Microwave popcorn is a delicious and convenient snack. However, it may surprise you to know that microwave popcorn does not actually have to be cooked in the microwave.
Microwaved popcorn (and other unpopped kernels) can be cooked on the stovetop. Microwave popcorn is just kernels, oil, and seasoning, so empty the contents into a 2-quart pot with a lid that can let steam out. Cook the popcorn on high until all the kernels pop.
There are other ways to cook microwaved popcorn such as in a toaster oven, over a fire, or on a grill. Here is everything that you need to know about microwave popcorn.
Cooking Popcorn on the Stovetop:
Microwave popcorn bags contain kernels, oil, and seasoning, so cooking it over a stovetop can be done easily. Here are some step by step instructions for cooking microwave popcorn on the stovetop:
- Remove the plastic from of your microwave bag
- Grab a 2-quart pot with a lid. For best results the lid should be able to let steam out.
- Cut open the microwave popcorn bag and scoop out the popcorn, oil and seasoning into your pot.
- Add an extra tablespoon of desired oil to the pot.
- Turn on the stove to medium-high heat.
- Shake the pot every 10-15 seconds.
- Cook until the kernels are popped and there are several secoonds in between pops
- Remove from the stove and add to a bowl or other safe container
- Add seasonings, as preferred.
There are different ways to spice up your stovetop popcorn as well to make it more exciting or flavorful. This can be done with microwave popcorn bags or with normal stovetop popcorn.
For example, you can make your popcorn more interesting by adding lemon zest to it while it is cooking on the stove. Other recipes suggest using ranch seasoning in the melted butter. Of course, you can not forget about the classic caramel popcorn recipes that can be made on the stove.
This particular recipe calls for Nacho popcorn. This nacho popcorn can be made on the stovetop and is a good snack for watching sports games and events. This recipe is fairly simple and takes only 10 minutes to make. Ingredients for this recipe include parmesan cheese, dried parsley, garlic salt, chili pepper, and a few drops of hot sauce.
The popcorn should have oil, cheese, and garlic salt while it is popping on the stove and the other ingredients are mixed into the bowl afterward.
Cooking Popcorn with a Toaster Oven:
Believe it or not, microwave popcorn can be cooked and popped in a toaster oven. Here is how:
- Remove the plastic on the microwave popcorn bag
- Preheat the oven to to 400-450 degrees Fahrenheight.
- Empty the contents of the microwave safe bag into an oven safe bowl and cover with aluminum foil.
- Cook the popcorn in the oven until popping subsides
- Remove from the oven and carefully remove aluminum foil.
- Let popcorn cool, then add seasonings, as desired.
Using a Toaster Oven is different from using a regular oven. You should not attempt to cook popcorn in a regular oven.
Cooking Popcorn over an Open Fire:
This may not be the most convenient option, but if you are planning on going camping and you have a bag of microwave popcorn on hand, you can cook it over the fire. Here is how:
- Remove the plastic on the microwave safe popcorn bag
- Empty the contents of the bag into aluminum foil
- Add extra butter or oil to help it pop properly.
- Fold the aluminum foil in half and twist the sides shut.
- Attach the foil to a long stick
- Place the foil over hot embers. Do not place directly in a hot flame or the kernels will burn and not pop properly.
- Cook until the popping becomes infrequent.
- Carefully remove from fire and let cool
- Add seasonings, as desired.
Safety: When cooking with an open flame, remember to use safety precautions. Do not attempt to remove the popcorn from the flames with your bare hands. Be sure to use caution when cooking the popcorn, and to contain the open flame. Do not start a fire if there is a fire ban in the area.
Popping Popcorn on a Grill:
Cooking popcorn on a grill is a lot like cooking popcorn on the fire. There are two different ways that you can cook popcorn on a grill.
One way to cook popcorn on the grill:
- Open the microwave popcorn bag
- Scoop the contents out of the microwave bag and sprinkle on the bottom of a aluminum baking pan
- add extra oil (as preferred) to the bottom of the pan.
- Add seasoning as preferred to the kernels. Salt is recommended but other seasoning can be used, if preferred.
- Cover the tin tightly with aluminum foil
- Set the grill on medium heat and close the lid. Cook the popcorn until you hear pops
- Shake the tin gently using a pair of tongs as the popcorn pops
- Turn off the heat and let it rest on the grill until the popping slows down.
- Right away transfer the popcorn to a safe bowl and season as desired
Another way to cook popcorn on the grill:
- Carefully open the microwave popcorn bag
- Empty the contents of the microwave bag onto a deep skillet (small enough to fit on a grill with the lid closed)
- Add oil to the pan. the oil can be cooking oil, vegetable oil, cocounut oil, or olive oil, depeding on personal preference.
- Cover the pan with ehavy duty aluminum foil or a lid that goes with the pan and is grill-safe.
- Turn the grill on medium heat and close the lid.
- When the kernels begin to pop, uncover the grill and use tongs to gently shake the the pan until all the kernels are popped
- Transfer popcorn to a bowl immediately after it is done cooking to avoid it getting burnt.
