As an avid home cook, I try to pull out the stops when I have people over. But the recipe that gets the most remarks (and the most copycats!) is so easy it’s hardly a recipe at all: DIY microwave popcorn.
Using a plain paper bag, I can make a batch of popcorn in less than three minutes, and everyone flips for the trick. Sure, regular microwave popcorn is delicious, but it’s also expensive, coated with butter and has a strong smell. On the other hand, paper bag popcorn is easy, fast and surprisingly healthy.
How to Make Paper Bag Popcorn
- Popcorn kernels, between 1/4 and 1/2 cup
- A brown paper bag (yep, a typical lunch bag is just right)
Step 1: Pour kernels into the bag
How much popcorn do you crave? A quarter-cup of kernels makes a snack-size serving for one. A third-cup of popcorn is a good portion for two (or dinner for one, if it’s been one of those days). A half-cup will fill a paper bag to the brim.
Pour the kernels directly into the bag. No need to add anything else!
Check out the difference between yellow and white popcorn kernels.
Step 2. Close the bag
You don’t want the popcorn to spill out. Fold the top of the bag over twice. If your microwave is on the small side, you might need to fold in each corner to allow the bag to spin freely as it heats.
Step 3. Pop!
Microwave the kernels on high heat for two to three minutes. Depending on the type of kernels and your microwave’s power, timing will vary.
Editor’s Tip: Technically, paper bags aren’t microwave-approved. To be safe, don’t wander away while the corn pops.
Keep an ear on the microwave. Once the popping slows, and there are several seconds between pops, stop the microwave. Let the bag sit for a minute before opening—the bag will be hot and a few more kernels will pop.
That’s it! Go ahead and fold up the bag to use for another batch.
How to Dress up Your Paper Bag Popcorn
Like air-popped corn, paper bag popcorn is a blank slate for toppings and flavors. Melted butter and salt are the standby, of course, but there’s no need to stop there. Season with cinnamon and sugar, toss with cheese powder or try any of our flavored popcorn recipes.