There is no other snack that globalizes the movie-watching experience like popcorn does. It’s come to be such a well-loved and convenient snack that many homes stock up on microwave popcorn when holidays, festivals, or even football season is around the corner.
Unfortunately, sometimes microwaving your popcorn cannot be done. Whether it’s because your microwave broke down or you are somewhere without a microwave. Fear not because there are other ways you can use to make this beloved snack bowl.
The next best thing would be to find a way to get fresh hot popcorn without having to use a microwave.
Read on to find out how to make microwave popcorn without a microwave.
How to Make Microwave Popcorn Without a Microwave
Is it Possible to Pop Microwave Popcorn Outside of a Microwave?
Two words: Heck yeah! History insists that popcorn was invented around 4700 BC, ages before the microwave was even ideated. You most certainly do not need a microwave to satisfy your popcorn cravings.
If you’re a bit hesitant to do things from scratch, you can still make use of microwavable popcorn. The only element you need to remove from the equation is the microwave.
Even though it comes with the nomenclature of “microwave popcorn,” it still works on the same principles of needing heat and pressure as any other brand of popcorn. If you can provide these two energy sources in a consistent manner then your popcorn will pop regardless of whether it’s in a microwave or not.
The only thing that will change with each method is the time that will go into making that first kernel of corn pop. Once you hear that first fateful pop, you’re set for a bowl overflowing with buttery goodness.
Alternatives to Microwaving Popcorn
While it remains true that microwaving your popcorn is, without doubt, the fastest way to get it popped, there are several alternatives that give you the same results, if not better, in competitively close times.
If you’re pondering how to make microwave popcorn without a microwave, look no further than these four alternatives:
This is arguably the most commonly known alternative to microwaving popcorn and for good reason. It’s extremely simple and involves no more work than just transferring your popcorn from the microwave to the stove.
Simply empty the contents of your regular microwave popcorn packet into a non-stick pot and set it on medium heat for a couple of minutes. When the mixture first slides out onto the pan, it’s heavily congealed into a buttery lump. Take a ladle or a spatula and gently break the clumps apart until the butter begins to melt.
Once the corn kernels start to gently move around the pot, it’s time to turn the heat low and cover it with a lid. Make sure you’re constantly shaking your now closed pot so as to prevent any of the corn from sticking to the bottom and burning.
Once the popping has entirely quieted down, take the pot off the heat entirely. Shake once or twice more to get some of those late poppers and your popcorn is now good to go right into a bowl, ready to be served.
While pressure cookers might be a bit more famous for their insane rice-cooking capacities, they make for pretty competent popcorn poppers as well.
Technically, this still comes under the stovetop category of cooking, but the differences are in the nuances. Aside from getting a bowl of fresh popcorn, you also get those delicious slightly charred bits stuck at the bottom of the pot for you to scrape out with a spoon or better yet, your fingers.
The procedure is almost the same as that of the regular stovetop pan or pot: pour the microwave popcorn into the pot of your pressure cooker and wait for the clump to melt down a bit before covering the lid.
The only difference here is that once you put the lid onto the pot, there’s not taking it off until the popcorn is fully done. There is also a far greater deal of pressure build-up than in a normal pan, which causes the corn to pop faster — this along with the lack of control once the lid goes on is the reason the popcorn at the bottom can get a bit charred.
If smoky popcorn is not up to your alley, you can avoid it entirely by shaking your cooker heavily while the corn kernels are popping. It might be a bit more work, but using a pressure cooker is definitely faster than using a regular stovetop pan.
Ovens are another very easy avenue to a bowl of non-microwaved popcorn. A lot of people are very hesitant to use them for smaller tasks like popcorn making because they think the slower heating of the oven will dry out the corn kernels before they can pop. While there isn’t any science to disprove the above theory, things somehow work out just fine in reality.
