If you’ve heard about air-popped popcorn but think it isn’t healthier than the other types of popcorn, think again. Although you can add unhealthy ingredients such as butter and salt to air-popped popcorn if you like, most people make it plain because when you don’t add anything, it is still crispy and chewy but has very few calories and fat.
Why Choose Air-Popped Popcorn?
It isn’t just the health benefits of air-popped popcorn that make it so popular. It’s also the feeling of control that you get when you make it.
In other words, you can still make it tasty by adding healthy alternatives such as sea salt and certain seasonings such as spices and herbs. Regular popcorn is usually made with oil and butter, such as microwave popcorn, that you cannot remove before you make it.
When you have choices regarding what to add to your popcorn, you get both healthier options and more personalized options that guarantee you’ll love the popcorn in the end. This is yet another one of the many reasons to choose popcorn that is air-popped instead of cooked on the stove or in the microwave.
Just how can you make sure that your popcorn is the absolute best when you cook it in an air popper? You can start by following all of the directions to the letter, which can vary slightly with each machine.
Quick Guide to the Best Air Popped Popcorn
For instance, here is a basic recipe suggested by one of the more popular air poppers on the market:
Take 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels and pour them into the popping chamber of the machine.
Place a 4-quart bowl underneath the popping chute and plug the popcorn maker in. The kernels will immediately start popping and should be finished entirely popping in two to three minutes.
Once the popcorn maker shoots out the popcorn into the bowl, you can add melted butter and a little salt if you like.
How to Flavor Air-Popped Popcorn Without Oil?
For a healthier alternative, skip the butter, use sea salt instead of table salt, and add one to two teaspoons of one of the following spices:
Regardless of your favorite flavors, you can usually find a seasoning mix that satisfies your palate. Just shop around in your favorite store or online, and you’ll have access to tons of options that you are sure to love.
Check out our buyers guide on air poppers here.
Why Is Air-Popped Popcorn Healthier for You?
The reason that plain air-popped popcorn is so healthy is that you get all of the health benefits of popcorn without any of the things that usually make popcorn bad for you. What type of benefits does popcorn provide? Here are a few of them:
Eating air-popped popcorn gives you all these health benefits without adding salt, sugar, and oils such as butter or vegetable oil. Since it is possible to add ingredients that are healthier than oils and salt, such as sea salt and herbs, you don’t have to always eat popcorn that is plain, which some people consider too bland and not tasty enough to eat.
Another advantage of eating popcorn as a snack, regardless of how you cook it, is that most recipes make a lot of popcorn that you can then eat as a snack in the days ahead. You can store your leftovers in an airtight reusable bag and eat the popcorn anytime.
Tips for Making the Very Best Air-Popped Popcorn
We mentioned earlier that you should always cook the popcorn according to the directions for that particular popper. How to make air popped popcorn? Air poppers are usually super easy to use because all you do is either plug them in or flip the on/off switch to “on” and the kernels start popping. Nevertheless, it’s important that you read the instructions that come with the machine to make sure you don’t do anything that might burn the kernels or otherwise ruin their flavor.
How to Pop Popcorn With an Air Popper
There are other ways to make the absolute best air popcorn as well, and one of those is to buy only organic corn kernels. Organic kernels do a better job of digesting properly once you swallow them.
Their fiber stays intact, which can also help keep you regular! Also, keeping the kernels in the freezer until you need them keeps them fresh longer, and some people say this always gives them a much better flavor.
If you feel like you have to have melted butter on your popcorn, choose unsalted organic butter instead of regular butter. You can also choose low-fat margarine rather than real butter, but it doesn’t always melt or stick to the popcorn as well as butter does. Other options include coconut oil or olive oil, which are also a little healthier than butter and can help any salt or seasonings you sprinkle on the popcorn stick much better.
If you like cheesy popcorn, but you want to keep your popcorn healthy, try sprinkling some nutritional yeast over the bowl of popcorn after it pops. Nutritional yeast tastes a lot like cheese but is much healthier for you. In addition, if you’re going to use butter, make sure you melt it for the proper amount of time the first time.
If you let it sit, then try to remelt it later on, it can cause a mini “explosion” once you add your flavorings and cause the butter to go everywhere, making for one messy kitchen!
FAQs Making Best Air Popped Popcorn
What is air-popped popcorn?
Air-popped popcorn is popcorn that is cooked using hot air instead of oil or other fats. It is a healthier alternative to traditional stovetop or microwave popcorn.
Why should I choose air-popped popcorn over other methods?
Air-popped popcorn is a healthier option because it contains significantly fewer calories and fat compared to popcorn cooked with oil. It also allows you to enjoy the natural flavor of the popcorn without any added oils or butter.
How do I air pop popcorn?
To air pop popcorn, you’ll need an air popper. Simply add the popcorn kernels into the machine, turn it on, and let the hot air do its magic. The kernels will pop and fill the bowl or container attached to the popper.
Can I air pop popcorn without an air popper?
While an air popper is the most convenient and efficient method, you can achieve similar results without one. One alternative method is using a microwave-safe bowl with a microwave-safe plate as a cover. Place the popcorn kernels in the bowl, cover it with the plate, and microwave it on high for a few minutes until the popping slows down.
Do I need to add oil or butter to air-popped popcorn?
No, you don’t need to add oil or butter to air-popped popcorn. The hot air pops the kernels and leaves them light and fluffy. However, if you prefer some added flavor, you can lightly spray the popcorn with oil or sprinkle it with seasonings like salt, cheese powder, or spices.
How can I make sure all the popcorn kernels pop?
To ensure most of the kernels pop, it’s essential to use high-quality popcorn kernels and keep them stored in a cool, dry place. Additionally, preheating the air popper before adding the kernels can help increase the popping efficiency.
How do I prevent my air-popped popcorn from becoming stale?
Air-popped popcorn tends to lose its crispness quickly. To keep it fresh, transfer the popped popcorn to an airtight container as soon as possible after popping. This helps to preserve its crunchiness and prevents it from absorbing moisture from the environment.
Can I store air-popped popcorn for later consumption?
Yes, you can store air-popped popcorn for later. Make sure it has cooled down completely before transferring it to an airtight container. Stored properly, air-popped popcorn can stay fresh for a few days.
Is air-popped popcorn suitable for people with dietary restrictions?
Air-popped popcorn is generally suitable for various dietary restrictions. It is naturally gluten-free and can be enjoyed by those with gluten intolerance or celiac disease. Additionally, since it doesn’t require oil or butter, it can be a good option for those on low-fat or low-calorie diets.
Can I add other seasonings or flavors to air-popped popcorn?
Absolutely! Air-popped popcorn serves as a versatile base for a variety of flavors. You can experiment with seasonings like cinnamon, chili powder, garlic powder, nutritional yeast, or even caramel or chocolate drizzles for a sweet treat.