Frugal Tip: Make your own microwave popcorn

by Kate from Frugal Living NW on March 14, 2012

Homemade Microwave Popcorn: Easy & frugal one-ingredient snack!

Did you know that you can make your own microwave popcorn at home? Microwave popcorn at the store is around $.99 for 3 bags at WinCo. It’s delicious but in an effort to move away from processed foods I needed to find an alternative. I have tried the stove top method but I’m always afraid of catching something on fire or burning the popcorn. I’m thrilled about this new microwave method.

Here’s what you need to make your own microwave popcorn:

  • 1 brown lunch sack
  • 1/4 cup popcorn (look for organic varieties at New Seasons, Whole Foods, or another natural foods store)
  • any toppings you would like (melted butter, coconut oil, salt, sugar, etc.)

Empty 1/4 cup popcorn into the bag. Fold the bag over tightly 3 times (no need for staples). Microwave around 2-3 minutes depending on your microwave. I used our popcorn setting at 2 minutes 15 seconds and it turned out perfectly. Listen for 1 pop every 3 seconds and you’re finished. Dump out of the bag into a bowl and top with whatever you like. We chose melted butter and kosher salt. Delicious!

You can reuse the bag for a second batch, just make sure the bag has cooled down. It’s important to pay attention to the bag as it’s cooking to make sure it doesn’t set on fire.

Has anyone else tried this method? What are your favorite toppings?

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

dangermom June 4, 2013 at 8:21 pm

My dad used to do this. Then one day the bag caught fire. So, by all means do it, but watch the bag!


Jessica June 2, 2013 at 6:53 pm

I keep reading of people using a pyrex bowl. Does that actually work?


Betty November 10, 2012 at 10:45 pm

Found your link thru Pinterest. I tried the bag in the microwave and the first batch came out perfect. The second time the bag caught on fire!! Fried my microwave! Maybe I should have let the bag cool down before I microwaved the second time. Just a warning, BE CAREFUL.


johnny2k October 16, 2012 at 2:10 am

I just finished extinguishing the flames from my microwave. Where did I go wrong? I don’t have the small brown lunch bags so I used a full sized paper bag. I heard a lot of popping almost instantly and then I opened it to check on it and the fire nearly spread to my cupboards.

Now I have no snack :(

Was it the bag? I want to be able to do this and I believe it’s not just a cruel joke the entire internet is playing on me.


Libby Sellers March 15, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Yes I have tried it. I got the recipe from my Weight Watcher Meeting. It works perfectly. What DOESN’T work it to take a bag of microwave popcorn and try to halve it to make an individual portion- it does pop but is a greasy mess in your microwave 8) Not that I tried it 😉


Libby Sellers March 15, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Oh and I like freshly grated parmesan cheese on it! Even about 10 grams finely grated on my portion is yummy and only adds 1 Points Plus to the pop corn points +


Melinda March 14, 2012 at 10:17 pm

What is nutritional yeast? What flavor does it have?


Maureen March 14, 2012 at 9:54 pm

I make popcorn this way all the time (though I prefer it made in my popcorn popper that uses oil, but I’m cutting out added fat). I put soy sauce and nutritional yeast on it, and sometimes add seasoning salt to that. It’s so fast, delicious, and cheap!


Karen March 14, 2012 at 9:30 pm

popcorn BUTTON… not butter. :-)


Karen March 14, 2012 at 9:28 pm

I have been doing this for over a year now and love it. Better than my hot air popper.I always set the timer and also use the popcorn butter on the micro and they beep at the same time usually. I like butter and salt. Not too much though. I am trying to get brave and try coconut oil that I recently got into.

I also read you can reheat the old maids. Those are my fave! It is really tricky getting the time right on those before scorching them though. Under 1 minute & 40 seconds for sure.

My fave method for popcorn is actually on the stove made in a wok but you cant use a wok on our flat top stove.


Susan March 14, 2012 at 7:28 pm

Beware – it is easy to catch the paper bag on fire from the hot, non-popped, kernels. I’ve heard that spraying the inside of the bag with olive oil cooking spray helps. But I haven’t tried this since creating a kitchen fire in 1988. Good luck all.


Susan March 14, 2012 at 5:12 pm

I heard of this a month or so ago and have the popcorn and the bags at home but couldn’t remember the portion. Thanks for posting this! I will try this week !


krista lenae March 14, 2012 at 4:06 pm

the only way to go. Tastes so much better too


jenna March 14, 2012 at 3:02 pm

I make it on the stove top (it’s easier than you’d think). My favorite topping, at the moment anyway, is honey and butter. Melt two tablespoons of butter, add in two tablespoons of honey, and a little bit of salt. Pour over popcorn, it’s so good!


Carrie March 14, 2012 at 2:45 pm

I do this with a little olive oil and a tsp of sugar for kettle corn….delish!


