Popcorn as we know is a type of corn (maize) delicacy, in which the corn kernels when exposed to heat or microwaves, are explodes into large fluffy masses. It’s always like magic to watch, seeing tiny grains of corn transform into the large fluffy white mass we enjoy.
But here’s the trick; the popcorn core has an extremely hard outer shell and a hard outer endosperm, while the inside contains a lot of moist starchy white endosperm. The moisture content of about 13.5%.
When this grain is heated to approximately 400°F (200°C), the moisture in the starch turns into steam and increases the pressure until the core explodes in the head and becomes a white, fluffy, uneven substance, about 2-4 times the original size. Wow!
As a snack, popcorn is usually buttered and salted. They also can be glazed with caramel syrups of various flavors and colors that are hardened or mixed with peanuts or almonds, or poured with melted cheese.
Usually, the traditional technique for preparing popcorn is on a stove, adding a bit of oil before you add the kernels. The results are nice, however, there’s a lot of things to scrub up and clean, and you do have to keep very close watch too.
But things have changed a lot and behold we have something called an Air Fryer!
So, can you cook popcorn in an air fryer? Yes, you can cook popcorn in your air fryer. I prefer to pop my corn in an air fryer. The explanation for this is simple – it retains the taste and there is a little risk of overcooking or burning them.
However, it’s not the quickest approach to doing it but it’s a choice if you don’t have access to a microwave.
What is an air fryer?
Well, if you have been wondering what an air fryer is, here we are. The air fryer is a small countertop flow oven designed to simulate frying without immersing food in oil. The fan circulates hot air at a high speed and forms a crispy layer on the food.
The air fryer is similar to an oven for the fact that it can bake and fry, but the difference is that its heating element is only on the top and is equipped with a large and powerful fan to spread the heat.
It crisp food fast, and most importantly, uses less oil than deep frying. Due to the combination of centralized heat source, fan size, and installation location, the fryer usually heats up very quickly and can cook food quickly and evenly.
How to make air fryer popcorn
Preparing air fryer popcorn, you will need the following:
- A quarter cup of kernels
- 2 tablespoons of oil or spray with oil
- Aluminum foil
Setting up the popcorn fryer is easy. The first thing to do is cover the inside of the pot with aluminum foil. This is done to prevent popcorn from dropping out of the air fryer basket. Now preheat the fryer to 400°F for about 5 minutes.
Put your popcorn kernels and make popcorn in 10 minutes. You will know when your popcorn is ready because it will stop popping at some point. Transfer the ready popcorn to a bowl immediately and season to taste.
Do you need aluminum foil for air fryer popcorn?
The purpose of getting the aluminum foil or tin foil in an air fryer when popping your corn is to stop the popcorn kernels from escaping the air fryer. Using this can additionally prevent the popcorn from overcooking. When fixing the aluminum foil or tin foil, you’ve got to place it at the bottom of the air fryer. Try and avoid the edges so you don’t block the airflow.
Also, air fryers are powerful, you have to use the pouch method, by pouching the aluminum foil where you will put the kernels together. Inside the aluminum foil pouch, you have to add a little oil and then position it well inside the air fryer under 400ºF degrees.
Advantages of using an air fryer to make popcorn
Using an air fryer is advantageous, especially for the weight-watcher, health-conscious, or those who simply don’t like making a lot of mess. Using an air fryer for popping your popcorn creates less mess. It’s consistent and there is less chance of burning or overcooking.
Air fryer for popcorn has the following advantages:
- Less oil: If you are health conscious, using a hot air fryer is your best option as less oil can be used without affecting the taste of the popcorn. Two tablespoons of oil are more than enough to make good popcorn with the air fryer. The advantages of this are obvious as most edible oil contains a lot of unsaturated fats. This is unhealthy and you want the smallest amount possible on any food, which is perhaps the greatest benefit of an air fryer. Since air fryers are powerful, consider using the bag method and placing the aluminum foil where you will attach the grains. Put some oil in the aluminum foil bag and then place it well in the deep fryer below 400 ° F degrees.
- Less Calorie Intake: Less oil, definitely means fewer calories. This is one of the main reasons why people loved using an air fryer. Their calorie intake will dramatically reduce with this method. As many air fryer users would say, using it is healthier.
- Consistency: The flavor is more consistent because it has less tendency to be burned or overcooked. The air fryer is constantly blowing and rotating the heat around, this ensures even cooking of all the popcorn kernels.
- Less messy: The air fryer is a contained unit, so you don’t have to worry about the popcorn flying and creating a mess. The fact that it uses little or no oil for cooking makes it a very clean method of preparing popcorn.
Aside from the above advantages, using an air fryer makes food crisp easily. Lastly, air-frying won’t make the whole house smell as other cooking methods can.
