Tonight I want to talk to you about a real first world problem: what to do when your microwave is too small or just too crappy to pop a bag of popcorn correctly. The Man and I own a very small microwave. We bought pretty much the smallest, cheapest one we could find, since we knew from the beginning that it would only be used to pop popcorn and heat soup. Yes, I eat a lot of soup.
Unfortunately, soon after buying the microwave, we discovered that though it’s technically big enough to pop a bag of popcorn, as the microwave tray spins, the popcorn bag moves slightly. This causes the bag to get stuck against the wall of the microwave, stay in one place, and either burn the popcorn or just pop about half of the bag. Both of these outcomes make me very angry, but if I had to choose, I’d say that a half-popped bag of popcorn ticks me off more. The Man still insists on buying microwave popcorn and attempting to pop it, but I tend to leave the room when he does for fear of my head actually exploding if I have to hear him explain one more time that I’m just imagining that the bag is half-full. This as the tell-tale errant kernels clang to the bottom of his popcorn bowl…argh.
I’ve popped popcorn the regular way on the stove before, and I’ve also created my own microwave bags of popcorn using paper lunch bags and regular popping kernels, but I’ve never attempted to pop microwave popcorn on the stove. I didn’t know how it would turn out or if the mechanics would be any different than a regular popping scenario, but since I have a bunch of microwave popcorn bags sitting around and I refuse to use our mockery of a microwave for anything other than soup, I thought I’d try and see what happened.
The result? It totally worked! I was able to pop almost every single kernel, and only singed a few. It was probably my imagination, but the popcorn also tasted less chemical-y. Here’s how you cook microwave popcorn on the stove:
1) Get a large pot (the size you’d use to cook a pound of pasta) that has a lid. There’s not a lot of popcorn in the bag, but you want to give the kernels room to distribute evenly along the bottom.
2) Put a tbsp of oil in the bottom of the pot, and set to Medium heat. Remember that you won’t need as much oil as you would in a traditional popping scenario, since the microwave popcorn comes packed in its own buttery goo. You can use a variety of oils, including vegetable, corn, or wok oil. I used olive oil with a dash of chili pepper oil to give my popcorn a little kick.
3) Rip open the microwave bag of popcorn and scoop the contents out into the pot. You’re going to want to use a spoon, since it’s greasy and kind of gross. Scoop any excess buttery goo (I refuse to call it butter) off of the sides of the bag to add to the pot).
4) Put the lid on the pot and wait. It will take a minute or two for the corn to start popping. Once the popping is pretty regular, shake the pot gently back and forth over the burner to keep the popcorn at the bottom moving so it won’t burn.
5) Once the popping dies down, you might want to move the pot off of the burner and assess the popcorn. I could see (and smell) that some of mine was starting to get a little browner than I like, so I took all of the popped kernels out and then put the pot back on the burner to pop the rest of the corn.
Notes: I played around with temperature, and you might want to, too. I have a gas stove with burners that tend to burn on the hotter side, so Medium was fine for me. Low was a little too low, and High started to burn the popped kernels faster than the rest of the corn could pop. However, your stove (especially if it’s electric) might be just fine on High. Just remember to keep the corn moving and you’ll be fine! Also, use common sense and don’t take the lid off while you’re still popping the corn. For one thing, you’ll be letting heat out and the corn won’t pop as efficiently. More importantly, it’s a safety hazard. How would you like to be the person who has to say, “Popcorn,” when explaining your eye injury?
86 Comments Add yours
It worked!!! Our microwave broke a few weeks ago and the box of popcorn was mocking me every time I opened the pantry. I’m glad I found this, I love popcorn. I agree it does taste milder and less chemical-y, next time though I’ll turn the heat up higher a lot of mine didn’t pop the whole way.
Good, I’m glad it worked!
Hi, My name is Paige. I am doing a research paper for my science fair project and it is about popcorn. I used some of this information and I have to cite where I got the information from. I was wondering if who ever wrote this article above could tell me their name. I thought it was Laura Bray but I think that was just for the picture. Thank you and if you don’t feel comfortable telling me your name I’ll just put that it was by Laura Bray. Thank you for taking your time and reading this.
