Introduction: Ultra-cheap (but Tasty) Microwave Popcorn

Picture of Ultra-cheap (but Tasty) Microwave Popcorn

Do you like microwave popcorn, but hate spending a buck (or two) for one bag? Me too. This instructible will show you how to make microwave popcorn for much less than buying the microwave bags.

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

Picture of Gather Your Supplies

Gather the following:
- Popping corn
- Vegetable Oil (for cooking)
- Ceramic Mug (don't use plastic and make sure it's microwave safe)
- Seasoning (regular salt, flavored salt or even butter, but not for cooking with)
- paper towel, (not shown)

Step 2: Put in Oil and Popping Corn

Picture of Put in Oil and Popping Corn

Put in just enough popcorn to have a single layer of kernels at the bottom of the mug. Too many and they get stuck in the cup and are difficult to get out. Too few and you don't get a full cup. You'll have to experiment with your particular cup.

Put in a LITTLE oil, stop pouring when the oil is about the size of a quarter in the bottom of the cup (or about half a teaspoon)

Step 3: Cover the Mug and Start the Popping!

Picture of Cover the Mug and Start the Popping!

IMPORTANT! - The paper towel must be tucked underneath the cup to keep the popcorn and kernels inside the cup. If there's any way for these to get out, they will, causing a bit of a mess to clean.

Depending on the size of the cup and the microwave being used, you'll have to find the right time to cook the popcorn.

Start with 1 minute and 30 seconds and add 10 seconds for the next batch until you find the right time for you. Be aware that burned popcorn smells pretty bad.

Step 4: HOT! - Take Out the Popcorn, Season and Enjoy!

Picture of HOT! - Take Out the Popcorn, Season and Enjoy!

WARNING! - The mug is really really really hot! (really!)

Use the paper towel as a kind of oven mitt to pick up the mug.

You may find it helpful to have a small bowl that you use to eat out of to make it easier to get to the popcorn.

If you have butter (I don't because I do this at work), the mug should be hot enough to melt enough butter to use for the popcorn.

Try a cinnamon and sugar mix instead of salt for a sweet snack!

Step 5: FAQ

Q: My brother-in-law uses paper sacks to do this without oil, why don't you?
A: Paper sacks aren't designed to be put in the microwave, I'm not sure what's in them (chemically speaking) that may be bad in the microwave.

Q: That's not enough popcorn, I want more! How do I do it?
A: That depends... You can buy a big microwave popping container and use that to make lots of popcorn. But since I'm cheap, I'm using what I already have. You can try other container sizes and times, just be careful not to burn yourself (or the popcorn) too much.

Q: Can I just cook with butter and skip the whole vegetable oil thing?
A: I think that's too prone to burning, so I didn't try it. Also, I would expect it would be difficult to clean, so again, I didn't try that.

Q: Can I put the salt in with the oil and popcorn?
A: I wouldn't. I tried and it made a mess that was difficult to clean.

Q: Can I collect the unpopped kernels and try again?
A: Not likely worth the effort, they probably are duds anyway. (Thanks razordu30 for the info!)

Step 6: Bonus!

As a special bonus for this instructible, I'm including a set of pictures that I took while cleaning out the office fridge... Open if you dare!


aunt margie (author)2015-03-30

I use an old 1.5 quart ice cream carton. Comes with a lid so no fussing with.towels, etc. Store the popcorn in the freezer so it keeps the water in the kernels. Huge popped pieces, very pure white, few unpopped. I spray with butter flavored cooking spray after covering the bottom of the box...enough so I can see each kernel got some. Stay by the microwave and turn it off if you stop hearing.pops. empty box into bowl.and add your favorite flavorings. I used to use the brown bag method but had more unpopped bits and more danger of burning.

not-bob (author)aunt margie2015-03-30

Nice! Thanks for this new idea :)

daviddd (author)2011-04-07

Omg, so delicious! I added a little salt when they were done!! It only took me 1 minute 30 for a small batch.

I love them cause you can make a little bit, eat it while it's hot, then make more, instead of eating tons of cold popcorn.

not-bob (author)daviddd2011-04-07

Yay! I'm glad you liked it.

daviddd (author)not-bob2011-04-07

It is such a great idea at work too, cause it only takes a minute and there is hardly any clean up. Also, they are sorta healthy if you leave out the salt :p

hedgiehog (author)2008-05-27

oh my freezer definetly beats you. I found ground beef last year. The expiry date was 1995. It was wayyyy past due (even for being frozen) i found 5 year pesto in the fridge, which amazingly was still green, just looked like a green mouse was in there. and of course i found a packaged fish from 1993, that was scary luckily frozen too. Personaly i find that if you dont eat the food within a week, its too late

BtheBike (author)hedgiehog2011-03-04

iif in an air tight container or bag , stuff can last decades . its the oxidizing from thawing and re-freezing in home freezers that ruins (freezer burns) foods mostly.