All you need is an aluminum foil sheet or two to form a pouch that you can porn your congealed microwave popcorn mixture into. You’re free to try whatever pouch-making technique tickles your fancy but the most tried and tested one is to form a cross out of two sheets of foil, plop the kernel mixture right in the center, and then wrap the sheets loosely around it. Cooking the mixture for about 10 minutes at 450℉ is typically enough to get your popcorn fully popped.
If you don’t have a toaster oven at home or if it’s broken right when you need it, you can also make use of a grill. Place the same foil pouch of butter-corn onto a pan or a metal plate and place it directly on the grill. Shake the pan occasionally using tongs until the popping fully stops and you’ve got yourself a batch of grilled popcorn.
In both cases, however, make it a point to wear oven mitts when unfurling the foil. Any caught steam that will be released has enough latent heat to give you second-degree burns.
If you’re serious about everyday popcorn, consider investing in an electric or a stovetop air popper. A hand-cranked popper is a crowd favorite when it comes to this category.
The protocol for making popcorn with it is also the same as with any stovetop pan. It’s similar to a pressure cooker and is designed to be used on the stove, except that it’s significantly lighter and gives you the kind of popcorn you’re used to having at movie theatres. At $42, it is a fantastically cost-effective means of getting frequent rounds of non-microwaved popcorn.
If you lean a little more towards the electric side of things, you can also find electric air poppers of varying sizes and budgets to match your popcorn-making frequency. Because this niche caters to such a large range of needs, it’s difficult to put them down into a set price range. However, there is no doubt in the fact that out there somewhere, lies an electric popper that fits the size and price you want it to be.
What Can You Add to Microwave Popcorn?
Now that you know how to make microwave popcorn without a microwave, what’s next? What can you do to enhance the taste of your popcorn?
Regular popcorn is often seasoned with nothing more than salt and butter. While this age-old classic remains highly relevant for how good it is, maybe it’s time to broaden the popcorn horizons. There’s so much you can do with a batch of fresh hot popcorn.
Popcorn seasoning comes in packets or shakers. Our favorite picks are white cheddar or sour cream and onion for the savory flavor that goes well with buttered popcorn. For an extra sour taste, there’s dill pickle seasoning. And you’ve got to try the ketchup flavor if you love ketchup chips.
If you want to try new things but don’t want to use popcorn seasoning, try different flavor combos: chocolate drizzle, parmesan, thyme, mustard, cinnamon and sugar, and even bacon bits with jalapenos, can all be used as alternatives for popcorn seasoning.
If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, maybe substitute popcorn for macaroni in your next bout of mac-and-cheese. The sky is the limit with a base as versatile as popcorn.
Is Microwave Popcorn Bad for You?
While microwaving your popcorn might seem like the easiest option of the lot, it also comes with more to it. Most people shirk microwave popcorn because they believe the radiation of the waves will increase their chances of getting cancer. While their fears aren’t misplaced, they aren’t exactly directed at the right culprit.
A lot of microwave popcorn packages contain substances known as perfluorinated compounds (PFCs). These PFCs are highly lipophobic (they repel oils and fats), because of which they make excellent liners for popcorn or pizza packaging given that they help keep the grease from seeping through.
As wondrous as they are for packaging, PFCs spell a different relationship for our bodies. When PFCs are exposed to microwave radiation they break down into perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) which is known to be cancer-inducing. Some research also points towards PFOA being linked to other health conditions like infertility and slowed mental development.
The popcorn that you cook within these PFC walls picks up PFOA like butter and is washed right down your system with some iced coke. While exposure once in a blue moon isn’t something to be concerned about, if you’re a popcorn fanatic then looking for alternatives is definitely something to consider.
Takeaway – Popcorn Galore for Some Well-Deserved Movie Time
And there you have it! Use any of the above four alternatives as an answer to your question of how to make microwave popcorn without a microwave. Now that you’ve found so many healthier alternatives to making your all-time favorite snack, movie time will no longer have to be dry and popcorn-less ever again.
So sit down, relax, and toss back some of that microwave-free popcorn as you pick out your next movie series to binge-watch — you’ve earned it.