Can Regular Popcorn Kernels Also Go In The Microwave?

If you think the microwave oven was invented primarily to pop popcorn, you're not entirely wrong. Popcorn Boss relates the historical connection between popcorn and the microwave oven, which began in 1945, when Dr. Percy Spencer, an engineer for Raytheon Manufacturing Company, was conducting experiments with a magnetron, a device that generates microwaves. While Spencer was working in close proximity to a magnetron, he realized that the chocolate bar in his pocket began to melt. Suspecting that the microwaves emanating from the magnetron were the cause of the melting chocolate, Spencer fetched some popcorn kernels, placed them in front of the magnetron, and in 1947, he filed a U.S. patent for using microwaves to cook popcorn.

Of course, it took a few decades for microwave ovens to appear in homes and for shelf-stable microwave popcorn in a bag to become widely available in grocery stores. But now, microwave popcorn, conveniently packaged with flavorings, is practically everywhere, and many microwave ovens even have a button specifically designed to cook popcorn, though whether or not you should use that button is a matter of debate. But what of those jars and bags of plain old popcorn kernels? Is it possible to cook regular popcorn in your microwave?

Yes, you can microwave regular popcorn kernels

The National Agricultural Library, part of the USDA, explains that a kernel of popcorn contains a small amount of water that's surrounded by a layer of starch. When the kernel of popcorn is heated, the water expands, pushing the starch outwards until the kernel pops, releasing steam. Microwave popcorn kernels, it turns out, are just the same as regular popcorn kernels; they're just packaged in smaller portions and flavored, often with artificial flavorings (per Devour Asia).

Good Housekeeping's Susan Westmoreland says "it's a cinch" to microwave regular popcorn kernels. She recommends using a large microwave-safe bowl, adding about ⅓ cup of regular popcorn kernels, covering with a microwave-safe plate, and nuking for two to three minutes, or until the popping slows. Make sure you uncover the popcorn so it doesn't get soggy! Since you don't need to use oil to pop regular popcorn kernels in the microwave, why not treat yourself to our favorite new popcorn topping: peanut butter.