How To Cook Microwave Popcorn on the Stove

Popcorn

Photo courtesy of Laura Bray. Click through for her great tutorial on making your own microwave popcorn from scratch!

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.

6) Enjoy!

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?

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66 thoughts on “How To Cook Microwave Popcorn on the Stove

  1. Erin W says:

    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.

      • Anonymous says:

        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.

    • Kirsten says:

      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!

      • Anna says:

        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!

    • Nevaeh Goodenberger says:

      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!

  2. Kayla says:

    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 🙂

  3. Maddie says:

    This worked amazingly!!! But I had to use 2 tablespoons. Because the pot was so big. But this was great! Thanks!

  4. Paula says:

    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?

      • Anna says:

        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!

  5. Anonymous says:

    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

  6. ray.marshall@yahoo.com says:

    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.

  7. Claire Dangalan says:

    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!!!

  8. tegan says:

    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!!!!!

  9. Stephanie says:

    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
    Stephanie M.

    • Anna says:

      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!

  10. Kelsie says:

    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
    Grandma_0
    Me_1639403 lol :p

    (My mother and I are naturally competitive. No grandma’s were hurt in the typing of this comment)

  11. tild says:

    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 !

    • Anna says:

      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!

  12. Anonymous says:

    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.

  13. Mike Johnson says:

    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.

  14. Cheyenne says:

    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 ! 🙂

  15. Natalie says:

    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.
    Thanks!!

  16. Debra Hulten says:

    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!!!

  17. Peter V Miranda says:

    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.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Thanks, my microwave broke and I really wanted some popcorn only difference is I used a popcorn maker turned out great! Thanks again

  19. M.E. says:

    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!

  20. westcoast21 says:

    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!

  21. Christy says:

    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.

    • Anna says:

      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 🙂

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