Hi Paige, my name is Anna Harris. Hope your science project is a success!
thank you for the tip it really helped me and all the kernals popped it also tasted excilent
Our microwave broke and I was craving popcorn so I tried this! I think it tastes even better when cooked on the stove! Thanks for sharing how to do this!
Glad you liked it! If you liked the flavor better, maybe it’s time to switch to regular popcorn and pop it on the stove. It’s cheaper, and since the news came out about bad chemicals in microwave popcorn recently, it might even be healthier, too. Happy cooking!
is this me
It really worked my dad and little sister broke our other microwave and we never got one since I asked my mom if I could make popcorn on the stove and she didnt think it was possible so I used this and proved to her it works!
I know this is an old post, but I wanted to thank you. This totally works! I too had a bag of microwave popcorn mocking me from the pantry. :p because my microwave stopped working a month ago. So, I tried this out….And yes, the popcorn does taste better! It brought back good childhood memories. Thanks again! ♡
Worked for me. Thanks.
Very detailed explanation, thank you for posting this! So glad I found this article.
No problem! It’s funny how many people out there ask how to cook microwave popcorn on the stove – glad I can contribute 🙂
It was very helpful, thank you.
This worked wonderfully! We haven’t bought a microwave since we moved, so I gave it a try, thank you! I have a ceramic top stove, and medium-high worked perfect 🙂
Super. I hate microwaves. Thanks.
This worked amazingly!!! But I had to use 2 tablespoons. Because the pot was so big. But this was great! Thanks!
Great – glad to hear it!
This worked perfectly!!! The popcorn tastes so much better on the stove than in the microwave
Awesome! I think so, too.
This totally worked!! 😍😍
Thanks for the amazing tutorial!!
I would really like to try popping the microwave popcorn on the stove as written above. I have glass lids though. Is this a safety hazard? Will the glass break from the popping?
Hi Paula, it’s safe to pop popcorn with glass lids. Thanks!
What temp on the stove for popcorn
Hi Ashley, I used Medium on a gas stove, but everyone’s “medium” setting is going to be a little different, depending on age of stove and if you have more control over the flame or not (or if it’s electric). I’d advise just trying it at medium and keeping an eye on the popcorn. If medium isn’t doing anything at all for several minutes, even though you’re moving the pan around, then go hotter. If medium seems to be scorching the popcorn right out of the gate, you might need to use a lower setting. Good luck!
I’m a real mom with real kids who love popcorn and have a broken microwave. This was perfectly laid out and made some of the bed we have had. Thank you
Yay! Glad it helped 😀
WOW, that is some amazing popcorn. I can’t even get my kids to to make their beds. What brand are you using and do you think the popcorn will do laundry also?
Back in the olden days, lo those many years ago, predating the microwave, Mom used to pop the corn on Saturday nights for the family using the heavy duty Presto Cooker that was designed for pot roasts, etc. She had long lost the gizmo that fit on the cover that kept the pressure up in the pot, but the tightly sealed cover did the job and those of us assigned to do the shaking of the pot (me) could listen to the pops and decide when the popping was done.
Thank you so much for posting this! I am a super broke college student with no microwave and lots of microwave popcorn to pop! This is a life saver!
Reblogged this on Shapeshifters: Living With Dissociation and commented:
My husband I have discussed this because we burn microwave popcorn even when we follow the directions.
Success! I avoid using microwave ovens if I can help it… but we do love our microwave kettle corn. Your advice worked perfectly as I got fully popped kettle corn in about five minutes!!! I used a large stainless steel pot with a glass cover over low to medium heat, and voila! We’re enjoying our freshly popped corn as I write 🙂 Thanks!!!
My popcorn came out tuff?
That’s weird. Was it really old? Maybe it was stale. You could also try a different time or temperature level next time.
great thanks you
You saved my movie night.
I’m going to try this.. to be continued…..
