College Eating: How To Make Better Microwave Popcorn

published Aug 25, 2009
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(Image credit: Joanna Miller)

Microwave popcorn is a college dorm staple – when your kitchen is limited to a microwave and a mini fridge, what choice do you have? But did you know there’s a way to make it that’s healthier, tastier and much, much cheaper?

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Here’s what you need: popcorn kernels and a paper bag. That’s it.

Fill the bag with about 1/4 cup of kernels, fold the top of the bag over a couple of times and microwave on high for about 2 minutes.

If you prefer, you can add some oil to the bag beforehand, but your bag (and your microwave) will get pretty greasy, and it’s not necessary for the popping process. We prefer to add oil or butter after the popcorn is popped.

This is the fun part. You can stick with the classic butter and salt, or experiment with other toppings. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Nigella Lawson’s Party Popcorn – One of our favorite ways to eat popcorn, this sweet and spicy recipe combines melted butter with paprika (we use both sweet and smoked), cinnamon, cumin, sugar and salt. We also like to throw in a little chili powder.
  • Olive oil, za’atar seasoning and salt – We love this lemony, nutty flavor combination.
  • Olive oil, fresh ground pepper and a little grated Parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil alone – A great way to really enjoy a flavorful oil.
  • Caramel Popcorn – Try Emma’s recipe that can be made entirely in the microwave.
  • Peanut Butter Popcorn – Faith’s recipe for peanut butter caramel could be adapted for the microwave.

If you know someone who is heading off to college, a homemade popcorn kit would be a great gift – a jar of kernels, some paper bags, olive oil, salt, maybe some other spices for topping experiments and nice bowl for snacking.

Related: Good Quote: Thoreau on Popcorn