Why Does My Popcorn Keep Burning?

After a long boring weekend, you want to kickstart your lazy mood with some delicious chewy snack. A bowl of popcorn will do the magic. But the last time you tried the recipe, you had burnt offerings! Where did you go wrong? Why does your popcorn keep burning?

Popcorn can burn due to excessive heat, excessive oil usage, shaking, cooking vessels, and layer depth. Moreover. Using 2-3 tablespoons of oil per 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels. Using a deep pot. Adjusting these elements can help prevent burning and ensure perfectly popped popcorn.

Learn here ten reasons why your kernels and how to pop the most delicious and fluffy popcorn.

1. Excess Heat

Your popcorn could be burning due to excess heat in the oven. Whether popping kernels with a stovetop or microwave, you must ensure the heat does not exceed the requirements for popcorn (460 F). Burning will begin with the portions covering the pot’s surface or the microwave bag.

How to regulate heat? Ensure that the stove is between 400 F and 460 F. The oil you just added will burn at 500 F, which is too hot for the snack. Reduce the heat to the above range and watch your kernels pop flawlessly in minutes. It is also easy to keep microwave heat at favorable level by reading the direction on the popcorn bag.

2. Uneven Heating

Another reason your popcorn keeps burning is uneven heat distribution. That could be on your stove or microwave oven. You may have set your temperature between 400 F and 460 F, but it doesn’t heat consistently if your stove is faulty. Four reasons can cause uneven heating in stoves;

  • Tilted Oven: Check the floor gradient. If the surface is sloppy, you can seek a way to level the floor. A simple tool like a spirit level will reveal the slopy portions of your floor. n expert can help readjust. It is an expensive makeover that requires money and time. Moving the oven to a level surface is a temporal way to resolve this.  
  • Blocked Airflow: Spills, grease, and dirt block the oven’s airflow. That happens when you neglect your oven’s cleaning and maintenance duty, hence the reason for uneven heating. Ovens have an easy maintenance process. Observe simple kitchen hygiene, such as wiping your stove top after cooking. You will never experience blocked airflow. And if it happens, it is easy to unblock by following the oven user’s directions, or you could call an expert to do it for you.
  • Faulty Or Broken Electric Element: Faulty electrical components of your oven cause uneven heating. The best person to check these defects is an electrician. He will advise you on replacing the element or buying a new unit depending on the damage intensity and the oven’s age. 
  • Fault Heat Sensor: The heat sensor in your oven helps regulate temperature at the exact requirement. If the component isn’t working, your oven may hit a higher temperature than 460 F. though your cooker shows the right range, your oven’s heat is higher, hence the burning. This fault requires an electrical specialist to rectify.

3. No Turntable Rotation

When microwaving your popcorn, you need to monitor the turntable’s motion. That does not apply to a flatbed microwave. Monitoring the unit will tell you when the machine stops midway. When the turntable isn’t spinning, some kernels get more heat while others under the bag get low heat. As you wait for all to pop, some will burn.

Check whether the glass plate fits well on the roller guide or if there are obstructions under the turntable. Other reasons for the turntable not rotating your popcorn bag could be a faulty coupler drive or stirrer motor. These are complex for you to handle. A microwave specialist is better positioned to diagnose and rectify your turntable issue.

4. Low Moisture Content

Kernels pop because high temperatures burn the moisture inside the seed. When the steamy heat intensifies, the grains burst (pop). That doesn’t happen or is slow if there is low moisture content. Instead of popping, your kernels burn. Also, some grains may pop while others are not ready. As you wait for all the kernels to pop, the already popped ones will begin to charr.

If you notice your kernels have low moisture content and are burning or undercooking, microwave a cupful of water for 2 minutes to moisten the chambers. The water also evens out the temperatures.  

5. Popping Bag 

Most kernels come with a microwave popcorn bag. That’s convenient as you do not need to pour your grains into a microwave bowl. But these bags are sometimes a hazard as they block even heat distribution. Some part gets too hot, causing the popcorn to burn.