I had a bag of microwave popcorn that had been pushed right up to the back on cupboard, and only found whilst doing annual clean out of said cupboard. Not really a fan of microwave stuff. Thanks for posting, it tastes even better with some Flavacol! Just like the movies. Delicious!!!!!
Yesssssssssssss! Thank you so much it worked sooooo much better than a microwave!!! so tasty!
I can’t seem to find the lid to my large pot but was wondering if aluminum foil might work instead? Any thoughts?
-Thanks in Advance
Hi Stephanie, I haven’t tried it, so I can’t say for sure. I’d assume that the answer would be yes, since brands like Jiffy Pop have a tin foil top and pop just fine. Can you let me know what happens when you try it? I’d love to see what happens!
Thank you!!! I was saying this could be done. My mother said no way… Thanks to this post. I win. My kids win and get some nommy popcorn on this rainy day. And I got to say booyahhhh to My Mom hahah
Me_1639403 lol :p
(My mother and I are naturally competitive. No grandma’s were hurt in the typing of this comment)
LOL! Glad to hear it worked 😀
uh .. you can buy non-microwave popcorn … even the old fashioned “Jolly popcorn” (I think that’s the name but not sure … that comes in an aluminium pan … great to have done this so you can use popcorn that you already have but this is nothing new … I guess younger people have only ever used the microwave kind … I guess it’s always good to learn new things. great that you shared this !
I’m not that young, but thank you! You’re right – I think a lot of people don’t know how to cook regular popcorn. I originally posted this mostly because I hate wasting food, and didn’t want to have to throw perfectly good microwave popcorn away just because it wouldn’t work in my microwave. The irony is that I probably eat popcorn twice a year, and this is the most popular post on my blog!
The problem we have is we work on an oil rig in Singapore and all we can get is some crap Jalapeno Butter popcorn. Our plan is to take it out of the bag and wash the nastiness off of the popcorn then cook it on the stove.
Should work as long as you add oil to the pot and keep a good eye on it. Let me know how it turns out!
Our microwave broke a few weeks back and I just tried this! Such a great idea!! Thank you for the help😊
I 😍 you so much for this post and you can find anything out there on these Internets.
One suggest for temperature and even popping of all kernels. Put one kernel in the pot first, then put all kernels in after the first has popped.
omg it worked!!! ty soooo much
Thank you so much for this 😀 my broken microwave can’t stop me now!
My husband and I moved into a new place the beginning of the year and have yet to buy a microwave . We bought a box of popcorn, ( without thinking might I add ) and i have been havi g a caring for popcorn lately . I come upon this post and decided to give it a try and was very surprised that it worked amazigly. I did what you suggested also and took out the popped kernels and finished popping the rest of them. I tossed in a little salt before I took them off the stove and it tasted amazing. I will definitely be sharing this and continue with making popcorn ! Thanks so much ! 🙂
That’s fantastic! Glad it worked so well for you 🙂
LOVED THIS!! I have the same microwave problem and finally got fed up with it. Glad I found your page! Worked great!!!! Popcorn came out crispier too.
Thank you 🙂
I usually just use an air popper, but today I came across two bags of microwave popcorn in my cupboard. I don’t have a microwave anymore so I was going to throw it out. I googled to see if I could cook it on the stove. Just made a huge bowl and it is fantastic!! I used a huge pot and put both bags in with a little oil in the pan first. It came out perfect. Evert kernel popped and none of it burned. Thank you!!!
Yay! Glad it worked out for you 🙂
Thank you for doing what I’ve always been afraid to try! I share a smaller microwave and stove with roommates. It drives me up the wall if the bag gets stuck, but I’d worried of ruining a pot trying to transfer to our stove.
Thanks, my microwave broke and I really wanted some popcorn only difference is I used a popcorn maker turned out great! Thanks again
Thank you Anna for explaining how cook to microwave popcorn on the stove. Recently my microwave broke and a fellow classmate gave me her left over popcorn, 21 bags to be exact! But now because of you I can enjoy movie with my family even more!
Worked perfectly the very first time! Only literally three unpopped kernels lol!
Medium heat on my gas stove was the right temperature. Took less than 2 minutes for the corn to begin popping and was completely finished within another minute. Thanks so so much for this!
