Can You Put Microwave Popcorn in an Air Fryer?

With the rise of air fryers as a kitchen staple for health-conscious food lovers, many are experimenting with this versatile appliance beyond its default functions. An intriguing query that arises is whether microwave popcorn can be cooked in an air fryer. Traditional popcorn kernels are often air-fried to achieve a lighter snack without oil, but microwave popcorn presents a different scenario with its pre-packaged convenience and flavored coatings.

Navigating the use of popcorn designed for the microwave in an air fryer requires understanding the mechanics of both appliances. Microwave popcorn bags are specifically engineered to expand and create a steam environment that pops the kernels efficiently in a microwave. In contrast, air fryers circulate hot air to cook food. Applying this technique to microwave popcorn could yield varying results, depending on factors such as temperature settings and cook times.

Key Takeaways

  • You can attempt to pop microwave popcorn in an air fryer with certain adjustments.
  • Following a specific guide can improve your chances of success with air fryer popcorn.
  • Comparing the pros and cons of this method can help determine if it’s suitable for you.

Table of Contents

Is It Possible to Cook Microwave Popcorn in an Air Fryer?

Popcorn popped in air fryer

Microwave popcorn can be made in an air fryer, but it’s crucial to understand the specifics of both the microwave popcorn and the air fryer for a safe and effective popping experience.

Safety Considerations

Your safety is important when attempting to cook microwave popcorn in an air fryer. Microwave popcorn bags are typically designed for the microwave, where they absorb microwaves and heat up to pop the corn kernels. Since air fryers cook with hot air, they require slightly different materials that are heat resistant and allow for proper air circulation.

  • Materials: Be wary of placing the microwave popcorn bag directly in the air fryer. The bag could be a fire hazard due to its metallic lining.
  • Alternative: For safety, consider transferring the popcorn kernels to a bowl that is air fryer safe.

Air Fryer Capabilities

Air fryers are versatile but have different characteristics from a microwave:

  • Temperature Control: Set your air fryer to the correct temperature, usually around 390°F (200°C), as higher temperatures could burn the popcorn.
  • Time Watching: Unlike microwaves, you’ll need to monitor the popcorn closely in an air fryer to prevent burning.
  • Shaking Required: Midway through the cooking process, remove the basket and give it a shake to redistribute unpopped kernels for an even pop.

While air fryers can be a tool to pop corn, pay close attention to the specific guidelines mentioned for a successful snack time.

Step-By-Step Guide for Making Popcorn in an Air Fryer

To start, you’ll need the following:

  • 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels
  • 1 tablespoon of oil (optional, for a slight flavor and texture enhancement)
  • Air fryer


  1. Preheat your air fryer to 400°F.  This initial step ensures your air fryer is at the optimal temperature for popping corn.
  2. Mix kernels with oil (optional): In a bowl, combine the popcorn kernels with oil if you’re using it. Stir until the kernels are evenly coated.


  1. Line the air fryer basket: To prevent kernels from falling through the basket, line it with a piece of aluminum foil or use an air fryer parchment paper liner with holes, making sure not to cover all vents.
  2. Add the popcorn kernels: Pour the kernels into the air fryer basket and spread them out into a single layer.
  3. Cook the popcorn: Slide the basket into the air fryer and set the timer for 8-10 minutes. Listen closely as the popping slows down significantly, which means it’s almost done.

During Cooking:

Do not open the air fryer frequently; this will let out the heat and can affect the popping process.

After Cooking:

  1. Check the popcorn: Once the popping has slowed, pull out the basket. Be cautious of hot steam.
  2. Remove the popped corn: Carefully transfer the popcorn to a bowl, leaving any unpopped kernels behind.


Enjoy your air fryer popcorn as is, or season it according to your preference. Simple salt, melted butter, or even a sprinkle of parmesan and herbs can enhance your snack.

Pros and Cons of Air Fryer Popcorn

When considering making popcorn in an air fryer, you should be aware of the differences in taste and texture that might ensue and the health implications compared to traditional microwave popcorn.

Taste and Texture Differences

Taste: Air fryer popcorn often has a slightly more toasted flavor than the one popped in a microwave, due to the hot air circulating around the kernels.

Texture: You might find that air fryer popcorn is less uniform in texture; some kernels may become crunchier while others might be slightly softer because the hot air creates irregular cooking surfaces.

Health and Nutritional Aspects

Reduced Oil: Air fryer popcorn generally requires less oil compared to traditional popping methods, which can be beneficial if you’re monitoring your fat intake.

Control Over Ingredients: By using an air fryer, you have more control over the additives and seasoning, allowing for a healthier option by avoiding preservatives often found in microwave popcorn bags.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, we’ll cover specific queries you might have about popping popcorn in your air fryer, including preparation techniques, proper settings, and alternative cooking methods.

What is the best way to cook popcorn in an air fryer?

The best method is to place a single layer of popcorn kernels in the air fryer basket and set the temperature to 400°F. Use the air fryer’s shaking function or manually shake the basket every few minutes to ensure even cooking.

How do you heat up pre-bagged popcorn using an air fryer?

Open the bag of microwave popcorn and transfer the kernels to the air fryer basket to prevent any possible melting of the bag. Cook at 400°F, shaking the basket periodically until the popping sound slows to a few seconds between pops.

What’s the recommended cooking time for popcorn in an air fryer?

Popcorn typically takes about 8-10 minutes to cook in an air fryer. Begin checking around the 8-minute mark since air fryer models can vary in power and efficiency.

Is it possible to pop popcorn in an oven instead of a microwave?

Yes, you can pop popcorn in an oven by spreading the kernels on a baking sheet and cooking at 450-475°F. However, this method is less common and might not result in perfectly popped kernels as the heat isn’t as evenly distributed as in popcorn machines or air fryers.

Can popcorn intended for the microwave be safely prepared in an air fryer?

Yes, it can be safely prepared. Remove the kernels from the microwave bag and cook them in the air fryer basket to avoid any hazards associated with the bag.

How do users on Reddit suggest cooking microwave popcorn in an air fryer?

Reddit users often suggest cooking kernels at a lower temperature, around 380°F, and advise staying close by to monitor the popping, shaking the basket frequently to prevent burning and ensure even cooking.

Written by Laurie Graves

Laurie is a 50-something wife and boy mom, who loves to share easy recipes, DIY home ideas, and food hacks. She truly believes that with a little inspiration, anyone can make their home and meals feel special.