Recipe: The Popcorn Trick

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When I first heard about microwaving popcorn in a brown paper lunch bag I could not imagine that something so simple would Popcorn from 100 Days of Real Foodreally work. A blog reader actually shared this suggestion with me, and it took me a while to work up enough courage to try it out. I am so glad I finally did because approximately 3 minutes and 15 seconds later I had fresh, fluffy, whole-grain popcorn that hadn’t been touched by a drop of oil, salt, sugar, or any other additives. And after lightly seasoning it myself with a tad of oil and salt it was delicious! I will never waste my money on those store-bought microwave bags ever again.

4.4 from 16 reviews

The Popcorn Trick
Serves: 3-4
  • ¼ cup popcorn kernels, preferably organic
  • Brown paper lunch bag
  • Optional: Melted butter, oil, and/or salt
  1. Pour the kernels into the brown paper bag.
  2. Tightly fold over the top three or four times. No tape or staples are necessary.
  3. Put it in the microwave and start it on high for 3 minutes and 30 seconds.
  4. Listen for the popping to slow down to 3 or 4 seconds apart at which point you will take it out of the microwave. This usually happens for me around the 3 minute and 15 second mark.
  5. Pour popcorn into a bowl and drizzle with melted butter or spritz with olive oil and then sprinkle with salt. If you don’t use oil or butter the salt won’t stick.

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278 comments to Recipe: The Popcorn Trick

  • Leigh

    I found about this last month! I ordered popcorn from my food co-op. It will be here Tuesday. I can’t wait. I’ve put off buying popcorn for the longest time because I thought I needed a special popper and I didn’t want another appliance to store. Thanks for sharing your method! It’s the one I am going to try first. A lot of the ones I have looked up, have you put the oil in the paperbag. That just seems like a mess to me!

  • maria

    I have seen this a few times too, but didn’t bother with it (mostly out of fear of filling our house with the burnt popcorn stench that I can’t stand!) I decided to try it our yesterday as a way of keeping the kids for pestering me for cossession stand popcorn at my daughtes baseball game. Turned out great! It made me happy to see them with their white fluffy popcorn vs the dayglow yellow stuff in ‘butter’ soaked bags :)

  • Terri Nestel

    We have been making popcorn this way for awhile now. It is great!

  • Kristin

    I JUST read this recipe in “Food Matters” yesterday!! Can’t wait to try it :) Thanks for sharing and giving the thumbs up!

  • I first saw this tip on Alison’ blog –, and have been making popcorn this way ever since. Love it!

  • LauraElle

    What a great idea! I remember my mom would air pop the popcorn and then pour the popcorn into a paper bag before drizzling with butter & salt. Then she’d let us kids shake the bag.

  • Cheryl

    I’m excited to try this! I know butter and oil amounts are really to taste, but as a starting point how much did you use? Just dont want to overdo it at first.

    • 100 Days of Real Food

      I have olive oil in a spray bottle (that is made for olive oil…you have to pump it) and I will give it a squirt then sprinkle 1 – 2 shakes of salt. I will mix it with my hands then do the oil/salt 2 or 3 more times and it ends up with a great “lightly salted” flavor!

  • Haley

    I tried this the other day after reading it on another blog and mine didn’t turn out! I wonder if I didn’t leave it in long enough. Definitely will have to try again!

  • Alyssa

    I pop my popcorn on the cooktop in coconut oil (VERY healthy fat) and a little sea salt which is amazing! Sometimes I go all out and add beautiful grass fed real butter to it! Mmmmmm…

    Most oils in the marketplace are full of pesticides and are genetically modified. I only use high quality, organic coconut, olive and occasionally grapeseed oils and butter for cooking. My next goal is to render lard and use that for baking. Our bodies need fat and all of these are healthy oils. Check out books by Sally Fallon to learn about the good oils.

    Here’s a real food challenge: get rid of your microwave! We did that many years ago and haven’t looked back. I have a toaster oven and use my cooktop to reheat things.

    • Rachael Knight

      Totally agree! I was scrolling down the comments to see if anyone even mentioned getting rid of the microwave! We cook ours on the stovetop in a regular pot. We use a little coconut oil & butter. When it’s done popping we put sea salt on it. Sometimes, we’ll sprinkle a bit of Parmesan cheese on it too.

    • Jessica

      I posted some links of sites giving the facts about the hazards.

  • Karin Greene

    OK, I feel old. We were doing this in Home Ec class in the 70s, when microwaves were still fairly new. We’d make popcorn bags and sell them between classes as a healthy snack. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Hey Lisa,

    I believe I might be the blogger who mentioned this method to you?! After BlogHer, but before the overheated car? :)

    My preferred method is stove-top popcorn, but for sheer convenience and no clean-up, the brown bag in the microwave is easy peasy – especially if you have an olive oil mister which is what I use to do a controlled spray over my popped corn. Less fat, less mess!

