Is It Possible to Reheat Popcorn?

January 13, 2023
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There is a Risk of Burning, and Unpopped Kernels Won’t Pop

Homemade popcorn is a classic snack food for people all around the world. There are countless ways to flavor popcorn, whether covered in chocolate or caramel, soaked in butter, or lightly salted.

There’s nothing better than popcorn paired with a good movie, and it also makes a great low-calorie snack throughout the day.

Most popcorn servings are more than you can eat in one sitting. Popcorn bags at home produce a significant amount of popcorn, and movie theaters sell even bigger bowls of popcorn.

As a result, it is common for people to be unable to finish.

Most people throw away their uneaten movie theater popcorn, but that feels like a waste. As a result, you might ask yourself, is it possible to reheat popcorn?

Nothing beats fresh popcorn, but popcorn leftovers are pretty fantastic too.

Now, it is possible to reheat popcorn; you can reheat anything, but will it taste good? We will answer that question and how to reheat your popcorn safely below.

The Risk of Reheating Stale Popcorn

While it is possible to reheat popcorn, some risks come with it. Notably, you need to avoid burning your popcorn when you reheat it. Popcorn is very delicate and sensitive to heat once it pops.

That is why you must be careful not to cook your microwave popcorn for too long when cooking it the first time.

You need to be even more cautious when you go to reheat your popcorn. As a result, you should not leave your popcorn in the microwave for more than 10 seconds at a time.

It will burn if you expose popcorn to heat for too long when reheating it. Not only will your popcorn be ruined, but the scent of burning popcorn will line your kitchen.

Getting the burning smell away will take a while, and you do not want to deal with that.

If You Aren’t Careful, Reheating Popcorn Can Cause it to Become Burnt

Tips for Reheating Popcorn

Although reheating popcorn is pretty straightforward, here are a few tips that can improve the taste of your popcorn:

Choose Your Popcorn Wisely

Only reheat buttered, oiled, or salted popcorn. Never reheat kettle corn or popcorn covered in chocolate or caramel, as reheating will melt the coating and stick to your pan.

Spread It Out

Regardless of your heating method, be sure to spread out your popcorn evenly. Don’t crowd or stack your popcorn, as this can lead to burning or uneven heating.

Add Oil After Heating

While it might be tempting to add butter or cooking oil while reheating, this will backfire. Adding oil too early could cause your popcorn to smoke during reheating (depending on which method you choose) or result in soggy popcorn.

The exception to this is reheating on the stove, in which you do need some oil to keep the popcorn from sticking to the pan.

Freezing Popcorn

Popcorn lasts for a while when stored at room temperature, so you may not feel the need to freezer your popcorn to preserve it.  If you choose to freeze your popcorn, you’ll want to package it properly in an airtight container with a minimum amount of air in the container.  

Vacuum sealing is always best for freezer storage, however, the integrity of your popped popcorn kernels may cause the popcorn to break while creating a vacuum.

You can also freeze popcorn kernels to be thawed and cooked at a later date.

There is water content within the popcorn, and this moisture may expand when freezing which may compromise the shape, flavor, and texture of the popcorn kernel.

Before heating popcorn that has been frozen, be sure to bring it up to room temperature first by setting it out on the counter within its storage container.

Following These Steps Can Help You Avoid Staleness and Burns When Reheating Your Popcorn

How to Reheat Popcorn

Now that you know the delicate process of reheating popcorn, we can delve into the different methods you can use to reheat popcorn. Although nothing here is too complicated, we want to ensure you have all the details for each method.

All methods are equally effective. The one you choose comes down to your personal preference.

Reheat Your Popcorn in the Oven

The best and most popular way to reheat popcorn is in the oven. However, you cannot just preheat your oven to any temperature and expect optimal results.

You need to preheat your oven to low temperatures, so the risk of your popcorn burning is lower.

Most baking involves preheating the oven to at least 350 degrees Fahrenheit. However, you are not cooking anything when you are heating your popcorn, so you do not need to heat your oven to this high temperature.

So, when you are warming up your old popped corn, you only need to preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit or 125 degrees Celsius.

You should then take your popcorn out of its container and lay it flat on a baking sheet. Try to spread out the popcorn in one layer, so it heats evenly.

If You're Making Popcorn From Scratch, Gordon Ramsay's Salted Caramel Popcorn is Worth a Try

You can then place the baking tray with the popcorn in the oven. Plan on a cooking time of around five minutes. However, you should never leave your popcorn unattended.

