How Long to Microwave Popcorn Without Burning



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How Long to Microwave Popcorn Without Burning it

Popcorn is one of the most popular snacks you can buy. You can buy prepackaged microwave popcorn, but you can also purchase popcorn kernels that are high quality and pop them in the microwave.

If you want to cook it without burning it, it is essential to know how to do it and how long to leave it to cool down in the microwave. Continue reading to learn how long to microwave popcorn without burning it.

How to Cook Popcorn in a Microwave

Step 1

Read the instructions: Review the popcorn package instructions for recommended cooking times and power levels based on your microwave wattage.

Step 2

Set the power level: If possible, adjust your microwave’s power level to around 50-70% to promote even heating and prevent burning.

Step 3

Follow package instructions: Follow the suggested cooking time and power level on the popcorn package. It usually provides a range based on microwave wattage, such as “Cook for 2-4 minutes on high” or “Cook for 3-5 minutes on medium-high.”

Step 4

Listen for popping sounds: Start the microwave and pay attention to the popping sounds. As the popcorn cooks, you’ll hear popping. When the popping slows down to about 2-3 seconds between pops, it indicates that the popcorn is done. This typically occurs within the recommended cooking time range.

Step 5

Stop the microwave promptly: As soon as the popping slows down, immediately stop the microwave to avoid overcooking and potential burning. Allow the popcorn to sit in the closed bag for a minute or two to finish popping and evenly distribute the heat.

When you want to cook popcorn in the microwave, it is a simple process. All you need is popcorn kernels and a brown paper bag. The brown paper bag is the same type of bag people use to pack lunches, and they are inexpensive and easy to use.

Another benefit of this method is that you don’t need to use any oil. The rays from the microwave will penetrate the popcorn kernels, and they turn the moisture inside into steam. As the steam expands, it causes the popcorn kernels to burst or pop.

Some people prefer to use popcorn oil to prevent burning. They often put the popcorn kernels in oil before placing them in the bag to pop them. This can be messy, but if you want some of the flavors you get from oil, you can do it this way.

How Long to Cook Popcorn in the Microwave

how to microwave popcorn without burning

It is essential to cook the popcorn in the microwave at the right time, not to burn it. The problem is that the exact time will be different for different microwaves. It is also dependent on the wattage of the microwave. However, it will usually be somewhere between two and four minutes.

You need to start with a test batch, and once you see how long it takes in your microwave, it will be the same for future batches of popcorn. You should set your microwave for four minutes and stay by the microwave as it pops. When you notice the popping slow down to two seconds between pops, it is time to stop the microwave. If you wait any longer, there is a big chance that you’ll end up with a sizzling mess.

With any items in your microwave that contain flammable items – i.e., paper bag and oil, always keep a close eye on them to prevent the risk of a microwave popcorn fire.

What Happens When You Cook Popcorn Too Long

  • Unpleasant taste: Burning popcorn can produce a charred or bitter flavor that is unappetizing and ruins the popcorn’s taste.
  • Smoke and odor: When popcorn burns, it can generate smoke and release a strong, lingering odor throughout your kitchen and potentially your home. This smoke can trigger smoke detectors and cause a lingering smell that is challenging to eliminate.
  • Fire hazard: If popcorn is severely burned, it can catch fire in extreme cases. This presents a serious fire hazard that can damage your microwave and risk your safety.
  • Difficult cleanup: Burned popcorn leaves behind a residue that can be challenging to clean from both the microwave and the popcorn bag or container. Removing the burnt-on residue may require extra effort and specialized cleaning agents.
  • Wasted food: Burning popcorn renders it inedible, resulting in wasted food and a loss of money.
  • Discoloration and damage to microwave: Intense burning can lead to discoloration, warping, or damage to the interior of your microwave. This not only affects its appearance but can also impact its functionality over time.
  • Foul smell in the microwave: If popcorn is burned, the smell can linger inside the microwave even after cleaning, affecting the taste and odor of subsequent foods cooked in it.

How to Make Popcorn in the Microwave Without a Bag

You can also make popcorn in the microwave without a brown paper bag. Instead, use a microwave-safe bowl and plate, and you can get some butter to put on top of your popcorn when it’s ready to rumble!

Fill the bowl with as many popcorn kernels as you want to make, and place the microwave-safe plate on top of the bowl. A nice trick is to put the butter on the plate so that it’s melted at the same time.

As with the paper bag method, the time you need to pop it will vary. You should set it for four minutes the first time, and you can wait until you have two seconds between popping. Make a note of the time so that you know for future batches.

For details on how to make popcorn in a bag, click here.

