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The Best Microwave Popcorn

Last updated on January 6, 2023
Best Microwave Popcorn

Our Review Process

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Our Picks For The Top Microwave Popcorn

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Product Overview
Key Takeaway
 Best for Braces

Amish Country Popcorn Red Old Fashioned Microwave Popcorn, 3-Pack

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Amish Country Popcorn

Red Old Fashioned Microwave Popcorn, 3-Pack

Want a snacking experience that won't stay behind in your mouth? These kernels pop more or less fully in the microwave, leaving behind no hulls to pick out of your teeth. The smaller popcorn is truly old-fashioned and perfect for buttering.

Overall Take

Free From HullsThese smaller kernels pop without leaving behind pesky hulls.

 Best All-Purpose

Newman’s Own Sea Salt Microwave Popcorn, 12-Pack

Newman's Own

Sea Salt Microwave Popcorn, 12-Pack

The design and quality of this popcorn allows hardly any kernel to be left behind in the popping process. The balanced, salty flavor is sure to please both kids and adults. And with profits from every bag going to charity, you can snack guilt-free.

Overall Take

Flavor With HeartThoroughly popped corn and a great mission combine to make a quality product.

 Diet Pick

SkinnyPop Butter Microwave Popcorn, 12-Pack


Butter Microwave Popcorn, 12-Pack

These bags are light on calories, but they don't skimp on buttery flavor. The popcorn is GMO-free and even the bags are made without harmful chemicals. Snackers will love the thorough popping results in most microwaves.

Overall Take

Scorch-Free PoppingThis popcorn is made natural, from the popcorn to the bag itself.

 Healthy Choice

Black Jewell Gourmet Touch Of Butter Microwave Popcorn

Black Jewell

Gourmet Touch Of Butter Microwave Popcorn

Health-conscious snackers will want to give this one a try. The black kernels contain no GMOs or diacetyl. After popping, the results are light and tasty.

Overall Take

Light and FlavorfulEnjoy light, even flavor with these healthy kernels.

Buying Guide

Is there any snack more synonymous with entertainment than popcorn? Many of us can’t sit down to enjoy a movie without immediately getting a craving for the stuff. And if you ever see drama unfolding on somebody’s social media profile, there are pretty good odds somebody will comment with that infamous “I’m here for the show” pic of Michael Jackson eating a bag of popcorn.

In fact, we’d make a case for popcorn being the most American snack there is — especially if we’re talking about microwave popcorn. A handful of that light, fluffy goodness is enjoyable enough, but the instant gratification of a couple of minutes’ cook time is what really makes it satisfying. (A little butter doesn’t hurt either.)

The main concern with microwave popcorn is going to be how well your bag pops. That is to say, how many kernels actually pop during the recommended microwave time and how many remain stubbornly closed (or even worse, burnt). That has a lot to with the quality of your popcorn, but the packaging and freshness are just as much a factor if not more.

That requires a bit of explanation. Popping corn is a special variety of corn with a thicker kernel that retains moisture inside. Heat up your garden-variety table corn in the microwave, and you’ll get shriveled-up corn. Popcorn, however, explodes as the moisture inside of it turns into steam and expands. That effectively turns the kernel inside out, allowing the starch to escape along with the heat and solidify instantly into a foam.

Airtight packaging makes sure that all that moisture stays inside the kernels. And while old popcorn doesn’t necessarily go bad, it can turn stale. More concerning are the oils that some manufacturers add to the popcorn to improve the taste. You can be sure that those oils will spoil long before the popcorn does, so pay attention to the “best by” date.

Most snackers don’t buy popcorn for the health benefits, and let’s face it: There aren’t many to speak of. That said, it’s far from unhealthy. In its pure form, popcorn is low in calories and provides a bit of fiber. Some brands do sell black or bluish kernels that do provide a bit more in the way of antioxidants, and don’t worry: They still pop the same white and fluffy way, though they may be a bit smaller than their yellow or white kernel counterparts. Some of these smaller kernels may pop with less of a “hull” on the outside of the popcorn, leaving you with less to pick out of your teeth. A definite bonus.

Health-conscious eaters will want to pay more attention to the flavors and packaging. Microwave popcorn with a buttery taste (or any other flavoring) doesn’t come with butter built into the kernel. Instead, the flavoring is coated along the inside of the bag. That flavoring and other aspects of the bag lining can react to the heat and be more unhealthy than anything inside the corn,  though the net effect will be minor unless microwave popcorn is part of your daily diet. If you want to be extra safe, melt a little butter on your own. The taste is worth the time if you do it right.

What to Look For

No matter what brand of microwave popcorn we buy, they all come with the same simple directive: “This side up.” If you’re the type to rebel against authority, you should know that not following this suggestion won’t result in a satisfying explosion. All you’ll get is more unpopped kernels in your bag. Position your bag the right way, and a specially treated section called a susceptor directs your microwaves into the kernels where they belong. Put it upside down, and most of that energy goes off into the center of the microwave chamber.

More to Explore

Did you know that popcorn isn’t the only grain that pops? Sorghum can also be popped and results in a fluffy snack that has a distinctively nutty flavor. Millet, amaranth and even quinoa heat up to produce a much smaller but still airier version of their regular taste.

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