Don't Waste Your Money is supported by our readers. When you purchase an item through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The Best Popcorn

Last updated on December 9, 2021
Best Popcorn

Our Review Process

Don't Waste Your Money is focused on helping you make the best purchasing decision. Our team of experts spends hundreds of hours analyzing, testing, and researching products so you don't have to. Learn more.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in a category.

Our Picks For The Top Popcorn

View All Recommendations
Product Overview
Key Takeaway
 Top Pick

BOOMCHICKAPOP Vegan Sea Salt Snack-Size Popcorn Bags, 24-Count

Don't Waste Your Money Seal of Approval


Vegan Sea Salt Snack-Size Popcorn Bags, 24-Count

In this package, you’ll get 24 0.6-ounce packages of popcorn, each featuring a flavorful but healthier alternative to traditional popcorn. This popcorn is made using sunflower oil and sea salt and is non-GMO, gluten-free and vegan. Each serving has 35 calories and 0 grams of trans fat, and you can eat an entire bag as one serving, as it’s pre-p...

Overall Take

Health-Conscious ChoiceThis gluten-free, low-calorie option is popped with sea salt and sunflower oil for a heart-healthy snack option.

 Runner Up

Smartfood Assorted Flavors Snack-Size Popcorn Bags, 40-Count


Assorted Flavors Snack-Size Popcorn Bags, 40-Count

You'll get 40 bags of popcorn in this variety pack, giving a little something for everyone in your household. In this package, you’ll get white cheddar, sweet and salty kettle corn and movie theater butter popcorn. All kernels feature 100% whole grain air-popped popcorn without artificial colors or preservatives.

Overall Take

Fun for Movie NightMake movie night fun without packing in unhealthy ingredients with this variety pack of 40 0.5-ounce bags of popped popcorn.

 We Also Like

Great Northern Popcorn Company Unpopped Seasoned Kernels Bags, 24-Count

Great Northern Popcorn Company

Unpopped Seasoned Kernels Bags, 24-Count

For fresh-popped popcorn, you can’t go wrong with this case of 24 packs of popcorn kernels, each ready for popping. With each packet, you get the kernels, coconut oil and butter-flavored salt you need to get that authentic movie theater popcorn flavor at home. You’ll need a 4-ounce kettle to make this popcorn. Simply follow the instructions on ...

Overall Take

For True EnthusiastsIf popcorn is your favorite part of going to the movies, these unpopped kernels that are designed to taste like movie theater popcorn are for you.

 Strong Contender

Orville Redenbacher’s Original Yellow Popcorn Kernels, 8-Pounds

Orville Redenbacher's

Original Yellow Popcorn Kernels, 8-Pounds

Get that delicious freshly popped taste without the fuss with this 8-pound container of popcorn kernels. The kernels are non-GMO and gluten free for a diet-conscious snack. You can buy popping oil in the same brand to get that classic fresh-popped taste.

Overall Take

Versatile OptionThis easy-to-use kernel dispenser lets you make popcorn on the stove, in an air or electric popper or in the microwave.

Buying Guide

You may love popcorn, but do you know all there is to know about it? For instance, you probably know there are various tastes, like kettle corn and movie theater butter. But there are also different kernel types, each of which brings different results.

Butterfly popcorn is typically the type you get at the movie theater or a ball game. It provides more of an irregular shape, with wings protruding from each side. This is a lighter, fluffier kind of popcorn that offers a substantial crunch.

The type you typically get from home popcorn is called mushroom popcorn. This is a larger shape that’s denser than butterfly popcorn. This type of popcorn is perfect for flavorings like caramel and chocolate, and it’s also best for use in making kettle corn.

For home popping, it can be tempting to go with microwave versions that pop inside the bag. While those can be great for a snack, they won’t give you that genuine taste you enjoy at the state fair or movie theater. For that truly fresh taste, choose kernels and buy a kettle to pop them in.

The quality of the kernels makes a difference, too. You’ll want to go for top-quality brands and keep the packaging sealed until you’re ready to consume it. Some popcorn kernels ship with butter and salt included to give you everything you need for movie night at your house.

But there’s no denying the convenience of packaged popcorns. If you simply want a fun, healthy snack whenever you’re craving one, you can buy snack-size popcorn that’s fully popped. Grab a bag when you’re ready for a treat and enjoy. These packaged popcorns can be similar to bags of chips in that the right variety can be a tasty snack. This option is also great if you’re feeding multiple children.

What to Look For

  • There’s an art to choosing the best popcorn kernels. First, it’s important to look at the sell-by date on the package. The fresher your kernels are, the better the results will be. Second, packaging is everything. Kernels stored in glass or plastic jars with lids will keep air from getting in and making the product stale.
  • Without salt and butter, popcorn can be a somewhat healthy treat. However, the flavorings are what makes it taste so great. You can find alternatives to traditional popcorn that are made with coconut oil and sea salt to keep calories and trans fats low without sacrificing taste.
  • Popcorn is naturally whole grain and gluten-free, but check the packaging before buying if you’re striving for a gluten-free diet. Some products might be manufactured in a facility where glutenous foods are made.
  • Health-conscious consumers will want to look out for trans fats. Even though popcorn is naturally low in trans fats, microwavable popcorns will often use hydrogenated oil, which can bump up the trans fat content. This will also cause the calorie count to vary.
  • If you want to make your popcorn truly heart healthy, invest in an air popper. You can insert kernels and get fresh popcorn without the oil at any time.
  • You can liven up snack time by adding flavorings like cheddar, caramel and chocolate to your popcorn. This will obviously change the nutritional content, but it can be a great way to indulge your love of both salty and sweet treats.
  • If you’re buying popcorn, look for fresh options and try to consume it as soon as possible after buying. If you purchase it and leave it in your pantry for months, you’ll likely find it’s not as fresh as you expect.

More to Explore

Popcorn has become synonymous with enjoying a good movie at your favorite theater. But that hasn’t always been the case. In fact, early movie theaters steered clear of popcorn. At the time, these venues were trying to emulate classic theaters. The ornate carpets and rugs couldn’t be stained by messy snacks, and movie theaters were targeting more of a bourgeois crowd. Popcorn wasn’t quite highbrow enough for these venues.

This all changed in the late 1920s, when audiences were no longer limited to those who could read the titles on silent films. Audio broadened the reach of theaters, with an estimated 90 million people in attendance by 1930. During the Great Depression, movie theaters started eyeing popcorn as a low-cost treat they could sell to customers and still make a profit, and the pairing we know and love today was born.

From our partners