Greta N March 14, 2012 at 3:10 pm

When do you add the olive oil and sugar? After cooking? Sounds so yummy!


Carrie March 14, 2012 at 8:28 pm

The oil and sugar go in the bag prior to popping – just mix up a little to coat the kernels. Add just a little salt (with the oil and sugar), and it’s got the sweet/salty thing going on. Mmmmm!


charolyn March 14, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Really glad to hear about this & all the comments are helpful too! Thank-you everyone. My son eats popcorn almost every day (he would do more than one a day, but I limit him!) & am so glad to hear of a better alternative!


Anne-Marie A March 14, 2012 at 11:27 am

we’ve been doing this for a few years. started with the bags but then found a popcorn microwave bowl that we use. i did put some coconut oil and/or butter in the bag and it would kind of get messy with the bowl it’s easy.

one of our favorite “treat” popcorn recipes is this one Almond Maple Popcorn:
but i usually use peanut butter instead of almond as that’s what i have on hand.


Erica Hettwer March 14, 2012 at 11:24 am

I’ve been doing this for about a year in our house. We have an air popper but it’s so loud that when we make some after the kids are in bed, it will wake them up. Our “recipe” is 1/3 cup for 1min 35sec. Each bag can be reused and ours last quite a while and then we compost them once they get a hole in the bottom.


Angie March 14, 2012 at 11:18 am

I don’t eat popcorn much, but when I do I love it with Cajun seasoning. Makes a salty/spicy snack.


Otto March 14, 2012 at 10:57 am

An air popper is less than $20. Worth every penny.


TJ March 14, 2012 at 10:16 am

I like to put cinnamon and sugar on it!


Meranda H March 14, 2012 at 10:00 am

This is the only way we make popcorn! My kids like that they get their own bags. All the chemicals in the microwave popcorn, yuck yuck yuck.


kellis March 14, 2012 at 9:59 am

When you are popping it in the microwave do you put the butter in with the kernals? My daughter will eat 1/2 to 1 bag about 5 plus times a week. She likes butter and we did the air popper thing for a while but it was getting to expensive butter wise no matter how much you put on it, it just wasn’t enough. I have seriously considered one of those carnival cart poppers. we only use real butter. For a long time it was a staple food for her due to lack of weight gain it is just one of her many favorites so I’m always buying microwave popcorn.


Tracy March 14, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Try popping in a glass bowl….covered (I use a plate). The butter doesnt soak into paper, all use salt in makes the butter flavor it more.


kellis March 14, 2012 at 1:18 pm

Would a pyrex mixing bowl work well enough?


Christin March 14, 2012 at 9:56 am

I have been doing this method for a few months now and love it! Plus the fact that it doesn’t have all the chemicals is a huge bonus. I love to put butter, salt, pepper, and Brewers yeast on it – YUM!!


Melody March 14, 2012 at 9:34 pm

I used to go to an old movie theater that used Brewer’s yeast, yum! Where do you buy it?


Tanisha March 14, 2012 at 9:43 pm

I buy mine at fred meyers or even winco or a health food store. Yummm


JW March 14, 2012 at 9:41 am

I’ve done this many times, but we eat so much popcorn that it’s worth it to own an air popper. No clean up necessary but it is another appliance to take up space.

When I was a kid, we had a popper permanently mounted under the cupboard. You just poured popcorn in a slot and stuck a bowl under it. I want one again but don’t ever see one for sale.


Liz March 14, 2012 at 9:31 am

I have been doing this for a decade now. You only want to put in enough to cover the bottom..


Myndee March 14, 2012 at 9:23 am

I use the Presto Power Pop- no oil or butter needed! And it works GREAT! I have had mine for over 10 years and still going!


Meridith March 14, 2012 at 9:19 am

That’s it? That’s so easy! I love the convenience of microwave popcorn but stopped eating it because of all the bad chemicals in it. We use a whirly-pop but if it’s just me, I don’t want to go to all that trouble (and cleaning). Truthfully, I miss microwave popcorn and can’t wait to try this at home.

For toppings I like parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast or franks red hot.


Charlyn March 14, 2012 at 8:01 pm

I love this method! I went to the store and bought everything for my grandkids and they also love this method. I spray lightly with Pam and a few shakes of garlic salt—thanks to Dr OZ.


Kathi March 14, 2012 at 9:13 am

I’ve never tried this at home. I have memories of my mom trying to make caramel corn in the microwave. My dad and I were watching tv when we heard a faint, “Honey? Can you come here a minute?” My dad sent me to check on my mom. When I walked in the kitchen flames were coming out of the microwave! Oh the horror!

We have a West Bend Stir Crazy corn popper that we like to use. The only drawback is that you have to clean it.


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