Microwave popcorn is fast, easy, and convenient—but the stuff from the store has its drawbacks.
For one, many options have a long list of unnatural and unfamiliar ingredients. And a lot of the time, it just doesn’t taste all that great.
But it’s easier than you think to make fresh, delicious microwave popcorn yourself. And it only takes four ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen.
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To start, you’ll need a brown paper lunch bag. Make sure it doesn’t have any writing on it—colored inks often aren’t microwave-safe. Add ¼ cup of popcorn kernels and ½ teaspoon of vegetable oil to the bag, close the bag up by folding the top over itself three times, and shake to coat all the kernels with oil.
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Place the closed bag on its side on a microwave-safe plate (making sure the kernels are in an even layer) and microwave for 3 to 5 minutes.
But microwaves vary in strength, so don’t just rely on the clock. (I learned this the hard way in college when a batch of microwave popcorn set off my dorm’s smoke alarm.) Instead, use your ears: Once the popping has slowed to just one or two pops at a time, it’s ready.
Let the bag cool slightly and then open it carefully—there will be lots of hot steam inside. Toss the popcorn with 1 tablespoon melted butter and sprinkle it with ¼ teaspoon salt and then it’s ready for munching.
One of the best things about making popcorn yourself is that the flavoring is all up to you. Try sprinkling in Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning along with the salt. Or add some lime zest and sriracha for a spicy, tangy take. And if you’ve got a sweet tooth, combine malted milk powder, brown sugar, and cinnamon and sprinkle it over the popcorn with the salt. Get creative; movie night is your time to shine.