You don’t have to spend money on commercial packages to enjoy quick and easy popcorn at home. Microwaving regular popcorn is almost as easy, costs less, and lets you season it just the way you like it. For a fat-free, low-sodium snack, skip the oil, butter, and salt. If you love butter, avoid artificial flavors and pour on the real thing. Feel free to experiment with herbs, spices, and other seasonings.
Place ¼ cup popcorn kernels in small paper bag. If desired, top popcorn with 2 tsp. butter or oil and/or ¼ teaspoon salt.
Fold top of bag down about 2 inches. Staple bag shut. Shake gently to mix popcorn, oil, and salt.
Place bag in microwave oven. If using oil, set microwave-safe plate under bag to catch any oil leaks.
Cook on high for two to three minutes, listening to pops. When pops are five seconds apart, remove bag from microwave.
Open bag, being careful not to get burned by escaping steam. Pour popped corn into serving bowl.
For butter topping, place 3 tbsp. of butter (or to taste) in a small, covered bowl. Microwave on high for 60 seconds, or until butter melts. Pour butter over popcorn.
Add other toppings as desired. Toss gently to mix.
For a smaller or larger serving, put less or more popping corn in the bag. A lunch sack can neatly pop up to ½ cup of kernels. If using oil and/or salt, adjust amounts to match. Cooking instructions will be the same.
Popcorn salt tastes like regular iodized salt, but has extra fine grains that will stick to popcorn better.
Adding oil before popping helps salt and other seasonings stick.
Cooking time varies, just as it does with commercial microwave popcorn. Listen carefully, and remove bag from microwave when popping slows down. Cooking too long will cause popcorn to burn.
Microwaving metal is dangerous in most cases, so you may be concerned about stapling the bag. Many cooks—including Food Network chef Alton Brown—have used staples without problems. If you don’t want to risk it, just fold the end of the bag two more times (still leaving room for popcorn to expand), and place the bag in the oven, fold down. Without staples, popcorn is more likely to spill out during cooking.