Curse of Convenience

To many, the convenience of microwave popcorn is the only thing to consider when choosing popcorn. When you make microwave popcorn you may be saving a few minutes of your time, but do you know what you are getting in return?

Reasons to Avoid Microwave Popcorn

Recently I wrote about 6 reasons to never use your microwave oven again. In addition to the dangers of microwaving food, there are more reasons to avoid microwave popcorn. Have you read the ingredient labels on bags of microwave popcorn? It’s kind of scary. Many microwave popcorn company’s websites don’t list their ingredients, but I did find ingredient lists on

  • Carcinogenic Bag Coating: Microwave popcorn bags contain a grease-resistant coating, and when it dissolves and is absorbed into the human body, it breaks down into perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a likely carcinogen. An FDA study has revealed that PFOA could be present in millions of bags of microwave popcorn and that microwave popcorn bags are treated with more grease-repelling fluorotelomer coatings than any other food wrappers.
  • Corn is likely GMO: The corn used in most microwave popcorn bags is likely genetically modified, which carries its own risks and concerns.
  • Chemical causes lung damage: Scientific studies have linked diacetyl and other chemicals that give the popcorn its buttery flavor to lung damage in people that work in microwave popcorn factories. (Recently, some popcorn makers have agreed to drop the toxic chemical.)
  • Artificial ingredients: Many brands of microwave popcorn contain artificial colors, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners (like sucralose).
  • Preservatives: Many brands of microwave popcorn contain preservatives such as TBHQ and propyl gallate.
  • MSG: Many brands of microwave popcorn contain monosodium glutamate, a dangerous flavor enhancer.
  • Trans Fats: Many brands of microwave popcorn contain partially hydrogenated oils.

How to Make Healthier Popcorn

If you love popcorn like I do but currently make microwave popcorn, you may be wondering what options you have. I have prepared a short video to show you how easy it is to make healthier popcorn.

If you can’t view the video, click here.


Here is what I used to make the small batch of popcorn in the video:

This can be doubled or tripled if needed.

Equipment Needed

You only need a few items to make this great popcorn like I do.

Popcorn Maker

  • I use a Stir Crazy popcorn popper and have been for 10 years now. A similar popper is this Cuisinart one. Pro: Automatic stirring rod. Con: The non-stick coated popping surface probably has less-than-desirable chemicals in it.
  • Another good option is the Back to Basics Stainless-Steel Popcorn Popper. This popper is used on the stove top and is similar to the Stir Crazy in that oil and a stirring rod is used. Pro: This popper is stainless steel. Con: Manual stirring rod. (Other poppers are similar to this but are made of aluminum. I do not use aluminum products at all and especially not with food.)
  • Another option would be air poppers. Many people who don’t want to use oil might be interested in using an air popper, but I don’t happen to like this method. Healthy oil (like coconut oil) is good for you and something the body needs. Pro: No oil (although I don’t really call that a ‘pro’, but some might). Con: Plastic can leach chemicals into food, especially with heat (although I have not read specifically about air poppers).

Small Sauce Pan for Butter

Since the point of making popcorn this way is to avoid using the microwave, I do not recommend melting butter in the microwave either. I use a small stainless steel saucepan, sometimes called a butter warmer. Again, I recommend using a stainless steel version, rather than aluminum.

What Do You Think?

So what do you think? Are you ready to ditch your microwave popcorn and give this method of popcorn making a try? If you do, let me know what you think!

Wendy –

Healthy Living SeriesRead all the posts in the Healthy Living series by clicking on the icon on the left.

[Popcorn photo credit: Linnell Esler.]

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