Fantastic! Thank you for leaving a comment, and bon appetit!
You are like…a life savor or what?! My gf gave me a pack of microwave pop corn because they were the caramel ones and she didn’t like them. So, knowing that i would devour them she gave the pack to me. But you see i have no microwave so i was wondering all along whether i cna do that or not. Finally decided to search it online and there you were..Giving light to my ignorance! THANK YOU SO MUCH! (as you can see i was pretty desperate about it)
A friend from Greece.
Oh yay! Glad to know that it worked out for you (and on caramel popcorn, too). Thanks for leaving a comment, and hope you enjoyed your treat 🙂
Hi Anna, My name is Jeff. I am a PhD student from Denmark. I am writing my thesis on the history and practice of popping corn. Whilst that sounds boring, let me tell you, it is not. You seem to be a person who appreciates the popping of the corn. I was wondering if I could possibly interview you, online or in person, so that we could discuss, more in depth, the myriad popping scenarios. Kind regards, Jeff Hansen.
Hi Jeff, I don’t really eat as much popcorn as this post might imply, but if it helps with your thesis, I’m happy to help. As you might assume, I’m wary of making dates with strangers on the internet, but if you’d like to email me via my Contact page, I’d look forward to hearing more about your project and research thus far. I’m especially interested in what made you choose popcorn; I’m sure that’s a good story, too 🙂
I have never made my own popcorn but you make it look so easy! I need to try it soon!
Thanks for sharing!:)
You must be a real pain in the ass to live with
Thanks for posting, so I could read this (six year old) blog post again and fully come to grips with my then-boyfriend’s typical run of low-level emotional abuse by reading between the lines on what I’d thought was a humorous retelling of popcorn rituals in our apartment. I was being gaslit something fierce on a regular basis about pretty much everything (note that even here, with physical evidence, the man couldn’t admit that there was any problem at all). It was larger in scope, and resulted in me closing off and being unable to express any beliefs or desires vocally, something that royally fucked my next relationship. The thing is that It’s been so long now that I didn’t fully comprehend the scope of how hurtful his constant dismissal of the truth was until you called my attention back to this old story. I appreciate your help.
I was there for 26 years, so I know exactly what you’re talking about. It takes a long time for the damage to heal. My advice to anyone in a situation like this is Get away and Stay away.
p.s., the popcorn was great! Thanks!
You may be glad to know, Your post is still helping desperate popcorn lovers to make microwave popcorn without a microwave even after February 12th 2018!
I wish I had ideas that made an impact like this… Whats next? Pasta from Cucumbers? LoL
Have you made other “microwave” food on the stove? You should publish a cook book called who needs a microwave [or something] I’ll buy a copy 🙂
That’s so sweet! Thank you, Leon. Glad to hear it helped 🙂
So glad I found this blog……microwave broken and I am craving popcorn. Have to wait until tomorrow night because I just pigged out on peanuts (which are a poor substitute when craving popcorn).
This worked! I always end up burning my popcorn when I cook it in the microwave or I don’t pop all of the kernels and I was tired of it. So I tried it this way! At the end I melted a little… Ok a lot of butter to put on top and ended up meeting too much but it was still very good this way and way better than in the microwave!
It worked for me too, thanks to your specific directions. My microwave broke down yesterday and today has been a research day learning about microwave hazards and alternatives to one.
Lady you’re a genius. Hubby and i were craving popcorn on this cold and rainy day. We had thrown our microwave away a few months ago. Our neighbor wasn’t home to use his so I googled and this was the first article that came up. We used kettle corn and followed your very detailed instructions and our popcorn came out better than it does in the microwave. Thank you again!
Oh yay! So glad it worked for you 🙂
This works better than the microwave
Brooo I just tried this and no cap, this hits different. It’s like movie popcorn, but not sickly. Idk if that makes sense, but it’s so much better than microwave AND movie popcorn IMO. Forever am I stove making popcorn. Thanks to whoever made this article, made my day 🙂
Came out better than a Microwave!