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Air Fryer Popcorn for a Healthy Snack

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Making an easy and healthy snack for the family is possible with air fryer popcorn.

Bowl of air fryer popcorn on a wooden surface with kernels and a blue striped cloth nearby.

You will love this twist to the classic snack that’s been a favorite of many generations. Serve it with pomegranate chocolate candy cups or fudgy Instant Pot walnut and pecan chocolate brownies to balance their sweetness or alongside dried fruits, nuts and pretzels for texture-filled snacks. 

Choosing healthy snacks is a good way to enjoy a variety of food without worrying about calories or consuming too much salt or sugar. And, with homemade popcorn, you won’t have to. 

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Is Air Fried Popcorn Good for You?

A lot of evidence says yes, popcorn is good for you.

Since they are made from corn kernels, they have high fiber content. Eating fiber-rich foods has been linked to a host of healthy benefits for the body, such as lowering the risks of developing diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. 

Popcorn is also a good source of polyphenols. With these antioxidants, you may experience better blood circulation, better digestive health, and potentially lower risk of developing some cancers.

However, the best way to ensure you’ll enjoy these benefits is to eat popcorn that has been prepared well.

Unfortunately, movie theater popcorn or microwave popcorn are usually loaded with unhealthy amounts of oils, sodium and/or sugar. They can easily negate the nutrients innately found in popcorn by loading it up with empty calories.

To avoid this risk, it’s best to prepare popcorn at home. When you make popcorn in the air fryer, you can control how much oil and salt you put in it.

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❤️ Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Here are some fabulous reasons why you’ll enjoy making popcorn in an air fryer:

  • Ready in under 15 minutes: You can easily satisfy your cravings for a snack when you make air fryer popcorn. All it takes is 15 minutes of your time, which includes both prep and cooking time.
  • Highly versatile: Also, while you can enjoy this snack lightly seasoned with salt, you can opt to up the flavors a notch by adding some grated cheese or topping it with peanut butter or honey. 
  • Can be used as a substitute ingredient in some recipes: Let popcorn replace nuts or cereals in recipes like rice crispy treats or trail mixes. Your body will thank you for the nutrient boost. 
  • Clean-up is a breeze: With the aluminum foil in the air fryer basket, you won’t have to worry about any cleanup right after cooking popcorn. 

If you’re craving something sweeter than regular popcorn, try this Instant Pot caramel popcorn instead.   

🥘 Ingredients

A bowl of popcorn kernels, vegetable oil and a jar of salt on a wooden surface.

All you will need to make a quick and easy snack is three ingredients:

  • Plain popcorn kernels: Widely available in supermarkets and grocery stores. 
  • Vegetable Oil: Using oil will ensure the popcorn won’t turn out too dry as it’s cooking in the air fryer.
  • Salt: This seasoning will enhance the natural flavors of the popcorn and make it even more tasty.

See recipe card for complete list of ingredients and quantities.

🔀 Substitutions

Here’s what you can use as a substitute to make this easy snack in case you’re out: 

Vegetable oil: If you’re out of vegetable oil, you can use other oils like avocado oil or coconut oil. Additionally, you can opt to spray some air-fryer-safe spray oil over the popcorn kernels. 

🌈 Variations / Options / Add-Ins

Here are some ways to make air fryer popcorn even more delicious:

  • Top it: Using any of these 20 popcorn topping ideas will certainly give your popcorn a delicious flavor boost. You can enjoy a different flavor every day. 
  • Make it cheesy: Cheese goes with everything. Make your popcorn savory by grating your favorite cheese over it and adding some garlic powder too. Cheese powders can work too. 
  • Make it spicy: Toss in spicy chili powder to the popcorn after making it.
  • Go with sour cream and onion: The kids love this on popcorn.

Make the perfect fall party food with popcorn by trying this fall party mix recipe

🥄 Equipment Needed / Helpful Tools

Here are the tools you will use to pop popcorn: 

  • Air fryer: You will use an air fryer to cook the popcorn.
  • Aluminum foil: This is what you will use to line your air fryer basket with.

🔪 How to Make Air Fryer Popcorn

These are the easy ways to make popcorn:

Step 1: Preheat the Air Fryer

First, preheat the air fryer to 375 F.

Step 2: Prep the Popcorn Kernels

Next, coat 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels with oil.

Step 3: Cook the Popcorn

Shape some aluminum foil into a bowl and put it in the bottom of the basket. Then, add the popcorn kernels and cook at 375 F for about eight minutes.

