How to Make Popcorn in Air Fryer: The Perfect Movie Snack


Last Updated: July 5th, 2023

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Popcorn is the ultimate movie food but also makes for a great low-calorie snack. So, did you know that you can make popcorn in your air fryer?

Once you learn how easy popcorn in air fryer really is to make, you won’t go back to buying it from the store. 

Keep reading and we’ll teach you how to make popcorn in an air fryer. 

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Why Make Popcorn in Air Fryer?

There are quite a few reasons why you should start making your popcorn in an air fryer. These include the following. 

It’s Healthier

As air fryers use little to no oil, it is much healthier to cook your popcorn in an air fryer than in a pan, as it allows you to control the amount of oil on your food. 

Not only that but just the rapid hot air convection of the air fryer is enough to be able to pop the kernels without needing any oil to help the process along. This means you can make your popcorn much healthier than the ones you can buy at the store!

It’s Quick

Thanks to the super rapid way in which an air fryer can cook food, it takes just minutes for you to get freshly popped popcorn. There’s no need to wait for the stove to heat up, and preheating your air fryer takes just a fraction of the time. 

Even Cooking

As an air fryer blasts hot air at food from all angles in order to cook it, this can help the kernels to be able to pop nicely. Although it is inevitable that there will be some unpopped kernels (such is the way when making popcorn!) the chances are that the majority will have popped without them burning. 

How to Make Popcorn in Air Fryer

Here’s our step-by-step guide how to pop popcorn in an air fryer. 

  1. Preheat your air fryer to 400 degrees. This should only take a few minutes.
  2. Add in half a cup of popcorn kernels. If your air fryer is small, or you are worried this amount may be too much, then always reduce the quantity. 
  3. If desired, give the kernels a light spray of oil. 
  4. Air fry for 5 minutes, making sure to monitor the air fryer during cooking. 
  5. Pause the air fryer and shake the basket to redistribute the popcorn.
  6. Air fry for another 3 minutes or until the popcorn slows or stops popping. 
  7. Remove the basket, pour out the popcorn, discard any unpopped kernels, and season as desired. 
  8. Enjoy!

What Should I Keep in Mind When Making Popcorn in Air Fryer?

Although it is pretty simple to make popcorn in an air fryer if you know how there are still some things that you need to be conscious of in order to make it safely. 

Mind the Gap

Some air fryer baskets can have large holes in the bottom which are designed for air circulation during cooking. If these holes are big enough for the kernels to be able to slip through, it is advised to line the bottom with some aluminum foil to stop this from happening. 

Create a Bag

In order to help to keep the popcorn contained, some people make a loose parcel or bag for the popcorn out of aluminum foil or parchment paper with a slight opening at the top. 

If you choose to use this method, make sure to leave enough room in the parcel for the popcorn to expand, and make sure the top of the foil or paper is not touching the top of the air fryer and the heating element. 

Bagged Popcorn in Air Fryer

Although you can make your own bag, pre-bagged popcorn such as those for microwaves should not be used in your air fryer. This is because of the small layer of metal in the bag that helps to speed up the process when cooking in a microwave. It could have pretty nasty results in your air fryer!

So, if you ever wondered: can you cook microwave popcorn in an air fryer, the answer is 100% no!

Potential Fire Hazard

Popcorn kernels are pretty light, and as a result, can tend to fly about inside the air fryer chamber. Care needs to be taken so that they do not go out of control and potentially lodge in the fan or heating element that is placed above the basket. 

Not only could this short out and break your air fryer, but it also has the potential to start a fire if you are not careful.

It is advised to monitor the air fryer throughout the cooking time, and if in doubt, stop the cooking process immediately.

Don’t Overfill It

The difference in size between a popped and unpopped popcorn kernel is quite a big one. As a result, you need to be mindful of how much space the popcorn will take up when it is done cooking. 

Don’t be tempted to overfill the basket, and always put less than you think you should on the first try. This way you avoid the popcorn cramming and overflowing the air fryer and potentially getting into places that it shouldn’t. From there, you can then adjust the number of kernels based on previous experience. 

Using an Air Fryer With Racks

Most of our instructions on how to pop popcorn in an air fryer have been based on basket-style air fryers, however, it is also possible to make popcorn in air fryers that has racks

For this, you’ll need to make space for a microwave-safe glass bowl, which you can use to place the kernels into. The same cooking instructions apply, as do the same precautions to ensure you cook your popcorn safely.

Flavor Ideas

If you’re looking to spice things up a bit when it comes to flavoring your popcorn, here are some of our top flavor combos:

Rosemary and Sea Salt

Spritz the kernels with some oil, and add in a sprig of rosemary while cooking in the air fryer. Once cooked, sprinkle with sea salt for a herby and flavorful snack. 

Getting Cheesy

Cook your popcorn as normal, and then instead of removing it from the basket grate over some cheese of your choice and put it back on for 1-2 minutes. 

Cinnamon Sugar

Those with a sweet tooth will enjoy tossing their popcorn in a little bit of butter, ground cinnamon, and brown sugar, for a tasty treat. 

Chili and Smoked Paprika

Give your cooked popcorn a dusting of chili and smoked paprika powder, for a spicy and smoky flavor. It’s up to you how much you ramp up the heat!


Although it can take a bit of getting used to, making popcorn in air fryer is a great way to get a tasty snack within minutes. Whether you like your popcorn sweet, savory, or a mix of the two when it’s so simple to make the world is your oyster when it comes to flavor!

If you want to try another great snack made from corn, try our air fryer corn nut recipe next time!

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Rebecca P.

Hi there! I'm Rebecca, a dedicated foodie and a professional content writer specialising in the food niche. I blend my passion for gastronomy and the written word to create narratives that inspire and tantalise your tastebuds. Navigating the busy streets of the UK as a commuter, time is of the essence. But who says quick can't be delicious? My air fryer is my best companion, serving up piping hot, scrumptious meals with impressive speed and convenience. When I'm not writing or commuting, you'll find me indulging in one of my favourite pastimes - foraging. There's something exciting about discovering a bounty of nature's own produce and experimenting with it in my recipes. You'd be amazed what can be cooked up in an air fryer!