Homemade Microwave Popcorn

(1 vote)
8 minutes
December 13, 2022
Carole JonesJump to Recipe

Have you ever craved the delicious, buttery goodness of microwave popcorn but didn’t want to spend the extra money on store-bought bags? Or maybe you’re trying to avoid all the artificial ingredients and preservatives found in most commercial brands. Either way, I have the solution for you – homemade microwave popcorn!

Not only is it easy to make, but it’s also a much healthier alternative to the pre-packaged versions. Plus, you can customize it to your liking with a variety of seasonings and toppings. In this blog post, I will show you how to make the perfect batch of homemade microwave popcorn in just a few simple steps in either a brown paper bag or a glass bowl. Say goodbye to boring, plain popcorn and hello to a tasty, homemade snack.

Homemade Microwave Popcorn

Why I Love Homemade Microwave Popcorn

When I was a kid, my family’s Sunday tradition of watching slides on my Dad’s slide projector was my favorite. If you don’t know what slides are, I will wait a few minutes while you go Google it and I reflect on how old I am. Every week, we would disagree over which slides would be featured that night. Of course, I only wanted to see slides that featured the cutest kid…me. Who cares about all the other slides? 

Our family Sunday tradition wasn’t complete without an extremely large metal bowl of homemade popcorn. Like 20 quarts of popcorn “large.” Back in the day, there was no such thing as microwave popcorn, so the only option was to make it on the stove. And it was delicious!

My own children love stovetop popcorn just like their Mom, but my son always asks why I never buy the microwave stuff. To me, the answer is simple. First, the cost. Second, all the stuff I can’t pronounce/understand you find in the list of ingredients.

Homemade Microwave Popcorn

This week, to surprise the 12-year-old,  I made homemade microwave popcorn as an after-school snack. He didn’t see me make it, so when he tasted it, he excitedly declared, “Mom! You bought me microwave popcorn!!” Success 🙂

Lessons Learned

This homemade microwave popcorn is so simple to make. In fact, I taught my son how and he made two more batches on his own. The only place you might struggle is the amount of time in the microwave. Since every microwave is different, you will have to experiment. I suggest starting conservatively with your time so you don’t burn it (because nothing smells worse than burnt popcorn!). Then, the next time you make a batch, add another 5 seconds. Continue to add 5 seconds every time you make a batch until you come up with the perfect time for your own microwave. With store-bought microwave popcorn, you wait until the popping slows down. I tell you from experience that if you go that long, you will have a burnt result.

What is Homemade Microwave Popcorn

Homemade microwave popcorn is popcorn that is made in the microwave instead of using a stovetop or air popper. This is typically done by placing popcorn kernels in a microwave-safe bag or container and heating them in the microwave until they pop. The resulting popcorn can then be seasoned or topped with various flavors as desired.

how to make popcorn in the microwave

Homemade Microwave Popcorn Ingredients and Supplies

You probably have all the ingredients and supplies you need in your pantry to make homemade microwave popcorn. 

  • Popcorn kernels
  • Butter or canola oil
  • Salt
  • Brown paper bag or microwave-safe glass bowl

How to Make Popcorn in the Microwave in a Bag

Time needed: 5 minutes

How to Make Homemade Microwave Popcorn in a Bag

  1. Prepare the kernels

    In a small bowl, mix together the popcorn kernels and vegetable oil, or butter.

  2. Prepare the paper bag

    It is best to add a sheet of wax paper into the bag to keep it from ripping. Pour the mixture into a brown paper bag. Fold the top of the paper bag over a few times to close it. You can add a staple to keep it closed.

  3. Cook the popcorn

    Microwave the popcorn on high for 2-3 minutes on a dinner plate turned upside down inside the microwave. Cook until the popping is just beginning to slow.

Homemade Microwave Popcorn

How to Make Popcorn in the Microwave in a Bowl

  1. Start by grabbing a large microwave-safe glass bowl and adding popcorn kernels.
  2. Next, add oil or butter and mix it well with the kernels. Top with a microwave-safe plate.
  3. Place the bowl in the microwave and cook on high for 2 minutes.
  4. After the time is up, carefully remove the bowl from the microwave and give the popcorn a good stir or shake.
  5. Place the bowl back in the microwave and cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until the popping just begins to slow.
  6. Carefully remove the bowl from the microwave and pour the popcorn into a large bowl or container.
  7. Add in your desired seasonings or toppings, such as butter, salt, or Parmesan cheese, and enjoy your homemade microwave popcorn!
homemade microwave popcorn in a bowl

Homemade Microwave Popcorn FAQs

Is it safe to microwave popcorn in a paper bag?

Generally, it is safe to microwave popcorn in a paper bag, as long as the bag is specifically labeled for microwave use and the instructions on the bag are followed carefully. It is important to avoid overheating the popcorn, as this can cause the bag to catch fire. It is also recommended to carefully monitor the popcorn while it is cooking and to stop the microwave immediately if any signs of burning or smoking occur.

Can you make regular popcorn in the microwave?

Yes, regular popcorn can be made in the microwave. It can be done in a microwave-safe glass bowl or a plain brown paper bag. Homemade microwave popcorn can also be made with or without oil or butter. 

It is important to keep an eye on the popcorn while it is cooking in the microwave to prevent it from burning or overcooking. Some microwave ovens have a popcorn setting that can be used to cook the popcorn more evenly and consistently, but watch it closely until you know the specific time your microwave needs.

Can I make homemade microwave popcorn without oil?

