~ 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 •
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.
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!
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!)
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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!
Happy poppin’, friends!!
If You Love Quick, Healthy Snacks, Be Sure to Try:
- Tropical Snack Bites with Almonds and Chia
- Peanut Butter Silk Pie Dip with Greek Yogurt (Just 4 Ingredients and 5 Minutes!)
- Ants on a Log 2.0
- Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Muffins with Caramel Swirl (With Make-Ahead and Mini Options!)
- Italian Cannellini Hummus with Basil and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
- 1/3 cup popcorn kernels
- Brown lunch bag
- Pour popcorn kernels into the brown bag.
- Tightly fold the top of the bag down twice. Each fold should be about 1 inch.
- Place the bag into the microwave, folded side down.
- 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.
- Open the bag away from your face (the steam is hot).
- Serve with toppings or flavorings, if desired.