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5 Best Popcorn Kernels for Homemade Popcorn Bags (2018 Updated)

If you are looking for a cheap, yet healthy snack, popcorn is the way to go.

Popping your kernels, either with a popcorn maker or over the stove, is a delicious snack for your entire family.

However, when you want to pick the right ones, you quickly realize there are dozens of choices on the market.

There are conventional and organic brands, butterfly and mushroom kernels, and more. It isn't easy to ponder what the best popcorn kernels are.

Now:

We are going to take a look at the common questions to help you make the best choice. Those living a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle may opt for popcorn frequently as a snack, so you want to pick the best kind!

Let's take a look!

What Are Popcorn Kernels?

Where do popcorns come from? Obviously, they come from corn. However, before they turn fluffy and flavorful, they first exist in the form of kernels. Each kernel has three parts:

  • Pericarp: This refers to the outer shell that covers the kernel. This is the one that you can touch. This is the key for the kernel to pop.
  • Germ: This is what you can find inside the pericarp of each kernel. This is also known as the seed embryo.
  • Endosperm: You can find this adjacent to the location of the germ. Aside from trapped water, the endosperm also contains starch granules, which are consumed by the germ as it sprouts.

When the kernel is heated, the water that is trapped in the endosperm will become steam. This will cause pressure to build up in the pericarp. With this pressure, the kernel will pop.

​Why Should You Purchase Kernels?

Best popcorn kernels

In the grocery store, you can buy popcorn kernels or pre-popped popcorn. There are some reasons why you should buy the kernels.

  • Affordability: It can seem pricier to buy a large container of un-popped kernels rather than popcorn bags. However, when you see how much you get in one bag, you quickly realize that you are saving money by buying kernels!
  • Control the Toppings: Many times, the popcorn bags come pre-seasoned. They have butter or cheese added already. Vegans need to avoid these toppings, so kernels allow you to pick what you want.
  • It's Fun: Watching, or listening to the hundreds of kernels pop is so fun. Children love to look at the dancing and jumping as the kernels expand into their yummy goodness. Popcorn is a treat enjoyed for centuries. Nowadays, you can opt to pop them over the stove or in a popcorn making machine. Some families even invest in circus-style popcorn makers!
  • Less Trash: You need to toss the popcorn bags in the trash. If you want to eliminate some of your waste, one container is better than multiple bags. Also, many companies put their kernels in recyclable plastic containers!
  • Only Pop the Right Amount: Instead of a huge bag, you can just pop the right amount. There is less waste this way! Plenty of times, you toss out half the bag. Less waste equals money saved. If you want to watch how much you are consuming, portion control is an excellent way to watch calories.

Different Types of Popcorn Kernels

There are two types of popcorn: mushroom and butterfly.

mushroom and butterfly popcorn kernels

Image Source

Butterfly kernels are light, fluffy and fat, and it seems to have wings when popped.

Mushroom popcorn kernels are dense and compact, and they are little balls when popped.

If you want to use popcorn for candy coating, popcorn balls or caramelizing, mushroom kernels are the way to go.

Popcorn kernels also come in a variety of colors. Yellow and white are the most common, but you can purchase kernels in blue, black, red, and multicolored.

Yellow popcorn kernels come out to be the largest variety, popping up to 46 times its size!

White is a smaller choice, typically a mushroom popcorn kernel, whereas yellow is usually butterfly kernels. Gourmet varieties are huge, even bigger than yellow!

What To Consider When Making A Purchase

coconut oil popcorn
  • The amount in each Container: Take a look at how much you receive in each bag compared to its price. You want to get as much as you can for your dollar. If you eat popcorn frequently, bulk might be the best choice for your family, since it typically decreases the price.
  • GMO or No: Many people want to avoid GMOs as much as possible. Avoiding genetic modification is an important thing for many. Some families only purchase organic food. GMO-free corn is hard to find, so you need to do some research to ensure product truly is GMO-free. The best way to determine if the product is GMO-free is to look for the sticker added to many products.
  • Type of Kernel: How do you plan to use the popcorn kernels? If you want to make candy coating or popcorn balls, white mushroom popcorn kernels are the best choice. They are smaller. If you plan to just munch on the popcorn plain or flavored, yellow or gourmet butterfly kernels are ideal.
  • Nothing Added? Many companies add salt to kernels. While you generally won't find artificially flavored popcorn kernels, you want to make sure there are no preservatives. However, chemical free popcorn tends to go stale quickly. You can't pop the kernels and leave them to sit for a few hours. They get soft quickly, but this is a small price to pay for many people.
  • Simple to Pour: You might prefer the kernels that are easy to pour. A plastic bag can rip, spilling the kernels everywhere. A solid container with a lid is easy to pour the exact amount needed, plus you can recycle!
  • Select for the Way You Pop the Kernels: Everyone has a different way to pop kernels. You may have a hot air popper, an oil popper or just use your stovetop. If you like to use your stovetop, look for round shaped kernels because they cook evenly without absorbing too much oil, here is a great video about making fantastic stovetop popcorn. Round kernels are also ideal for those who want homemade microwave popcorn.

