Paper bag popcorn, people! The easiest and least expensive way to make popcorn is to microwave it in paper bag. No fancy popcorn machine, no popcorn popping pots, no stove top, zero mess. Just popcorn kernels, a paper bag, and a microwave.

Skip the chemicals and make inexpensive gourmet microwave popcorn in a brown paper bag.

gourmet microwave popcorn
Doing the mathy math, gourmet microwave popcorn costs around $22.65 for 12 boxes (source) — that’s $3.53 per pound!

paper bag popcorn
Sure, you may think you’re paying all that delicious cash for a magic metal-lined bag that pops better kernels and cooks your corn more evenly. But think again. I can do the same popping magic trick with a cheapo plain brown paper bag. And at a tasty 50 cents per pound, plain popcorn kernels bought in bulk cost far less than the pre-packaged stuff.

Now let me pop the big question: have you ever recycled your leftover microwave popcorn bags? I cringe to think how much of this product graces our landfills, all in the name of snack food. But no fear, by switching your home movie snacking habit using this frugal trick, you can compost or recycle your used brown paper bags and create no waste.

Speaking of waist, do you know how many calories are contained in those popcorn flavor packets? What about the ingredients? Here’s the ingredient list from a package of Act II popcorn.

Act II Popcorn Ingredients: Popcorn, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Salt, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Annatto Color. Contains: Fish, Milk

Fish? In my popcorn? Um, no thanks. I’ll skip the hydrogenated oil and fish in my snacks by sticking to my paper bag popcorn version.

How to Make Paper Bag Popcorn

Step One: Get a paper bag

This is ridiculously easy, internet people. Just head on over to your local grocery store and pickup a package of brown paper lunch bags.

paper bag popcorn
I nabbed a package of 100 paper bags for around $2, on sale.

Step Two: Bag your gourmet microwave popcorn

Add a 1/2 cup scoop of bulk popcorn kernels to your paper bag.

gourmet microwave popcorn
Fold the bag over twice. Don’t use staples to secure the bag — this might spark in your microwave.

popcorn recipe
I’m popping with excitement.

Step Three: Pop in microwave

Stick the popcorn bag into your microwave. I set mine for 3 minutes on high.

gourmet microwave popcorn

gourmet microwave popcorn
Popping Tip: Stop the microwave when the popping slows to one to two pops per second. You don’t want to burn your snack.

Step Four: Add gourmet popcorn topping

A pinch of salt with a dab of butter is the standard way to eat popcorn.

gourmet popcorn
But why not get creative and try some sweet or savory flavors to mix up movie night?

Try these toppings for some paper bag popcorn fun:

  • Hot Stuff: Add chili powder, hot sauce, and salt.
  • Kiss My Breath: Shake in onion powder and garlic powder, hold the kiss.
  • Cheese Please: Mix in Parmesan cheese with a little salt.
  • Vegan Cheese, Please: Sprinkle some Nutritional Yeast FTW!
  • Sweet Tooth: A dash of cinnamon, a sprinkle of sugar, and a topper of honey. Now that’s money.
  • Classic: A shake of salt with a pat of butter.

How do YOU make popcorn? Got a favorite gourmet popcorn topping to share? Go.