When popcorn is your favorite snack, not any kernel will do, and only the best popcorn kernels should be on your shopping list. If you’re looking for the top options, you’ve come to the right place.
A brand you can trust
Available in white or yellow
Check the expiration date
One of the healthiest popcorns around, Bob’s is high in fiber and gluten-free!
A quick and easy solution for your air popper made from 100% whole grain.
Budget-friendly popcorn that’s tender and farm fresh from Indiana.
Never one to shy away from a bag of popcorn, Fletcher has pulled countless kernels from his teeth and prefers buttery yellow over white.
Popcorn is a delicious and interesting as it’s a snack with multiple uses. It’s been used as a decorative accent for around one hundred years, and you grow your own outdoors. If you’re looking for the best popcorn kernels, you may be in for a surprise as you won’t find them in a microwavable bag.
While we are fans of prepackaged 3-minute bags, cooking your own is the only way to go if you want to tailor those kernels to suit your needs. This includes folks who love good old orange Flavacol along with connoisseurs who enjoy popping their mushroom kernels in soy oil.
There may be a bona fide popcorn professor somewhere on our planet, but we didn’t need them for this one. The team here at Bestazy has eaten our fair share of popcorn over the years and can cook a pretty mean bowl to boot.
We also talked to consumers to find out what they love… and loathe about popcorn. You won’t be surprised to know everyone hates hulls but may be shocked by the variety of kernels available once you know what to look for.
After a bit of debate amongst the popcorn aficionados on our list, we combined our popcorn knowledge with input from foodies and consumer reviews to find the top popcorn on the market. We started with dozens but narrowed our list down to only eight outstanding options which you’ll see in our table below.
If movie night is right around the corner and you need to find the perfect popcorn, have no fear. The first thing you need to do consider what you need, which boils down to prepackaged kits or simple cans of kernels. If you already know what type of oil you want or have toppings on-hand, head straight for the bulk kernel containers.
From there, you can choose between regular white and yellow kernels or delve into varieties like Midnight Blue and White Meadows. There are different sizes and hulls to consider as well –it all depends on how far you want to go down the rabbit hole.
It’s safe to say most average consumers believe all popcorn is basically the same as it all comes down to the toppings and oil in the end. Well, that would be a mistake as there is more than one type of kernel and popcorn actually comes in different shapes for a reason.
When you decide to go bagless and buy your kernel in bulk, you have a couple of choices on how you can pop your corn. It’s something that can be quite confusing if you’ve only used a microwave, so we’re going to highlight a few popular methods you can handle our top kernels…
If you can’t bear to live without using the microwave or simply don’t have a stove, there are still some options out there for you. You no longer have to rely on a paper bag as there are earth-friendly solutions like the Salbree Microwave Popper, a device I can personally attest to. Unfortunately, smartphones are out as that myth was busted some time ago.
Whether you decide to cook your corn on the stove or an infrared grill, it all comes down to heat. If you’d like to learn a little more about the process behind the kernel losing its hull, give piece on the physics of popcorn a read.
Some people may say variety is the spice of life, but it’s the other way around in the popcorn world as there is a reason popcorn seasonings are so popular.
Spray butter is no longer the only option from the grocery store; you can now experience orange tongue and scorched taste buds from the comfort of home by the pinch or cup. That’s also an option when you buy kernels as some come in packs with the proper amount of oil and butter.
This makes things simple when you just want a quick batch of corn, but your options are somewhat limited when it comes to flavoring. You may also miss out on the full range of kernels available as there’s more to life than just white and yellow.
Wondering what a butterfly has to do with popcorn kernels? Well, that’s actually a style of popcorn which is also referred to as a snowflake. It’s nothing exotic, but merely refers to the shape of the kernel after its popped as it has wings. If you’ve ever gotten a piece of popped corn with a round top, that’s called a mushroom, and they’re ideal when you want to use glazes like caramel.
In our 30-second review, we also mentioned a few types of popcorn although it all starts with white and yellow. White is easy to find and what you’ll want as a “base” when you like to add your own toppings. It’s smaller than yellow kernels when popped although the latter has move natural flavor and is generally what they serve at the theater.