Popcorn kernels arranged on aluminum foil in an air fryer.

Step 4: Remove and add Salt

Remove the air fryer basket and transfer the popcorn to a bowl. Lastly, season the popcorn with salt to taste.

Air fryer popcorn filling a basket on a wooden surface.

Step 5: Add Preferred Seasonings (Optional)

If desired, you can toss the salted popcorn with some melted butter and/or flavored powders to kick the flavors of the fluffy popcorn up a notch.

A bowl of air fryer popcorn with kernels scattered around on a wooden surface.

👩‍🍳 Pro Tips

Here are some tips to help you make perfect air fryer popcorn every time:

  • First, make sure to cook popcorn kernels in small batches if you’re making a large amount. This will allow your popcorn to pop properly. 
  • Second, shake the air fryer basket every once in a while as the popcorn cooks. This will allow for a more even cooking while also giving unpopped kernels a chance to fall to the bottom and pop. 
  • Third, after it cooks, let the popcorn sit for a few seconds before taking the basket out of the air fryer. This is because there might still be a few kernels that are about to pop. 
  • Lastly, don’t mind any unpopped kernels. Just like cooking popcorn on the stovetop or in the microwave, you might have some of them when you try this air fryer recipe. Just cook the kernels again or discard them and start with fresh ones instead.

❓ Recipe FAQs

How do you store air fryer popcorn?

If not consumed, put any leftovers inside a resealable container, zip-lock bag or airtight container. There is no need to refrigerate it — just leave it at room temperature and away from direct sunlight. 

How long will leftovers last?

When stored properly, leftover air-fried popcorn can last up to a week.

How do you reheat leftover air fryer popcorn?

Preheat your air fryer to 300 F. Then, place the popcorn in the basket and reheat for about two to three minutes.

🙏 Pairing

These are my favorite dishes to serve with this air fryer popcorn recipe:

Ready to get cooking? Print off the recipe card below or toggle on Cook Mode to keep your screen from going dark while you follow along on your phone or tablet.

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📋 Recipe

Bowl of freshly popped air fryer popcorn on a wooden surface with loose kernels scattered around.

Air Fryer Popcorn

Corinne Schmitt
Make a batch of fresh air fryer popcorn at home by following this recipe.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 13 minutes
Course Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 7 cups
Calories 28 kcal

Equipment

  • Air Fryer
  • Aluminum foil

Ingredients
  

  • 1/4 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • salt to taste

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the air fryer to 375 F.
  • Coat popcorn kernels with oil.
    1/4 cup popcorn kernels, 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • Shape some aluminum foil into a bowl and put it in the basket. Add the popcorn kernels and cook at 375 F for about eight minutes.
  • Remove the air fryer basket and transfer the popcorn to a bowl. Season the popcorn with salt to taste.
    salt
  • If desired, you can add some melted butter or flavored powders to kick the flavors of the fluffy popcorn up a notch.

Notes

Pro Tips

 
  • Make sure to cook popcorn kernels in small batches if you’re making a large amount. This will allow your popcorn to pop properly. 
  • Shake the air fryer basket every once in a while as the popcorn cooks. This will allow for a more even cooking while also giving any unpopped kernels a chance to fall to the bottom and pop. 
  • After it cooks, let the popcorn sit for a few seconds before taking the basket out of the air fryer. There might still be a few kernels there that are about to pop. 
  • Don’t mind any unpopped kernels. Just like when you cook popcorn on the stovetop or in the microwave, you’re bound to be left with some when you try this air fryer recipe. Just cook the kernels again or discard them and start with fresh ones instead. 
 

Recipe FAQs

 
How do you store air fryer popcorn?
If not consumed, put any leftovers inside a resealable container, zip-lock bag or airtight container. No need to refrigerate it; just leave it at room temperature away from direct sunlight. 
 
How long will leftovers last? 
When stored properly, leftover air-fried popcorn can last for up to a week. 
 
How do you reheat leftover air fryer popcorn?
Preheat your air fryer to 300 F. Place the popcorn in the basket and reheat for about two to three minutes.

Nutrition

Calories: 28kcalCarbohydrates: 4gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.2gTrans Fat: 0.004gSodium: 0.4mgPotassium: 16mgFiber: 1gSugar: 0.1gCalcium: 0.3mgIron: 0.2mg
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5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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