DIY Microwave Popcorn: Healthy, Yummy, and CHEAP

April 22, 2010   27 Comments

Popcorn is a whole grain snack that is really low in calories and has that great crunch we crave. But, the packaged stuff in the supermarket is expensive and can be high in sodium.

Homemade Microwave Popcorn

How you can makeover packaged popcorn?

You can make popcorn in the microwave without the prepackaged products from the supermarket. All you need is popcorn, lunch bags, tape, and some flavorings.

A box of microwave popcorn sells for at least $3 and you will get 4 servings (I am using Trader Joe's Low Fat popcorn as a comparison.)

Ordinary popcorn is about $1 a pound and you will get about 8 servings. ($6 as versus $1 - you save $5!). You will save a ton of money for just a little work.

But, even if it costs more to pop your own, there is concern about a chemical that is released when microwave popcorn is popped. So, since you didn't add ANYTHING but popcorn, your microwave popcorn is anxiety free!

Here is how you do it:

  1. Put 1/4 cup popcorn in a brown paper bag. Fold top over a few times and tape it.
  2. Place in microwave folded side upfor 2 to 3 minutes or until there is 5 seconds between pops.
  3. Eat plain or add flavors (such as salt, butter, sugar, etc.)

One cup of popcorn without flavoring:

31 calories, 0.4 g fat, 6.2 g carbohydrates, 1.0 g protein, 1.2 g fiber, 1 mg sodium, 0 Points+

What about flavorings? Well, the great thing here is now you aren't stuck with the choices in the packaged microwave popcorn.

In the book, "Popcorn", Patrick Evans-Hylton, writes about all sorts of things you can add including sugar (to make a carmel-corn taste), ginger and wasabi, and even BBQ sauce. His ideas are fantastic and enough to inspire any popcorn aficionado.

Check it out:

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First 20 Comments: ( See all 27 )

Instead of tap, you can use 2 staples placed at least 1 inch apart on the bag. Works great. No sparking from the microwave. Learned this trick from Alton Brown's cookbooks.

What is the minimum power output needed to properly heat/pop a bag of popcorn. I live in Prague and my current mw here is apparently too weak as it can't "pop" fast enough, and leaving it for more minutes only results in a black (burned) mucky mess. Thanks. GoodyPrague

According to Wikipedia, the kernels need to get to 180C (356F) to pop.

There is also a wealth of information at

If your microwave won't work, or if you don't have a microwave, you

can pop corn the old fashioned way: in a pan on the stove.

Stove Top Pop Corn from

* A 3 to 4 quart pan with a loose lid that allows steam to escape

* At least enough popcorn to cover the bottom of the pan, one kernel deep

* 1/3 cup of oil for every cup of kernels (Don't use butter!)

Heat the oil to 400 - 460 degrees Fahrenheit (if the oil smokes, it is

too hot). Test the oil on a couple of kernels. When they pop, add the

rest of the popcorn, cover the pan and shake to evenly spread the oil.

When the popping begins to slow, remove the pan from the stove-top.

The heated oil will still pop the remaining kernels.

I hope this is helpful.

Funny don't need any oil for stove top popcorn. I've been popping my popcorn this way for a couple years now. You do it the same exact way..just skipping the oil step.

Thanks for this tip. I have been wanting to pop plain popcorn for a while but wasn't sure how to do it the easy way. This is def. easy. :)

I have a Back To Basics microwave popper that can be used with or without oil. I use it without oil and it comes out great. Sometimes I'll drizzle some olive oil (about a teaspoon) on it after popping. You can also use an olive oil mister to spray just a bit of oil on it to get salt to stick to it. I also like to drizzle maple syrup (about 2 teaspoons) and then sprinkle with some sea salt. This is just like kettle corn! Old Bay seasoning is also yummy!

This is awesome! I love popcorn, but don't always feel like popping it on the stove and microwave popcorn can get to be quite pricey. Thanks for posting this!

I've done this before and it totally works!

This is AWESOME! I have an air popper, but this is great for when we're traveling and there's a microwave in the hotel room!

- savvy

I LOVE drizzling agave with a little salt over my popcorn - it's just like kettle korn!!

This is a great idea! I hadn't been out to the movies for a REALLY long time, but over the weekend my husband and I left our son with the in-laws and went out for dinner and a movie. We ordered a small popcorn with no butter at the theater then we saw something new they had all these different seasonings you could add to your popcorn! We thought it was super cool we go the garlic parmesian seasoning... I can't remember what the other options were but that would be a cool thing to add to your homemade microwave popcorn...

What an easy way to do it. I'm going to try some wasabi flavored popcorn tonight.

I bought an air popper because I thought it would be healthier but the popcorn wasn't as good as microwave variety. I have all the popcorn I bought (and I tried so many kinds - even Black Jewel) and was ready to give them away.

Thanks to you, I will be eating my own microwave popcorn! How great is that! Thanks for the info, Snack Girl! I sure do love your site...

This is awesome -- saving money AND calories -- I love it! Tweeted a link to this. : ) Keep up your good work!

gotta get bags now! much quieter than the hot air popper and I won't get kernels all over the kitchen

Love Love Love this idea - I'd heard of others doing this before, but didn't know how. So simple.

OMG, what an awesome idea. I just made some for my boyfriend and He loved it. Said that it was delicious.

Okay, great idea, but for a gal that knows she will never take the time to do this... what store bought microwave popcorn should I be purchasing?

It takes the same amount of time.

Also, a question. Can't you add the flavours before you pop the popcorn? It doesn't work when I add the flavours after..

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