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Orville's Dirty Little Secret

I'm not exactly what you would call "crunchy," unless we're talking about potato chips or candy bars, in which case, BRING ON THE CRUNCH! Um, yeah. I mean, I care about ingredients and I do prefer that I can actually pronounce everything that goes into our food, but I'm not exactly diligent about it.

(As if to prove my point, Alexis is, at this very moment, eating some yogurt that is so full of artificial crap that I think it would glow in the dark. ::sigh::)


If I let myself think about it, I find myself banning things from our house. We don't do frozen pre-packaged meals. I'd rather make desserts from scratch than buy something from the aisles of a local grocery store. And microwave popcorn is on my list of Evil Things.

Have you read the ingredients? Trust me, you shouldn't. We've been doing stove top popcorn around here for the past few years. Not only did it allow me to banish the evil-sounding ingredients, but it meant I had a lot more control over the calories and fat in the popcorn. It's supposed to be a "healthy" snack, but some microwave popcorn is VERY VERY far from healthy. (BTW, if you're thinking I'm wrong, check the serving sizes on microwave popcorn. They're kind of ridiculous.) (I better not be the only person on earth who can eat an entire bag in one sitting, which is why "one cup popped" makes my head explode.) (Lie to me if I'm the only one who eats that much in one sitting.)

The stove top method works well for us, but now I've come across an even easier way. I think I first saw it on Lifehacker, but it seems like everybody is talking about it now. Just in case I wasn't the last person on earth to know that microwave popcorn could be super cheap and easy, I'm sharing. Buckle up!

All you need is popcorn kernels and a paper bag. Seriously.

I do 1/3 cup popcorn. That makes about 3 decent-sized bowls once popped, which is plenty for us. On the days that it's not, I just make more. Easy enough!

Pour the popcorn into the bag.

Fold the top of the bag over two or three times and then stick it in the microwave. Cook the popcorn until it stops making noise, which for me is about 3 minutes.


It costs something like 10 cents to make popcorn this way, and I think most of that cost is for the actual bag. It's like magic, or something!

Once I add a little a little salt, Alexis is a happy camper.

However, my body is a finely tuned machine accustomed to much junk, artificial flavor, and tons of sodium. I make sure the popcorn doesn't cause me to go into convulsions by making it ranch-flavored.

I just sprinkle the Ranch dip mix over the cooked popcorn in place of salt. It's a happy thing.

If you already knew microwave popcorn could be so easy? I'M MAD AT YOU FOR NOT TELLING ME. If you didn't know? You're welcome.

Psst....more life-changing recipes and such are over at Rachel's place.

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Reader Comments (44)

So you don't have to add oil or anything? I know absolutely nothing about popping corn on the stuff but now i'm curious. I avoid microwave popcorn like the plague too.

August 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLindsay

I saw this probably the same time you did; I haven't tried yet, but when I do, I'll be adding the ranch mix. Genius.

August 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterUncle Crappy

I must admit I am fairly crunchy, and never heard of this either. Granted, I don't eat much popcorn, but the twins are very fond of it. Thanks!

August 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTwinMamaTeb

I seriously had no idea its that easy to make and I try to cut out the processed crap too. My favorite popcorn seasoning is melted peanut butter, which I highly recommend.

August 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJulianne

We actually get popcorn in our CSA every week. It's just a corn cob, dehydrated, in a paper bag. Doesn't get any better than that.

August 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAndreAnna

This is new to me, thanks for sharing! Lifehacker always offers awesome tips like this one.

August 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLydia

I would deny being "crunchy" and simply fess to being a Subaru driving, Birkenstock wearing, organic wannabe but I just made my own oat flour so... guilty.

I'm also quite lazy, though. At home the popcorn is all air-popped all the time. Sea salt, real butter. Everything else tastes so fake. But at the office, for popcorn o'clock (roughly 3 PM) I do resort to Pop Secret homestyle (and who stops after 1 cup, seriously?!). I can pronounce all if the ingredients but I do fear the carcinogenic properties of the bag itself. I wonder if the office kitchen police would shame me for trying this at work.

