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I recently bought a new microwave, and started to experience a very bizarre phenomenon when trying to cook microwave popcorn.

For clarification, the Popcorn I am using is pre-packaged and in a paper bag, designed to be put into the microwave at ~800W for ~4 minutes. If it matters, it's called "Kelly Microwave Golden Pop", but I don't want to sound like I'm advertising for them.

With my old microwave, I would just wait until the popping would die down and I would have around 10 seconds between each pop. This would make my popcorn barely not burned, and would not leave too many unpopped kernels.

However, with my new microwave, it doesn't work at all. When going full power, I end up with extremely burned popcorn and half the package unpopped. I tried other power settings, specifically 80%, 50% and 30% power (my microwave only deals in percents, not Watt sadly), but the end result is always the same: Some of the popcorn is already burned, while a lot of it is still unpopped.

I have read that, when food is burning in the microwave, putting it off-center works well, but due to the size of the bag and the microwave, this is not an option for me.

What can I do to save my movie night and get unburned popcorn without throwing half the bag in the bin?

  • If you know the power of your microwave, you can use that to calculate how to set the power level (eg, 1100W : 70% = 770W) Microwave popcorn instructions used to call for microwaving it for a bit, then shaking it to re-distribute the kernels. I don't know if that's something that's no longer necessary, or if it would help. And there's always a possiblity that you got part of a bad batch, I guess. – Joe Aug 5 at 14:33
  • Certainly not as convenient, but if you are a popcorn fan, the best popcorn I've made is produced in a Whirley Pop. – moscafj Aug 5 at 14:34
  • @Joe I tried several power levels already, but I never seem to get it right. I always end up with burned popcorn and a lot of unpopped kernels. – MechMK1 Aug 5 at 14:48
  • A pot with a lid does a better job. – blacksmith37 Aug 5 at 15:05
  • We don't know the power of your old microwave or your new one. Without that information, all we can do is guess. If power reduction &/or shaking don't work, then maybe it's time to consider a different cooking method. – Tetsujin Aug 5 at 18:07
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Well if it is burning some of the popcorn I'd say that means it is going for too long or you are setting power too strong, otherwise it wouldn't burn.

If there's still unpopped corn at the end, then it could mean three things I can think of, right now.

  1. Uneven microwave distribution in the chamber, which is a very common issue for which rotating platters have been created.
  2. Poor quality corn maybe mixed varieties which don't pop so easily.
  3. Insufficient humidity. Microwaves heat water well, but not other substances, if there is not enough humidity in the form of water/grease content in the package, or it is unevenly distributed, there may be kernels that never get proper temperature.

Try interrupting the microwave mid cycle and shaking the paper bag around a bit about half way through, instead of doing it all in one go. Make sure the platter is rotating.

Some unpopped kernel is expected regardless.

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    lol hello boy you are here too xD – Michael Ben David Aug 6 at 23:06
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    I just made some popcorn yesterday, and setting it on 60% power for 4 minutes, then shaking and doing 80% power for 45 seconds, then back to shaking, etc. until most of the corn is popped. I really miss my old microwave already :( – MechMK1 Aug 7 at 7:31
  • Nice to hear it worked – Duarte Farrajota Ramos Aug 7 at 9:07

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