3 Best Ways to Make Popcorn Kernels

There are different ways by which it will be possible to make your popcorn kernels, including those that will be briefly mentioned in this post.

By Stovetop

  • 1
    Place a pan on the stove. Ideally, you have to use a deep pan and one with a lid. The lid should also have a hole on the top to allow air to escape. This will prevent the popcorn from turning chewy.
  • 2
    Add three tablespoons of vegetable oil. When it is hot, pour the recommended amount of popcorn kernels depending on the instructions from the manufacturer.
  • 3
    Cover the pan and give it a shake.
  • 4
    Turn off the heat once the popping stops. You are now ready to enjoy your popcorn!

By Hot Air Poppers

  • 1
    Pour the desired amount of the kernels in the popper.
  • 2
    Place a bowl on the side of the popper.
  • 3
    Turn the popper on and be ready to catch the kernels in the bowl.
  • 4
    Add salt, butter, or any flavoring that you desire.

By Microwave Popcorn

  • 1
    Put the popcorn kernels in a brown paper bag.
  • 2
    Add oil to the bag. Roll the top to have it closed.
  • 3
    Place the bag in a microwave.
  • 4
    Heat the microwave for about 30 seconds.
  • 5
    Check the bag. If the kernels have fully popped, you can now enjoy your popcorn!

Top 5 Best Brand of Popcorn Kernels (2018)

Let's take a look at some of the top choices on the market!

Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet Popcorn Kernels

Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet Popcorn Kernels

Orville Redenbacher is the most well-known brand of popcorn, available in yellow and white kernels. It is a popular choice for gourmet popcorn with a tender inside but a crispy exterior. They are the epitome of movie popcorn, perfect for seasoning and munching.

One of the things that we loved the most about this product is that it is 100% natural. It does not contain GMO. It is also 100% whole grain and is gluten-free, making it the ideal option even for people who have discerning preferences.

The manufacturer of the popcorn has been around since 1952. They have been a trusted brand ever since, which is why they are still operating until this time, even with the emergence of new manufacturers. All their popcorns are retrieved from their family farms to ensure nothing but the highest quality.

  • Provides excellent value for money
  • Easy to find
  • Can be used even in stainless steel popcorn popper
  • Easy to pour and store
  • Blends great with all flavoring mixes
  • Kernels can be prone to getting stuck.
  • Not all kernels may pop.
  • The hulls do not detach when popped
  • Can easily go stale

Bob's Red Mill Whole White Popcorn

When you want to purchase popcorn from a company that you can truly trust, Bob’s Red Mill is the way to go. They are fluffy and delicious, making it the perfect choice for bonding with family and friends in the comfort of your own home.

For those who are conscious about their health, you can enjoy this popcorn without the guilt. Aside from being GMO-free, it is also gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, and Kosher-certified. To add, it should also be noted that it is 100% whole grain. It is also an excellent source of dietary fiber.

The popcorn kernels will not only end up fluffy, but they will also be flavorful.

  • Kernels have a good color and shape
  • Almost all kernels will pop
  • Has a fluffy texture
  • Gluten-free, GMO-free, Halal, and Kosher
  • Does not contain oil, salt, or preservatives.
  • Each serving has three grams of protein
  • Does not do well when heated in the oil
  • Hulls can come off quickly
  • Flimsy packaging.
  • Can go stale quickly

Paragon Bulk Bag Yellow Popcorn

Plain, with salt, or tossed in coconut oil – it does not matter how you eat this popcorn. For sure, you will end up enjoying its flavor and you won’t stop popping.

It is available in two packaging – 12.5 and 50 pounds.

This yellow butterfly popcorn comes with a premium quality, which is why you are guaranteed to have no regrets when you purchase this pack. It comes with a robust popping size, which will increase the yield and make the most out of each pack. To add, it also offers cost-efficient popping.

Regardless of the way you prepare this popcorn, it will end up being flavorful!

  • Larger and bulkier compared to other brands
  • Kernels are fluffy with consistent shape and size
  • Can be popped in both stovetop and microwave.
  • Has delicious sweet and nutty flavor
  • Does not end up being soggy
  • All popcorns are grown and made in the USA
  • Packaging can be quite flimsy
  • Some kernels can be unpopped in a hot air popper.
  • Can quickly go stale

Amish Country Popcorn Baby White Hull-less

If you want another choice for the best kernels from white corn, Amish Country is a highly-rated option. It is delicious and affordable, sold in six-pound bags.

