How to Pop Popcorn in a Paper Bag in the Microwave (It’s Simple!)

Jump into my quick and easy guide on how to pop popcorn in the microwave using just a paper bag — no oil or equipment needed!

Quick and easy guide on how to pop popcorn in the microwave using just a paper bag, no oil needed. 

How to Pop Popcorn in the Microwave Using Just a Paper Bag

Making popcorn has never been easier! It’s one of my all-time favorite easy and healthy snacks for the whole family. And did you know you can make popcorn in a brown paper bag in the microwave? It’s so simple and doesn’t require any popcorn-making gear that you might’ve *thought* you needed to make popcorn at home (I know that’s what I thought!).

I’m not a huge microwave person, but this is completely an exception because this method is a lifesaver. You don’t need an air-popper, stovetop-popper, or any oil, and you can ditch the store-bought chemical-filled microwaveable popcorn, too! Making it in a paper bag in the microwave is silly easy, and you can have a whole-grain, fiber-filled snack on the regular with little effort on your part! Score.

(I also love adding a little butter and salt. So delicious.)

Quick and easy guide on how to pop popcorn in the microwave using just a paper bag, no oil needed. 

How do you know when the popcorn is done?

The goal is to pop as many kernels as you can, without burning the popcorn. The time that will take varies depending on the age and water content of the kernels, your area’s climate, and your microwave.

Be sure you stick close by while it’s popping so you don’t end up with burnt popcorn. Listen as it begins to rapidly pop, and when there’s a one-second pause in popping, it’s done. Go ahead an open the microwave and remove the bag.

What are some ways to spice up traditional popcorn?

Butter and salt are always a favorite topping, but you can also get creative and try recipes like my chili lime popcorn, the best sticky caramel corn, or this fun (and non-sticky) spiced caramel corn with white chocolate. All of them are delicious!

What size paper bag do I use to pop popcorn?

You can use just about any size brown paper bag that will fit in your microwave. The little lunch sack size is easy to find, but there’s a size just a bit bigger which also works great.


How to Pop Popcorn in a Brown Paper Bag in the Microwave

  • Author: Melissa Griffiths-Bless this Mess
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Cook Time: 2 min
  • Total Time: 7 minutes
  • Yield: 2-3 cups 1x


A quick and easy guide on how to pop popcorn in the microwave using just a paper bag, no oil needed. Making popcorn has never been easier!



  • 1/3 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1 medium brown paper bag
  • Melted butter and salt or other seasonings to taste


  1. Add the popcorn to the paper bag and fold the top over a time or two.
  2. Microwave on high until the popping has a one second gap in it, 1.5-2.5 minutes.
  3. Stop the microwave, dump the popped popcorn into a large bowl and season as desired.
  4. Repeat as needed to get the desired amount of popcorn.


  • The goal is to pop as many kernels as you can without burning the popcorn. The time that will take will vary depending on the age and water content of your popcorn, your climate/weather, and your microwave.
  • Don’t walk away from the popping or you’ll end up with a bag of burnt popcorn. Stand there and listen until, after the popping starts going rapidly, you hear a one second pause in popping. As soon as you hear that little break, stop the microwave.
  • Category: Snack
  • Method: Microwave
  • Cuisine: American
Nutrition Information: YIELD: 4
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 76.4 Fat: 8g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 8mg Carbohydrates: 15.6g Protein: 2.4g Vitamin A: 2µg Vitamin C: 0mg

Keywords: How to pop popcorn, How to pop popcorn microwave, How to pop popcorn in the microwave, Popcorn hacks, How to make popcorn

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Looking for more healthy and easy snack ideas?

More popcorn recipes you’ll love:

This post was originally published in 2018 and has been updated in July 2019.

I hope you found this hack for how to pop popcorn in the microwave using just a paper bag just as genius and exciting as I did! Enjoy fresh popcorn any day of the week and pop on.

Quick and easy guide on how to pop popcorn in the microwave using just a paper bag, no oil needed.

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about me

About Melissa

I have a lot going on, and I’d much rather spend my time enjoying my messes than fretting about what I’m going to make for dinner. Over the past few years, I’ve nailed down a few strategies that helped me keep my kitchen running like a well-oiled machine, so I started Bless This Mess to help other mess-loving parents solve the nightly dinner delimma—no stress, no drama, just really great food your whole family will love. Read more...

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This worked perfectly!! So happy to figure this out!!

It says minutes instead of seconds….ooops

Please don’t walk away from microwave. The paper bag caught on fire while making popcorn.

Luckily I was able to get it out and into the sink. Very scary.

I’ve only ever done this using oil before, the oil makes it so hard to open/empty the bag. I didn’t know it would work without! This is awesome!

My bag caught on fire! Be careful with this.

You should have never written an article that can become a hazard. PAPER BAGS should NEVER be placed in the microwave. This is basics. Parchment paper bags yes, or any paper bag that is marked as “microwave safe”.

And that makes it OK just because you haven’t had an issue? The directions for nearly every microwave state specifically not to use brown bags. This article should be either removed or qualified with a warning. I respect your desire to share, but please do it responsibly.

Didn’t have a popcorn maker and couldn’t think of how to make popcorn I stumbled across your post a few days ago just tried it tonight and I’m so happy with how it turned out thank you for sharing this with us….perfect for the holidays

I’ve had problems with my bags splitting open at the bottom while popping the corn. They seen to be so thin. Sometimes I have to use two bags, one inside the other. But, over all, I love this method. After popping, I place in an ovenproof bowl, add salt and olive oil and crisp up in the oven at about 200 degrees for a few minutes.

I tried this and the bowl method and the bag method worked well. The bag did split open but the popcorn was amazing. We drizzled a bit of flavored olive oil and black truffle salt.. Amazing.

Thanks! It has been many years since I made popcorn in a lunch sack and I couldn’t remember if I needed oil or not.

Best popcorn recipe ever!!!

Thank you! I used my white paper bag I got from my local crystals store and it worked perfectly! My I pooped kernels was repopped when I put the bag back in the microwave after eating the yummy kernels that did pop which were quite a bit! Out of the 1/3c I got a whole bag of perfectly fluffy popcorn and had about 1/3c left. I found that I could use the same bag 2-3 times. My gem store bag is completely paper so those using non lunch bags may want to be sure the handles ie., have no supporting wires in them which can break a microwave. Other than that it’s just too easy! Ppl asking what size of bag, I don’t get why their asking that… paper bag, does it fit in your microwave??? That’s it!

Perfect for all ages and budgets

So do you stand the bag up , or lay it down ?

Bless This Mess - About Me

I’m Melissa, and I want to help you feed your family wholesome food.

As a hobby farmer and mom of five, I’m all about keeping it simple in the kitchen. I want healthy meals that feed my family well, and then I want to get back to my (messy) life. Let’s work together to find something yummy for your dinner table.