By now you know we are mildly obsessed with popcorn. The bite-sized treat is the epitome of healthy ( when it’s not microwaved, of course) and serves as an excellent base for pretty much anything, from chocolate to chili lime.
But, choosing a top popcorn maker is just the first step on your journey to a batch of perfectly popped corn. No2 on your list is picking the right popcorn kernels. And yes, this may sound silly to some of you, but truth be told, there are a lot of things that can go wrong with those kernels, from how they’re grown to how they’re packed.
To help you and your family get the most out of your snacking time (both flavor- and health-wise), we rounded up the 7 best popcorn kernels on the market today. And trust us, somewhere between their GMO-free nature and as-nature-intended ingredient list, these best-sellers will make your eyes pop. #punbabypun
Table of Contents
- Best Popcorn Kernel Reviews for 2021
- 1. Amish Country Popcorn
- 2. Great Northern 2.5-Ounce Popcorn Packs, Case of 24
- 3. Orville Redenbacher’s Gourmet Popcorn Kernels
- 4. Great Northern 8-Ounce Premium Popcorn Packs, Case of 40
- 5. Snappy White Popcorn
- 6. Great Northern 8-Ounce Premium Popcorn Packs, Case of 24
- 7. Anthony’s Yellow Popcorn Kernels
- What to Look For When Shopping For the Best Popcorn Kernels
Best Popcorn Kernel Reviews for 2021
The world has seen its fair share of popcorn brands over the years and, truth be told; the options are far from few these days. But, before your head starts spinning and you choose the easy way out (a.k.a. microwave popcorn bags), know that these 7 best popcorn kernels are just what the doctor dietician recommended. Plus, you’ll put that air popper to good use. So, ready to get popping?
1. Amish Country Popcorn
If you love popcorn but your tummy doesn’t share the same values, this best-selling variety is an absolute must-try. Thanks to their hulless nature, the kernels are super easy to digest and make snacking time all the easier for folks with braces. The snack is also grown using all-natural ways, so it contains zero chemicals which is always a good thing. So, if you like the sound of these, here’s what these popcorn kernels have to offer.
- Large Quantity
Since it comes in a 6-pound bag, this option is fit for serious popcorn lovers only.
- Easy to Digest
Unlike many of its peers, Amish Country is one of the few companies that sells hulless kernels (or better yet, kernels with super-thin hulls), making digestion much easier. Thin shells are also convenient for those of you who wear braces since the thing often gets stuck between your teeth.
- Free From GM Substances
If there's one thing the brand takes pride in is their all-natural growing process. That's actually why Amish Country is a surefire way to ditch chemical-drenched kernels from your weekly menu.
- Fresh Batches All-Year Round
Thanks to the product's air-tight packaging, the kernels can stay fresh for up to a year, allowing you to get a bang for your buck, no matter what.
- Fluffy Texture
The brand's popcorn also has a distinct fluffy texture which adds a gourmet touch to your snacking routine without having to spend a fortune on over-priced kernels.
- Extra Recipe Guide
The snack comes with a creative recipe guide that proves butter popcorn is just the beginning (popcorn brownies, here we come!).
Despite the jumbo package, the excellent taste, and the bonus recipe guide, the kernels come at a very reasonable price.
- Small Kernel Size
Compared to others, the size of these kernels is small which means you won't get a movie-theater-like experience. But, IMO, it's still worth the shot.
2. Great Northern 2.5-Ounce Popcorn Packs, Case of 24
If you like homemade popcorn but don’t have a knack for making it, these portion packs are a dream come true. Containing 2.5 ounces each, Great Northern popcorn packs are pre-measured and ready to serve 1-2 people per time, sparing you the mess and the hassle. But, this is just the beginning. Read on and find out why these kernels should be in your cabinet all-year round.
- Reduced Waste
Since the kernels come in individual portion packs, you get to pop the exact amount of corn you want. As a result, you don't ever have to deal with leftovers just because you made more than you need.
- Air-Tight Packaging
The packs are also tightly sealed to prevent air from getting in touch with the kernels and reducing their freshness. That means there's virtually zero chance the corn will go stale, so you can keep it in your cupboard for a long time.
