Popcorn is one of those fun snacks that everyone loves. From college kids on a budget to moms with a screaming family of kids begging to sing “Let It Go” for the thousandth time in a row, it is a treat that tastes great while still being relatively healthy.
So, naturally, no matter where you find yourself in life, you, like everyone else, may have a box of microwave popcorn tucked into your pantry. You rely on it for snack time, movie time, or really, any time.
But there’s a huge problem you’ve likely come to notice from microwave popcorn. It’s just not as good as it is at the movie theater. Or from the fair. Or anywhere that they pop it up fresh.
And sometimes, it can be even more disappointing when you have a bunch of kernels that didn’t pop at the bottom.
Or worse…you have scorched pieces that turn your whole bounty of microwave popcorn into a burnt offering that no one wants to eat.
Fortunately, you’re about to learn how to make microwave popcorn better.
- How to Make Microwave Popcorn Better
- Never Use that Popcorn Button
- Check the Expiration
- Try This Water Trick
- Remove the Bag from the Equation
- Add Flavacol
- Get to Know Your Microwave Better
- Read the Directions on the Bag
- Make Your Microwave Popcorn a Gourmet Experience
- Low-Cal Options for Making Microwave Popcorn Better
- Gourmet Ways to Make Microwave Popcorn Better
- How to Make Microwave Popcorn Better with a Dessert Twist
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How to Make Microwave Popcorn Better
Do you want fluffy, delicious popcorn from your microwave? These secrets will help you pop up the best microwave popcorn you’ve ever had!
Never Use that Popcorn Button
We honestly have no idea why microwave manufacturers keep including a popcorn button. Why?!? ALL microwave popcorn bags have a stern warning on there telling you not to use the popcorn button. It makes zero sense! Haven’t we all evolved past this?!? Why is there a button on the microwave that we can’t use?
Until we find the answer to that conundrum, we can assure you that if you are using the popcorn button on your microwave, you are popping it wrong. Don’t ask us why it exists, but please, don’t use that popcorn button. It involves a preset time and doesn’t take humidity into consideration. Incidentally, that is precisely why your microwave can’t tell you when something is burning.
Instead, you should follow the directions on your microwave popcorn bag. Set the time as indicated in the directions and stand there, paying attention. You want to listen to the popping. Once that bag starts pop-poppa-popping like crazy, your ears should be finely tuned to the sound.
When the popping goes more than 2 full seconds between pops, open the microwave and snag your bag.
Check the Expiration
In addition to being ultra-vigilant while your bag is popping in the microwave, before you even get to that point, make sure your kernels are still fresh. We’ve done it too…you stash your microwave popcorn in the pantry for another day and you totally forget about it.
Then, you stumble upon it with glee and get ready to pop up some tasty popcorn. But if you don’t check the expiration date, you may wind up more disappointed than ever. When kernels are old and dry, they’re not going to pop up well, if at all.
Try This Water Trick
Now here’s a trick for how to make microwave popcorn better that you’ll never find on any popcorn bag! To get fluffy, delicious popcorn, add moisture. You can do so by microwaving one cup of water for at least one minute before you put your popcorn bag in there.
The trick to this is that once you finish heating that cup of water, promptly remove it and replace it with your bag of popcorn. Again, you’ll want to listen to the popping and be ready to pluck it out of there once there are 2 seconds between the pops to get the best results.
Remove the Bag from the Equation
Another way to make the best microwave popcorn is by simply taking it out of the bag. You’ll want to use a glass bowl that is microwave-safe for this task. You’ll also need to cover that bowl with something. Ideally, a microwave-safe cover or ceramic dish is the best option.
There are also those microwave-safe covers for food that have vents in them. If you’ve got one of those, now would be the perfect time to use it!
When the kernels pop, it will create moisture inside the covered bowl. Then you can enjoy that fluffy, delicious popcorn. Even better, you can add butter or oil plus some salt at the bottom of this bowl before you open the bag and dump in the kernels. This will allow your popcorn to soak up those flavors as it cooks.
What’s great about going bagless is that you can still use any un-popped kernels that remain. Just put them back in the microwave-safe bowl you used for the next round of popcorn and they should pop up!
Another way to ditch the bag is to buy popcorn kernels. You can then simply add them into that microwave-safe bowl, complete with a microwave-safe cover, and pop up pure popcorn bliss without any weird additives.
Whether you’re dumping the microwave popcorn bag into that microwave-safe bowl or using kernels sans bag to pop up your snack, you can do something to make it taste just like it does at the movie theater. Movie theaters use something called Flavacol, a topping that enhances the flavor, texture, and appearance.
It’s made with salt, artificial butter, and yellow dyes that brighten things up. Of course, if you’re trying to avoid additives, it’s probably not the best thing to use, but if you want to replicate that movie theater popcorn experience, this is the secret!
