Microwave Popcorn . . . No Bag Required!

Today’s post is one of those ideas that I just couldn’t get out of my head!  It’s been driving me crazy for about a week now…ever since I spied it on Everything But The

microwave popcorn Microwave popcorn? Without the bag? It can’t be. Can it?

(Please tell me I’m not the ONLY ONE who had never heard of this idea!)

Well, of course I had to find out for myself. The curiosity was killing me!  Besides, it’s so easy…it’s almost TOO easy!

The ingredients:  popcorn.

The tools needed:  bowl, plate, microwave.

The instructions:  put 1/4 cup popcorn in microwave-safe bowl, cover with microwave-safe plate, cook in microwave oven for 2 minutes, 45 seconds.


Done.  Well, almost.  You see, I had a little trouble with my first batch.  


microwave popcorn


Yep, that is ONE popped kernel you see there. I was all ready to write this off as a myth, a fallacy, a JOKE! But something told me there might be some “user error” involved here. Believe it or not I do make mistakes once in a great while!  ;-)  I know, it’s hard to believe.

I had a sneaking suspicion the bowl and plate I used might have been the culprits behind this “FAIL”.  I wasn’t quite sure they were “microwave-safe”, and the plate didn’t seem to be a good fit with the bowl.

Let’s try this again, shall we?


microwave popcorn


This time I used a bowl and plate I was SURE were microwave-safe and the plate was a nice fit with the bowl. Ahhhh….the sweet sound and smell of popcorn popping!

(WARNING: the plate and bowl will be VERY HOT!  Use CAUTION when removing them from the microwave.)


microwave popcorn


Here is the second batch. That’s more like it. However, there WERE a fair number of unpopped kernels left in the bottom of the bowl (pet peeve #473).

But no worries….Lindsey of Everything But The…, who brought this brilliant idea to my attention, said that the unpopped kernels could be returned to the microwave and given another go-round.


microwave popcorn


Well, would you look at that!  After another two minutes almost every last kernel was popped!

Now let’s think about the implications of this for a minute!

LESS CALORIES.  No need to cook in oil on the stove.

LESS MONEY.  No need to buy the expensive microwave popcorn from the store, and even if you’re making your own in a brown paper lunch sack, you’re still having to buy the bags. No need to buy an extra appliance (ie. an air popper).

LESS WASTE.  No bag to throw away. NO KERNELS left unpopped to throw away.

I’d say that’s a WIN-WIN-WIN! :-)



Oh….and by the way….it tasted every bit as good as any brand name microwave popcorn or stove top cooked popcorn I’ve ever had. It tasted just like popcorn should taste. Fresh, crunchy, tasty.  Quite possibly the PERFECT snack!


What is your go-to method for making popcorn in your household?

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  1. Marie says

    We do this. A word of warning – make sure the bowl is revolving. Our microwave has a control for the revolving plate and once it got turned off and the bowl shattered while the popcorn was popping!

  2. Betsy says

    A lunch paper bag works great! same amount of popcorn as well! I do it all the time. And to make it tastier I squirt the spray butter on it and then add wheat germ…sounds weird but it is delicious!

  3. Joan says

    I use the lunch bag method. I put three tablespoons of corn in the lunch bag, fold over the top twice and place in the microwave. I have discovered that timing is all -I used to set for three minutes, but microwaves are stronger now so I have had to adapt. Now I set on the popcorn setting and when I hear the beep that tells me the time that’s left, I add 30 seconds. The popcorn setting is for the microwave corn from the store which seems to be a different animal so the extra 30 seconds seems to be necessary for the brown bag method. I do stick right by the microwave and if the popping slows down too much, stop the microwave. I get perfect popped corn with almost no kernels left. I put the popped corn in a bag and then drip 1 T. melted butter over it, stirring a little. I salt lightly and have wonderful popcorn and not too much either.

  4. Ayshela says

    I use the brown bag, but since I’m not putting any butter or oil in when I pop it I can use the bag multiple times so there’s really little waste in it. (once I’m done it goes out in the flower bed for mulch, since our soil is hardpan and every bit of organic matter helps.) This looks like a much nicer way to add butter or oil along with the process if you wanted to. Thanks for testing it out for us! =) I love that you give us the “okay, this didn’t work so well, but I adjusted and THAT worked better.”

