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.
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!
Why Should You Purchase 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.
Types Of Popcorn Kernels
There are two types of popcorn: mushroom and butterfly.
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
- 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.
Choices For The Best Popcorn Kernels
Let's take a look at some of the top choices on the market!
1. Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet Popcorn Kernels – Original Yellow
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.
Everyone loves Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn kernels. They are the epitome of movie popcorn, perfect for seasoning and munching.
- It is an excellent value for money. You can purchase this brand in multiple sizes, great for larger families. You can pop dozens of bowls without breaking the bank.
- It isn't a difficult type to find. Orville Redenbacher is available in most grocery stores, so you have easy access to it.
- The size of the kernels allows you to use a stainless steel popcorn popper that will save you time. The container is reusable and solid, with a hollow handle. You can reuse it later for rice or pasta, or put it in your recycling container.
- You'll find it easy to pour and easy to store in the pantry.Orville Redenbacher is certified as non-GMO, grown without any pesticides.
- Many people love the taste of these kernels because they blend great with all types of flavoring mix.
- Kernels easily get stuck in the hollow of the handle, so you have to try to shake or dig them out.
- You might notice that, for some reason, not all of the kernels pop. While this isn't a huge problem, it can be unpleasant and feel wasteful in comparison to other brands.
- This option doesn't let the hulls to detach when popped. Some people don't mind hulls, so it isn't a con for everyone!
- The popcorn could go stale before you use it all, resulting in a waste of money. Purchasing the right size for your needs is important.
2. Bob's Red Mill Whole White Popcorn
Bob’s Red Mill is a popular brand for certified non-GMO products. When you want to purchase popcorn from a company that you can truly trust, Bob’s Red Mill is the way to go.
Many people are concerned about the GMOs in popcorn, but you don’t have to worry about these fluffy, delicious pieces of popcorn.
- The popcorn kernels are white and oblong in shape. When popped, the kernels go from a pale white to a bright white.
- These are perfect for people who like to use hot air poppers; almost all of the kernels pop.
- Bob's Red Mill Popcorn Kernels have some of the fluffiest texture. You won't find any tough or chewy spots.
- If you care about the ethics of a product, Bob's Red Mill creates a gluten-free product, certified as GMO-free and as Halal and Kosher foods.
- There are no oils, salt or preservatives added to the kernels at all.
- Unlike other choices for the best popcorn kernels, there are three grams of protein in each serving, a rarity!
- Bob's kernels don't do very well if you try to heat them up with oil. You will find that a large percentage doesn't pop, which is unfortunate and wasteful.
- The hulls come off quickly, getting stuck in your teeth. It isn't the ideal choice for families with braces or needs dental work.
- The packaging is flimsy! Unfortunately, once you open the bag, you will find that it is easy to tear. Chances are you will have to put it in a different container.
- While having no preservatives added is positive, this means it will go stale quicker than other brands.
3. Paragon Bulk Bag Yellow Popcorn
Large families need a quality source of yellow butterfly popcorn, and Paragon comes in bigger sizes! The packages are either 12.5 pounds or 50 pounds!
You can eat the popcorn plain or with salt or tossed in coconut oil. No matter how you make it, you will love them! They make a delicious snacked loved by hundreds of families.
- Paragon sells their yellow popcorn in larger, bulk sizes when compared to other brands.
- These kernels are oblong, yellow kernels that are all the same size. They are butterfly kernels, so they give you a large, fluffy piece of popcorn each time. These are perfect for movie nights with the family.
- You can pop them in both the microwave and on the stovetop.
- It has a delicious, sweet, nutty flavor compared to other brands. Many people love a nutty flavor to their popcorn; it pairs well with other flavorings.
- Paragon offers large kernels, resulting in large popcorn. They hold seasoning great with a lot of surface area! Vegetarians can use butter and not end up with soggy popcorn.
- When you buy their popcorn, you are supporting an America company based out of Iowa. All of their popcorn is grown in the USA!
- The packaging is quite flimsy. The bag will rip easily, so you will need to purchase a sturdy container to keep it in your pantry.
- If you use a hot air popper, you might find that you end up with a lot of unpopped kernels.
- If you don't put these kernels into a separate container after opening, they will go stale quickly. You will need to use them up fast.
4. Amish Country Popcorn Baby White Hull-less
If you want another choice for the best popcorn 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.
- Unlike other choices we listed on this review, Amish Country is virtually hull-less. It isn't totally without hulls; they are small kernels with tender hulls. When popped, they great into small pieces. This variety is perfect for little kids, people with braces or delicate teeth, or just those who love fluffy popcorn. It is also easier to digest.
- You can pop it in a popcorn machine or on the stovetop perfectly.
- It has a distinct, sweet and nutty taste. Most love the delicate kernels that melt in your mouth if you don't overcook them!
- Amish Country Popcorn is GMO-free and grown in the heart of Amish Country, located in the USA!
- Amish Country Popcorn doesn't work as well in a hot air popcorn popper.
- It is important to remember that because the kernel size is smaller, you have to get smaller sized popcorn. This isn't necessarily a problem, but you have to keep it in mind when you decide how much to make.
- The container isn't huge; they come in a thick bag. However, it isn't reusable nor is it airtight, so if you don't put it in something else, it could go stale quickly.
5. Wabash Valley Farms Country Gourmet Popcorn
The last choice for the best popcorn kernels 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.
- Wabash Valley Farms delivers the kernels in three 6-pound bags. It is easier to eat six pounds than 18 pounds, so you don't have to worry about the entire amount going stale.
- These yellow kernels are rounded, perfect for popping on the stove or making homemade microwaveable popcorn bags.
- You receive a pre-measured amount of coconut oil and seasoning with each bag. You can decide not to use the seasoning if you don't want!
- It is a healthy choice for you with no trans-fat or cholesterol.
- The kernels come in a plastic bag, which isn't the ideal choice for long-term storage. If you can't use them up fast, you will want to purchase a separate container for the kernels.
- Because oil is included, it is not ideal to use these kernels with a hot air popper.
- They include the coconut oil. If you don't like coconut oil, you probably won't like this type of popcorn kernels. Butter won't stick very well because of the coconut oil.
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.