Most brands of popcorn aren’t labeled as hull-less. However, many people prefer to have less hulls stuck in their teeth. You will love the Amish Country Popcorn.

It is also extra-small and tender when it is popped, making it the perfect choice for munchies. It does not get stuck in between your teeth and it has also earned its reputation for being easy to digest.

This gourmet popcorn is also perfect for people who are health-conscious. It is non-GMO and Kosher-certified. It is also free of gluten, lactose, peanut, and dairy, and tree nut.

You will also enjoy the fact that the manufacturer guarantees its freshness. It comes with a one-year warranty, which should be more than enough to provide you with peace of mind.

  • Almost hull-less
  • Can be popped on a stovetop or popcorn machine
  • Comes with a distinct sweet and nutty flavor
  • GMO-free
  • Does not work well in a hot air popcorn popper.
  • Small kernels
  • Container bag is not airtight

Wabash Valley Farms Country Gourmet Popcorn

Wabash Valley Farms Amish Country Gourmet Popping Corn

The last choice in this list is by Wabash Valley Farms. You get delicious popcorn at an affordable, realistic price tag, delivered in a bag with 18 pounds of kernels!

The texture is one of the best on the market. It is tender, flaky and crisp without being too soggy, with a delicious nutty flavor. With the tenderness in each pop, you will find it easy to eat.

If you want to enjoy a delicious snack without the guilt, this will also prove to be an excellent choice. It is well-loved by many because it is a rich source of antioxidants and fibers.

Although it is packaged in a plastic bag, which can be a downside for some people, you will love how it is resealable. With the seal on the top, you can be assured that the remaining kernels will remain fresh as it is protected from external elements like air and moisture

  • Comes with a right-sized bag
  • Can be popped in the microwave or stovetop
  • Each bag comes with seasoning and coconut oil
  • Does not contain trans fat and cholesterol
  • Packaged in a plastic bag
  • Cannot be used in a hot air popper
  • Butter does not stick well because of coconut oil

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do popcorns go bad? How to keep popcorn kernels fresh?

Yes, they will go bad. If they are unopened, they can last indefinitely, but pay attention to the Best Before date stated by the manufacturer. Also, do not open the bag unless you are ready to pop the kernels.

The key to enjoying your popcorn is to make sure that the kernels stay fresh. Among others, one of the most important things that you need to avoid is moisture. Keep the kernels in a cool and dry place, away from direct heat. Once they get moist or wet, they will no longer pop. Keep it in an airtight container. Do not refrigerate.

Can we add flavor to popcorn? In which way?

Of course, you can add flavor to your popcorn. The sky is the limit when it comes to how you can do this. You can choose a flavor that suits your taste buds.

There are different ways to add flavor to your popcorn. For instance, you can use butter in a pan. You can also sprinkle it with flavored powders, such as cheese and barbeque, among others. Salt and pepper will also be a great way to make it taste better.

Are butter and oil necessary to prepare popcorn?

Traditionally, popcorn is cooked in butter and oil. This is one thing that some people may not want, especially for those who are concerned about their health.

The good news is that you can prepare your popcorn without the need for butter and oil. All that you need to do is to invest in a hot air popper.

Which type of popcorn contains a high amount of dietary fiber?

You can enjoy popcorn without the guilt. You just have to be wise in choosing. With this, you should opt for one that comes with a high amount of dietary fiber. A 3-cup serving of popcorn can have as much as 3 grams of fiber. For the highest amount of dietary fiber, look for one that is labeled as 100% whole grain.

How many unpopped popcorn is in one cup?

This is quite a tough question to answer as this will depend on the size of the kernels. Some are small while others are large. More often than one, however, one cup of popped popcorn is equal to two tablespoons of unpopped popcorn.


Final: Which One is Best for You?

​All of these kernels are delicious with high ratings! If we had to select one to be the number one choice, we would go with the Paragon Bulk Bag! It comes in large portions, 12.5 and 50 pounds.

You will need a new storage container, but that is the only major negative. The kernels are yellow, oblong and large, the perfect qualities for a butterfly kernel. These are perfect for movie night because they hold seasonings well.

Paragon offers a versatile choice for the best popcorn kernel. You can use them in the microwave and stovetop, but they won't do well in a hot air popper. Without seasoning, the kernels have a sweet, nutty flavor, a distinct and lovely taste. Best of all, the kernels are grown in the USA, creating the perfect qualities you want in a product.

Laura Staron
 

Hello and welcome to Veggie Secret. My name is Laura, founder and editor in chief here at VeggieSecret.com. I've lived a vegan life for 3 years and I'm on a mission to give you simplified actionable health and nutrition advice.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 1 comments
Brian Norman - October 13, 2017

I like popcorn thanks for writing blog in this topic.
I really like it. Way of description is too good thanks for sharing this blog with us.

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