pound bag of Jiffy Pop kernels was $2, and 50 brown paper bags was $1. I think I will laugh the next time I see popcorn at the movie theater.

    • Rebecca the Cherry Picker
      February 5, 2012 12:52 am #

      Hey Travis – I agree with all your points!!! It’s a perfect, healthy, and cheap snack. Going to pop some now for a movie :)

  8. Christy
    April 18, 2012 8:31 pm #

    Another option is a microwave popper. Same idea! No oil needed.

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