- Safe Ingredients
Even though the kernels are coated with salt and butter, manufacturers guarantee the additives have zero harmful additives in them (see: diacetyl). So, you get all of the aroma and flavor with none of the toxins. #priceless
- Easy to Use
These packs are perfect for anyone who's rookie enough to pop corn on their own. So, all you have to do is open the bag, pour the kernels in the air or stove pot popper, and wait for them to pop. It's as simple as that!
- Large Quantity
The packs come in 24-item bundles which means you can stock up once and enjoy the benefits for many months to come without losing any of the original freshness.
- Zero Mess
Another great thing about these packs is that they prevent you from making a mess all over your kitchen. Since the kernels are pre-measured and sealed inside the bags, there's no chance they'll ever spill, making your cabinet a real disaster.
- Chewy Texture
The only thing that's rather unsatisfactory about these packs is that the popcorn ends up turning chewy when stored in a humid environment. Since that's normal, keep them in a dry place, and you'll have nothing to worry about.
3. Orville Redenbacher’s Gourmet Popcorn Kernels
If great popcorn is more than just toppings for you, we dare you to add these gourmet kernels to your shopping cart RN. Thanks to their original yellow nature, the corn has a unique texture which is both crunchy and fluffy – and truth be told, that’s a rare quality amongst kernels these days, so we’ll get what we can get. If these sound like your cup of tea, here’s what you need to know about Orville Redenbacher’s gourmet popcorn kernels.
- Movie-Theater-Worthy Texture
We all know that movie theater popcorn is simply the best, and not just because of its comforting flavor. The snack also sports a unique texture which is not too crispy but also not too tender at the same time. And if we're being honest, replicating this texture at home isn't that easy – which is where Orville Redenbacher's popcorn kernels step in.
Striking a perfect balance between the crunchy exterior and the fluffy inside, these kernels are the easiest way to enjoy movie-theater-like popcorn from the comfort of your home, whether you add them in an air popper or a pot.
- Free From GMOs
The brand has been producing popcorn for more than six decades now, and the one thing they've focused on all this time is the quality of their products. That said, they only produce popcorn that's 100% natural and free from artificial additives and harmful GMOs.
- Ergonomic Packaging
The corn comes in a well-designed container with a lid and a handle that allow you to pour the kernels in the popper or pot quite easily. That said, you'll rarely have to deal with spilled popcorn which is always great news. The lid also helps keep the contents fresh by preventing the air from getting in touch with the food.
- Large Quantity
Judging from our experience, there's no such thing as too much popcorn, so we think opting for the 8-libre package is a solid choice for every serious popcorn lover out there. You'll end up eating the whole thing, anyway, so why not?
- No Flavorings
Unlike others, the kernels aren't coated with any artificial flavorings such as salt or butter which means you can top them with whatever ingredients you like, from powdered cheese to caramel.
- Many Kernels Left Unpopped
A common issue with this brand is that some of the kernels don't actually pop, forcing you to waste about 10% of the container's contents. Honestly, that's a sign of poor storing conditions (even before the product reaches your doorstep), so make sure you place the kernels in a dry, cool cupboard.
4. Great Northern 8-Ounce Premium Popcorn Packs, Case of 40
If movie night at your house means snacks on top snacks, these popcorn packs are just the thing to spare you the hassle. At 8 ounces each, the pre-measured pouches contain enough of the treat to feed 5-10 people in one go. Plus, the kernels taste amazing, so everyone will leave your house with a smile on their face. But, before you get the popping started, here’s the scoop on these best-selling popcorn pouches.
- Zero Mess & Prep
Since the kernels come in pouches, handling them is a piece of cake. Just rip the bag open, pour the corn in a popper, add the seasonings, and your snack will be ready in seconds. As you see, you make zero mess and spare yourself from doing all the boring stuff such as measuring and prepping the thing yourself.
- No Fishy Ingredients
According to the company, the kernels are made in an all-natural way and aren't coated with GM flavorings such as butter or flavored salt. That means two things: a) that the company's snack is healthy and doesn't have a trace of trans fats in it, diacetyl or cholesterol in it and b) you can top it with your favorite seasonings without feeling restricted to just one flavor.
