How to Make Popcorn in an Air Fryer – A Snack Time Revolution

How to Make Popcorn in an Air Fryer - A Snack Time Revolution

Popcorn is my favorite snack! Whether watching a movie or just craving something crunchy, it’s the go-to choice. But have you ever tried making it in an air fryer? 

Oh, the wonders of modern kitchen gadgets! Using an air fryer to pop those kernels not only gives you a healthier snack option but also ensures a quick and mess-free experience. 

Plus, the convenience factor is off the charts. No more waiting for that pot on the stove or the microwave’s ding. Just a few minutes in the air fryer, and you’re good to go!

Fun Fact: Did you know that popcorn has been a popular snack for over 5,000 years? Ancient civilizations enjoyed it just as much as we do!

Ingredients and Equipment

Before we jump into the popping action, let’s make sure we have everything ready.


  • Popcorn kernels (of course!)
  • Cooking oil (this is optional, but it can give your popcorn a richer flavor)
  • Seasonings of your choice (think salt, butter, or even some exotic flavors if you’re feeling adventurous)


  • An air fryer (the star of our show)
  • A microwave-safe bowl (this will come in handy, trust me)
  • Microwave-safe plate or lid (to cover the bowl)
  • Heat-resistant oven mitts (safety first!)

Pro Tip: While oil is optional in an air fryer, a little drizzle can enhance the flavor and help seasonings stick better.

Choosing the Right Popcorn Kernels

Choosing the Right Popcorn Kernels

The foundation of any great popcorn snack is, well, the popcorn itself. Choosing high-quality kernels is crucial. Not all kernels are created equal, and the quality can significantly impact the taste and pop-ability.

There are several varieties of popcorn kernels out there. Some of the popular ones include:

  • Yellow Popcorn: This is your typical movie theater popcorn. It pops up large and has a slightly chewy texture.
  • White Popcorn: It’s a bit smaller when popped compared to yellow popcorn and has a tender texture.
  • Blue Popcorn: Yes, it’s a thing! It pops up white but has a subtle nutty flavor.

When shopping for popcorn kernels, look for ones that are organic and free from added chemicals. Local farmers’ markets or organic stores often carry top-notch quality.

Interesting Fact: Popcorn kernels can pop up to 3 feet in the air if conditions are right!

Preparing the Popcorn

Alright, now that we’ve got our top-notch kernels, let’s get them ready for the air fryer. First things first, decide how much popcorn you want. I usually go for about a half cup of kernels, which gives me a nice big bowl to munch on.

If you’re using oil, now’s the time to add it. A tablespoon should do the trick. Mix it well, ensuring every kernel gets a little love. This not only helps in popping but also ensures that any seasonings you add will stick better. Speaking of seasonings, if you’re adding any, sprinkle them in now and give everything a good stir.

Pro Tip: If you’re a fan of buttery popcorn, melt some butter and drizzle it over the kernels after they’ve popped. It’s a game-changer!

Setting Up the Air Fryer

Setting Up the Air Fryer

Your air fryer is about to become your best friend. Start by preheating it to 390°F (200°C). This is the sweet spot for popcorn. It’s hot enough to pop the kernels quickly but not so hot that they burn.

While it’s heating up, let’s talk time. Popcorn doesn’t take long in an air fryer. We’re looking at about 12-15 minutes, depending on the quantity and your specific air fryer model.

Fun Fact: The world’s largest popcorn ball, created in 2013, weighed a whopping 6,510 pounds!

Popping the Popcorn

Now, for the fun part! Once your air fryer is preheated, take your microwave-safe bowl and fill it with the prepared popcorn kernels. Remember that microwave-safe plate or lid we talked about? Place it on top of the bowl. This acts as a cover, ensuring even cooking and preventing any rogue kernels from making an escape.

Place the bowl in the air fryer basket. The beauty of this method is that the circulating hot air ensures every kernel gets popped to perfection. No more unpopped kernels at the bottom of your bowl!

