How To Microwave Popcorn Kernels Without The Bag

If you love the salty, buttery popcorn you get at the movie theater and want to replicate it at home, there's a shockingly easy way to do so — without the mess and time needed to cook kernels in a pot on the stove. Simply cook the kernels and oil in your microwave instead (no bag required). 

Take 1 tablespoon of canola oil and mix it with ¼-cup of popcorn kernels in a microwave-safe bowl, making sure that the kernels are evenly coated with oil. After mixing it all together, cover the bowl with a plate to keep the kernels inside as they pop.

Next, set your microwave for three to five minutes. If your bowl is thicker, set it for five minutes; if your bowl is thinner, the popcorn should be ready in three minutes. When the popping sound starts to noticeably slow down, that's a sign the snack is ready. Just be careful when picking up the bowl, and perhaps use potholders as both the popcorn and the dishes will be hot.

Choose different kernels and oil for endless customization

Now that you know how to microwave popcorn from scratch, there are a few factors to consider before making your snack dreams a reality. First, you must choose between white and yellow popcorn kernels. If you enjoy the large, crunchy popcorn usually sold at movie theaters and sports games, go for yellow kernels, which are sturdy and heartier. If you prefer a smaller, more tender bite, opt for white kernels, which are more delicate.

Once you've chosen your kernel, it's time to decide what oil you want to use. Canola oil is a popular choice, but ghee, avocado oil, and even duck fat will work, too. Just note that the oil or fat you choose can affect the flavor of your popcorn. For example, olive oil and duck fat both have distinct flavors that will transfer to the bowl. If you want the corn flavor or your toppings to shine, use a neutral-flavored option like canola or grapeseed oil.

Besides the advantage of being able to customize your popcorn however you like and have a fresher taste, there are some health benefits to switching to homemade popcorn instead of bagged options. Medical News Today reports that microwave popcorn often contains chemicals called per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which can be linked to cancer. Per Healthline, another chemical found in microwave popcorn, called diacetyl, can cause lung problems.

Spice up your popcorn routine with fun toppings

Now comes the fun part — after microwaving your homemade popcorn to crunchy perfection, it's time add the finishing touches. Popcorn can be made salty, sweet, or a mix of the two. If you have a craving for something savory, try making Mexican street-corn style popcorn. Whisk together butter, mayonnaise, and lime juice before coating the popped kernels in the mixture. Then, mix salt, paprika, sugar, and cayenne pepper together before sprinkling the mix over the bowl. Give it one final toss before digging in.

If you're craving something sweet, a cinnamon-sugar popcorn recipe might be more tempting. After microwaving the kernels, drizzle melted butter over the top. Then, mix sugar, cinnamon, and salt and sprinkle it on top. Gently toss to ensure all elements are evenly spread out.

There are all types of other creative popcorn recipes, from topping kernels with blue cheese to mixing in seaweed and crunchy pig skin. The sky's truly the limit when it comes to popcorn toppings — try experimenting with your own ideas.