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Unveiling the Truth: Why You Should Avoid the Popcorn Button on Your Microwave

The reason you should never use the popcorn button on your microwave

Popcorn lovers often face a dilemma when it comes to using their microwave. On the one hand, the microwave comes equipped with a convenient “popcorn” button that promises to deliver perfectly popped kernels. On the other hand, the instructions on the microwave popcorn bags specifically warn against using the popcorn button. So who should you believe?
In this article, we will look at the reasons why you should never use the popcorn button on your microwave and explore the science behind it. We’ll also provide some alternative methods for achieving delicious, evenly popped popcorn.

Understanding the popcorn button

The popcorn button on your microwave may seem like a convenient feature, but it’s important to understand its limitations. According to Parade columnist Marilyn Vos Savant, many popcorn buttons are simply timers. They don’t take into account the variations in popcorn kernels, such as weight and moisture, which can significantly affect popping times.
If you rely on the popcorn button, you run the risk of undercooking or burning your popcorn. Undercooked popcorn can leave you with a mouthful of unpopped kernels, while burnt popcorn not only tastes terrible, but also creates an unpleasant odor that lingers in your microwave and kitchen.

Why popcorn popping times vary

Popcorn popping times can vary depending on several factors, including the type and brand of popcorn, the wattage of the microwave, and the humidity of the environment. Microwave popcorn manufacturers understand these variables and provide specific instructions on their packaging to ensure optimal results.
Each batch or bag of popcorn may require a different popping time to achieve the desired results. Therefore, relying solely on the popcorn button to provide a one-size-fits-all approach is not recommended.

Alternative popcorn popping methods

So, if you don’t want to use the popcorn button, what are some alternatives to microwave popcorn? Here are some methods you can try:

1. Time it yourself

One simple approach is to manually set the time on your microwave using the instructions provided by the popcorn manufacturer. These instructions usually specify the optimal popping time for their specific product.
By closely monitoring the popping process and stopping the microwave when the popping slows to about two seconds between pops, you can prevent both undercooking and burning.

2. Use a microwave-safe bowl

Another method is to use a microwave-safe bowl instead of prepackaged microwave popcorn. Simply place a measured amount of popcorn kernels in the bowl, cover with a microwave-safe plate, and microwave on high for a few minutes or until the popping slows down.
This method gives you more control over the popping process and allows you to adjust the cooking time based on your microwave power and desired doneness.

3. Invest in a popcorn popper

If you’re a popcorn enthusiast and enjoy having perfectly popped kernels every time, you may want to consider investing in a popcorn popper. Popcorn poppers are specially designed appliances that distribute heat evenly, ensuring even popping and preventing burns.
They are a convenient and reliable way to get delicious popcorn without the guesswork. Simply place the popcorn kernels in the popper, follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and enjoy your freshly popped snack.

Bottom Line

While the popcorn button on your microwave may seem like a convenient option, it’s best to avoid using it. Variations in popcorn kernels and microwave settings make it unreliable for consistently delicious results. By using alternative methods, such as timing or using a popcorn popper, you can enjoy perfectly popped popcorn without the risk of undercooking or burning.
So the next time you’re in the mood for a movie night snack, remember to steer clear of the popcorn button and explore other options for a tasty, hassle-free popcorn experience.


Why shouldn’t I use the popcorn button on my microwave?

The popcorn button on microwaves is often just a timer and doesn’t take into account the variations in popcorn kernels, such as weight and moisture. This can result in undercooked or burnt popcorn.

What happens when I use the popcorn button?

If the popping time is too short, your popcorn may be undercooked and contain unpopped kernels. If the time is too long, your popcorn may burn and produce an unpleasant odor.

Are all microwave popcorn bags against using the popcorn button?

Yes, most microwave popcorn bags do not recommend using the popcorn button due to the variation in popping time between kernels and batches.

Can I trust the popcorn button if my microwave has a moisture sensor?

If your microwave is equipped with a moisture sensor, it may be safe to use the Popcorn Button. However, it’s still recommended that you consult your microwave’s manual for specific instructions.

How do I get perfectly popped popcorn without using the popcorn button?

You can set the time manually according to the popcorn manufacturer’s instructions, use a microwave-safe bowl with a microwave-safe plate as a cover, or consider investing in a popcorn popper for consistent results.

Can I adjust the pop time based on the power of my microwave?

Yes, you can adjust the popping time by closely monitoring the popping process and stopping the microwave when the popping slows down to about two seconds between each pop.

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