Each color also has sub-varieties, which is where things get interesting. Under the white kernel umbrella, you’ll find offshoots like Tender & White and Baby White alongside colorful options like Purple, Midnight Blue, and Vintage Red. While there are options on the yellow side, they are limited with Big & Yellow, Baby Yellow, and Extra Large Caramel along with a few others.
But what about hulless popcorn?
Unfortunately, that’s a marketing term as there is no such thing as “hulless” popcorn. When popped, the hull breaks as the fluffy goodness expands, but it doesn’t vanish or disintegrate entirely. You can choose a smaller type of kernel, however, which will minimize the number of hulls you’ll have to deal with. If you do happen to get a kernel stuck in your gums, these tips can help you out.
This is one area worthy of section unto itself as a good oil can make or break your popcorn making experience. A bad mix can also send you running to the bathroom or cause intestinal problems if you have allergies or issues digesting certain types of oils.
We aren’t going to bore you with a laundry list of oils you can use with your freshly popped corn, but we are going to highlight a few of the more popular options currently available.
Popcorn kernels are like any other snack when it comes to serving sizes or buying in bulk. This particular product typically comes in bags or jars, the latter of which is better suited for long-term storage. This is the first thing to keep in mind if you plan on stocking up along with how much popcorn you may actually eat.
Buying food or other goods in large quantities is great when you want to save a few bucks, but it’s not without its drawbacks. You’ll want to pay attention to the size of the containers and make sure you can store them properly in the pantry. You don’t want a stockpile of popcorn in the attic or have it spilling out onto the lawn… or do you?
Regardless of the type of package your kernels come in, every container will have an expiration date. Unfortunately, you can’t see it when you’re buying online, and it’s rare to have a manufacturer put that kind of information out given the nature of online sales.
From our experience, it’s also rare to get something completely out of date, but common to get something pretty close to its expiration date. In our research, we found popcorn is one of the safer foods in this regard as most consumers didn’t have an issue with out of date products. You still need to keep the date in mind if you buy in bulk, however, as half the batch could go bad before you get a chance to eat it.
We’re glad you asked, and you might be surprised by what you can do with it aside from cramming it into your mouth.
Popcorn can be eaten all year round, but it’s seasonal around Halloween and Christmas. Ever had a popcorn ball? It’s an amazing sweet treat that’s been handed out to costumed kids for decades and still holds its own today.
A few months later, you can whip up a batch and use it to decorate the tree at Christmas time. It may sound like a strange idea, but it’s a tradition people have enjoyed since the 1900s. You can even use it in science experiments to entertain with some hopping popcorn…
People love popcorn in all its form, and you can even use it in arts and crafts. You can dye kernels and glue them together to make intricate pictures or an edible chocolate tree if you prefer to eat your creations instead of framing them.
Some snack foods are geared towards health enthusiasts, and Wabash Valley Farms kernels certainly fall into that category. These 100% natural kernels are free of any type of harmful chemicals and grown with care on a family farm deep in the heart of Indiana.
Amish Country popcorn is one of the more popular options we came across in our research. These kernels are widely regarded as some of the best around, and to say it’s “clean” would be an understatement. It’s non-GMO and Gluten-free with no oils or preservatives in the mix. It’s also considered Vegan and Kosher with no tree nuts, so it’s a type of popcorn literally anyone can eat.
The company has around a dozen different types of kernels available, but we went with the Variety Bundle as it lets you try it all. This kernel combo includes 10 bags with Red, Baby White, Medium White Hulless, Blue, Lady Finger, Midnight Blue, Extra Large Caramel, Mushroom, Purple, and Rainbow blend. Each bag weighs a pound, so you’ll get 10 pounds and a nifty popcorn recipe book with 15 recipes which are sure to liven up your next movie night.
100% natural & gluten free
Wide variety of flavors
Finding a good brand of popcorn is like finding a needle in a haystack, especially when you’ve eaten nothing but Redenbacher and Pop Secret for years. Wabash Valley Farms comes in high on our list as they have quality kernels and cover every flavor under the sun.
Do you want to try vintage red popcorn? You might be surprised to find out it actually pops white but won’t be disappointed by its flavor. The company has this particular kernel available in a slew of different flavors with Sweet Baby Blue, Tender & White, Vintage Red, Purple, Big & Yellow, Extra Large Mushroom, Hulless White, and Hulless White and Tender & White.