Remember to keep an ear out. Once the popping slows down, it’s a good sign that your popcorn is ready. But we’ll get more into that in the next sections. For now, enjoy the symphony of pops!

Interesting Fact: Popcorn pops because each kernel has a tiny drop of water inside. When heated, this water turns to steam, causing the kernel to explode.

Monitoring and Shaking

Monitoring and Shaking

Listening is key when making popcorn. As the kernels start popping, you’ll hear a rapid, almost rhythmic sound. But as they near completion, the popping will slow down. This is your cue that they’re almost done.

About halfway through the cooking time, around the 6 or 7-minute mark, it’s a good idea to give the air fryer basket a gentle shake. This ensures that any kernels that haven’t popped yet get their chance to shine. It also helps in even cooking, so you don’t end up with some overdone pieces.

Pro Tip: Don’t wait until all the popping has stopped to remove the popcorn. If you do, you might end up with some burnt pieces. Once the popping slows to about 2 seconds between pops, it’s time to take them out.

Safety Tips

Now, I can’t stress this enough: safety first! The air fryer gets incredibly hot, and so does the bowl of freshly popped popcorn. Always use heat-resistant oven mitts when removing the bowl from the air fryer. Trust me, it’s not worth the risk to try and tough it out.

Once you’ve safely removed your popcorn, let it sit for a minute or two. This allows any steam to escape and also lets the popcorn crisp up a bit more.

Interesting Fact: Popcorn is a whole grain and is high in dietary fiber. So, not only is it delicious, but it’s also a healthier snack option!

Recipe Variations

One of the joys of making popcorn at home is the endless flavor possibilities. While classic butter and salt are always a hit, why not get a little adventurous?

Flavor Profile Ingredients
Sweet Melted chocolate, caramel, nuts
Savory Grated cheese, garlic powder
Spicy Chili powder, lime juice

Remember, these are just ideas to get you started. The sky’s the limit when it comes to popcorn flavors. Experiment and find your perfect combo!


What are the health benefits of air-fried popcorn compared to traditionally popped popcorn?

Air frying popcorn requires little to no oil, making it a healthier option. Traditional methods, especially those that involve deep frying or using a lot of butter, can add unnecessary fats and calories. Air-fried popcorn retains the natural benefits of whole grain popcorn, including fiber, without the added fats.

Can I use flavored oils in the air fryer for a unique taste?

Absolutely! Flavored oils like truffle oil, garlic-infused oil, or chili oil can add an extra layer of flavor to your popcorn. Just ensure that the oil has a high smoke point to prevent any burning or off-flavors.

How do I prevent my air fryer from getting too messy when popping popcorn?

Using a microwave-safe bowl and covering it with a plate or lid, as mentioned in the article, can help contain the popcorn and prevent it from flying around. Additionally, some users line their air fryer with aluminum foil for easy cleanup.

Why does my air-fried popcorn sometimes come out chewy instead of crispy?

Chewy popcorn can result from too much moisture. Ensure your kernels are stored in a cool, dry place. Also, avoid adding too much oil or any liquid seasonings before popping. If you’re seasoning after popping, ensure any melted butter or liquid seasonings are used sparingly.


Making popcorn in an air fryer is not just a culinary experiment; it’s a revelation. The convenience, the versatility in flavoring, and the sheer joy of watching those kernels transform into fluffy bites of happiness make it a must-try for everyone. 

The air fryer method offers a healthier alternative to traditional methods, and the results are just as delicious, if not more so. So, the next time you’re in the mood for a snack, remember your trusty air fryer. And once you’ve tried it, I bet you’ll be as hooked as I am. 

Happy popping!

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Aleksandra Kontic

I'm Aleksandra Kontic, a content creator and writer for, known for its captivating content. My academic journey involved studying English language and literature at the Faculty of Philosophy in Novi Sad, where I sharpened my writing and analytical skills. Off-duty, I love baking cakes, adding sweetness to my creative pursuits.
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