August 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

@Lindsay--Not a single drop of oil is necessary. If you want butter, I find the spray stuff to be a little better than "real" popcorn butter (which is just oil anyway. blech.).

@AndreAnna--We've been getting mini cobs from the Farmer's Market all summer, but it never occurred to me that I could just pour the regular kernels into a bag. I iz stoopid, sometimes.

August 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle (~~burghbaby~~)

God bless you for sharing that. We go through a mega-bulk-Sam's-Club-sized pack of popcorn every week. Mostly because we each eat our own bag. (Right there with you on that.)

I prefer to sprinkle mine with parmesan cheese, garlic, and Italian seasoning. Mostly because it's The Yum, also because the kids keep their mitts out of it.

August 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

@Kelly--It should get you in *less* trouble at work. It doesn't make the entire house smell like Orville Redenbacher's suit jacket, and without the oil, you don't get that lovely burnt popcorn smell that sends the office into a tizzy when you happen to leave the bag in for three seconds too long.

August 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle (~~burghbaby~~)

Thank you. I am filing this under "life changing" pieces of information.

August 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRougie

My Mom taught kindergarten for years - there are all sorts of tricks like this out there! One thing to be careful of - if you do leave it in for too long (a few seconds is ok, I'm talking way-too-long) the bag can catch on fire (don't ask me how I found that one out!). What's fun to do is in the late fall get some popcorn still on the cob, let it dry out for a few months (on a kitchen counter, etc.) and put the cob in the bag. It will pop off the cob, it's pretty fun. If you're in need of some entertainment while your popcorn is in the microwave, put an M&M (or Skittle) in a cup of water, letter side up, and watch the magic:)

August 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

I heard about this method a few weeks ago-and picked up a bag of popcorn to buy at Giant Eagle. the brand I picked up said ingredients "Popcorn". "May contain Almond pieces". Seriously? See why I have to check every single freaking label?
There were no other brands and I ended up buying Evil microwave stuff. Once that is gone I will try again-
Hoping Orvillle doesn't list my #1 allergy.

August 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

omg. amazing. I might actually make myself popcorn now--I cannot actually eat a whole bag myself, so I haven't made it since I've been living alone.

can you re-use the bag over and over?

August 22, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercaroline

@caroline--I've been using the same bag for a week. So far, so good!

August 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle (~~burghbaby~~)

That's awesome! I had no idea that you could do that, and we have been doing the whole stovetop thing for years. It helps to have a Sam's Club membership and a big enough freezer to keep the corn in. :)

After I sign off here I am going to try that, I mean it. At least if I can find a paper bag.

On a completely unrelated note, I sent out the invites for fantasy football for plurk, because Janet was having a hard time finding the time, so that email with mylhibug on it that you may be ignoring, that's what it is. Also, I think I sent you an invite to kick my butt in WWF, if you'd like, two letter word queen. :)

August 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRoger

I wish I would have read this before my husband made that microwave popcorn for us, which I ate without stopping. He usually makes it in the pan but not tonite. Paper bags on my next shopping list

August 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSheila

er, uh, yeah, popcorn. It is, I believe, a separate food group on the Howler's food pyramid. (also on there are Noodles, and Olives, and Ice Cream) Does that ranch trick work on anything else? Like, uhm, potatoes or vegetables or hell, ANYTHING else?

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermumple

ye- I never knew this - I LOVE this!! I could eat like 12 bags by myself I think! When I was a kid - my dad used to pop popcorn literally every night in this old (AND I MEAN) black, hand turning popcorn kettle - DELICIOUS! But, I love mine with some parm cheese!!

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTiaras & Tantrums

If you want to add a healthy oil, i sprinkle 1/4 tsp of olive oil on mine after it's popped. it helps the ranch powder stick better too :-) oh, italian dressing powder works almost as well as ranch.

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered Commentershannon

You? Are a genius! Ranch flavored popcorn? Hell yes! I can't wait to try this!