That’s a huge plus, but not the only one as they also sell sample packs which are ideal when you’re not sure what you like. The regular bags clock in at 2 pounds and will pop around eight batches of fluffy goodness. Multipacks are available are also available, and you can choose between 12 or 18-pound bags with certain flavors as well.
Variety of flavors
High pop-through rate
Sample packs available
Nice price point
Anyone old enough to read this article has probably eaten Orville Redenbacher. It doesn’t matter if you’re 10-years old or 110; it’s the most well-known brand on the planet. We love it, this kid loves it, and we think you’ll dig it too – especially if you like to buy in bulk. (Kid photo)
While we could spend hours talking about the man behind the kernel, Orville Redenbacher speaks for itself. It’s not fancy, it’s affordable and the type of popcorn that won’t let you down. These kernels are also part of the Non-GMO club and produce 100% whole-grain popcorn which is free from gluten. It tastes great whether you’re using the classic stovetop popper or go the hot air route.
We went with the Gourmet yellow corn, but you can pick up Orville in white as well. You’re going to get a lot of bang for your buck either way as the 8-pound jugs in yellow produce over 650 cups of popcorn. There are smaller sizes if you’re not quite that popcorn crazy, and you can grab a six-pack of branded buttery oil to boot.
A brand you can trust
Available in white or yellow
Check the expiration date
We’re a sucker for a product with a catchy name, and the Tiny But Mighty brand certainly caught our eye. It’s unique from other kernels as it comes from an Heirloom seed that’s been in the Kelty clan for over a century, and the popcorn tastes the same today as it did way back then.
Unless you’re a food fanatic, you may not know about the awesomeness of heirloom fruits and veggies. They provide an authentic flavor that’s been unaltered by time or chemicals and have a higher nutritional value as well. Tiny But Mighty’s unpopped kernels are as healthy as they come, and the company claims they won’t get stuck in your teeth. Customers we talked to 6back this claim up for the most part although you may still catch a hull or two as no popcorn is truly hulless.
This healthy heirloom snack is an excellent choice for anyone looking for high-quality popcorn. You won’t get much variety due to the nature of this kernel but can remedy that with a dash or two from your favorite topping. If you want to keep things all natural, you can opt for organic popcorn oil as well. TBM pops white and is sold in 20-ounce bags which cooks around 70 cups of popcorn. You can pick up this corn in single bags or go with a three or six-pack if you prefer to stock up.
Easy to pop
Low amount of hulls
You may not be familiar with Bob’s Red Mill, but they’ve been cranking out wholesome food since the late 70s. This employee-owned company takes their seed seriously, so you’ll only get top quality kernels from the Red Mill Whole Grain mix.
This is another super healthy kernel made from whole grains which were selected from crops around the globe. The white corn is certified Kosher and will undoubtedly make vegans or folks with food allergies happy. There are 27g of whole grains per serving in this gluten-free corn so it’s delicious and an outstanding source of fiber as well. It’s also available in yellow if you want something a little more flavorful out of the bag.
Bob’s makes this popcorn in white or yellow, so you’ll have to add your own toppings if you want to liven things up. You’ll get four bags per pack, and each 27-ounce bag has around 28 servings. That’s enough popcorn to keep serious snackers busy although you’ll want to pick up some oil unless you plan to use the paper bag method.
Great source of fiber
100% whole grain
When you just need something simple, your best option is always to pick up prepared packaged of popcorn that’s ready to pop. Jolly Time is one of our favorites from the all-in-one field, and this kit will provide you with 36 bowls of buttery magic.
Jolly Time grows their kernels in Iowa, and it’s safe to say they know a thing or two considering they’ve been in the business since 1914. While they have dozens of prepackaged options, this bundle has gluten-free popcorn made from 100% whole grains. On the downside, it does have artificial flavors, and the oil may be an acquired taste for some.
This kit comes with a mix of coconut oil and popcorn salt which may rule it out if you’re partial to other oils or skip the salt. Sunflower oil packs are also available, but you’re still out of luck with the salt. They are extremely easy to use, however, and each 10.5-ounce pack pops 40 cups of popcorn. They come in packages of 36 if you have a 6 or 8-ounce popcorn machine, but there are larger 16-ounce packs available as well.
