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All-American Snack (Recipe: Homemade Microwave Popcorn)

July 3, 2012
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Snacks are important actors in American culinary culture. We love nibbling on  morsels.  Personal preference dictates sweet or salty selections and the  winner in the Little Debbie versus Cheetos battle.

Golden Flake potato chips are original to the South and gained a lot of fame by co-sponsoring with Coca-Cola,  the television show of the  legendary Alabama football coach, Bear Bryant.  Coach Bryant  and his guests would drink Coca-Cola from little glass bottles and eat  Golden Flake potato chips from  a bowl while discussing Alabama football. Homespun, comfortable and a sign of much simpler times.

In the category of All-American snacks, popcorn carries a high rank.   Popcorn has been enjoyed for generations.  The cooking methods have varied from using a heavy pot on the stove top to Jiffy Pop to microwave.

I thought microwave popcorn was the greatest advancement in snacking since Little Debbie learned to make neat little cakes in individual packages. Now, they’re  telling us that the lining in the microwave popcorn bag creates some sort of substance that might make our heads fall off. Honestly, is there anything we breath or put in our mouths these days that isn’t killing us? The list is getting shorter and shorter and shorter……

Homemade microwave popcorn uses ordinary brown paper bags and takes away the risk of losing your head.  At least, I think it does.  Well, the FDA warns against using brown paper bags for cooking.  They say the brown paper bags weren’t designed for cooking and might not be safe.  Now that I’ve let you know what the FDA thinks about homemade microwave popcorn in brown paper bags, I’ll teach you how to make it.

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Homemade Microwave Popcorn

1/4 cup popcorn kernels

1 teaspoon olive oil


Place popcorn kernels and oil in a lunch size brown paper bag.  Fold the top over and crease the seam.  Repeat.   It’s not necessary to tape or staple the fold.

Shake well to make sure all the kernels are covered with oil.

Place on a plate or napkin in the microwave with folded side up.

Microwave until the  you only hear one pop every two to three seconds.  Remove and salt while still hot.

Here’s important things to know:

(1) Make sure the popcorn kernels  are fresh.

(2) When removing the popped popcorn from the microwave, BE CAREFUL.  The oil spots on the bag are HOT.   Protect you hands when handling the bag.

(3) I tried several ratios of popcorn to oil and 1/4 cup popcorn: 1 teaspoon oil produced the most consistently good  popcorn.  I lost count of how many bags I popped trying to get it just right.

(4) It’s important to cook the popcorn long enough.  If the bag’s removed too soon, the popcorn won’t be tender. One pop every two to three seconds is exactly where it needs to be.

(5)  I use table salt. The grains of kosher and sea salt are too big and won’t adhere to the popped kernels.

(6) The bag will have lots of oil on it when the popcorn’s done.  That’s how it’s supposed to be. The brown paper lunch bag doesn’t have a coating to make it moisture proof.  I think that’s the reason it won’t make our heads fall off.  If this comment makes no sense to you, read the top part of this post.

(7) Some of the kernels will remained unpopped.  Regardless of the cook method, popcorn does that to us.  It’s trying to make us mad.

(8) Since the bag isn’t moisture proof, oil gets on the outside during cooking.  Protect your microwave by placing the bag on a plate or paper towel prior to cooking.


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28 Comments leave one →
  1. RecipeNewZ permalink
    July 3, 2012 7:11 pm

    What a brilliant idea! I have only used store bought popcorn ever since I gave away my popcorn maker. This is definitely something to try! Thank you for sharing and Happy 4th of July!

  2. July 3, 2012 10:06 pm

    We can’t buy flat bottomed bags down here and it makes me mad. 🙂 We have just flat bags and it works but not as well as a flat bottomed bag.

    Making popcorn in a microwave is the way to go!

    • July 4, 2012 6:34 am


      No flat bottomed bags on the whole continent?? What a bummer!

      Thanks for stopping by Maureen! 🙂

  3. Lynn permalink
    July 4, 2012 7:12 am

    How long did you microwave your popcorn? I know that each microwave is a little different but I am kinda looking for a time to start. We have a “popcorn” button on our microwave and I think it’s about 3 1/2 minutes. Would that be a good start??

