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How To Make Popcorn in a Paper Bag in the Microwave

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In today’s fast-paced world, convenience is everything. When it comes to snacking, popcorn is a universal favorite. It’s quick, easy, and can be made in a variety of ways. One of the simplest methods is popping popcorn in a paper bag in the microwave. This method is cost-effective, quick, and allows you to control the amount of oil and salt you use. Let’s dive into the process, common mistakes, and some delicious seasoning ideas to make your popcorn experience even better.


To make popcorn in a paper bag in the microwave, measure 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels and transfer them to a medium-sized brown paper bag. Fold the top of the bag over a couple of times to seal it. Place the bag in the microwave and cook on high for 2-4 minutes, or until there is more than a 1-second gap between pops. Carefully remove the bag from the microwave, open it, and season the popcorn to taste.

The Process

Here’s how to make popcorn in a paper bag in the microwave:

  1. Measure 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels. Standard popping corn kernels are ideal for this method.
  2. If you prefer, you can toss the kernels in 1/2 teaspoon of oil (such as vegetable oil) and salt. This step is optional, as you can also make popcorn without oil.
  3. Transfer the popcorn kernels to a medium-sized brown paper bag.
  4. Fold the top of the paper bag over a couple of times to seal it.
  5. Place the folded paper bag in the microwave, either standing up or on its side.
  6. Microwave on high for 2-4 minutes, or until there is a gap of more than 1 second between pops. The exact time may vary depending on your microwave, so it’s best to monitor the popcorn closely.
  7. Carefully remove the bag from the microwave, as it will be hot.
  8. Open the bag and season the popcorn with melted butter, salt, or other desired seasonings to taste.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

When popping popcorn in a paper bag in the microwave, there are some common mistakes to avoid:

  1. Using a brown paper bag not intended for microwave use: The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service advises against using brown paper bags in the microwave, as they may contain unknown materials or be made from recycled materials. Instead, use a microwave-safe container or a paper bag specifically designed for microwave use.
  2. Overfilling the bag: Adding too many popcorn kernels to the bag can cause uneven cooking and unpopped kernels. Use about 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels for a medium-sized brown paper bag.
  3. Not folding the bag properly: Fold the opening of the paper bag onto itself twice to seal it. Do not use staples, as they can cause sparks in the microwave.
  4. Overcooking the popcorn: Microwave the popcorn on high for 1:30 to 2:30 minutes, depending on the wattage of your microwave. Stop the microwave when the popping slows to one to two pops per second. Overcooking can result in burnt popcorn.
  5. Walking away from the microwave: Stay close to the microwave while the popcorn is popping. Use your nose to smell for burning and your ears to hear when the popping starts to slow down.
  6. Not adding seasonings or toppings properly: Add your desired seasonings or toppings, such as melted butter and salt, after the popcorn has finished cooking.

Seasoning Ideas

Once your popcorn is popped, the fun really begins. Popcorn is a blank canvas and can be dressed up with a wide array of seasonings. Here are some popular popcorn seasonings:

  1. White cheddar: A classic and popular choice, white cheddar seasoning adds a tangy, cheesy flavor to popcorn.
  2. Nacho cheddar: Another cheesy option, nacho cheddar seasoning combines the flavors of cheddar cheese and spices for a savory taste.
  3. Cheesy jalapeño: This seasoning combines the flavors of cheese and spicy jalapeño for a zesty kick.
  4. Kettle corn: A sweet and salty option, kettle corn seasoning adds a touch of sugar to the classic salted popcorn flavor.
  5. Caramel corn: For those with a sweet tooth, caramel corn seasoning adds a sweet, buttery caramel flavor to popcorn.
  6. Ranch: A creamy and tangy option, ranch seasoning adds a blend of herbs, garlic, onion, and buttermilk flavors to popcorn.


Making popcorn in a paper bag in the microwave is a quick, easy, and healthier alternative to store-bought microwave popcorn. By following the steps and tips in this guide, you can enjoy homemade popcorn that’s just as delicious and customizable as the kind you’d get at the movie theater. Enjoy your popcorn making journey!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I reuse the paper bag for popping popcorn in the microwave?

No, it’s not recommended to reuse the paper bag for popping popcorn. The heat from the microwave can weaken the bag’s structure, increasing the risk of it tearing or catching fire with subsequent uses.

No, it’s not advisable to add more than 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels. Overfilling the bag can lead to uneven cooking and more unpopped kernels. Stick to the recommended amount for the best results.

Can I use any type of oil to coat the popcorn kernels?

Yes, you can use any type of oil that you prefer. However, be aware that the type of oil used can affect the flavor of the popcorn. Common choices include vegetable oil, canola oil, coconut oil, and olive oil.

Can I add the seasonings to the popcorn before microwaving?

It’s best to add the seasonings after the popcorn has been popped. Adding them beforehand can result in the seasonings burning or not distributing evenly.

What can I do if my popcorn is not popping evenly?

If your popcorn is not popping evenly, it could be due to a few factors. The microwave’s wattage, the age of the popcorn kernels, or the bag being too full can all affect how evenly the popcorn pops. Try adjusting these factors for better results.

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