Bags are convenient. Though the manufacturer praises these bags, they can cause your goodies to char. Regularize using a microwave save glass bowl. Besides the even heat distribution in the glassware, you can monitor your grains and turn them in when necessary. Once the corns are ready, you will easily see and take the bowl out.  

6. Old, Stale, Or Poor-Quality Kernels

Mostly, old and stale kernels do not pop well. Also, they may burn before popping. Ensure that you get your grains from trusted sources that guarantee quality.

7. Trusting Your Microwave Popcorn Button

The microwave’s popping button isn’t a trusted feature for your favorite snack. The program has a setting that runs longer than most kernel brands’ cooking time. If you press the button, the grains’ cooking time will not be accurate, so they may come out whole or charred. Burning popcorn may smoke and flame your appliance. Follow the directions from the popcorn bag and not microwave instructions to pop your kernels.

8. You Didn’t Shake Your Kernels

Popping kernels on your stovetop requires maximum concentration. You must remember to shake to prevent long hot surface contact. When popping begins, shake after a few moments to prevent charring. Do that until the popping slows and your snack is ready.  Flipping is automatic in a microwave turntable, but you may need to turn the popcorn bag to enhance popping.

9. Not Reading Or Following The Popping Instructions

Whether you are using a microwave or stovetop to pop your kernels, you must not ignore the directions on the package. The general instructions on your microwave popcorn feature specs may not work due to the timings and temperature. To avoid burning your kernels, follow the package’s popping instructions. Also, you know your oven better. Discuss any time and power level defects with your technician to cook without errors.  

10. Try New Recipes

That old recipe you keep following may be why your popcorn keeps burning. Why don’t you try other cooking methods? There are dozens of ideas to transform your kernels to Classic Mix, Wicked White Cheddar, Cookies& Cream, and more. Keep trying!

Why Are My Popcorn Kernels Burning Not Popping?

Why Are My Popcorn Kernels Burning Not Popping

When making your snack, more so popcorn, you expect mouth-watering results. The popcorn must be lighter than a fly, fluffy, crunchy, bumpy, and delicious. You don’t expect charred pieces in your bowl. Also, some old maids at the bottom of your bowl are a disappointment!

If your popcorn kernels are burning and not popping, you need to check the diameter of your pot, depth, heat, and kernels’ age and quality. There are more reasons, so check this table!

Popcorn Kernels Burning, Not Popping: Reasons And How To Fix

Reason For Burning And Not PoppingHow To Fix
Too hot oil  Do heat oil at extreme temperatures. The oil should not exceed 460 F in your popcorn machine. Reduce the temperature to 400 F- 460 F on your stove.
Not turning the popcorn.  Turn the microwave bowl into a flatbed microwave. Flip popcorn on the stovetop to prevent burning. 
High microwave temperature setting  Set your microwave at the required popcorn temperature.  Avoid guesswork.
Wrong instructions  Follow all the instructions on your popcorn packaging to get the best results.
Too dry kernels  Use fresh kernels. Microwave a cup of water for two minutes to increase humidity in the oven. Or, pour your popcorn into an open jar and place it in the freezer. Wait for an hour before popping. Do not refrigerate kernels.
Using the microwave popcorn button  Forget about this button. It burns your popcorn due to different kernel brands that do not match the timer.
Popping Bag  Stop using a popcorn bag in the microwave as it irregularly exposes all kernels to heat. Use a microwave bowl to make popcorn.
Uneven heating  Ensure your oven is sound, providing even heating that does not spike to over 460 F. Buy quality kernels that pop consistently.
Pot depth and diameter  A deep pot can cause a layer of burnt corn at the bottom. Use a wide frying pan for popping your kernels.  Use a glass lid to observe the popping process. Swirl around your pot to enhance popping.
Leaving the popcorn on the stove for a long time after popping  Observe the popping process keenly. Popping will gradually intensify, then drop to a few pops in seconds.  Remove your corn immediately to avoid burning.
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