  5. Lori Sue Johnson says

    I found an air popper at the local thrift store (the kind with the built in measuring cup) for $2 about 5 years ago. It has a permanent home next to the microwave. It is used a couple times a week. Pops the corn with minimal unpopped kernels and a shake or two of parmesan cheese in the bowl between my hubby and I and we are ready for movie night.

  6. PB from MN says

    I do the bowl method, as I have never liked the pre-packaged microwave popcorn. It is important to let the steam escape from the bowl for the popcorn to pop, so the top should not be too tight fitting.

  7. Mindy says

    Try soaking your popcorn in warm/hot water for a few minutes before microwaving. The kernel absorbs a little of the water and will pop faster. Even fewer “old maids” this way. We will store out popcorn in a little water (it doesn’t take much) or keep it in the fridge…that helps too! My son did a science fair project on this and found that yellow popping corn (he also tested white and black) soaked for 5 minutes in warm/hot water produced the fewest number of old maids.

        • Debi says

          My Mom always popped popcorn on the stove when were were kids growing up. She always used an old stove top pressure cooker and the popcorn turned out great. Several years ago I received a Whirley PoP popcorn popper as a Yankee Swap gift. The kids and I love it!!! The amazing part is that these days to see how many friends of my kids didn’t even realize that you could pop popcorn on the stove. It’s really sad to see such a thing. I guess we all have to try to keep the frontier spirit alive… that things can be done without all this modern equipment.

        • Peter Berrios says

          There are numerous claims that adding coconut oil to your diet increases energy, balances hormones, and stimulates the thyroid gland. The cholesterol-lowering properties of coconut oil are linked directly to this ability to stimulate thyroid function. Coconut oil raises your metabolic rate, helping to release energy and promote weight loss. Researchers believe that coconut oil is different from other saturated fats because it is composed of medium-chain fatty acids. 39 Try coconut oil for yourself, with an open mind, to see what effects it has for you.

        • Carol says

          Actually, the info on coconut oil comes from the same source that says canola oil is good for you. I never trust any study that is put out by someone who has a financial interest in the results of the study. Current research shows that coconut oil is actually very good for you. Just get virgin coconut oil.

        • Julie says

          *Real* virgin coconut oil is incredibly good for you. What you’re most likely thinking of is the hydrogenated coconut oil that is in so many processed foods. That stuff is horrible and should never have been allowed in our food.

  8. Pinkdrops says

    Great idea. Here in Portugal we dont have the paper lunch bags so I have been using the store popcorn bags for popping in the microwave which I havent been very happy about considering all the unhealthy ingredients they have. Will definetly try this method!

  9. Nicholle C. says

    I have tried this before only instead of using a plate/bowl, we placed 1/4 cup kernels in a brown paper lunch bag with a teaspoonful of oil, stapled the bag shut (yes, you can use a staple in the microwave, don’t ask me why) and pop for a few minutes – very tasty and makes just the right amount for 1 person.

  10. Linda says

    I use the brown paper bag method since I give the bags to my parrots to forage for the popcorn. Keeps them busy and happy. I only put 1 bablespoon of kernals in the bag and give each bird their own bag. I was wondering if a microwave safe plastic bowl with cling wrap would work? SInce I grew up in time before microwaves, I still think the stove top method tastes the best even better than “store bought” bags of microwave popcorn. Take care.

  11. Dawn says

    I can’t believe it is so simple! How can this method have stayed under the radar for so long? I just popped up a bowlful, and it was perfect–nice and crisp, not chewy at all. A little butter, some nutritional yeast (sounds gross but it is SO good!) and I had one awesome bowl of popcorn. On family movie nights I think I’ll still stick with the stovetop whirly popper, but for an individual serving, this is definitely the way to go. I like that I can use what I have and don’t have to buy paper bags for this. Truly One Good Thing!

  12. says

    I do like this idea!!!! Very cool. I thought I had heard of some guy getting a multi-million dollar settlement for inhaling too much of the chemical that is used when making the store bought microwave popcorn. I didn’t know there were chemicals in that- but now that I know, it worries me. So if I do it this way- no worries of chemicals. Thanks!

  13. Dee says

    Darn my procrastination! I could have had the cutting edge post on this 6 months ago! I quit buying microwave popcorn & tried my own paper bag popcorn, but it had a 50% failure rate. Not sure why. I got a brainstorm~ why not try it in a bowl? So, I did. The only difference in my method is that I have some plastic microwave splatter screens to place on top of the bowl, & that works better in my microwave than a plate. I’d still much rather have stove-top-popped corn, but I’m afraid the shake-the-pan method would mess up my solid surface stove top.