Easy to use
Oil and salt included
100% whole grain
Could be too salty for some
Yellow kernels only
When you hear the name Hoosier, Indiana is usually the first thing to come to mind. Hoosier Hill Farm popcorn hails from that great state and is an excellent alternative to Orville if you’re looking for a budget-friendly kernel.
Hoosier Hill opened its doors in America’s heartland back in 1999, and while they provide things like espresso and spinach powder, we’re just going to focus on popcorn this time around. Their corn comes in 4-pound jars, and they currently have around a half-dozen kinds of kernels available. That includes Mushroom if you prefer large, brainy popcorn along with Persian Blue, Ruby Red, Yellow, and White. Regardless of the hue, all of their kernels are free from GMOs and have a high pop rate so you won’t have to deal with many old maids.
The white kernels are our favorite as you can add your own toppings. They are also small with a minimal amount of hulls considering they are based on an old Japanese hulless strain. Overall, Hoosier Hill’s popcorn won’t disappoint and has a nice price point compared to similar kernels in this class.
Easy to pop
Several types to choose from
Our second prepackaged solution is a little healthier than our first. Franklin’s Gourmet Movie Theater Popcorn kernels are all-natural, and the oil is just as clean as those organic kernels in each vacuum sealed pack.
If you want high-quality popcorn and can get by with a few small caveats, look no further than Franklin’s. It’s another clean non-GMO kernel grown in Iowa that’s been certified organic. Each package comes with 100% pure coconut oil as well which is gluten-free and save to eat whether you’re a vegan, need kosher food or have peanut allergies. It’s also nice to know they listen to their customers as well considering they removed artificial coloring a few years back due to feedback.
Franklin’s isn’t for the faint of heart if price is a concern as there are cheaper kernels available – these are on the high end. That said, we can attest to their tastiness, and it’s hard to argue with thousands of pleased customers as well. These popcorn pouches are sized from 2 to 8 ounces and available in packs of 10 and 24.
Grown and packaged in the USA
Wide variety of sizes
Ease of use
No flavor options
Too salty for some
If you’ve walked into a grocery store in the past few years, you have probably seen a Non-GMO Project label on a bag of snack food or other products. If you’ve ever wondered what that means, wonder no more as it’s something you’ll frequently encounter when purchasing popcorn.
GMO stands for genetically modified organisms, and foods containing GMOs have been altered by man… not nature. While we’re not talking Bunnicula, it’s often done to deal with pests and affects everything from alfalfa and cattle to zucchini and corn.
Simply put, whenever food has the Non-GMO project label, you’re eating it as nature intended for the most part. What you put on the popcorn after its cooked matters as well if want to keep things clean.
Is Organic the same as Non-GMO?
Nope, although plenty of manufacturers would have you believe otherwise. If a food is “certified organic” it’s already GMO-free according to USDA standards. On the other hand, GMO foods do not have to meet the same standards set for organics, so while they can still be healthy, they aren’t as clean as organic foods or snacks.
Now that you’ve looked over our choices for the best popcorn kernels, we hope you found something to tickle your taste buds. We tried to include something for everyone including people just looking to switch from microwave and consumers that are serious about their snack time.
If you’re new to the gourmet popcorn scene, it can be difficult to find the right flavor. Amish County has the solution with their Variety Bundle which provides you with 10 pounds of popcorn. There is a flavor for everyone, and it’s the easiest way to sample all the popular flavors without breaking the bank.
If you love butter flavored popcorn and want to keep things simple, Orville Redenbacher’s original blend is an excellent option. This is a healthier version of their old classic as it’s made from 100% whole grain and is GMO-free while carrying an attractive price point.
If you feel we forgot a flavor or missed a tasty brand of kernel, shout out in the comment section and let us know!
While anything is possible with enough ingenuity, it’s not something we would recommend… your welcome.
You can, but you may regret it later. Kernels can crack teeth and can damage or put unnecessary wear on your disposal blades.
Yes, unless you want to color it yourself. Regardless of the colorful moniker, no popcorn pops with vibrant colors naturally.