- Perfect for Bulk Buyers
Unlike most of the options on our list, this one comes in a 40-item case which means it's ideal for bulk buyers who want to get a bang for their buck.
- Reasonable Price
Even though some of you may gasp when you see the final price, note that each case contains 40 8-ounce pouches, so if you do the math, you actually save a lot of money rather than waste it.
- Moisture-Resistant Packaging
The packaging is also impressive as it's specially designed to keep moisture out of the bag. By doing so, the kernels stay fresh for longer.
- Tricky to Store
Since there are too many of them, storing the pouches can be tricky. So, find a place with little to no moisture, and keep them there until you're in the mood for a crunchy bite.
5. Snappy White Popcorn
If you’re a simple kind of gal (or guy), who wants a batch of healthy, tasty popcorn whenever the mood strikes, look no further. As the name implies, Snappy white popcorn is your chance at a quick and easy batch of popcorn with no additives whatsoever. Intrigued much? Well, here’s everything else this brand has to offer.
- Family-Friendly Quality
Despite its simple looks, Snappy's kernels have a gourmet-like taste that could turn anyone into a hardcore popcorn lover. More than that, they sport an easy-to-chew texture which makes them perfect for families with kids.
- Perfect for Candy Coating
The kernels are mushroom-shaped which means they're perfect for candy coating and chocolate drizzling.
- Few Kernels Left Unpopped
One of the most common problems with most popcorn brands is the number of kernels that are left unpopped. Thanks to its natural origins, the corn seeds of this brand are highly poppable, helping you get the most out of each container.
- No GMOs
The brand has a long tradition in popcorn making that dates back to the 1940s. So, if there's one thing they know how to do well is producing the tastiest and “cleanest” kind of popcorn. More times than one, Snappy executives have expressed their arguments against artificial additives and GMOs, so you can be sure their products are healthy AF.
- Melt-In-Your-Mouth Taste
While many may argue that gourmet popcorn is where the money's at, we'd like to let you know that Snappy's kernels taste just as indulgent, and more importantly, at half the price.
- Takes Time to Pop
Unlike others, this one takes a bit longer to pop which could be frustrating if you have guests or restless kids waiting.
- It's Not Organic
So, the brand steers clear of artificial additives, but that doesn't mean it's 100% organic. You see, it follows specific production methods which are definitely not natural, so keep that in the back of your head.
6. Great Northern 8-Ounce Premium Popcorn Packs, Case of 24
So, buying popcorn in bulk is always a good idea, especially from a money-saving POV. But, getting 40 pouches of the treat is a big commitment for the casual snack eater. For those of you who still want to enjoy Great Northern premium popcorn but don’t have enough space to store it, opt for the 24-item pack. And yes, it’s worth every dime – here’s why.
- Free From Toxins
One of the best things about this brand is that they consistently refuse to coat the kernels with artificial additives and other toxic elements. That said, you're always sure they stick to a 100% natural formula which is not just healthy but also tasty AF.
- Lightly Seasoned
To improve the product's flavor, the people at Great Northern coat the kernels with a little bit of salt and butter. But, don't worry! None of them is artificial, so there's zero chance the snack has any traces of diacetyl or trans fats.
- Eliminates Prepping
The product's well-thought-out packaging also eliminates the need to measure how much you'll need yourself as each pouch contains enough of the treat to accommodate 5-10 people. You don't even have to guess how much salt and butter you should add to the mix since the kernels are already seasoned.
- No Mess
The packs are also very easy to use. So, when you do decide to make some popcorn, rip the top off the pouch, pour the kernels in your popper or pot and wait for them to pop. That's it! No cleaning or picking up spilled kernels afterward.
- Funny Texture
When the kernels are stored in a humid environment, they tend to lose their original texture and end up feeling like a bunch of chewy gum. Since that's as bad as it sounds, make sure you place the pouches in a dry cupboard or room to keep it fresh for as long as possible.
7. Anthony’s Yellow Popcorn Kernels
If you want to spend your hard-earned cash on a corn variety that’s in it for the long haul (as in they won’t go stale quickly), Anthony’s yellow popcorn kernels are a no-brainer. Packed inside a well-insulated, re-sealable pouch, the contents don’t get exposed to air which means the corn stays fresh for longer. But, that’s just one of the perks. Here’s everything else this best-selling brand has in stock for you.
