If you’re making popcorn at home, you might be wondering whether you can put a bag in your air fryer instead of in the microwave. A lot of people are starting to look to their air fryers to pop the corn instead, but do you need to know anything first?
Many people put plain popcorn kernels in the air fryer successfully but bagged popcorn has been designed to work well in a microwave, not an air fryer. It may not pop properly in the air fryer, and could burn, so it’s much better to pop it in the microwave instead.
Can You Put Microwave Popcorn in an Air Fryer?
It’s not a great idea to put microwave popcorn in an air fryer, because it has been designed for use in a microwave. The kernels have usually been coated with flavoring, and this is quite likely to burn when placed in an air fryer.
Air fryers and microwaves heat food in different ways. A microwave heats food by vibrating the water molecules inside the food, while an air fryer heats up the outside of the food using a thin coating of oil and very hot air.
This difference means that microwave popcorn often won’t work well if you put it in the air fryer. It was designed to pop in a damp, steamy bag as a result of being heated from within.
It also often has a flavored coating, which is likely to burn in the heat of the air fryer, or may stop the outside of the kernel from heating properly, and prevent it from popping.
Microwave popcorn will sometimes work in the air fryer, and at least some kernels will usually pop, but overall, this isn’t a good idea. The microwave is faster and will ensure that the corn is cooked as intended.
Should You Take Microwave Popcorn Out of Its Bag?
If you are going to put microwave popcorn in an air fryer anyway, make sure that you remove it from the bag first; the bag is not designed for use in an air fryer and could present a fire hazard. Never put the bag in the air fryer.
Can You Put Plain Popcorn in an Air Fryer?
If you’ve got non-microwave popcorn, you might be wondering whether you can put this in your air fryer successfully.
Usually, this kind of corn is popped in a pan on the stove or in a popcorn machine, but you can pop it in your air fryer instead. Indeed, this is a popular, no-mess way of making popcorn. Many people have taken to using this method, and it will give you excellent popcorn provided that you are using the correct kernels.
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When you pop kernels in an air fryer, you will need to line the air fryer basket with aluminum foil so that the kernels do not fall through the basket and into the base of the fryer. Line the whole basket, including the edges, to keep them in place.
Next, take a quarter of a cup of kernels, and lightly coat them with about 2 tablespoons of oil. The oil will encourage them to pop, helping the outsides to heat up evenly,
Toss the kernels in the oil and then tip them into the air fryer basket and put them in the air fryer for 3 minutes. Next, take the basket out and shake it to get everything moving around and encourage the corn to pop.
It will probably take between 8 and 10 minutes for the majority of the kernels to pop. This method is slower than a microwave or cooking the popcorn on your stove, but there will be less cleanup to do afterward, and it is often easier.
Keep shaking the basket every few minutes until most of the kernels have popped, and then discard any that haven’t. Don’t leave the popcorn unattended in the air fryer while it’s cooking.
How Hot Should the Air Fryer Be Before Cooking Popcorn?
Preheat your air fryer to 400 degrees F before you put the popcorn in it. This will encourage the oil to heat up fast, and should help the popcorn to pop quickly. If any kernels haven’t popped at this temperature after about 10 minutes, they are unlikely to pop at all, so they can be discarded.
Remember, this is far too hot for the paper bag that microwave popcorn comes in, so make sure you remove the popcorn from the bag if you are going to make microwave popcorn in your air fryer.
How Do You Flavor Air Fryer Popcorn?
You might be wondering how you can add the flavorings for this kind of popcorn without them getting burnt in the air fryer. Things like butter shouldn’t be air fried, as the smoke point is too low (usually around 300 degrees F). The answer is that you add the flavors after the popcorn has been cooked.
Once the popcorn is cooked, you can put it into a large bowl and then sprinkle the desired toppings onto it and stir well. However, many people find that it works better to put the popcorn in a paper bag, like a lunch bag. If you have used microwave popcorn, you may be able to reuse the bag you discarded earlier.
Tip the popcorn into the bag, add the toppings you want, and roll the opening of the bag over several times. Shake the bag for about 60 seconds, and then taste a piece of popcorn to see if the flavoring has distributed well.
If it hasn’t, shake further, or add more toppings. You should eventually get well-flavored popcorn, ready for you to enjoy.
Don’t try to flavor your popcorn before you put it in the air fryer, or you may get burnt popcorn.
All in all, air fryer popcorn is a tasty healthy snack and can include whatever flavorings you desire!
You should not put a bag of microwave popcorn in your air fryer, because the microwave popcorn is meant to be cooked in a microwave, and often has a coating that will burn if it is exposed to hot air and oil. However, you can cook normal popcorn kernels in the air fryer and many people prefer this cooking method.
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Micky Reed, a two-decade veteran in the food and baking industry, leverages her influential Three Snackateers food blog and Instagram presence to collaborate with industry giants like Ben & Jerry's and Crumbl Cookies. Her work has been featured on Delish, PopSugar and more. Her expertise as a product curator for one of the world's largest international snack subscription box companies solidifies her status as a key player in the field.