Get to Know Your Microwave Better
Even with the tips we’ve mentioned above, you may still have trouble making microwave popcorn better. Microwaves all vary so it may take some getting used to in order to nail the proper popcorn timing for you. But don’t forget that you should always keep a watchful eye and tuned-in ears to make sure your popcorn doesn’t burn in there.
Read the Directions on the Bag
This may seem silly, but every microwave popcorn bag brand has different instructions. Reading them could be the key to preventing burnt popcorn from stinking up your home. Also, make sure you’re putting that bag facing the right way. If you don’t, it won’t inflate and you’ll be left with nothing but a horrible smell with no popcorn to munch!
Make Your Microwave Popcorn a Gourmet Experience
Have you ever had gourmet popcorn flavors? Perhaps someone sent you a special popcorn gift. Or maybe you couldn’t resist the last time you saw a gourmet popcorn place while out shopping.
Whatever the case, you can turn any ordinary microwave popcorn into a gourmet treat. It’s one of the best ways to make microwave popcorn better than the bag.
Of course, there are so many ways to do this with savory and sweet options that will fit whatever mood you’re in.
Low-Cal Options for Making Microwave Popcorn Better
One of the best things about microwave popcorn is that it’s a healthy snack. You can make it even better with some additions to your bag when it’s finished popping and still keep it a low-calorie snack.
For some spice, hot sauce is one of the best ways to add a boost to your bag of popcorn. Just shake it on to your liking and toss it until it has evenly distributed. You can also do this with sriracha or red pepper flakes. Even soy sauce with a little wasabi mixed in and that crunchy onion topping will create an epic treat!
Seasoning mixes provide another fun way to flavor up that microwave popcorn. Italian or ranch seasonings give it a more zesty flavor. You can also use taco seasoning, or if you don’t have that, try some cumin and then a squeeze of lime.
Other bold flavors that pair well together are garlic powder and rosemary, or dill and lemon zest. But if you’re feeling cheesy, nothing compares to tossing it with a dusting of parmesan cheese. For those following a vegan lifestyle, you can get that cheese flavor by using nutritional yeast instead.
Gourmet Ways to Make Microwave Popcorn Better
Throwing a party or just want to have an extra gourmet snacking experience when you Netflix and chill? You can add more to your microwave popcorn to make it better. Crispy bacon and just a hint of the drippings from the pan you cooked it in is one of the easiest ways to make microwave popcorn go from OK to OMG.
Melt mozzarella or shredded white cheddar for a deeper cheese, if you please. Drizzle on truffle oil to be on-trend like all those farm-to-table restaurants, or go more traditional with a little pesto.
You can even go Greek with chopped kalamata olives and feta crumbles. Bring the backyard barbecue with your favorite BBQ sauce, or fall for fall with dried cranberries and toasted pumpkin seeds. With that last one, you could even add chocolate chunks for an extra yummy popcorn treat.
How to Make Microwave Popcorn Better with a Dessert Twist
Sometimes, microwave popcorn can be a full-fledged dessert. It’s healthier than eating a cake, even if you eat the whole entire bowl. One simple way to make it better without adding anything unhealthy is to drizzle your bounty of popcorn with honey. If you’re vegan or don’t have honey, you can use maple syrup for a similar effect.
But hey, if you want something naughtier, we won’t stand in your way. In fact, we’d like to help by suggesting the addition of melted dark chocolate drizzled on top. If you’re a Reese’s fan, try that with melted milk chocolate and peanut butter to make it like a peanut butter cup you can crunch!
Take yourself out to the ballgame without leaving the couch by adding caramel and roasted peanuts. It tastes better when you make it yourself rather than those stale boxes with lame toys (we think you know what we’re talking about!).
Other ideas to elevate your microwave popcorn bag into a dessert worth swooning over:
- Shake on cinnamon and sugar or pumpkin spice seasoning
- Add in those candy pieces you still have from Halloween (M&Ms and Reese’s Pieces are amazing!)
- Throw in mini marshmallows and chocolate chips, then crush graham cracker on top to make your popcorn “s’more” amazing
- Give it a tropical twist with coconut flakes and a hint of vanilla extract
- Turn it into trail mix by adding banana chips, dried cranberries, golden raisins, and your favorite nuts
- Get in the spirit of Christmas any time of year with crushed candy canes and a drizzle of milk chocolate
The next time you pull out a bag of microwave popcorn, you can turn it into a legendary snack. It only takes getting the preparation of the popcorn right and then adding whatever flavors you desire on top to shake things up.
From savory to sweet and even midway between the two, you’ll find the best combinations right here. Or perhaps you’ll even dream up some of your own to try out too!