How to Microwave Popcorn Without Burning It: Tips & Tricks

Categorized as Microwave
microwave popcorn

More than 17 billion quarts of popcorn are consumed by Americans every year. That’s enough to fill the Rose Bowl more than 5 times! And it’s not just at the movies – 92% of households have microwaves and use them to make popcorn. But how do you make perfect popcorn without burning it?

In this article, I’ll share 7 tips to microwave popcorn without burning it and other popcorn tips, including how to keep popcorn fresh and how to reheat it.

Why does my popcorn keep burning in the microwave?

 If your popcorn keeps burning in the microwave, there are a few possible explanations.

One of the most common reasons why popcorn kernels burn in the microwave is uneven heat distribution in the chamber. If your microwave doesn’t evenly distribute heat throughout, the kernels on the edges will cook faster than those in the middle. As a result, they’ll start to burn before the rest of the popcorn is even done popping.

This usually happens with older model microwaves or those without a rotating plate. If your microwave doesn’t have a rotating plate, you can try stirring the popcorn halfway through cooking to redistribute the kernels.

Another common reason for burnt popcorn is poor quality corn. If you’re using kernels that are old or of lower quality, they won’t pop as easily—which means they’ll be more likely to burn before they turn into fluffy, delicious popcorn.

Finally, insufficient humidity can also cause your popcorn to burn. If there’s not enough grease or moisture in the kernels, they’ll dry out and burn before they have a chance to pop.

7 Tips to Microwave Popcorn Without Burning

Here’re 7 tips to make sure your popcorn comes out perfect every time:

1. Know Your Microwave

Every microwave is different, so it’s important to know the ins and outs of yours before you start popping. Read the instructions that came with your popcorn or look online to find the recommended time and power level for making popcorn.

The following is some suggested cooking time to pop 1/4 cup of popcorns in different wattage microwaves:

  • 700-watt microwave: 2 minutes and 15 seconds
  • 900-watt microwave: 2 minutes
  • 1000-watt microwave: 1 minute and 50 seconds

2. Use high-quality kernels

When it comes to microwaving popcorn, quality matters. If you start with low-quality kernels, you’re more likely to end up with burnt popcorn. That’s because lower-quality kernels tend to be drier and less fresh than their higher-quality counterparts. As a result, they don’t pop as well and are more likely to get overcooked in the microwave.

So if you want to ensure that your popcorn comes out perfectly popped, look for brands that sell non-GMO, organic, or heirloom varieties. These kernels will be fresher and more likely to pop than the ones you find in the bulk section of your grocery store.

3. Don’t Use the Popcorn Button

If you’re a fan of microwave popcorn, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks involved in using the popcorn setting on your microwave. While it may be tempting to hit the button and walk away, this isn’t the best idea.

The popcorn setting in most microwaves is often only a preset time but doesn’t have humidity or temperature sensors to help ensure that the popcorn doesn’t burn. And since the power of microwaves can vary, it can be difficult to determine the perfect cooking time for your popcorn. As a result, it’s easy to end up with burnt popcorn if you’re not paying attention.

Therefore, it’s best to cook your popcorn the old-fashioned way—by monitoring it closely and stopping the microwave when you hear two full seconds between pops.

4. Nuke Some Water First

If you find that your popcorn is often burnt or undercooked, it may be due to uneven heat distribution in your microwave. If this is the case, nuking some water in your microwave for a minute or two before you start cooking the popcorn can help to create humid conditions and even out the temperature.

You can also add some oil to the kernels to moisture and help prevent them from drying out and burning. Just be sure to use light oil, such as canola or vegetable oil, so that it doesn’t make the popcorn too greasy.

5. Ditch The Bag

While microwave popcorn bags are convenient, they’re also one of the leading causes of burnt popcorn. That’s because it’s harder to evenly distribute the kernels in a bag, which can lead to hot spots and overcooked popcorn.

A glass bowl, on the other hand, provides much better heat distribution so that all the kernels cook evenly. Plus, it’s easy to see when the popcorn is done so that you can take it out of the microwave before it burns.

