Got an intense craving for popcorn as a light snack or a treat for movie night? You may be wondering whether you can cook a bag of popcorn in the air fryer instead of the microwave for a change! Well, we've done the research and come up with the answer right here for you.
Putting a bag of popcorn in the air fryer is not ideal. The cooking time will take longer, and you'll run the risk of burning the paper bag as well. What you can do instead is line the air fryer with aluminum foil and place plain popcorn kernels on it to cook for the best results.
Ready to make your air fryer popcorn? Keep reading as we discuss the steps to do this and give you tips on how to make it light and fluffy!
How To Make Popcorn in the Air Fryer
Making popcorn in the air fryer is easy and efficient, giving you perfectly-popped popcorn with just the right crunch!
The air fryer works like an oven, circulating hot air around the popcorn to cook them. This means you can use less oil to make it healthier. Plus, you'll run less risk of burning or overcooking the popcorn as long as you follow the right steps.
Here's how to make popcorn in the air fryer:
1. Prep your ingredients and air fryer
Preheat your air fryer to 400ºF.
Line the basket of your air fryer with aluminum foil. If you put your popcorn kernels in the basket itself, they will go right through its holes and pop at the bottom of the air fryer. In this case, the kernels will burn and damage your appliance.
Now you'll want to put your popcorn kernels in a small bowl and put a little oil on them so they cook well. Any choice of cooking oil will do; coconut, corn, and grapeseed oil are among the best options. You can either spray it on the kernels or coat them with two tablespoons of oil.
See this coconut oil cooking spray on Amazon.
Find out what types of oil are best for your popcorn by checking out this post: "10 Types Of Oil For Popcorn To Consider."
2. Transfer the kernels to the basket
Once you've coated your kernels with oil, transfer them to the basket and lay them flat on the aluminum foil. Make sure there's only a single layer of kernels and that they aren't on top of each other so that they cook evenly.
3. Start popping
Cook your popcorn kernels at 400ºF for 5-15 minutes or until the popping slows down to a halt. Check on it every five minutes and give the basket a good shake.
4. Serve the popcorn
When you no longer hear popping, it means the popcorn is ready to go! Take the basket out and separate all the uncooked kernels from the popcorn. You can simply discard them or cook them again in the air fryer, so they don't go to waste.
Put your popcorn in a bowl, top with salt, butter, or any seasoning of your choice, and enjoy!
Tips For Making the Best Air Fryer Popcorn
Now there are a few tips and tricks to help you make the perfect air fryer popcorn: airy, crunchy, and bursting with addictive flavors!
Here are some of the most effective ways to achieve delicious air fryer popcorn:
Some people skip this step and put popcorn in the air fryer basket straight away. But when the air fryer isn't given enough time to heat up, cooking the popcorn will take longer and even result in the kernels refusing to pop.
Remember to preheat your air fryer for at least 4-5 minutes before putting the kernels in the basket. You'll get perfectly cooked popcorn in a much shorter time.
Keep the aluminum foil off the sides of the basket
When you place the aluminum foil sheet inside the air fryer basket, make sure that it's flat on the base and doesn't cover the sides. This way, there's enough room for heat in the air fryer to cook your kernels better.
Leave kernels to pop longer
Remember that cooking time will vary depending on the brand and model of your air fryer. If your popcorn has cooked for 10-15 minutes and there are still a lot of unpopped kernels, let them cook for five more minutes or until you hear them popping.
Don't overcrowd the air fryer basket
It's best to not overload the air fryer with kernels; this will result in uneven cooking and a lot of unpopped kernels. Instead, go for 1/4-cup of kernels spread evenly throughout the foil.
If you're not willing to make multiple batches, it's best to use the stovetop or microwave for larger batches and use the air fryer when you're making a snack just for you.
You can also use it if you're trying out different popcorn flavors and seasonings, so you have a small batch that you can easily experiment with.
Cover the air fryer basket
There's no way to control where kernels go when they're popping inside your air fryer. They can fly in any direction, even going towards the heating element of your air fryer.
To prevent this, get a baking basket, snack cover, or mesh cover to keep your kernels from flying all over the place.
See this mesh food cover on Amazon.
Give the basket a shake halfway through cooking
When the kernels start popping, it's best to give the air fryer basket a quick shake to move the kernels around. This ensures even popping and keeps the kernels from burning before they have a chance to pop.
Soak the kernels in water before popping
Some popcorn lovers swear by this hack, claiming it makes your popcorn lighter and fluffier! Soak the kernels for 10-15 minutes, then drain and pat dry before putting them in your air fryer to pop.
Want to learn more about this hack? Read this helpful article: "Does Soaking Popcorn Kernels Make It Pop Better?"
Add seasonings after popping
Salt and other seasonings will stick to the oil and won't flavor the kernels as a result. It's important to season your popcorn after it's been popped, right out of the air fryer when it's still warm to ensure it gets all the scrumptious flavors of your seasonings.
Can you pop popcorn in an air fryer without oil?
While some recipes claim that you can ditch the oil when making air fryer popcorn, it's recommended to use at least a little oil. Not using oil at all will make it difficult for the kernels to pop, and you'll end up with very little popcorn.
A tablespoon or two of oil should suffice if you're trying to cut back on calories and unhealthy fats.
Be careful, though. Overdoing it and using too much oil can make the popcorn soggy. Spraying oil instead of pouring it in may help you avoid this.
Can you make microwavable popcorn in an air fryer?
No. Microwave popcorn packets are designed specifically for cooking in the microwave, so putting it in your air fryer may burn the paper. Even if you empty out the packet and use the kernels in it, they're likely to burn and be left unpopped.
It's best to stick with plain unpopped kernels when making air fryer popcorn. As a bonus, it's also healthier!
See Orville Redenbacher's plain popcorn kernels on Amazon.
Is air fryer popcorn healthy?
Yes! Popcorn made from plain kernels is already healthy in and of itself, chock-full of nutrients and fiber.
Air fryer popcorn takes it a step further by requiring very little oil, making it lighter and less greasy. Plus, you get to control how much salt, seasonings, and butter you put on top of it, unlike store-bought microwave popcorn that comes packed with additives and preservatives.
What can I season popcorn with?
You can never go wrong with a little salt and melted butter to make tasty popcorn. But if you want to get out of your comfort zone, there are actually many ways to enjoy popcorn - whether you want to keep it savory, turn it into a sweet treat, or bring the heat with spices!
Here are a few seasoning ideas to experience new worlds of flavor with your popcorn:
- Caramel - Salty and sweet flavors come together to create a luscious, addictive snack
- Truffle oil - The perfect way to marry your sophisticated palate with this childhood favorite
- Chocolate - Make your favorite treat into a dessert and add chocolate drizzles to your popcorn
- Cajun seasoning - Add a hint of spice to otherwise plain popcorn
- Garlic salt - Enjoy classic salted popcorn with a bit of a garlicky kick
- Herbs and parmesan - Fancy it up with delicious parmesan cheese and your choice of herbs
Whip up a healthy and delicious snack by tossing a few kernels in the air fryer to make popcorn! Try it today to see if it works for you. Be sure to experiment with different seasonings to add unexpected flavors to your favorite treat.