Popcorn is the snacker’s dream. Traditional popcorn is relatively low in calories, fat, and sodium — if you stick to the suggested serving sizes. It’s easy to make (with our without a popcorn machine), and you can easily put your spin on it by adding other flavorings. Some believe that popcorn can be a health risk, especially microwave popcorn. That’s because some popcorns can contain the chemical compound TBHQ, trans fats, GMOs, and high-fructose corn syrup (caramel corn and other dessert popcorns). Although some popcorn brands still use these ingredients, many have moved away from them over the past five years or so to keep in line with their customers’ demand for healthier ingredients. And you won’t find any of those ingredients in our list below.
So put on your favorite movie on Netflix, get a cool beverage, and get popping with one of these best popcorn brands for 2021.
You won’t find many people whose lifelong dream is to create the perfect popcorn, like Orville Redenbacher. Although he has long since passed, his legacy lives on. We found that the popcorn, across the brand’s flavor offerings, is the most consistently delicious and leaves you with the fewest kernels in the bag. We love the ultimate butter flavor because it has a ton of butter yet is light, fluffy, and well-balanced — not oozing butter out of the bag like some other brands. If you do an internet search for the best microwave popcorn brands, you’ll find many food blogs that share our opinion. That’s because we have to give credit where credit is due to the master of the combustible kernel, Orville Redenbacher.
If you don’t have a microwave or just want the work done for you, look no further than Angie’s Boomchickapop popcorn. Angie’s mission is to make popcorn with real, simple ingredients (popcorn, sunflower oil, and sea salt). Despite having so few ingredients, the popcorn is consistently light, fluffy, and delicious. If you try and like Angie’s sea salt flavor, they make a variety of other delicious flavors as well.
At one point or another, we’ve all received a tin of “gourmet” popcorn as a gift, only to crack it open and discover the popcorn is stale and flavorless. Don’t let an experience like that turn you off of Popcornopolis. They use 100% American-grown, non-GMO corn. The popcorn has a six-month shelf-life (unopened) and comes in 16 different flavors. If you’re one of those people who love gifting gourmet popcorn during the holidays, make sure you’re choosing Popcornopolis. You can mix and match flavors in their specialty cones, bags, and seasonal tins.
If you still don’t trust microwave or premade popcorn and prefer to make your own on the stovetop, Black Jewell Gourmet Popcorn Kernels are a great pick. This heirloom, black-kernel corn has little to no husk, leaving you with more miniature popcorn with a richer taste. Because of its heirloom variety, Black Jewell is said to have more antioxidants than regular popcorn. Another benefit of choosing Black Jewell is that its growing practices support pollinators (bees, butterflies, and such). With its profits, the company contributes to pollinator advocacy groups and plants pollinator plots.
A disadvantage to using smaller kernel popcorn, like Black Jewell, in your air popper is that many of the lightweight kernels get blown out of the popper before getting the chance to pop. Like Pop Secret’s Big and Fluffy Jumbo Popping Corn, a heavier, more robust kernel is ideal for your at-home air poppers. You’ll get large yet fluffy popcorn that is delicious by itself or with your own seasonings. And you won’t have one wasted kernel, which will significantly stretch your popcorn usage and give you your money’s worth.
If you’re looking for more of an “experience” with your popcorn, Opopop combines delicious popcorn with excellent branding. It comes in pre-portion pouches designed for microwave popcorn poppers, which they offer, or you can use something similar; the main thing you need is a lid. Opopop is only available through their online store and comes in fancy butter, chedapeño, Maui heat, cinnalicious, salted umami, and vanilla cake pop flavors.
365 by Whole Foods Market Organic Microwave Popcorn
365 popcorn by Whole Foods is not only a great-tasting microwave popcorn with no preservatives or other nasty ingredients, but it’s also very affordable. If you have a bag-a-day popcorn habit, 365 popcorn is not a bad choice.
Amish Country Popcorn 10-Pack Popcorn Kernel Variety Pack
Amish Country Popcorn is another excellent DIY popcorn that offers a wide variety of kernel types to choose from. If you’re new to Amish Country Popcorn and want to see which style you like the best, this 10-pack kernel assortment is a great option. You’ll also get a popcorn-centric recipe book.
Funky Chunky Gourmet Popcorn Sampler Variety Pack
Funky Chunky popcorn is ideal for the popcorn lover with a sweet tooth. They have five delicious flavors; sea salt caramel, chip zel pop, nutty choco pop, peanut butter cup, and chocolate pretzel. They are a perfect balance of savory and sweet, plus they come in 2-ounce bags which will help curb your snacking, even if you can’t.
Newman’s Own Organics Microwave Popcorn, Touch of Butter
Rounding out our list is another organic microwave popcorn brand that delivers a light yet flavorful popcorn with nothing but natural ingredients. An added bonus is that, like the rest of their products, all profits go to charity.
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