Microwave Kettle Corn in a Brown Paper Bag

Microwave Kettle Corn in a Brown Paper Bag post image

Sweet and salty.  Light and fluffy.  Ah, the perfect kettle corn.

I previously wrote a post about how to make microwave popcorn in a brown paper bag.  I tested out all sorts of different ways to make popcorn in a brown paper bag in the microwave, and recommended what worked best.

Here was my new quest: Can I make kettle corn in a brown paper bag in the microwave?  The perfect mix of slightly sweet, slightly salty popcorn?

Many trials later, I’ve got it:

The best, healthiest, kettle corn that you can make in a brown paper bag in the microwave.

The big draw of making popcorn in a brown paper lunch bag is 1. less money, and 2. fewer chemicals than standard microwave popcorn.  Not less money and chemicals than hot air or stove top, but less than purchased microwave popcorn bags.

Before you try this, you should know that the USDA lists “brown paper bags and newspapers” under their “not safe to use in the microwave” section.  They do not give a reason; however, they recommend using food-safe bags only.  I don’t know whether it is because brown paper bags are made of paper and thus flammable, or because they are made of recycled fibres in many cases, or other reasons.

Apparently you can buy food-safe microwave bags, but the following description is for brown paper lunch bags:

I tested a few different types and amounts of sugar and salt, then after getting that balance right, realized it needed a bit of flavour. Vanilla.

The result was a very light-tasting sweet and salty popcorn, that required very little oil and salt.  A perfect balance of taste without all the unhealthy stuff.

Here’s what worked for me.

In a small bowl mix together:

1/2 tsp oil (I used olive oil)
1/2 tsp vanilla (I used real vanilla extract, not artificial)
1/4 tsp salt (*finely ground salt, or popcorn salt, such as Morton Popcorn Salt)
1 and 1/2 tsp icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)

Stir in 1/4 cup popcorn kernels (any kind will do)

Stir with a spoon until everything is well-mixed.  Pour into a brown paper bag.  Fold the bag over 2 to 3 times, and place upright in the microwave.

Microwave until popping slows down a couple pops per second.

Everyone’s microwave is different, and will require a different amount of time.  I have a 1200W microwave, and I cooked it for 1 minute and 25 seconds.

Monitor it closely, until you figure out the timing with your microwave.

Pour the popcorn into a bowl when it is still warm.


* Finely ground salt can be achieved two ways: 1. grind your own salt fine (which is what I did), or 2. purchase finely ground popcorn salt, such as Morton Popcorn Salt.  You can try this with regular salt, but the salty coating isn’t as even.

Disclaimer: TipBusters tests out tips and lets you know what works for us, but is not responsible for your actions.  You are.

11 comments… add one

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  • Perfect balance between too many calories and dry boring air popped corn. First time worked like a charm.

  • Am going to give this a try! My grandson luvs kettle corn. I make “kettle” corn on my stove top. Heat the oil, add popcorn to cover bottom of pan, and just as it starts to pop, quickly sprinkle about a tablespoon (maybe a little less) of white sugar over the oil/popcorn. Cover and shake pan as corn pops. Pour into a bowl, sprinkle just a little salt on it, and g-son is happy!

  • Made real homemade vanilla. I am glad to hear you use the real thing in your recipe. There is a real difference. Making this recipe for Christmas gifts. Will give the supplies for the making of one brown bag portion with your directions. Thank you.

  • I tried it subbing coconut sugar for powdered and it worked great!

  • Thank you so much for the great tips ran out and got ingredients, well it turned out geat thank you so much

  • Wow! Delicious. This is perfect. Our microwave either burns some or leaves lots unpopped, so we may have to tinker with proportions & time, but this recipe is pure genius. Thanks!

  • Ours came out plain too, although it was popped perfectly. Maybe more sugar next time? Thanks for our new base recipe though! :)

  • Thanks for the recipe. It turned out well, though quite plain. Definitely not the kind of Kettle Corn you’ll get from a Whirley Pop or something, but it was edible and very easy. I’ll keep tweaking it & hopefully find a flavorful variation.

  • This recipe was a letdown. The first attempt burned, and the second one was just plain gross. I don’t know what we’re doing wrong.

    • I’m sorry to hear the recipe didn’t work out for you, Olivia. We’ve had lots of positive feedback about the recipe. A couple things worth mentioning: did you use artificial or real vanilla extract? I haven’t tested it with artificial. Secondly, the only other thing that could affect the flavour other than the 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla is the proportion of salt to icing sugar – make sure it’s 1/4 teaspoon of salt and one and a half teaspoons of icing sugar and that it’s mixed up in advance, before adding the popcorn kernels. That way there will be no clumping of salt or sugar.

      I hope this helps and thanks for stopping by.


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