Looking for a way to make fresh popcorn without a stove, microwave, or popcorn maker? Try making hot, freshly-popped air fryer popcorn!
It comes out salty and crunchy but isn't necessarily the easiest way to make this tasty snack. But don't worry, I'm sharing all my lessons learned during testing to help yours come out great!
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Making popcorn from kernels is a great way to control the amount of salt and butter that gets added! At home I usually rely on the stove method and I love being able to flavor it just to my family's tastes.
I thought why not try it in the air fryer! To my surprise, it ended up being way more work than I ever thought popcorn could be! It took me many different methods and tries to get it right.
A word of caution, the air fryer isn't truly the BEST way to make popcorn. Actually, you can ruin your air fryer but if no other methods are available for making it, it's possible to use it
Keep reading as I share all I learned about how to cook popcorn in the air fryer!
All you need are a few basic ingredients to make crunchy air fryer popcorn. Here's what you need:
- Oil: Use vegetable or popcorn oil for the best results. While the appeal of the air fryer is cooking without oil, it actually helps the popcorn kernels pop a little more quickly which resulted in less burned kernels.
- Popcorn kernels: Use any brand you want!
- Salt and melted butter: Totally optional, but traditionally used to flavor popcorn.
See the recipe card for the exact quantities of each ingredient.
Variations for Seasoning Popcorn
The oil and popcorn won't change for the recipe! But here are some ideas for different flavors you can add to your freshly popped popcorn!
- Parmesan Cheese: Use grated (not shredded) parmesan cheese to add some cheesy flavor to your popcorn.
- Cinnamon sugar: Sprinkle cinnamon sugar along with the salt and butter before eating!
- Ranch: Sprinkle some ranch seasoning over the popcorn for a tangy and herby taste.
How to Make Popcorn in the Air Fryer
Here's the main steps involved in making air fryer popcorn. Be sure to check the recipe card and read through all the tips in the notes section for the best results!
- Before you start, preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees F. Preheating the air fryer is essential for the best outcome. If your air fryer doesn't have a preheat function, run the air fryer for five minutes prior to starting cooking.
- Add the oil to a small bowl of popcorn and stir them well to fully coat all the kernels.
- Spread the popcorn seeds in a single layer in the basket of the air fryer unit.
PRO TIP: If you decide to use foil base because the holes in the basket of your unit are too large to directly place the kernels, it's important to position or wrap it in a way that prevents it from blowing upward during air frying. In my experience, using foil in the base caused kernels to get stuck and led to burned kernels.
- Close the basket and cook for 3-5 minutes or until popping begins to slow.
- Serve warm topped with melted butter and salt.
- Expect some unpopped kernels. Do not wait for all the kernels to pop.
- Thoroughly clean your unit after using it to make popcorn. Kernels, both popped and unpopped can get stuck in the air circulator. It’s extremely important to carefully check every nook and cranny.
- Preheating the air fryer is vital.
- Cook in small batches to allow movement as the popcorn pops.
- This recipe is based on an large to extra large air fryer. For medium air fryers (3-5 liters in size) I suggest popping half the amount of popcorn (two tablespoons) at a time.
- Season AFTER cooking.
- I don’t recommend using foil but if you decide to use be sure it’s placed in a way it doesn’t blow upwards during cooking.
- Store leftover popcorn in a container or bag for up to two days. It may become stale or a bit soft if it sits too long.
No, you can't. The oil helps the kernels heat up more quickly and pop
You can but I don't recommend it! There are really much easier ways to pop popcorn such as the microwave or even using the stove. In my opinion, it can be done but takes some trial and error and may cause damage to your air fryer.
It's a healthier alternative than some other forms of cooking popcorn since it requires less oil to make.
More Easy Snack Recipes
Did you try this recipe? Please leave a star rating in the recipe card right below! You can also write a review in the comment section further down the page I always appreciate your feedback. And don’t forget to tag me @freshcoasteats in your photos on social media, I'd love to see your results!
Air Fryer Popcorn
- ¼ cup popcorn kernels
- ½ teaspoon oil vegetable or popcorn oil
- Optional: Melted butter and salt for flavoring
- Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees.
- Stir the popcorn seeds in the oil to coat.
- Place popcorn seeds in a single layer in the basket of the air fryer unit. See note about foil.
- Cook for 3-5 minutes or until popping begins to slow.
- Serve warm topped with melted butter and salt.