Do Not Cook Microwave Popcorn in:
If you have a bag of microwave popcorn, do not try to cook it in an air popper. Air poppers cook the popcorn without any oil, so the oil on the kernels from the bag would mess up the process and the popcorn would not turn out the way you want it to. The oil could potentially damage the air popper as well.
It may be possible to rinse off all the oil from the microwave popcorn kernels and put them through the air fryer, but this process would be complicated and not worth the effort.
A normal oven:
Trying to cook popcorn in an oven is not a good idea. There are too many things that could go wrong when you try to cook this reactive food in the oven. For example, the kernels are more likely to dry out, the popcorn could become very easily burnt, or the popcorn could not cook evenly. This is because the air in the oven does not transmit the heat as efficiently as oil on a stove would.
In any case, there are easier and safer ways to cook popcorn, so avoid the oven if you can.
Types of Microwave Popcorn
There are different types and brands of microwave popcorn that contain different amounts of oil and seasoning. Here is a list of some of the most popular microwave popcorn brands:
Orville: Orville brand popcorn is a leading brand of popcorn that uses real butter in its product. They advertise their popcorn as having no artificial preservative flavors, dyes, or GMOs. This popcorn brand is a good brand to buy because of the natural ingredients and high-quality flavor. Although it is designed to be microwaved, Orville popcorn will work well cooked in any of the methods listed above.
Pop-Secret: Pop secret popcorn takes pride in the fact that their product does not have any GMOs or preservatives in them.
Act II: Act II popcorn is a brand of popcorn that is based on the taste and look of movie theatre popcorn.
Jolly Time: Jolly Time popcorn is a whole grain popcorn that is made with real butter and is sold in every state in America.
Skinny Pop: Skinny pop, unlike the name suggests, is actually not the healthiest popcorn option. Skinny pop defines skinny as using the fewest, simplest, and cleanest ingredients possible.
How Long is Microwave Popcorn Good?
If you have a bag of microwave popcorn lying around, it may not be the safest idea to cook it, no matter what that your cooking method may be. Popcorn will hold its moisture for around 6-12 months, but the projected expiration date on most microwave popcorn bags is around 8 months.
When popcorn goes bad, it loses a lot of its flavor and the kernels in the bag will not properly pop. On occasion, although it is rare, popcorn kernels that have expired can grow mold and make you very sick. Popcorn bags should be thrown out if they are a year old or older.
Other Ways to Make Popcorn:
Other types of popcorn can be cooked without needing a microwave. These can be better options to purchase or to look for if you do not want to have a microwave that works.
Air-popped popcorn is popcorn that is made simply from hot air, and there is no oil added. This popcorn is the healthiest popcorn option because there is no oil involved. Air-popped popcorn requires a special type of air-popper to cook it.
You can purchase an air-popper to make popcorn at your local Walmart or on Amazon. These air poppers allow you to pop kernels using only heat, providing a healthy snack option.
The best-rated air popper on Amazon is the Ecolution Original Microwave Micro-Pop Popcorn Popper, which is only $12 for purchase and is rated at 4.5/5 stars. The customer reviews rate this popcorn maker positively. You can purchase this popcorn maker here.
Another good option for an air popper would be the Presto Poplite hot air popper. This is rated 4.5/5 stars on Amazon and is selected as Amazon’s choice product. The customer reviews say that this device makes a lot of popcorn and it is easy to use. You can purchase the Presto Poplite hot air popper here.
Stovetop Popcorn Cookers:
These popcorn makers are not as simple as microwaving popcorn, but they provide alternative options for providing a tasty, homemade snack. These are small popcorn makers that can range from $40-$70 on average.
These stovetop popcorn makers sit on the stovetop and are used to evenly cook your popcorn. They can be purchased online at Amazon, or your local Walmart.
Whirley Pop: Probably the most commonly recognized type of stovetop popcorn cooker is a Whirley pop. Whirley pops average around $40 and is highly recommended by customers. Purchase a Whirley Pop here.
These popcorn machines are expensive, but they are a fun alternative to microwave popcorn, and they can produce popcorn in larger quantities, so they work out well for parties, events, and celebrations.
West Bend Hot Oil Theater Style Popcorn Popper Machine: This machine is rated 4.5/5 stars out of over 5,000 customers. The product reviews stated that the popcorn machine is easy to use and operate and that it is cleaned very easily.
What is the Best Way to Make Popcorn?
There is no one right way to make popcorn. The method which you use to heat popcorn depends on your personal preference. If you are looking to quickly and efficiently cook popcorn for a quick snack, you should cook your popcorn in a microwave.
If you are trying to eat healthier and want a healthy alternative, you should pop popcorn through an air popper and skip out on fatty oils that are unhealthy.
If you want to make lots of popcorn and are willing to be patient with it, you should cook the popcorn over a stovetop. Stovetop popcorn cooks the kernels more evenly but it takes longer to cook them.
If you are camping or like to spend time outdoors and you want a creative way to cook your popcorn, you can cook it over some hot embers (just be careful when you cook it!)