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMadame Queen

I love popcorn. I've had air-popped all my life, which I think is great (if you add some kind of salty additive, and usually something to make it stick, like butter!) but I have also made it on the stove (both heavy frying pan & "Whirleypop"), and my parents also had a microwave bowl designed just for popping corn; it was a hard, speckled white material with a red plastic lid - and you just put the kernels in and started it to pop them. I don't know why I always thought that was such a special thing and never tried just putting it in something like a paper bag, but that's genius! (Or, you know, at least something most of us never thought of...)

Thanks for the advice - we will definitely try it soon.

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDave (Scrumpy Daddy)

@mumple--I might kinda sorta maybe (definitely) put the ranch dip on all sorts of stuff. Broiled potatoes is one of my favorites.

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle (~~burghbaby~~)

Am dismayed to learn that about microwave popcorn. All this time, I thought I was eating an nice lo-cal snack. And as far as I'm concerned, one bag = serving for one.

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterbluzdude

Ranch dip powder makes all things better. I am pretty sure this is a proven fact of science.

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered Commenter~ifer @ The Mind of ~Ifer

This is awesome. Thank you for sharing it!

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKim Z

Thank you thank you thank you!! That is great! I had no idea you could do that!

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterbeach mama

I have an air popper that I got from Target for $5, and it's great. I made popcorn for my Engineering for Kids class this summer, and seriously - out of 15 kids, only ONE had ever had air popped popcorn before.

I just wish there were hull-less popcorn though (that wasn't fake) so I would be able to give Alex some without having to eat all of the hulls first.

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmber

I did NOT know this - did NOT - can't believe it.... Have been doing stove top, which can be a task OR copping out and doing the microwave now and then..... I will try this. My kids will love it (HUGE popcorn fans in this house).

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSherri

Umm...I'm serving up ranch popcorn for dinner tonight. Genius!

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWormy

I'm guessing as an added bonus, you don't get "popcorn lung." Google it.

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMermanda

@mermanda--My world was a little bit happier (read: oblivious) before I googled that. OYE.

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle (~~burghbaby~~)

SWEAR to GOD. I have this scheduled for next week.

and i have lived *many* more years than you... and this is the first i'm hearing of this.

plus ranch? oh. my. gawd.

this is on the menu for tonight's tv watching. no lie.

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterthe planet of janet

This actually is life changing! Why didn't I know about this - no oil - amazing!!

Thanks, really, thanks SO much!!

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCanadianMama

Oh, my holy brilliant! I had no idea this was possible. How are the popcorn people keeping all of America in the dark about this?! I tried it last night and holy cow, it was so easy, and when seasoned right, so good! I will never buy the overpriced, not so healthy version again.

August 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMommyJ

I think I love you for this post. I've been cooking popcorn on the stove forever because it's healthier (and I'm lazy) which is the same exact reason my daughter takes a paper bag lunch to school everyday. So I've already got the stuff, I'm making me some popping corn tonight!

August 24, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterbriya

I would have told you, but I DIDN'T KNOW YOU DIDN'T KNOW!

August 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMiss Grace

Awwwwwesome (picture me sing-songing that in a very high, very annoying voice)! Isaac, Gracie (when they come home from JUNIOR HIGH and 3rd grade) and Evie thank you. I'd sworn off of microwave popcorn for ever and ever before now. :)

August 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCecily R

You are the Superhero of my weekend with the girls. We are so hosting an experiment for Friday Movie Night!

August 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKatie in MA

Well then, guess we'll be making it this way now. I had no idea. *face palm*

August 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterElaine

I am adding you to my list of favorite blogs by people I don't know. SERIOUSLY! It is that easy? I have wasted so much money on popcorn! It makes me want to throw away the Orville in my pantry right now! But I won't because that would be silly...And one cup is a slap in the face. Anyone telling you they only eat one cup is a liar, liar and their pants are on fire.

August 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCarrie

Wait? No oil? Because I've made it but the oil gets all over my microwave and I got annoyed and stopped doing it. But if I can do it w/o oil, I'm totally going back to that. (BTW I totally consider microwave popcorn bags single serving. I laugh at the "snack size" bags.)

August 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle Smiles

I have an air popper. I love it.
I love butter on it though. Probablytoo much.
I love it.
I will have to try th eranch mix though. No butter... just ranch?

September 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHIlary
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