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

4.62 from 18 votes

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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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Recipe Rating


  1. daphne says:

    5 stars
    I was able to make it ahead of time and even solidify it to look and act like real microwave bags. We took your recipe starter as inspiration.

    We melted butter, added salt, msg, and a tad of popcorn oil together, and we poured it over popcorn kernels that we placed in a little tray we have. Then we let that sit until it hardened.

    Once it was solid, like the stuff you see in the real bags, we placed the rectangle of solid popcorn on parchment paper, put it in a fast food bag, taped it shut, and microwaved it like the real thing.

    It tasted fresher, and it is way cheaper to make. Thank you for the idea!

  2. Donna says:

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

  3. Kathleen Hustava says:

    It says minutes instead of seconds….ooops

  4. Nancy Johnson says:

    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.

  5. Lisa says:

    4 stars
    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!

  6. Mary Dorr says:

    1 star
    My bag caught on fire! Be careful with this.

    1. Melissa says:

      Did you have any oil or grease in your microwave from splatters or spills that might have made this issue worse?

    2. Gaha says:

      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”.

    3. Melissa says:

      I’ve been making it this way for year with no issues…

    4. Rob says:

      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.

    5. Jeff says:

      For a paper bag to catch fire it must reach nearly 451 degrees F. A microwave cannot agitate paper anywhere close to this level. Paper is considered safe to use in the microwave. Have you never used a paper plate in the microwave? It is safe.

      A microwave CAN agitate oil up to this temperature, and each kernel of popcorn has a small amount of corn oil locked inside, along with a small amount of water. The water is what pops the popcorn, but once the steam is released the kernel is dry except for the natural oils, which can then heat up to its flash point of 450 degrees.

      What almost certainly happened is a kernel burned badly enough to catch fire (which can happen due to the natural oils in the kernel), which then caught the paper bag on fire. This is almost certainly a result of walking away from the microwave while it is cooking a potentially flammable food.

      You should not be walking away from food you put in the microwave in general, but this is especially true with foods that can burn in the microwave, like popcorn.

    6. Tshel says:

      Oh shut up, ya crazy Karen. 😂

  7. Kayla Hersey says:

    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

    1. Melissa says:

      Yay! That’s why I tried it the first time too, I didn’t really have another way to pop popcorn and it was so simple.

  8. Linda says:

    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.

    1. Angela f Oxford says:

      5 stars
      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.

    2. Melissa says:

      That salt sounds amazing!

  9. Donna Bretthauer says:

    5 stars
    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.

    1. Melissa says:

      SO easy isn’t it! Glad I could help, happy popcorn popping!

  10. Alicia says:

    5 stars
    Best popcorn recipe ever!!!