How Long Should You Cook Pre-Packaged Microwave Popcorn?

How Long to Microwave Popcorn

Microwave popcorn comes in premade packages for convenience. The first step is to check the “best by” date on the package because they have a shelf life, and you want it to be fresh. Make sure that your microwave is clean before you get started.

You should remove the plastic overwrap on the popcorn and unfold the popcorn bag. There will be directions as to which side should be facing up, so be sure to follow them. Next, place the bag in the center of the microwave, and start popping.

The manufacturer will tell you a ballpark time for cooking your popcorn, but as with popcorn kernels, you should set your microwave to high for four minutes and listen for the popping to slow to once every two seconds.

When it is ready, the bag will be hot, and you need to be very careful when you remove it and pull the diagonal corners to open it. The steam that comes out will also be scorching. Therefore, you should dispose of the bag when you finish with it.

How Long Should Popcorn be Microwaved?

Until there are more than a few seconds between pops, then you can add any toppings and flavors.

When you microwave popcorn, you have plenty of choices other than butter. Melted butter is delicious, but you can also try sea salt, curry powder, ranch powder, and more. Some people love melted coconut oil or cheese on top. If you enjoy sweet flavors, you can use cinnamon sugar.

Start by popping your popcorn. Whether you use microwave popcorn or popcorn kernels, wait until it’s popped to add your toppings. Then, you can add the seasoning to the bag or into the bowl and enjoy it.

Tips to Prevent Burning of Microwave Popcorn

how long to microwave popcorn
Microwave popcorn time

Although it is easy to make popcorn, it’s a good idea to pay attention until you know how long your microwave takes to cook the perfect batch without burning it. The first tip is to listen to the popcorn kernels as they pop. When the popping decreases to two seconds between pops, it is ready, and leaving it in can make it burn.

Another tip is that you shouldn’t follow the time on the bag. Manufacturers will tell you how long the popcorn should be in the microwave, but there are many different microwaves, and they won’t all work the same. They can be different wattages, and even microwaves with the same wattage might have other cook times. Listen to the popping to determine when the popcorn is ready.

You should also pay attention to any smell you notice. If you smell something burning, you can be sure that the popcorn is burning. You should not leave popcorn and wander out of the room. If you can’t hear the popcorn, you won’t know when it is ready.

If your microwave has a high wattage, you might want to reduce it to 80% power. Some microwaves are too hot, and they will pop the popcorn so fast that it might burn before the popping slows. So again, you need to experiment with your microwave to determine the best power level and time.

Struggling with a bag too big for the microwave?


What can happen if popcorn is burned in the microwave?

Burning popcorn can result in an unpleasant taste, smoke, lingering odor, fire hazards, difficult cleanup, and wasted food. It can also cause discoloration or damage to the microwave.

How can I prevent burning popcorn in the microwave?

To prevent burning popcorn, follow these tips: read the package instructions, adjust the microwave’s power level to 50-70%, adhere to recommended cooking times and power levels, listen for popping sounds, and stop the microwave promptly when the popping slows down.

Can I microwave popcorn on high power to save time?

It’s generally not recommended to microwave popcorn on high power as it increases the risk of burning. Adjusting the power level to 50-70% helps distribute the heat more evenly and reduce the chances of burning.

How do I know when the popcorn is done without burning it?

Listen for the popping sounds. When the popping slows down to about 2-3 seconds between pops, it’s an indication that the popcorn is ready. It usually falls within the recommended cooking time range.

What should I do if I accidentally burn the popcorn?

If the popcorn is burned, stop the microwave immediately to prevent further burning. Let it sit in the closed bag for a minute or two to finish popping and evenly distribute the heat. Discard the burned popcorn and start again with fresh popcorn.

Can I use the same cooking time for all brands of popcorn?

It’s best to follow the specific instructions provided on the popcorn package, as different brands and types of popcorn may require slightly different cooking times. Adjust the cooking time based on the recommendations given on the package.

Is it normal for a few unpopped kernels to remain even when the popcorn is done?

Yes, it’s normal for a few unpopped kernels to remain. These are usually harder to pop kernels, and continuing to microwave the popcorn could lead to burning the popped kernels.

How to Make Popcorn Without Burning It?

Burning popcorn not only results in an unpleasant taste and aroma but can also lead to smoke, triggered smoke detectors, and fire hazards.

The key recommendations include:

  • following recommended cooking times and power levels
  • closely monitoring the popping process
  • adjusting microwave power levels
  • stopping the microwave when the popping slows down

By following these precautions, you can enjoy perfectly popped popcorn without the frustration and drawbacks of burning it.

Check out our recommended microwave popcorn brands.

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