    Thanks for your website. It’s like being back home while living in Idaho. 🙂


    • July 4, 2012 7:35 am


      Three and 1/2 minutes is exactly the time that works best on my microwave for this amount of popcorn. You’re correct that each microwave varies. You really need to listen to the pops initially until you can get an accurate gauge of time from your microwave.

      Welcome home, Lynn! 🙂

  4. Jean permalink
    July 4, 2012 9:35 am

    Happy 4th of July Jackie! Just admit it…we are grazers! Nothing smells better than popcorn popping.
    Good idea you got there. Bear Bryant….Alabama great! Once someone brought 2 letters from the Bear for me to frame. I was in awe of even being able to touch them. Now you know what I think of the BEAR!

  5. Tammy permalink
    July 6, 2012 2:09 am

    This can’t be any worse than when you cook your turkey in a brown paper bag.
    The FDA just needs to put it out there.

    • July 6, 2012 8:30 am


      I’ve been lots of this popcorn and my head hasn’t fallen off yet! 🙂 Honestly, a lot of their warnings fall on deaf ears because they warn about EVERYTHING. I know it’s dangerous to drink anti-freeze and moldy food, but they do seem to carry things to the extreme.

  6. July 7, 2012 1:26 am

    I love your bright, colorful pictures of the popcorn 🙂

    • July 7, 2012 7:25 am


      Thanks! Popcorn is not the most exciting food to photo. I appreciate your comment!! 🙂

  7. August 18, 2012 9:39 am

    What a great idea! I have a popcorn monster in my house but I hate her eating the store bought microwave popcorn all the time, just too many chemicals and really not a low fat/low calorie snack like you want for your kids. Can’t wait to give this a try. Pinned!

    • August 18, 2012 9:41 am

      Thanks, Joan! I hope you love it. I use olive oil so it’s a healthy fat combined with the wholesome goodness of corn which is a whole grain. Please let me know how it turns out for you! 🙂

  8. nancy permalink
    December 6, 2012 5:22 pm

    Your side comments are funny!

  9. Karen permalink
    January 5, 2013 12:57 pm

    You can pop the popcorn without any oil if you are trying to save on calories. It works just the same, but air popped! Try it both ways and see what you think. But I like the idea of olive oil (monounsaturated fat) rather than “vegetable” oil (polyunsaturated fat)!

    • January 5, 2013 1:57 pm


      I’ve tried it without oil and the popcorn seems stale to me. So much of the oil gets absorbed by the bag that you only wind up with a little bit left on the actual popcorn. The difference is worth the calories, in my opinion. 🙂

  10. Lillian (My Recipe Journey) permalink
    January 31, 2013 10:26 pm

    Yes, I’ve tried this many times and love it! Less expensive than the store bought kind!

    • February 1, 2013 12:18 am


      It is cheaper than pre-packaged microwave popcorn. Also, you control the amount of oil and salt. 🙂

  11. Jean permalink
    March 23, 2013 8:20 pm

    Looked up this information tonight as we were out of oil and wanted to make some popcorn in the microwave. We will be patient and wait until we can get a teaspoon of olive oil. Have you tried grape oil? Thanks for sharing this great idea. We will load up on lunch bag sacks and get to poppin.

    • March 24, 2013 3:27 pm


      I’ve never used grape seed oil but it’s certainly very popular. Enjoy the popcorn! 🙂

  12. Donna - N.E. Indiana permalink
    December 14, 2013 12:08 pm

    I make mine but don’t put anything in it but will try adding the teaspoon of oil. also I burn mine if I go above 2 minutes. I am addicted to microwave popcorn !!!!

    • December 14, 2013 1:15 pm


      You may be able to cook it a little bit longer if you add some oil and not wind up with so many uncooked kernels.

  13. April 6, 2016 2:54 pm

    Awesome! I am going to try this! Jill

  14. April 6, 2016 5:35 pm

    Great to know! I’ll be trying this!

    I’m sure it will soon be released that oat bran causes cancer. Maybe our heads won’t fall off before someone decides that! Lol!

    • April 6, 2016 5:52 pm

      LOL! I’m waiting for the announcement that breathing cause cancer. I’m sure that’s forthcoming.

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