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Exactly How To Reheat Popcorn – I Test 4 Methods [Pics]

Can you reheat popcorn without it becoming dry, chewy, and tasteless?

I tested several reheating methods to find out which ones delivered that “just-popped” texture and flavor (and which ones to avoid).

Here’s what I found.

The best way to reheat popcorn is in the oven. First, preheat your oven to 250°F (125°C). Spread the popcorn out in a single layer on a baking tray and reheat it for 5 minutes. To prevent the popcorn from burning, check it regularly and remove it if it’s hot and crispy. Serve immediately.

A note on my experiment

popcorn in four different vessels: air fryer, plate, pan, and baking tray.

To kick off my experiment, I made an enormous bowl of popcorn.

After checking to see if it passed my taste test (it needed a touch more salt), I tried the following reheating methods:

  • In the oven (great result)
  • In the microwave (best to avoid)
  • In an air fryer (almost as good as the oven)
  • On the stove (OK, but the oven is better)

I wasn’t thrilled with the result I got from using the microwave.

The oven and air fryer both reheated the popcorn beautifully; it tasted almost freshly made.

Psst: don’t miss my secret to making quick caramelized popcorn on the stove if you like sweet treats.

Reheating popcorn in the oven

The best way to reheat popcorn is in the oven. Preheat the oven to 250°F (125°C). Spread the popcorn out on a baking tray and heat it for approximately 5 minutes. To prevent the popcorn from burning, check it regularly and remove it if it’s hot and crispy.

popcorn spread out on a baking tray

How to reheat popcorn in the oven:

  1. Preheat your oven to 250°F (125°C).
  2. Pile your popcorn on your largest baking sheet, spreading it out evenly.
  3. Place your tray of popcorn into the oven and heat it for 5 minutes.
  4. When it’s evenly heated, remove your popcorn from the oven and serve it in a large bowl.

Popcorn heats quickly, so check it frequently to avoid it burning.

There’s no need for any oil or grease on the tray, as the popcorn won’t stick. 

But, if you want to ensure the popcorn is sticky and ready for extra seasonings, you can add a little oil or butter.

My verdict

I was thrilled. 

My popcorn tasted almost fresh!

The only downside is waiting for the oven to preheat (not a problem with a toaster oven). 

When I’ve got a craving for popcorn, I want it right now. 

Reheating popcorn in the microwave

Transfer your popcorn to a microwave-safe bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp paper towel. Then microwave your popcorn at 100% power in 10-second intervals. You can also melt a small bit of butter at the same time (in a separate bowl) and drizzle it over just before serving.

popcorn on plate covered with a damp paper towel

How to reheat popcorn in the microwave:

  1. Put the popcorn in a microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Cover the bowl with a damp paper towel.
  3. Set the power to 100% and microwave in 10-second intervals.
  4. Once the popcorn is hot, remove it from the microwave and serve immediately.

Popcorn can burn quickly in the microwave. 

The short heating intervals help prevent this from happening.

Eat the popcorn as soon as it comes out of the microwave because it will quickly become cold and stale.

My verdict

I wasn’t a fan of this method of reheating popcorn. 

My bowl ended up pretty dry and lifeless, like chomping on cardboard.

It’s not like freshly popped popcorn at all.

Reheating popcorn in an air fryer

Set the air fryer to 300°F (150°C). Heat the popcorn in the air fryer basket for 2-3 minutes, until crunchy. Be careful not to overload the basket or the popcorn won’t heat evenly. Giving the popcorn a shake every minute will also help with even heating.

popcorn in air fryer basket

How to reheat popcorn in an air fryer:

  1. Preheat your air fryer to 300°F (150°C).
  2. Place the popcorn in the air fryer basket, being careful not to overfill it.
  3. Heat the popcorn for 2-3 minutes, shaking every minute.

For extra crispy popcorn, spray it with oil before putting it in the air fryer.

This will also help ensure any seasoning you add afterward will stick.

Related: How To Get Seasoning To Stick To Popcorn

Keep an eye on your popcorn, as the harsh air fryer heat can easily burn it.

My verdict

This method ticked all the boxes for me.

The results were similar to when I used the oven, only faster.

