Microwave Popcorn (Easy Recipe for How to Make Popcorn That’s Perfectly Quick, Healthy and Delicious!)

~ After extensive testing, we’ve discovered what really works … and what doesn’t! We’ve got the tips and secrets to help you make super-fast microwave popcorn without any oil, butter, or extra appliances … using just a simple paper bag! ~

This Recipe Is:     Ready in 30 Minutes or Less    Vegan (and Vegetarian)    Gluten Free  

Perfect Microwave Popcorn Recipe {www.TwoHealthyKitchens.com}

I know you’ve seen this on Pinterest … like 1,000 times.

Truthfully, that’s where I first came across it. It was the very first thing I ever pinned. Ever. Years and years ago.

I can’t even find that pin now (yes, I checked), but the idea is just brilliant, and I’ll never forget it. Perfectly air-popped popcorn … in the microwave.

Perfect Microwave Popcorn Recipe {www.TwoHealthyKitchens.com}

Be careful when measuring, unless you like cleaning up lots of loose kernels! ’Nuff said.

And ya know what that means? It’s 100% totally fat free! No oil! No butter! Whoop! Whoop! (I’m doing the healthy food dance! I’m not too coordinated, so it’s not pretty, but I’m happy!)

Know what else?? I don’t need a special contraption for making this popcorn. One less appliance I need to keep on hand! I don’t have space to store something I don’t need to use all the time. I need every square inch in my kitchen for cute dishes, totally awesome cookbooks, and treats for the puppy.

But even if you’ve seen this … like 1,000 times … have you actually tried it? And have you sorted through all of the different versions and recipes to figure out how to get this to really and truly work perfectly, every time?

Not to worry – Shelley and I have done all of the testing for you! And we’ve put it all together in one easy recipe (ummmm … so easy that it literally has just one super-healthy, whole-grain, all-natural ingredient – popcorn!). So seriously easy that the only equipment you need is a paper bag and a microwave! The beauty of this is in the details … the little tricks that assure you great popcorn every time you make it!

Perfect Microwave Popcorn Recipe {www.TwoHealthyKitchens.com}

So for those of you who are new to THK, lemme give you a little info on how things work around here.

Shelley and I are perfectionists. There. I said it. (I can’t speak for Shelley, but I feel better with that out there.)

With two perfectionists running the show, we make sure everything is tested, retested, and then tested a few more times … just to be sure it’ll work perfectly for you. (Remember the waffles? I may still have several batches in my freezer! And the pumpkin muffins? Those took about 12 batches between us to be THK-perfect!)

Perfect Microwave Popcorn Recipe {www.TwoHealthyKitchens.com}

Here’s some of the popcorn that we tested … we even measured the leftover kernels!

So it should come as no surprise that when we were preparing to share this post, I spent hours one evening making bag, after bag, after bag of popcorn. And that’s after Shelley and I had both already been making popcorn this way for a long time (I’ve been using this method for years!) … and had both been randomly testing this for months.

But we still wanted to put the whole process through our normal battery of tests (and more tests!). (How many popcorn kernels are optimal? How many times should you fold the paper bag? Can you use more kernels and just cook the popcorn longer, or will it burn? And so on …)

I took lots of notes (something we always do!) and then packed it all up to take to her house the next day.

Perfect Microwave Popcorn Recipe {www.TwoHealthyKitchens.com}

Just a few of our trials … 3 minutes = burnt-to-a-crisp. 1/2 cup of kernels = tons of unpopped popcorn. (Pssssst … Don’t eat the kernels. They’re hard on your teeth.)

I stood there and explained my trials and analysis to her (she just loves food-geek stuff!). And then, of course, we re-tested many of the parameters that day at her house, too, just to verify our results were still conclusive, using a second microwave that we already knew cooks food slightly differently.

We realized that all of this was truly valuable information … and something our readers would totally dig!

So without further ado … here’s what we learned!

Perfect Microwave Popcorn Recipe {www.TwoHealthyKitchens.com}

Use 1/3 cup kernels. It perfectly fills the bag when popped. Using 1/2 cup results in WAY too many unpopped kernels (what a waste!), and the bag can start to unfold in the microwave … and the popcorn can spill out (what a mess!). It doesn’t work to use 1/2 cup of kernels and simply microwave the popcorn longer – you just end up with a lot of burned kernels as well as a lot of unpopped ones! Yup – 1/3 cup is just the right compromise between lots of popcorn and unpopped kernels.

Perfect Microwave Popcorn Recipe {www.TwoHealthyKitchens.com}

Tightly fold the bag down twice, about 1 inch each time. This allows the bag to stay closed when cooking in the microwave, yet allows for plenty of space for all that air-popped popcorn goodness.