Yes, you can make homemade microwave popcorn without oil by using a microwave-safe bowl or paper bag and adding popcorn kernels and a small amount of water to the bowl or bag. It needs a bit of moisture to properly pop so if you take out the butter, use water. Place it in the microwave and cook according to the instructions in the recipe below or until the popping slows down. You may also add seasonings or toppings of your choice after the popcorn is cooked.

Can I use olive oil instead of butter?

Yes, you can make microwave popcorn with olive oil instead of butter. To do this, simply replace the butter in the microwave popcorn recipe with an equal amount of olive oil and follow the instructions in the recipe below. The resulting popcorn will have a slightly different flavor, but will still be delicious.

homemade microwave popcorn

My popcorn burned. What went wrong?

Likely you left the popcorn in the microwave for too long or cooked it at too high of a power setting, causing it to burn. To avoid burning the popcorn, it is important to carefully monitor the cooking time and adjust the power level as needed. Also, use a microwave-safe glass bowl or brown paper bag and occasionally shake the container to evenly distribute the heat. If you are used to store-bought microwave popcorn, you know to wait until the popping slows to one pop every second or two. If you do that with this homemade microwave popcorn recipe, you’ll have burnt popcorn. 

What type of kernels works best in homemade microwave popcorn?

The best type of popcorn kernels for making microwave popcorn are the small, pearl-shaped kernels. These kernels are specifically designed for microwave popping and are less likely to burn or undercook compared to other types of kernels. All types will work for homemade microwave popcorn, but these ones have a slight advantage.

Homemade Microwave Popcorn Recipe Variations

Being a home cook provides endless opportunities to experiment with recipes, personalizing them to your tastes and creativity. Any of the following variations would be great spin-offs of this recipe for homemade microwave popcorn.

  • Turn up the heat with a few shakes of cayenne pepper or chili powder to the finished microwave popcorn
  • Add sweetness with a little bit of powdered sugar dusted over the top of the popcorn once it is done popping.
  • Try some cheese over the top of the hot popcorn. Use freshly grated Parmesan or another dry cheese like Romano. 
  • Experiment with spices to add variety. A bit of garlic powder would be delicious, as would some chili lime powder.

Looking for More Great Popcorn Recipes?

If this recipe for homemade microwave popcorn is just what you were looking for, be sure to check out these other delicious recipes. Go grab them now before you forget!

Craving more than popcorn recipes? Subscribe to My Kitchen Escapades to get new recipes delivered straight to your inbox! You can also stay in touch on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest,  and YouTube for all the latest updates!

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Homemade Microwave Popcorn

Homemade Microwave Popcorn

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How to make popcorn in the microwave in either a paper bag or glass bowl.

  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 3 Cups 1x


  • 1/3 C popcorn kernels
  • 1 1/2 Tb salted butter or oil
  • salt


Paper Bag Instructions

1. Open the paper lunch sack and lay it on its side. Use a piece of wax paper big enough to go around all four sides of the bag and place the wax paper into the bag. With the bag still on its side, pour the popcorn into a pile in the middle of the bag. Add the butter on top. Keep the bag on its side and fold over the bag end once. Staple it twice and yes, it is perfectly safe.

2. Turn a dinner plate upside down on the tray of your microwave. Place the bag on its side on top of the plate and microwave on high for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 minutes, just until it begins to slow down from popping.

Bowl Instructions

1. Place the kernels and butter in a large microwave-safe bowl. Cover with a microwave-safe plate.

2. Cook on high for 2 minutes. Remove the bowl and shake or stir well.

3. Cook on high for another 2-3 minutes until the popcorn begins to slow popping.


If you would like fat-free popcorn, you can make this the same way but add a few dashes of water with the  popcorn kernels. It needs the missing moisture from the oil or butter to properly pop.

  • Author: Carole Jones
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Category: Snack
  • Method: Microwave
  • Cuisine: American


  • Serving Size: 1 bag
  • Calories: 119
  • Sugar: 0 g
  • Sodium: 100 mg
  • Fat: 9 g
  • Saturated Fat: 5 g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 2 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 9 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 1 g
  • Cholesterol: 23 mg

Carole Jones

Carole Jones is an Arizona-based cookbook author & food blogger. She's authored The 30 Minute Cooking From Frozen Cookbook and the self-published Take 5: Chicken e-cookbook. For the past 15 years, Carole has shared her culinary adventures cooking and baking for her six brutally honest children here on My Kitchen Escapades. Hot, crusty bread is Carole's love language, but her two adorable grandchildren are a close second. Yes, second. Don't judge.


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Davida Mason
9 years ago

Is it really safe to place popcorn in microwave after staple on the bag???!!?? Wouldn’t that cause a spark??

9 years ago

Great Question Davida! Yes, that very small piece of metal is safe. If you would like to close it with something else, please feel free to do so – Carole

8 years ago

Do you have to use staples?

8 years ago

Hey Anita! I’ve never tried it without. You could try just folding the bag but I worry the steam will escape. The staples don’t spark at all in the microwave.

6 years ago

Loved it. I used tape across the folded over top of the bag because I didn’t have any staples. It worked fine. Love the idea about the cupcake liners!

6 years ago

So glad Cheryl!

2 years ago

Not sure what I did wrong, but this didn’t work for me. A quarter of the popcorn burned (I set it for 2:30) and most of the butter ended up on the bag and plate.

2 years ago

Hi Matt! Most likely, your microwave is more powerful. Try reducing your power level to 75% and see if that helps!

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