If you have an air fryer, this is a good option – especially if you’re in a rush to serve your popcorn.

Reheating popcorn on the stove

Warm a pan over low heat. Place the popcorn in the pan and cover it with a lid. Heat the popcorn for 4-5 minutes. Make sure that you don’t forget to shake the pan a few times while heating the popcorn. Watch carefully to ensure the popcorn isn’t burning on the bottom of the pan.

popcorn in a saucepan

How to reheat popcorn on the stove:

  1. Warm up your pan on the stove over low heat.
  2. Place the popcorn in the pan and cover it with a lid.
  3. Shake the pan a few times during heating, so the popcorn warms evenly and doesn’t burn.
  4. Heat the popcorn for between 4 and 5 minutes.

Putting the lid on the pan keeps the heat in and creates a sort of mini oven.

I like to melt some butter in the pan before adding the popcorn and then toss the popcorn around to coat it fully.

For a deliciously sweet treat, heat sugar, water, and butter in the pan to make caramel. 

Once your caramel’s ready, add your popcorn and coat (yum).

My verdict

I wasn’t over the moon about this method, but it worked okay.

My popcorn was warm but didn’t heat as evenly as in the oven or the air fryer.

But if you’ve got a sweet tooth, I highly recommend going the caramel route.

Can you reheat unpopped popcorn?

It is possible to reheat unpopped popcorn.

But, if the kernels didn’t pop the first time, they’re most likely defective and will never pop.

Either the shell is split, or they’re just too dry. 

Your popcorn kernels need enough moisture inside to create steam.

As you heat them, the steam builds up inside the kernels causing them to expand and finally burst.

If there’s no moisture or no pressure build-up because of a leak, they won’t pop.

How to store popcorn

It’s best to keep your popcorn plain if you want to store it, but don’t worry if it’s already flavored. 

Wait for the popcorn to cool to room temperature, and then place it in an airtight container or bag. If using a bag, remove as much air as possible. Keep the popcorn at room temperature for up to a week or in the freezer for a month. Freezing popcorn is a good way to keep it fresh.

I find that sucking the air out of a freezer bag with a straw is a pretty effective way to remove it.

If you’re using a container, try to fill it up as much as possible to minimize empty space.

Make sure the popcorn is completely cool before you store it. If the popcorn is warm, moisture can build up in the bag and leave you with soggy popcorn.

Avoid storing the popcorn in the fridge because it will introduce moisture, and the popcorn will stale faster.

Can you freeze popcorn?

Freezing popcorn is the best way to store it if you want to keep it fresh. Freezing halts the staling process, and because popcorn is devoid of moisture, freezing won’t affect its texture. Keep the popcorn in an airtight bag and use it within a month. 

popcorn in freezer bag with air removed

You can eat it (and reheat it) straight from the freezer without thawing it.

How to freeze popcorn:

  1. Allow your popcorn to reach room temperature.
  2. Place the room temperature popcorn in a heavy-duty freezer bag.
  3. Remove as much air from the bag as possible before sealing it (but don’t squish the popcorn).
  4. Label and date the bag.
  5. Store the popcorn in your freezer for up to a month.

The popcorn won’t freeze solid in the way you are used to. It will just get really cold.

When you want to eat the popcorn, simply remove it from the freezer and wait a few minutes for it to reach room temperature.

If you want to reheat the popcorn, place it in a250°F (125°C) oven and wait for 5-7 minutes.

Exactly How To Reheat Popcorn

In this short recipe, I show you the best way to revive and reheat your leftover popcorn.
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: popcorn, reheat popcorn
Prep Time: 0 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1 person
Calories: 375kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 portion popcorn

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 250°F (125°C).
  • Pile your popcorn on your largest baking sheet, spreading it out evenly.
  • Place your tray of popcorn into the oven and heat it for 5 minutes.
  • When it’s evenly heated, remove your popcorn from the oven and serve it in a large bowl.

Notes

Popcorn heats quickly, so check it frequently to avoid it burning.
There’s no need for any oil or grease on the tray, as the popcorn won’t stick.
But, if you want to ensure the popcorn is sticky and ready for extra seasonings, you can add a little oil or butter.

Nutrition

Serving: 100g | Calories: 375kcal

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