Learn how to make air popped popcorn three ways- Stovetop, paper bag, and air popper! No oil and no butter needed, it’s a healthy snack ready in less than 5 minutes!
If I could have my way, movie theatre popcorn would be its own food group.
There’s something incredibly delicious about piping hot, buttery popcorn. There is truly nothing more delicious than freshly popped popcorn, and it’s a snack I enjoy regularly. While I don’t have the movie theatre style popcorn machine, I enjoy it on a very regular basis, except air popped!
What is air popped popcorn?
Air popped popcorn refers to the cooking process of the raw corn kernels. The ‘air popping’ is done in three ways: an air popper (also known as a popcorn machine), microwave popcorn (in the brown paper bag), or stovetop.
Why make air popped popcorn?
- It’s a healthy snack. Popcorn is high in fiber and low in calories. There is no oil or butter needed to pop the kernels!
- It’s ready in less than two minutes. Depending on which method you choose, it’s ridiculously quick and there is no mess to clean up.
- You can customize it any way you like. Air popped popcorn is a blank canvas that you can flavor any way you like.
- It’s cheaper than store bought. Pre-packaged and flavored microwave popcorn can be up to ten times as much as a package of popcorn kernels.
I love enjoying popcorn this way, because it is healthy, delicious, and requires just one ingredient- popcorn kernels!
What you’ll need for this recipe
- Popcorn kernels– Easily found in the potato chip or baking aisle.
- Seasonings– See below for seasoning ideas!
- Oil– Only if you use the stovetop method.
How to air pop popcorn
Start by adding your popcorn kernels into a paper bag. Next, fold over the bag twice, to ensure it does not open up in the middle of microwaving. Microwave the popcorn for 2-3 minutes, or until the popping becomes inconsistent.
Add the oil to a large non-stick pot along with 3 or 4 kernels. Place it over medium heat, covered, and wait for the kernels to pop. This shows if the oil is hot enough to cook.
Next, remove the pot from the heat and add the rest of the kernels into it. Cover the pot, give it a good shake, and let it sit for 60 seconds.
Now, place the pot back over the stove over medium heat and let the kernels pop. Once the popping becomes inconsistent, remove the popcorn off the heat and immediately remove the lid. Transfer into a bowl and enjoy immediately.
Air popper method
The easiest way to enjoy air popped popcorn is via an at-home popcorn maker. Simply follow the machine’s instructions and you’ll be done!
Can I make popcorn in the air fryer?
Another option to make popcorn is to pop it in the air fryer. Just see how easy it is to do.
How many calories in popcorn?
Air popped popcorn, with no added sugar or oil, has just 20 calories per cup.
Popcorn seasoning and flavor ideas
- Butter– Place the popcorn into a ziplock bag and drizzle melted butter and salt over it. Give the bag a good shake, then transfer into a serving bowl.
- Caramel– Make a simple caramel and cover the popcorn with it. Bake it in the oven, stirring regularly, until golden and crispy.
- Nacho cheese– Add nacho seasoning from the packet (available in the spice aisle) or add cheddar seasoning with smoked paprika, garlic salt, and onion.
- Salt and vinegar– Whisk together melted butter with vinegar. Add popcorn to a large mixing bowl and slowly drizzle the vinegar mix over it, stirring regularly. Sprinkle with salt before serving.
- Kettle corn– Add popcorn to a bag then drizzle melted butter throughout. Give it a shake, then add salt and sugar and shake once more.
Storing and freezing instructions
- To store: Leftover popcorn can be stored in an airtight container or ziplock bag for up to one week.
- To freeze: Do not freeze popcorn, as it will become soft and soggy.
More healthy snacks to try
Frequently Asked Questions
The best way to ensure air popped popcorn isn’t dry is to add some oil or melted butter to the freshly cooked popcorn. Once you’ve done that, add your seasonings and you’ll be licking your fingers!
Movie theatre popcorn is perfectly buttery and salty. The best way to achieve this flavor is to douse your fresh popcorn with 1/4 cup (or more!) of melted butter and mix it through. Once you’ve done that, transfer the popcorn into a ziplock bag and shake it vigorously with salt.
Homemade popcorn is the healthiest way to enjoy popcorn. However, brands like Skinny Pop and Pop Secret both have calorie reduced microwave popcorn, including 100 calorie bags.
Air Popped Popcorn (3 Ways!)
- 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
For the stovetop method
- 2 tablespoons oil
- Add the oil to a large saucepan and add two kernels to it, cover it, and place it over medium heat. Let the oil heat up for 1-2 minutes, or until the kernels have popped. Once they have popped, remove the saucepan off the heat.
- Add the remaining kernels and shake the saucepan so the kernels distribute evenly. Add the lid back on and place it back over medium heat. Let the kernels pop and once the popping is less consistent, remove the saucepan off the heat and transfer the freshly popped popcorn into a bowl.
- Add the popcorn kernels to a brown paper bag. Carefully fold the top twice, to ensure it does not open up during the popping process.
- Place the bag in the microwave and microwave for 2-3 minutes, or until the popping becomes inconsistent. Remove the bag from the microwave and let it sit for 30 seconds, for any extra kernels to pop. Transfer it into a bowl and season.
Air popper method
- Add kernels to the air popper and cook as per instructions.