6. Rotate The Bowl

If your microwave doesn’t have a turntable, it’s important to rotate the bowl a few times during the cooking process. This simple step will help to ensure that all the kernels cook evenly, which means no more burnt popcorn.

7. Some Apps Might Help

If you’re still struggling to get your popcorn just right, there are a few apps that can help. For example, the Perfect Popcorn will let you know when your popcorn is done. Just turn on the app and place it near the microwave so that it can pick up the sound of the popping kernels.

How to Store Microwave Popcorn

There’s nothing quite like a big bowl of freshly popped popcorn, but did you know that how you store your popcorn can make a big difference in terms of freshness? If you’re not storing your popcorn properly, it can become stale quickly.

The most important thing to remember when it comes to storing popcorn is that the key is to keep it airtight. You want to put your popcorn in an airtight container as soon as it’s done popping. This will help to keep the moisture in, which will keep your popcorn from becoming dry and stale.

One thing to avoid is putting your popcorn in the fridge. Many people think that this will help to keep their popcorn fresh, but actually, it will do the opposite. The moisture in the fridge will cause the kernels to soften and become mushy. So if you want your popcorn to stay crisp and fresh, make sure to keep it out of the fridge.

Contrary to the fridge, the freezer is actually a great place to store popcorn if you want it to last longer. To freeze your popcorn, first, seal it in an airtight freezer-safe bag or container. Remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn.

Then, label the bag with the date so you know when it was stored. Popcorn can last in the freezer for up to a month. For reheating, don’t use the microwave. The microwave will make the popcorn chewy and tough. Instead, reheat it in the oven or air fryer. This will help to keep your popcorn crisp and fresh-tasting.

5 Ways to Eat Popcorn

Popcorn is a delicious and versatile snack. Whether you like it sweet or savory, there are endless ways to enjoy this tasty treat. Here are five of our favorite ways to eat popcorn:

1. Plain Popcorn

This is the most basic way to eat popcorn, and also the healthiest. Just pop some kernels in the microwave and enjoy. Sure, it might not be as exciting as some of the other options on this list, but sometimes simplicity is best. Besides, who doesn’t love a good kernel or two that gets stuck in their teeth? Am I right?

2. Butter and Salt Popcorn

This is my go-to movie theater snack. The butter and salt make the popcorn so much more flavorful and addicting. And let’s be honest, half of the reason we go to the movies is for the free refills on our large sodas and extra-large buckets of popcorn, right? No? Just me? Okay then.

3. Honey and Butter Popcorn

If you’re looking for a sweet treat that’s also relatively healthy, this is the snack for you. Simply drizzle some honey over your popped kernels and add a dollop of butter (or margarine if you’re trying to be healthy). The sweetness of the honey will offset the savoriness of the butter perfectly. Trust me, you’ll be addicted in no time!

4. Garlic and Herb Popcorn

This savory snack is perfect for when you’re craving something salty but don’t want all the calories that come with traditional butter and salt popcorn. Simply add some garlic powder and your favorite herbs (I like oregano and thyme) to your popped kernels and enjoy!

5. Cinnamon Sugar Popcorn

This is my all-time favorite way to eat popcorn…and also my biggest diet destroyer. It’s so easy to make too! Just mix together some sugar and cinnamon in a bowl, then pour it over your popped kernels while they’re still hot so that the sugar has a chance to melt into all of those nooks and crannies. Yum! Now try not to eat the entire batch in one sitting…I dare you!


Now that you know how to make perfect popcorn without burning it, it’s time to get popping! Try out these tips and see how easy it is to have a delicious snack without any of the hassles. And if you’re looking for some fun and creative ways to eat your popcorn, be sure to check out the list above. There’s something for everyone!

By Rosie Elliott

I’m Rosie. I’m a professional chef with experience in Western, Mediterranean, and Italian cuisine. I’ve been cooking for over 15 years, and I have two daughters that keep me busy!