Perfect Microwave Popcorn Recipe {www.TwoHealthyKitchens.com}

Place the bag in the center of the microwave, folded side down. If you stand it up, it’s just going to fall down when it starts popping, and the bag may not rotate properly depending on how it falls (which means it may not get totally even heat). Placing the folded side down helps to keep the bag from unfolding as the kernels pop and fill the bag.

Perfect Microwave Popcorn Recipe {www.TwoHealthyKitchens.com}

We found the perfect cook time is somewhere between 2 minutes and 2 minutes 30 seconds. We tested this at my house using my microwave, and at Shelley’s using hers. It’s important to note that the exact time will vary depending on each microwave (wattages, etc.), but you’ll easily figure out the precise, perfect time for yours. The key is to listen to the popping – just like Orville tells you – and when it slows to about 1-2 seconds between pops … you’ve gotta stop! Otherwise it’s bad. And burned. And reallllly smelly.

Perfect Microwave Popcorn Recipe {www.TwoHealthyKitchens.com}

You’re still going to end up with a few unpopped kernels, and that’s ok. If you try to get to 100% popped kernels, you’ll end up with blackened popcorn. And it doesn’t taste good. And it may smoke up your kitchen. Just … trust me.

Perfect Microwave Popcorn Recipe {www.TwoHealthyKitchens.com}

Some of the leftover kernels actually illustrate how a corn kernel becomes popcorn! The food geeks in us were super excited! (We love you, Alton Brown!!)

And there you have it! So easy, right?!?

We’ve been wanting to share this way to make popcorn pretty much since Day 1. That’s always been the plan. In fact, we loved this method so much that we even started working on some deliciously fabulous topping ideas! But we had to put those ideas on hold … we’re down a few popcorn taste testers at the moment. Between the two of us, we’ve got three kids in braces, with the fourth heading to the orthodontist next week (it’s seriously Orthodontics-R-Us here at THK!). And if you’ve ever had braces, then you know that popcorn is a big no-no. Like, huge.

It just wasn’t much fun making popcorn toppings when our sweet kiddos couldn’t try any.

But we love popcorn … and we know you love popcorn! Especially when it can be made super-healthy!!

Perfect Microwave Popcorn Recipe {www.TwoHealthyKitchens.com}

That, my friends, is a real partially popped kernel. It’s a heart! And it’s so stinkin’ cute!

So, Shelley and I decided we just had to go for it, and share this quick and easy (one ingredient!) recipe with you now (with apologies to our kids)! After all, fall is seriously the perfect time to cozy up with some fresh-popped popcorn! Those chilly nights are just begging for a big ‘ol bag of air-popped deliciousness while you snuggle up and watch a movie with your family.

With our easy method, you’re all set to make amazing and healthy (oil-free and butter-free!) fresh-popped popcorn!

It’s clean tasting and yummilicious just as it is, but it’s also the perfect blank canvas for whatever toppings or flavors you want to add! Which is why you’ll want to be sure you stop back on Thursday … ’cause we’re gonna take your popcorn to the next delicious level (with the help of some of our fave bloggers … who likely don’t have taste-testers in braces!). You aren’t gonna want to miss it!

Perfect Microwave Popcorn Recipe {www.TwoHealthyKitchens.com}

Happy poppin’, friends!!

Perfect Microwave Popcorn Recipe {www.TwoHealthyKitchens.com}

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If You Love Quick, Healthy Snacks, Be Sure to Try:

Perfect Microwave Popcorn

Preparation 2 min. 2017-08-17T00:02:00+00:00 Cook Time 2 - 2 1/2 min. 2017-08-17T00:00:00+00:00
Serves About 7-8 cups     adjust servings


  • 1/3 cup popcorn kernels
  • Brown lunch bag


  1. Pour popcorn kernels into the brown bag.
  2. Tightly fold the top of the bag down twice. Each fold should be about 1 inch.
  3. Place the bag into the microwave, folded side down.
  4. Cook on 100% power for 2-2½ minutes, depending on your microwave. Listen closely, and when the pops are 1-2 seconds apart, stop the microwave.
  5. Open the bag away from your face (the steam is hot).
  6. Serve with toppings or flavorings, if desired.


We'd love to see your photos of this recipe! Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter and tag @TwoHealthyKitchens!



Microwave Popcorn (Easy Recipe for How to Make Popcorn That’s Perfectly Quick, Healthy and Delicious!) — 21 Comments

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  6. I just had a minor disaster trying this with olive oil….microwave oil spill!! I’m so trying this tonight- couldn’t really be easier (glad you did the testing). Going to top mine with nutritional yeast for that nice cheesy flavor. It’s only breakfast time but now I’m hungry for popcorn!

