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Perfect popcorn at home starts with a plain brown paper bag

Popcorn is a go-to snack for some people and a movie theater treat for others. If you’re the latter and you’re craving popcorn due to the lack of movie theater popcorn available over the past year or so, you may want to check out this super-simple method of popping corn at home. With no special equipment or tools needed, this method turns out perfectly-popped corn in just minutes. The best part is, there are no chemical-stained, store-bought bags involved, so it’s better for you, too!

Microwave popcorn with real butter

Try this recipe for your next movie night. (Makes six cups.)

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A few rules

  1. Use a plain paper bag with no writing or ink (the ink may not be microwave-safe).
  2. Listen carefully. All microwaves cook at different strengths, so don’t watch the clock; listen for popping sounds. When the popping slows down, the popcorn is ready. 
  3. Be careful when removing the bag from the microwave and when opening the bag. There is a lot of steam in the bag that can burn anything it comes in contact with. 

Ingredients and supplies

  • ¼ cup popcorn kernels
  • ½ teaspoon vegetable oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Clean brown paper lunch bag
  • Large microwave-safe plate
  • Oven mitts
  • Large microwave-safe bowl
  • Rubber spatula


  1. Place popcorn in a paper bag and drizzle with vegetable oil. Fold over the top of the bag three times so it is sealed tightly.
  2. Shake the bag to coat all of the kernels with oil before placing the bag on its side on the large microwave-safe plate. Shake the plate so the kernels sort into an even layer in the bag.
  3. Place the plate in the microwave and cook until the popping slows to one or two pops at a time. This should take around three to five minutes.
  4. Use oven mitts to remove the plate from the oven (the plate will be very hot). Set aside to cool slightly.
  5. Melt butter in the large microwave-safe bowl (big enough for the popcorn), cover, and heat in the microwave until melted.
  6. Use oven mitts to remove the bowl from the microwave. Carefully open the paper bag and pour the popcorn into the bowl with the butter.
  7. Use a rubber spatula to toss the popcorn and evenly coat it with butter. Sprinkle with salt and serve.


All you really need to make paper bag popcorn is kernels and oil, but you can subtract, substitute, and add ingredients once you get the hang of it.

  • If you don’t want to use oil or butter, you don’t have to. You can pop the corn in the bag dry and eat it as is. 
  • Sprinkle the popcorn with cinnamon and sugar after tossing it with butter to make a sweet and salty snack.
  • Toss popcorn with olive oil, parmesan cheese, and dried herbs for a savory snack without the extra calories of butter.
  • Use ranch seasoning or cheddar cheese seasoning to mix up the flavors of your popcorn. 
  • Toss popcorn with peanuts and chocolate (or caramel) chips for a quick dessert. 

If you weren’t craving popcorn before you read this, you probably are now. Give this simple method a try, and you’ll be serving up perfect homemade popcorn in no time.

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