Disadvantages of using an air fryer popcorn
With everyone being additionally health conscious, using an air fryer to prepare popcorn is healthier as you will use less oil. But then, just like everything else, it comes with its cons as well.
- Expensive: Most air fryers are a bit more expensive than alternative popcorn-making strategies, like using a stove or any other kitchen appliance.
- Longer cooking time: Cooking popcorn in an air fryer may take longer than other methods. The traditional method of preparing popcorn takes about 5-7 minutes, and it takes about 15 minutes in the fryer depending on the amount, but remember that this amount is still smaller than the ordinary stove. The difference might be 5 minutes to 10 minutes. It might seem insignificant, but what if that is the only time you have? The disadvantage is that it takes longer than usual. You will have to wait between two servings, and each serving is small since the capacity is small.
- Lack of capacity: One of the major drawbacks to using air fryers is that they have very little capacity. So if you are attempting to cook for a large number of people, this would be a setback for you. A very tedious experience when it comes to cooking alternative kinds of foods, though it might not be a problem when it comes to making popcorn.
Now aside other factors like small capacity and time-wasting, the corn Kernels may get stuck in the heating element, leading to faulty cooking equipment.
Can you make microwave popcorn in an air fryer?
Microwave popcorn is made for and is best for microwave cooking. It is packaged and sealed with things required to give it the required taste and flavor. If you open the package and put it in an air fryer, the result may not be satisfactory. Therefore, it is best to use simple popcorn kernels to make popcorn in a deep fryer.
Microwave popcorn is a quick snack consisting of unpopped corn packaged in a very enhanced, sealed carrier bag meant to be heated in a microwave oven. In addition to the dried corn, the sealed package generally contains oil with sufficient saturated fat that is solidified at room temperature, one or a lot of seasonings (often salt), and natural or artificial flavorings, or both.
There are different flavors and varieties, hence there are many alternative providers of microwave popcorn.
So when shopping for corn to prepare popcorn in an air fryer, confirm if it is the regular corn and not the treated kind. Popping the microwave popcorn in an air fryer is not a good idea. The results will not be nice as it was not designed for such.
Some folks might imagine that microwave popcorn may be prepared in the air fryer, however, this isn’t true.
What is the best air fryer popcorn temperature?
The temperature always has an important part to play when it comes to food and cooking. You want to kill harmful substances inside the food with heat, but at the same time, you don’t want to overcook your food and ruin its taste.
If you want to eat delicious popcorn, you need to cook it at the right temperature. The best temperature for frying popcorn is 400 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 205 degrees Celsius. This is enough to get the best results.
What if the kernels are getting blown around in my air fryer?
You might wonder if the kernels can be blown around. Of course, it is possible because the air from the air fryer fan is strong. If that is the case, you should consider using ‘The Pouch technique’.
The pouch method involves creating a loose pouch out of aluminum foil that will house your popcorn kernels. Simply add a little oil inside the pouch and place it into your air fryer at the usual temperature.
The kernels will be safe from the powerful air blowing outside the pouch. The pouch acts as a selective shield allowing the heat to flow through. They may take slightly longer to cook but at least it is cleaner.
How do you flavor air-popped popcorn without oil?
Popcorn, especially the ones made with an air fryer, is usually very crisp and dry, making it difficult for any seasonings to adhere properly. To get around this, you need to moisten the popcorn.
A good way of doing this without oil is to lightly steam the popcorn. Put the popcorn in a colander and place it over a pot of boiling water for about 30 seconds. Be careful not to go beyond this as it will get soggy.
The goal is to make the crisp surface a bit moist, enough to make the seasoning stick to it when sprinkled. The moisture from the steam will coat the popcorn and make it sticky.
Toss or stir the popcorn in the colander, so it gets evenly coated in steam. While it is steaming, toss the popcorn and sprinkle your seasonings over it. The steam will help the seasoning to stick on the popcorn.
How do I stop the popcorn from becoming soggy?
There are different ways you can safely apply your seasoning to your popcorn. You can use a mister. These tiny devices pressurize liquids so that they come out as a mist instead of a jet. This will make the popcorn evenly coated with a thin layer of liquid.
If you were to pour the seasoning over the popcorn you might end up getting some oversaturated popcorn, and the rest will stay dry. And this also will require you to use more oil unlike having popcorn that has fewer calories when using a mister.
Once your popcorn is properly misted, you can go ahead to sprinkle your seasoning and toss it to ensure even distribution. If not properly coated try adding a few more spritzes from your mister and re-tossing. You should end up with perfectly coated popcorn.
Another method is using the bowl trick. The only downside to this method is that you will have to get your hands dirty.
Get a big bowl and coat the inside of the bowl lightly with a mixture of oil and your seasoning. Once coated, put your popcorn in and toss it around. The oil mixture will stick to the popcorn, seasoning it nicely.