Microwave Popcorn ~ Homemade and Cheap!

Say “Adios!” to Orville. The secret’s out, Pop Secret. The show’s over, Act II. I will no longer be swayed by your colorful packages promising light and fluffy popcorn when all you give me is popped corn covered in additives. If you don’t already know, you can make homemade microwave popcorn in a brown lunch bag! There’s a bunch of blogs and recipe sites that have shared this idea and I don’t know where it started to give proper credit…but it’s genius. (And why on earth didn’t I think of it?)

I know what you are thinking. What about an air popper? Nope. Not a fan. The salt never sticks to the popcorn. Oh sure, you can pour some melted butter on it and the salt would stick. Nope. Not a fan. The popcorn doesn’t stay crunchy then. I need my crunch! Some of the brown paper bag recipes I found have you adding the butter and seasoning after it pops in the microwave, but again, not a fan. I have been making this homemade microwave popcorn for months, tweaking it just right, and now it suits me perfectly. Just enough salt, but not too much. Butter in the bag as it pops so you get some flavor, but it’s not overpowering. Now, by all means, if you looooove your popcorn drenched in butter you will have to adjust this recipe to your taste. This recipe comes out light and fluffy, slightly salted, and yummy. I make it all the time and will NEVER go back to buying the prepacked microwave popcorn again!

Aside from the fact that you are adjusting your own ingredients and you know exactly what’s in your popcorn, you are saving lots of money, too. I buy a 2 lb. bag of kernels (store brand) for about $2.40 and I get 12 bags of popped goodness from that. You buy the big 100 pack of brown lunch bags for about $2. Oh yeah. Healthier and cheaper than buying a bag of chips for those salty snacks you crave. And so easy!

{Recipe follows photo instructions.}

Open up a brown lunch bag and place it on a paper plate or microwaveable plate. Add to the bag 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels.

Add 1 teaspoon olive oil and while holding the bag closed, shake the bag so the olive oil coats the kernels. Now add a little less than 1 teaspoon salt. (More than 1/2, but not all the way up, unless you like it saltier.) I usually add some of the salt, shake it up, and then add the rest and shake again. For the butter, I like to use whipped butter. It’s actually less calories because they whip air into it, but you get the same flavor. Add 1 tablespoon of butter, whipped or regular, but break it up into pieces so it’s distributed.

Now FOLD the bag closed and fold it again so it’s folded over twice. Do not staple it shut. Place the bag (that’s still on the plate) into the microwave. My microwave is 1100 watts and my popcorn is ready in 1 min. 40 seconds and it’s perfect. If I do it for 1:45, there’s usually some burnt ones in there. All microwaves vary depending on their wattage and their age. Mine takes a lot less time than when I used the store bought microwave popcorn. You may want to set yours for up to 3 1/2 minutes (especially if your wattage is lower) and then wait until you hear just a couple seconds between pops and see how it is. It will take you a few tries before you have the time perfected, and the seasonings to your liking. The method I described is perfect for me, but you can adjust anything you want after you try it the first time. The bag will be greasy on the outside when you take it out (which is why you need to put it on a plate in there) so it’s not really a usable vessel to eat from. Pour the popcorn into a bowl and shake it a bit since there will be some salt still sticking to the bottom of the bag. (I like to tap it on the bottom of the bag when it’s pouring out.) Once you make it like this a few times, it will be like second nature and it goes really quickly. Now you are ready to enjoy it! What movie are we watching?? 🙂

Homemade Microwave Popcorn
For one popped bag you need:
1 brown paper lunch bag
1 paper plate (or microwave safe plate)
1/3 cup popping kernels
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 scant teaspoon salt (I like to use kosher salt)
1 tablespoon butter, broken up (I like to use whipped butter)

Open brown lunch bag and place on a paper plate. Add 1/3 cup popping kernels to bag. Add 1 tsp. olive oil. Holding bag closed, shake to coat kernels. Add half the salt, shake, add the rest of the salt, and shake again. Cut up 1 tablespoon butter into pieces and add it to the bag. (I use whipped butter and just scoop out little pieces as I go to make about 1 tbsp.) Fold over the top of the bag TWICE – do not staple or tape it shut. Set microwave on high for up to 3 1/2 minutes, but it may take less depending on your wattage and microwave. Mine is perfect after 1:40 on high for an 1100 watt microwave. It will be a little bit of trial and error to get the right time, but set it for more time and don’t walk away. Popping will slow down to a few seconds between pops when it’s ready to come out. Don’t wait for it to stop popping or it will be too late. (I used to get a few burnt ones when I set the time for 1:45.) You will have a small amount of unpopped kernels, just so you know. Take note of the time when you get it right so you will know for the next time you make it! I can be anywhere from 1 1/2 minutes to 3 1/2 minutes. If you make this, feel free to comment on how long your bag took to pop in your microwave to help others out with the timing. You can adjust the salt and butter to your liking once you give this a try…or add any other seasonings that you like – be creative!

Happy Popping!


15 thoughts on “Microwave Popcorn ~ Homemade and Cheap!

  1. I really love this and can’t wait to try it! Its fantastic to use just regular ingredients and still have the convenience of microwaving!

  2. Instead of adding salt, you can add Parmesian Cheese. My hubby makes it with Tabassco sauce, add a few drops to oil. Then you have spicy hot popcorn taste. No butter needed.

  3. I like the idea of of saving money doing this, but i am a little concerned about using the brown paper bag. Used to do my Thanksgiving turkey in the brown grocery bag until I read that method wasn’t good due to the chemicals released when the bag was heated and the combination of heat and grease, etc. Thought I should mention. Has anyone heard that the brown lunch bags could also be problematic in that regard? I love the tip of using Parmesian cheese and tabasco sauce instead of butter. Yum. Just another thought..perhaps just be sure you don’t use lunch bags made out of re-cycled paper? I hope I haven’t rained on anyone’s parade here, lol Just thinking out loud and adding my own two-cents, for what it’s worth, 🙂

    • I guess if you’re concerned you could buy the white paper lunch bags. They cost more, but a pack would still cheaper than the store bought popcorn bags. Personally, I’m more concerned with the chemicals they put into the store bought microwave popcorn, but thank you for bringing up that concern. I poked around a little this morning and saw that Alton Brown does it with a brown paper bag (maybe he came up with the idea?) and he would know about chemical reactions and science, right? haha…I wonder if it makes a difference if it’s only in there for a couple minutes. Hmm…

  4. Me again – Micha, you have eased my fears. If Alton Brown uses the bags, it must be safe. After all, he does have the science credentials and cooking is basically chemistry; if you think about it…so…guess i’ll slink away with my dunce cap on. Also, microwaving for less than 2 minutes..What the heck was i worried about? lol 🙂

  5. How did I not see this until today??????!!!!! This is AWESOME!!!

    I despise the additives in microwave popcorn and yet, I’m way too lazy to keep dragging out our air popper. I’m trying this right. now.

    Have a great weekend!

    • You are a busy lady, that’s why! Yes, it’s really great and I hope you all like it as much as we do. Let me know how long yours takes in the microwave, will ya? My time is a lot quicker than a friend’s time and I’m trying to get an average. 🙂

      • Hear that crunching? It is delish! I think this is going to be addictive….

        I threw it in for 2 minutes, but I think I should have gone a little longer. It was popping pretty well and when I dumped it out, there were some (not a ton, but still some) unpopped ones. I’ll probably try 2:20 next time and pull it out when the popping slows. I think you’re right — it really depends on your microwave. (Mine’s an ancient GE Spacemaker).

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