    @Alyssa: Are microwaves inherently bad? Are we getting radiation poisoning from them? Otherwise, why get rid of them? I’m not a fan of cooking most food in the microwave, but I like to use mine for things like reheating in the dish I plan to eat from or defrosting frozen meals that I’ve saved. Just wondering if you know something I don’t!

  • Melissa V

    Have you ever tried Just Tomatoes products?

    They have a lot of organic products as well as stuff to add to smoothies.

    • 100 Days of Real Food

      I have tried them and unfortunately my girls don’t like them! We’ve tried a couple different kinds too…peas and strawberries I think.

  • No one has commented on the cute popcorn holder so I just had to say I LOVE IT! :) We got the same ones from the dollar bins at Target and use them every week for our movie night. I’m all about easy so I love this tip. Thanks!

  • cindy

    My latest popcorn obsession involves olive oil and zatar seasoning. It’s a middle eastern spice blend and I looove it.

  • kari

    Ive done this for years!!!

  • Tara

    Wondering if you put the salt in the brown back before popping if the steam from the heating popcorn might make it stick without the oil? I will have to give it a try sometime. Am a bit nervous about starting the house on fire! :)

  • Megan D

    I burned two bags today. I have a mini microwave and it is not very powerful. The first bag was in there 3 min and the second only 2 min and they both were horrible burnt.

    I added oil to the first one but did not with the second thinking I might have misunderstood the directions.

    • Kim

      Megan, if your microwave doesn’t have a turntable, that could be the problem. if the bag doesn’t move around, the waves just keep hitting the same few kernals over and over resulting in burnt popcorn and probably a burnt bag, too.

  • Catherine

    I am so excited to pop my corn this way! My sister in law and I spritzed a touch of water on air popped corn then added salt. It was actually pretty good!

  • Lindsay

    This is great! After reading your post (and forwarding it to a friend!) I tried this out over the weekend. My kids loved it! Its fun that they each get to use the paper sack for their own personal bag of popcorn too.
    They added raisins and nuts for a car trip trail mix.
    Thanks for the tip! :)

  • Jennifer

    I’ve used this method for a while now. I also found a bowl at superstore that works in a similar fashion. My favorite though, is our old fashioned over the fire popper – I just wish I could find the mesh one we had growing up, our new one is solid and that makes it difficult to look at the bottom and see how many kernels are left.

  • Rae

    I’ve been using this method for a few weeks now and it’s great!

    I pop my corn with kosher salt and a little oil, but the salt does not stick unless oiled after popping. The only oil mister pumps I’ve seen were in Pampered Chef catalogs. Think I can get one at Target? Or Bed Bath & Beyond?

  • Brooke

    I am excited about this, as I haven’t been able to quit microwave popcorn, plus this is even convenient to take to work as a snack!

    I was wondering if anyone has found anything to be a suitable substitute for the non-reusable paper bag?

  • Stephanie

    Thanks for sharing! I love popcorn, but I don’t like the microwave-ready packages. This is a great way to make a single serving and control the amount of oil and salt.

  • Lea

    I’m with Alyssa on not using your microwave. Most of the health books I read say to not use it; it’s just not healthy. We used to do your method in the microwave, but then we got an air popper. We love it. If we’re going to eat real food, why not cook it the real way? I got an electric kettle for my tea, and we just got a toaster oven for easy reheating! Don’t forget to use organic popcorn.

    • 100 Days of Real Food

      That’s wonderful you were able to make the transition from using a microwave, but most people aren’t going to stop microwaving popcorn and if they are going to do it I would much rather them use this method than the store-bought bags!

  • Kristin

    I use a Whirly Pop. It is a pot with a clip on lid that has a hand crank. You add a little oil (I use olive or coconut) and however much popcorn you want and heat it on the stove top on medium. The crank moves the kernels around so they don’t stick. My son loves to turn the crank. The lid clips on so it won’t come off during cooking. I melt a little organic butter and drizzle and add sea salt flakes. It takes about six minutes, tops. It is the only kind of popcorn I will eat. I use my microwave to store stuff in. It is built in over the stove. I never use it. I boil water in a kettle. Water that is microwaved and used for tea makes the tea taste flat (I think)

    • Dorothy

      I use a Whirlypop too. Coconut oil and the white popcorn kernels from the Amish that Williams Sonoma sells. Also, if you have a sea salt grinder and set it to the finest grind, I find you don’t need to buy special popcorn salt to make it stick. I also love popcorn seasoned with hot curry powder – just a few pinches.

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