  7. Ok ok, I’m guilty! I’ve seen this over and over again and STILL have never tried it! You’ve convinced me. I even have some kernels sitting around from a baby shower (ready to POP!) so I have no excuse! Thank you for doing all the experimenting for me! 🙂

    • Haha! Yes, Kelly … my 2nd round of braces were Invisalign, too! WAY more convenient for eating whatever we wanted – absolutely!! 🙂 Our kids are kinda bummed they can’t join us when we are snacking on popcorn, but those perfect smiles will have years and years and years to snack away!! 😀 Be sure to try this totally simple trick – it’s just SO easy and quick!! ~Gretchen

    • Awwww … thanks, Julie! We definitely weren’t sad to have to munch lots of popcorn for this post! (Although our poor kiddos with their mouths full of braces might have seen this testing project a little differently – lol! 😀 ). ~G&S

  8. What a fun post! Thanks. I love that you did all that testing and measuring! You know, back in the day, this is actually how I used to make my popcorn. And, I mean WAY back in the day before the internets even really were a “thing”. It always worked for me, and I often wondered why people bought those popcorn bags that were way too salty with that fake butter flavor. Thanks again! Pinning!

    • Hi, Debi! Wow – seems like this method has been around even longer than we thought! Kinda makes you wonder how we strayed so far from a good thing … and ventured into much more expensive, much less healthy store-bought versions of microwave popcorn! Huh! Well, we’re so happy to help spread the word about this ridiculously easy (so much healthier!) DIY popcorn method to anyone who hasn’t given it a try yet! And we hope that the tips will help people get the method just right, without burned popcorn pieces, overflowingly too-full bags, or lots of lonely unpopped kernels! Thanks so much for the pin, and helping spread the word! 😀 ~G&S

  9. Uncle Bill loves popcorn and I make it in the microwave, too. But…I add a scant tablespoon of light olive oil, pouring it over the 1/4 cup of WHITE popcorn kernels. I shake the bag once so most of the oil soaks into the paper, but it provides the moisture that actually helps the popcorn pop. (I find that without the oil, the popcorn is tougher and there are more “old maids”.) The hint about laying the bag on its side is a good one. Thank you.

    • Hi there! Yes, yes – you can definitely use a bit of olive oil if you prefer that! (We’ve even seen suggestions for adding butter or “buttering the bag” when microwaving the popcorn, but that was definitely not what we were going for here! 😀 ) We really wanted to help our readers by testing and perfecting that popular Pinterest idea of making “naked” homemade microwave popcorn without any added fats at all. There are lots of different versions out there of how to make this method work, and we wanted to sort out what actually, truly works best (for our readers … but also, honestly, because we really just wanted to know since we make this all the time ourselves!).

      And that’s a great mention of using LIGHT olive oil! We hope you won’t mind if we piggyback on your comment, for any other THK’ers who read this:

      Light olive oil is a great choice in this type of application, since it has a much less pronounced “olive oil” flavor than extra-virgin olive oil. If you haven’t used light olive oil before, the “light” label might seem confusing, though – it isn’t significantly different from other olive oils in terms of calories or fat content (although it generally does have a somewhat different micronutrient profile – but we’re not gonna get that food-geeky on you here). So, light olive oil (lighter in flavor, that is) is a great option if you want to use a bit of olive oil but don’t want the fruity, olive-y flavor that you’d get from extra-virgin olive oil. Thanks for that suggestion! ~G&S

  10. It seems the favorite after school snack this year is popcorn, so I love this post. We have been winging it and wasting kernals, so we will use this method from now on. This is soooo much better than the store bought bags with the questionable ingredients. Thanks!

    • Hey, Christine! With all its whole-grain nutrition, popcorn really is a terrific snack … until you add loads of butter and salt or all those “questionable” ingredients found in lots of store-bought microwave popcorn. We hope these tips on making your own microwave popcorn will have you and your family happily, healthfully munching away (without too many leftover kernels or burned pieces)! 😀 ~G&S

  11. It really does work! I’ve been popping corn in a paper bag for a while now, and it’s great to be able to control the butter and salt (although I like mine naked!). I make sure the kernels rest in a single layer in the bag–for me, that results in more kernels popped. Keep posting your simple snack ideas!

    • Isn’t this just the best way to make popcorn!?!? Totally puts you in control of what your family’s eating, plus it’s so easy, and inexpensive, too! And thanks for highlighting the importance of making sure that, when you tip the bag over, the kernels do spread out into a single layer! Great tip, Sue! Oh – and, as much as we totally agree with you on how delicious naked, perfectly popped microwave popcorn is … you’ve gotta check out our post on awesome popcorn topping recipes (if you didn’t see it already!) … there are some seriously mouthwatering ideas that definitely fit your request for simple snacks! Happy munching, friend! 😀 ~G&S

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