- High-Quality Packaging
This is perhaps one of the best packages we've seen on the list, mainly because it's specially designed to provide the shopper with a high-quality experience, from the moment you open it to the moment you close it. So, the packet is made of sturdy paper which means it can stand on its own, a quality that's very helpful when you want to add kernels to the popper and both your hands may be busy. The pack also has a re-sealable lid which helps preserve the contents and keep them fresh for longer.
- Organic Kernels
One of the best things about Anthony's popcorn kernels is that they are organic, meaning they are grown using all-natural methods. As a result, they don't get in contact with harmful additives and toxins which strip the title of “healthy” from their list of benefits.
- No Flavorings
Staying true to its all-natural philosophy, the brand doesn't use any flavorings or preservatives to improve the flavor or shelf life of the kernels. So, the corn is additive-free which means you can experiment with your own flavor combos.
- Awesome Texture
Unlike many in the field, these kernels have a distinct texture which can make the snack taste ten times better. Specifically, the popped kernels are crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, resembling a lot to IRL movie popcorn.
- Fragile Seal
The seal on the brand's package is quite fragile which means it could give out at any given point. If that happens, your popcorn will get exposed to air which means it will lose its freshness and the kernels may spill all over. So, be careful and open/close the thing as smoothly as possible.
What to Look For When Shopping For the Best Popcorn Kernels
One of the first things you need to check when shopping for the best popcorn kernels is their freshness, and here’s why. Stale corn produces a rather dull taste which is much inferior to the earthy flavor you get when you go fresh. More than that, the texture of stale popcorn is somewhat chewy compared to the crunch that comes after popping fresh kernels. To make sure you always get the freshest of the bunch, opt for brands that ship their products in airtight containers.
It’s true: Packaging is a matter of personal preference. But, since the snack tends to go stale after a while (especially if it’s exposed to air), opting for tightly sealed bags is a one-way street. So, when you’re buying in bulk, look for re-sealable bags or containers which prevent oxidation(1) and keep the corn fresh for longer.
Oh, and a word to the wise: Plastic bags rip easily which means spilled kernels are in the cards for you, no matter what. If you want to avoid such mishaps, opt for containers with lids which help you to pour the kernels into the pot more easily.
Type of Kernel
Not to burst your bubble, but there are more than one types of popcorn kernels out there. The four most common varieties include the white, the yellow, the mushroom and the butterfly kernels, each of which comes in a different shape, size, and (in the first two cases) color.
With that in mind, note that mushroom popcorn is known for its mini-baseball shape which means it can withstand candy coating. That makes it perfect for liquid add-ins such as melted chocolate or syrup drizzles. On the other hand, butterfly kernels are a bit more delicate as their wing-like shape makes them prone to crushing. That said, they’re usually served plain or buttered. So, choose accordingly!
Organically Grown Variety
So, you know all about the benefits of all-natural products, and as you can imagine, organic popcorn is no exception. Naturally grown kernels are one of the healthiest food choices in the book as they pack a bunch of nutritional benefits (as in tons of fiber, few calories, etc.) without any of the GMOs and harmful additives such as diacetyl(2). So, if you see popcorn as a buttery, toxin-laden indulgence, it’s high time you switch gears and opt for the organic varieties from now on.
Another thing you need to check when shopping for popcorn kernels is the product’s ingredient list. Even though artificially flavored grains aren’t that common, some companies add salt or artificial butter to the mix to improve the product’s flavor and increase its shelf life. Since such additions negate the whole point of buying organic, we recommend you steer clear of products with any additives.
After all, if you want your popcorn to be buttery, you can always add some later instead of having its toxic components (see: diacetyl) linger in the same container as your kernels for goodness knows how long.
If you’re anything like us, you’ve spent years indulging in store-bought popcorn, and boy, did that feel good! But after hearing the latest news on all the toxins that lurk inside those bags, we decided it was high time we took a break from them without ditching our favorite snack (of course!).
That’s why we switched to these 7 best popcorn kernels which not only pack an awful lot of nutrients but also taste great. Some of them are also a breeze to prep, making things easier for newbies as well. So, which of these popcorn kernels will stock up on first? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!