  14. Del says

    I’ve made popcorn like this for a long time . Hint: Give a few spurts of non-stick cooking spray (0 calories) and it helps a sprinkle of salt and/or butter buds to stick. Also a light sprinkle of Splenda gives it a kettle corn taste. My favorite!!! Enjoy

  15. Gale says

    I have an Orville Redenbacher microwave popper that I use now. I was trying to reduce calories and get away from the harmful ingredients in the store-bought microwave bags. But, I’ve also seen tips that tell you to raise your bowl off of the microwave floor (I guess that is so the microwaves will be able to bounce all around the kernels. So you might want to put the bowl on an inverted ramekin or inverted low profile bowl (soup bowl?).

  16. Sarah says

    We have a huge Sam’s Club size box of store-bought microwave popcorn so that’s what I voted, but you can bet it’s going to be changing to “Bowl-And-Plate” as soon as we run out! Which at the rate my boys go through it won’t be long LOL!!

  17. sassmo says

    I cheat! I bought a plastic bowl and lid from Nordic ware a few years back made exclusively for this purpose. Same recipe. I have loved, loved, loved making popcorn this way. You forgot to mention the controversial perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in the bagged variety:) By popping your corn this way, you don’t have to worry with any of the chemicals in the commercial variety and that is a GOOD thing.

  18. Treva says

    One thing that wasn’t included in your poll… We use a Stir Crazy popcorn popper, which I don’t think fits any of the categories. You use oil and there is a little arm that stirs the kernels around, and you put the lid on and plug it in and pretty soon it starts popping away! A very nice way to pop bigger amounts of popcorn. But I like this microwave method for avoiding all the oil, and for those times when I want a smaller portion for myself and don’t want to haul out the ol’ Stir Crazy!

  19. Jennifer says

    I put a couple of T of coconut oil in a pot along with 3 kernels. Just above medium heat. When the three kernels have popped, I toss in 1/4-1/2 c kernels (depending on how much we are making!) and cover the pot with one of those mesh splatter guards. Shake it every now and then and within a couple of minutes, it all pops. We rarely have unpopped kernels. I toss in 1-2T melted butter and dust on some popcorn salt. Sooo much better than the bags from the store and tons cheaper.

  20. Beth says

    SO EXCITED about this!!!! I do the brown paper bag in microwave and sometimes stovetop (for kettle corn) but have never seen the bowl-plate method. Brilliant!! No more waste! Will still make some premade brown paper bags of popcorn for husband to take to work but no need at home now!!! Yea!!

  21. Comet says

    The “science” behind the Old Maids is:

    Each and every little kernel of pop corn MUST have a teensy bit of water in it. In order to POP this needs to be heated to STEAM. If there is not enough H2O happening in there the kernels will not pop.

    So the theory of using a few spoonfuls of water to eliminate these works because of this. And freezing them would mean that the water stays in the kernel vs evaporating out in a jar or bag.

    And this is WHY when you pop the corn you get—steam! Ever wonder WHY you didn’t add any water but got clouds of steam? LOL!

    Probably one reason why the pre-pack microwave stuff that sits in a lake of oil and other dubious chemicals for who knows HOW long is so “flabby”.

    I learned this from my step Grandpa who was not only an old “Corn Husker” from South Dakota but also a Water Scientist who studied—water!

    Also taught me the “correct” way to husk sweet corn: Grab the top of the ears. Pull out as much silk as you can; divide the silk AND the top green husks evenly; one side in each hand; pull HARD and the entire ear will be peeled. Crack off the husks and the remaining corn plant stem. All you then need to do is grab any remaining silk. Which there will be not too much of strangely! Using this method you can shuck a surprising amount of ears in a very short time.

  22. Theresa N says

    Hi Jillee

    I just wanted to first tell you that I LOVE your blog!! I just found your blog through a post on pinterest. I look forward to reading it every day. This post is just amazing!! I tried it and it worked perfectly. Thank you so much!

  23. Jen says

    I stumbled on your website via pinterest and I had to laugh when I saw this! I have been making popcorn in my corelle casserole pan with lid for ages. My sister and her kids came for the weekend they were blown away that you could do this. Haha. I guess she doesn’t remember our mom popping huge batches of popcorn in grocery store paper bags in the microwave for us 5 kids when we were little. Great blog!


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