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

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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. 
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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.

4.62 from 18 votes

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

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!
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 2 minutes
Total: 7 minutes
Servings: 4 (Makes 2-3 cups)


  • 1/3 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1 medium brown paper bag
  • Melted butter and salt or other seasonings to taste
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  • Add the popcorn to the paper bag and fold the top over a time or two.
  • Microwave on high until the popping has a one second gap in it, 1.5-2.5 minutes.
  • Stop the microwave, dump the popped popcorn into a large bowl and season as desired.
  • 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.


Serving: 1 of 4 servings, Calories: 51kcal, Carbohydrates: 10g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 0.1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g, Sodium: 1mg, Potassium: 37mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 0.1g, Calcium: 1mg, Iron: 0.4mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!
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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.

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4.62 from 18 votes

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  1. Brandie Valenzuela says:

    I’ve heard that you can do this, but never tried it! You sure do make it look easy…I’m going to have to finally give it a shot.

    1. Hannah says:

      Take some Olive oli or some oli and kinda soak the kernels in the bag and then put it in the microwave for about a min or so

    2. Melissa says:

      Great idea!

  2. Betsy says:

    Been making it this way for years! Popcorn is my favorite

  3. Sam @ PancakeWarriors says:

    I’ve been doing the method for a year or so (I think I saw it on Good Eats). I can’t believe the chemicals they allow in those bags! My favorite combination is to put stevia, cinnamon and a pinch of sea salt on the popcorn. That kettle corn recipe above looks devine. I may have to add that to my list of go to comfort foods!

  4. Wendy | Around My Family Table says:

    My kids love doing their own- perfect snack!

  5. Amy Hines says:

    I can’t wait to try this popcorn idea. Thanks for sharing.

  6. katie w says:

    We grew our own popcorn when we lived in Oregon, it was so delicious! Chewy and crisp, completely different than the 50 lb bag popcorn in our storage. I mean, I love that popcorn too, but home fresh was AMAZING! Our air popper died 2 years ago, we’ve been popping in brown bags in the microwave ever since. I’m excited to try the above kettle corn!

    1. Melissa says:

      I knew we were meant to be BFF’s Katie! Popcorn lovers UNITE!

  7. Emily Gann Lacey says:

    This is totally making this a happy day – rain and all!

  8. Sarah says:

    I love this… been doing it for YEARS… probably when we lived by you! Have you ever tried the Kettle Corn this way? I love doing it because, although it has to have oil, I can control how much and how sweet (I like just a LITTLE sweet).

    1. Melissa says:

      NO but I’m in LOVE with Kettle Corn!!! Tell me your ways! (Please 🙂 )

    2. Sarah says:

      Happy to. I figured it out last fall and LOVED it through the winter:

      1/4 c Corn
      2 tbs sugar (I do all white, because I like it without the caramel taste, but you could do brown or a mix)
      3 tbs oil (Ahem… don’t do butter… I discovered the hard way it’s a really bad idea because all you get is burnt popcorn. :P)

      Mix together in a bowl. Put into the brown bag, cook for 2 min (or until done)
      Salt sparingly.
      The bag takes a lot of the oil (but helps spread the sugar around… that’s why you need it, otherwise it burns), so I have to use a new one each time. This makes enough for me and my hubby, but I double it if I’m adding kiddos.

      SO good. Oh… and note: the sugar is VERY hot when it comes out of the bag. Try not to touch it for a min or 2 after pouring it out of the bag.

    3. Aaron says:

      5 stars
      This was awesome!!!! Never using oil again!!

    4. Melissa says:

      Magical isn’t it!

  9. Susan Carroll says:

    That is the easiest way to make popcorn, and no nasty for you oils like in the microwave popcorn bags. I use a lunch size bag, 1/4 cup of kernals, and hit the popcorn setting on the microwave.

  10. Jo says:

    How many inches wide is the bag supposed to be and where do you get them? I only have grocherie bags or lunch bags.

    1. Melissa says:

      The bag that is perfect is 7 inches wide and 14 inches long. I picked them up at the grocery store. You can use the more normal sized lunch bags, just use less popcorn kernels. I like the bigger bag because I only needed to do two rounds of popping to get a bowl of popped popcorn big enough for us to eat. With the little bag I had to do it 3 or 4 times to get enough. The smaller will work, it’s just less convenient!