Microwave Popcorn Does Not Pop: Why and How to Fix It

Microwave Popcorn Does Not Pop

Do you love popcorn? Who doesn’t, right? But have you ever made popcorn in the microwave and it just wouldn’t pop? It’s frustrating, isn’t it? There could be many reasons for this, such as a lousy brand that doesn’t provide quality popcorn kernels or a defective bag that was made incorrectly.

In this article, I will explore the reasons why your microwave popcorn doesn’t pop and how to fix it.

The Most Common Reasons why Microwave Popcorn Doesn’t Pop

Here are the most common reasons why microwave popcorn won’t pop:

Too Little or Too Much Moisture

The ideal amount of moisture needed for a kernel to successfully pop is 14%, and if there is either too much or too little moisture inside the kernel, it will not be able to expand and burst as it needs to. If there is too much moisture, the kernel will become soggy and won’t be able to hold its shape when heated up.

If there isn’t enough water inside the kernel, it won’t be able to generate enough pressure for it to burst open; instead, it will just remain a hard kernel no matter how long it’s cooked in the microwave. 

The Wattage is Too Low

The wattage required for making popcorn in a microwave oven is important as it directly impacts how much heat gets generated and transferred to the kernels.

Generally speaking, 500 watts is considered sufficient for producing enough heat for popping most types of popcorn kernels. Any wattage below this will likely result in unpopped kernels because there isn’t enough energy being generated to pop them properly. 

Old or Stale Kernels

Another common problem is stale or old kernels; even if these kernels are exposed to high temperatures, they may not pop due to a lack of internal moisture or because they have lost their elasticity over time.

To prevent this issue from happening in the future, make sure you buy fresh popcorn kernels and store them in an airtight container until you’re ready to use them.

The Bag Is Too Small

If you’re using a bag that’s too small for your microwave oven—or if it doesn’t fit properly inside—then this could be another reason why your popcorn isn’t popping correctly!

Make sure that whatever bag size you use fits inside your microwave without any problems; otherwise some of the kernels may end up burning while others remain unpopped due to lack of exposure to heat. 

Putting The Bag Upside Down

Believe it or not, putting the bag upside down can affect how successfully your kernel pops as well. This is mainly due to how hot spots form inside microwaves; having all of the popped corn on one side can mean that some parts experience excessive amounts of heat while others don’t get enough exposure at all.

Using Low-Fat or Non-Fat Popcorn

Finally, if you’re using low-fat or non-fat types of popcorn then this could be yet another reason why some of your kernels aren’t popping correctly each time!

These types are generally formulated differently than regular varieties and therefore require different cooking times/temperatures for optimal results; thus making them difficult to cook properly in a microwave.

So if you want perfect popcorn every time, it’s best to stick with regular types.

Also read: The Definitive Microwave Popcorn Guide for Popcorn Lovers

How to Fix It and Get Your Popcorn Popping Again

Now that we’ve discussed the common reasons why your popcorn isn’t popping correctly, it’s time to discuss how to fix it and get your popcorn popping again. There are a few simple tricks you can use to make sure that every single kernel in your bag pops perfectly.

Check for The Popcorn’s Moisture Content 

As mentioned before, the moisture content of the kernels is one of the most important factors when it comes to popping popcorn. If your kernels are too dry or too wet, they won’t pop properly. There are two ways to check the moisture level of your kernels – manually test them or use a hygrometer. 

To manually test your popcorn for moisture content, take three kernels from the bag and try to dent them with your fingernail. If the kernels dent easily and feel slightly moist, then the kernels are too wet and will not pop correctly. If the kernels don’t dent at all and feel rock hard, then the moisture level is too low and they won’t pop either.

The second way is to use a hygrometer. A hygrometer is a device that measures humidity levels in things like soil or air. You can also use one to measure the moisture level in your popcorn kernels. Just drop this device into the bag or mason jar with the kernels and it will give you an accurate reading as to how much moisture is in those particular kernels.

Soak The Kernels

If you find out that your popcorn is too dry, you can add some extra moisture by soaking the kernels in water. All you need to do is place the kernels in a mason jar and add 1-2 teaspoons of water.

Put the lid on the jar, shake it a few times, and leave it overnight. The next day, test the popcorn kernels again using a hygrometer or moisture meter. If the kernels are still too dry, add another teaspoon of water and repeat until you reach the desired moisture content.

Increase The Wattage

If you’re still having problems with your popcorn not popping correctly, then the next step is to increase the wattage of your microwave. Most microwaves are set to run on a medium setting by default. This may not be enough for some types of popcorn kernels, so increasing the heat can help them pop more effectively.

Microwave Some Water First

You can also try microwaving some water in the microwave before popping your popcorn. This will help create a humid environment inside the microwave which can help the kernels to pop better. Just add a cup of water to the microwave and set it to 1 minute on high. Once the timer is up, take out the water and then put your popcorn in!

Don’t Use The Popcorn Button

The popcorn setting may look like a convenient way to make popcorn, but it’s not always the best option. The preset cooking time isn’t always accurate and could be too short or too long for the specific type of popcorn you’re using. To make sure that your kernels are popping correctly, it’s always best to manually set the time and temperature.

Ditch the Bag

Finally, if you’re really having problems with your popcorn not popping correctly, it may be time to ditch the bag and use a glass bowl instead. Glass bowls covered with a lid can help create steam -like environment inside, which can help the kernels to pop better.

Jazz Up Your Popcorn With These 5 Easy Ways

Look, we all love popcorn and it’s a great snack. But sometimes, you just want something different than boring old salty popcorn. If you’re looking to liven up your popcorn routine, here are five simple ways to do just that.

Add Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast is a great addition to any dish, and adding it to your popcorn can add a cheesy flavor without all the extra fat and calories. Just sprinkle on some nutritional yeast before popping your corn in the microwave and enjoy a savory, guilt-free snack.

Include Some Sea Salt

Who says all salts are created equal? A pinch of sea salt sprinkled on top of your popcorn can bring out its natural sweetness while also adding an interesting texture. Plus, sea salt is full of minerals that are good for you.

Sprinkle on Ground Cinnamon

This one might sound odd at first, but trust us—it works! Sprinkling ground cinnamon on top of your popcorn adds a bit of warmth and sweetness that will keep you coming back for more.

Spice Things Up With Red Pepper Flakes

Does plain old butter not do it for you anymore? Throw some red pepper flaes onto your popcorn and give it some heat! It’s a great way to add a little kick to your snack time routine.

Make Your Popcorn Sweet with Maple Syrup

For those who have a sweet tooth, maple syrup is the perfect way to make your popcorn taste like dessert. Just drizzle some maple syrup over the top before popping in the microwave and enjoy the sweet, caramel-like flavor.


Don’t let unpopped corn ruin movie night again! By following the simple tips outlined here – checking for moisture content, soaking the kernels, increasing wattage settings – you’ll be able to enjoy perfectly popped corn every time.

So grab your favorite bowl, pour yourself a big bag of corn, settle back into that comfy sofa with friends or family members and enjoy every last crunchy bite.

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!