Check it regularly to ensure it is not getting too crispy or burning. Once it is optimal, you can take it out of the oven and move your popcorn to a bowl.

Let it cool down, and you will have a fantastic snack for your evening movie.

Additionally, you should note that there is no need to add oil or grease to the tray. There is no risk of popcorn sticking to the baking tray.

However, you can add butter and seasoning afterward if you want your popcorn to have a little extra flavor.

The only downside to heating old popcorn in an oven is it takes a little longer. Fortunately, the time-consuming part is waiting for the oven to preheat.

So, you can do other things while you wait for your oven to get to the perfect temperature.

Reheat Old Popcorn in Your Microwave

Another option available to you is to reheat your popcorn in your microwave. While this method is riskier in burning your food, it can still be effective.

You first need to remove your popcorn from its original container and transfer it to a microwave-safe bowl. You should then use a damp paper towel to cover the popcorn bowl. The extra moisture will keep the popcorn kernels from drying out and burning.

Once your bowl is ready, you can place it in the microwave. You should then heat it in 10-second intervals. The reason you do this is to ensure it does not burn.

Microwaves cook food at extremely high temperatures for short periods, so there is an increased risk of burning if you cook your popcorn for too long at once.

If you want, you can also melt some butter at the same time to add your popcorn. However, you should not add it to the popcorn while it is in the microwave.

You can microwave the popcorn and butter simultaneously, but the butter should be in a separate bowl. When everything is heated, drizzle the butter over your popcorn.

Unfortunately, heating old popcorn in a microwave does not give you as great a texture and flavor as heating it in an oven. When you heat popcorn in a microwave, it will feel staler than if you use your oven.

Use an Air Fryer to Reheat Your Popcorn

While it might not be the first thing you think of, you can reheat your popcorn in an air fryer.

Preheat your air fryer to 300 degrees Fahrenheit or 150 degrees Celsius. Once it reaches the desired temperature, add your popcorn to the fryer.

Heat your popcorn in the fryer for two to three minutes. Check on the popcorn regularly to ensure it does not burn.

Additionally, it is crucial not to overload your fryer. If you put too much popcorn in the fryer, it will not heat evenly. You should consider heating it in two batches if you have a lot of leftover popcorn.

Additionally, we recommend giving your popcorn a shake once or twice while it is in the fryer to help keep the heating even.

Another thing you can do with this method is to spray your popcorn with oil, which will help your popcorn come out nice and crispy. It should also ensure that any extra seasoning you add will stick to the popcorn.

Air frying your popcorn is a very effective reheating method, and your popcorn should come out in a similar condition as when you use the oven. The most significant difference being it is quicker to use an air fryer.

Use Your Stove to Reheat Your Popcorn

The final device you can use to reheat popcorn is your stovetop.

To start, you should heat a non-stick pan over low heat. Once it is heated, you can add the popcorn to the pan.

Cover it with a lid while it is heating. Let your popcorn sit in the pan for four or five minutes. Additionally, give the pan a shake a few times while it is heating.

Doing so will ensure that the popcorn at the bottom of the pan does not burn.

Some people like to melt butter in the pan before adding the popcorn. If you do this, you can toss the popcorn around the pan to coat it in fresh butter.

Unfortunately, this method is not the best option because it is a simplified version of using an oven. Adding the lid to the pan makes it a makeshift oven.

However, it is not as effective as an oven. If you use this method, the most significant sacrifice you are making is the popcorn probably will not heat evenly.

Is It Safe to Reheat Unpopped Popcorn?

When you finish popping your popcorn the first time, there is almost always an extra popcorn kernel or two that won't pop. Is it safe to reheat the unpopped popcorn kernels to see if they will pop?

Fortunately, it is safe to reheat these kernels with your popcorn. So, you do not need to worry about removing them before reheating your popcorn.

However, the unpopped kernels are unlikely to pop when you reheat your popcorn. They likely did not pop the first time because they were defective.

Unpopped Kernels Are Not Guaranteed to Pop When Heated a Second Time

Frank Salvatore

Hey there - I'm Frank Salvatore. I created this site as a comprehensive kitchen resource. You'll find everything you need to know about everything in your kitchen. From appliances to utensils and layout - it is covered on this site!

About Me
Frank Salvatore
I created this site as a comprehensive kitchen resource. You'll find everything you need to know about everything in your kitchen. From appliances to utensils and layout - it is covered on this site!
Learn More About Me
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