I've had dbl vac-packed crab tails and salmon from 99 that was awesome ,but its been deep frozen .

not-bob (author)hedgiehog2008-05-27

eeeewwww! 12 year old ground beef isn't like 12 year old scotch :) (Or maybe it is...)

hedgiehog (author)not-bob2008-05-27

i dont think so, but apparantly 10 year old twinkys are, lol altho i wouldnt want to try. Anything that is 12 years old will probally kill you, and anything that can last 12 years shouldn't be eaten (ie cheesewiz)

E_MAN (author)hedgiehog2010-08-18

Caned bacon lasts for ten years :P

riyad2212 (author)hedgiehog2010-03-07

on several occasions i ate 6 year expired potato chips they tasted fine, one of the chipswere green.

S189 (author)2010-10-03

This worked for me! This photo is from the first try, I used a little too much popcorn but I just took out some that was popped and nuked it a little more. Great idea. Thanks for the Instructable!

not-bob (author)S1892010-10-08

Yay! Just be careful with that hot glass! :)


P.Bechthold (author)2010-04-09

If that was my jello I would be mad. that was cookies and creme flavoured.(supposed to be black)

the duck tape queen (author)2010-03-13

great instructable=]] i tried it but instead i used a medium sized bowl. and just covered the bottom with unpopped popcorn and added just enough oil to cover it. i cooked it for about 2 minutes and 30 seconds and it turned out great. i love it!

not-bob (author)2009-07-22

and so is the mustard.... :)

Kaiven (author)2008-09-12

You know, that looks good... besides the stuff in the fridge. Even water in a bottle can be full of bacteria ;) Is there a way you could make this popcorn into caramel or kettle popcorn?

not-bob (author)Kaiven2008-09-22

I'm not sure how to do this with caramel corn. The mug is definitely hot enough to melt butter. So that and a bit of honey may do the trick for a similar taste.

Kaiven (author)not-bob2008-09-23

:D :D :D :D :D I already found the way! I found out with my mom and it is coated and cooked more evenly then with a stove! I might post instructions, and it is just AWESOME!

not-bob (author)Kaiven2009-03-24

Please do, I'm getting hungry :)

Kaiven (author)not-bob2009-03-25

Ugh, lol I need to go find the recipe now xD I lost it on my fridge.

daviddd (author)2008-07-25

MMmm Looks good!

Lizzio (author)2008-06-14

That bonus had me on the floor. Hilarious. Looking forward to tackling the shared fridge today...

liny (author)2008-05-28

I found a cranberry juice that was 5 years old, another cranberry juice that was 2 years old and one 7 years old. Then while i was cleaning my locker, my friend found in his locker(school), a rotten piece of apple that had been inside a metal container for 1 year. (the thing moved toward the light when we opened the container)

not-bob (author)liny2008-05-28

I have kept a jar of Ragu that expired the same month I started at my current job. I found it in the break room and instantly felt a bond. Sounds like I'm not alone :)

Browncoat (author)2008-05-28

Good idea if someone can control themselves to eat that little of popcorn at a time. (I am not one of those people, but hey.)

Sunbanks (author)2008-05-26

I never thought of using a mug! That's a great idea. Usually I use two bowls and put one on top of the other and leave enough room for the steam to escape.

not-bob (author)Sunbanks2008-05-27

I tried a bowl, but it seemed like it took a really long time for anything to happen. I'll try again knowing that someone else can do it. Thanks!

Sunbanks (author)not-bob2008-05-27

When I use a bowl I don't use any oil and I put it in for 1 minute and 10 seconds. It works pretty well.

razordu30 (author)2008-05-27

Neat idea! I actually use the brown lunch bag method (as a note - it's perfectly safe for microwaving). 1) You don't need the oil to cook, really - it can do it without it (Alton Brown actually noted this in his book vs. his show). With a bag this is a great, because it means less junk on the bottom of the microwave (seeping through the bag). With a mug, it probably doesn't matter too much. The reason is that the oil isn't what cooks the popcorn, it's trapped moisture in the kernel that really does it (and why a microwave is excellent for popcorn). 2) I think you'll probably get more out of a bag, but this is great for a snack (and it cooks faster, too). 3) You might want to note not to try "recooking" unpopped kernels. The reason is that the water vapor inside the unpopped kernels has usually escaped out of the kernel through little cracks instead of "popping" it. Since there's already a crack, it won't pop anymore no matter how much you cook it. Sure, there are a couple truly uncooked kernels, but it's not worth the effort. Great instructable!

not-bob (author)razordu302008-05-27

Thanks for the feedback. I haven't tried without oil to compare how well it works. It's worth a try! Also, I added a note about trying to recook unpopped kernels to the FAQ.

xrobevansx (author)2008-05-27

what *was* still good in your fridge? YUCK!

not-bob (author)xrobevansx2008-05-27

Hehe, not much! There was some bottled water and about 3 things that were put there within the last couple days, that was about it....

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