Reviewed: 10 Best Popcorn Kernels - Chef's Pencil (2024)

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by Corina Gruber

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Reviewed: 10 Best Popcorn Kernels - Chef's Pencil (1)

Nothing says relaxation more than a large serving of popcorn and a good movie. And if you’re a foodie, there is nothing more enjoyable than prepping your own popcorn, topping it with your favorite flavors, and diving into the latest installments of your favorite show. But first, here are some things you should know about popcorn.

Corn, also known as maize, is a type of cereal grain first domesticated in Mexico about 10,000 years ago. It is a staple food in many parts of the world and production of it surpasses wheat and rice. There are six major types of corn, each used for a different purpose in cooking. These include dent corn, flint corn, pod corn, flour corn, sweet corn, and popcorn.

Some types of corn expand when heated, and the resulting puffed kernels are named popcorn. Popcorn distinguished itself among other types of corn because it contains both moisture and air. The outer hull of the kernel is strong and waterproof, and the starch on the inside is mixed with a limited amount of water. When heated, the oil and water inside the kernel turn into pressurized steam.

This makes the starch pliable. As the heat and internal pressure increase, the breaking point of the hull is reached at 180°C (356°F). The hull explodes and the steam inside the hull breaks out and causes an expansion of the starch and proteins into an airy foam that sets into the popcorn’s crispy puff as the foam cools.

Types of Popcorn Kernels

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There are several varieties of popcorn kernels. They expand into different types of popcorn, each with its own characteristics and best use.

1. Mushroom Popcorn Kernels

This popcorn has a unique round shape and its kernels are larger than those of any other variety. The popped kernels look like tiny white mushrooms and they are perfect for caramel, chocolate, or cheddar toppings as their rugged surface retains toppings easier.

2. Yellow Popcorn Kernels

These are the classic, original popcorn kernels. They are the most common and usually they are used in movie theatres as they are crispier than other popcorns. Yellow popcorn kernels come in medium to large varieties and they have the classic butterfly shape.

3. Butterfly Popcorn Kernels

These popcorn kernels have an irregular shape when popped, resembling wings. They have a mild flavor, are lighter than mushroom popcorn kernels, and are best suited for those toppings that don’t need to adhere to the popcorn’s surface.

4. White Popcorn Kernels

White popcorn kernels are perfectly white when they pop. Their texture is fluffier and more tender than that of yellow popcorn, and they are harder to find. However, if you want your popcorn to be as aesthetically pleasing as possible, opt for white butterfly popcorn.

What to Look for When Buying Popcorn Kernels

Keep these factors in mind when searching for the best popcorn kernels.

How many kernels are there in the pack?

If you are preparing popcorn for a large number of people, you don’t want to run out. But it’s equally bad to have lots of leftovers as popped popcorn loses its crunch in a few hours. So, try and choose the right amount of popcorn for every occasion.

How is it packed?

You must be careful when storing popcorn kernels, so it is best to rely on the original packaging. Choose a container with an airtight cover, as moisture affects the unpopped kernels. Also, look for packages that clearly show the nutritional information, so that you can choose the product that is best for your health.

Simple kernels or spiced kernels?

If you want to prepare your popcorn according to one of your favorite recipes, choose kernels without any oil or spice. You can add whatever spice or ingredient you like. But if you don’t have the time or aren’t in the mood to find a popcorn recipe, choose popcorn kernels with added spice and salt. This way, you will have your popcorn ready in no time and you won’t waste any time searching for recipes.

Best Popcorn Kernel Brands

1. Amish Country Popcorn

Described as the best popcorn kernel brand on Reddit, the Amish Country popcorn comes directly from the heart of Amish country in Berne, Indiana. The brand offers 13 varieties of kernels, the recommended variety being the ladyfinger low-calorie popcorn kernels.

The ladyfinger popcorn is best popped on the stovetop and is a butterfly hull-less popcorn with a crunchy texture. As it is hull-less, the Amish Country ladyfinger popcorn is easier to process for those consumers who have digestive issues. According to many buyers, there is a learning curve in cooking this type of popcorn, but once mastered, it will render the best possible results.

Reviewed: 10 Best Popcorn Kernels - Chef's Pencil (4)

Another popcorn kernel brand highly recommended on Reddit isthe Black Jewell Gourmet popcorn kernels. Grown on family farms in the Midwest, the Black Jewel kernels are an heirloom kernel variety that pops into bright white, fresh, and crispy popcorn with a rich taste. As the kernels are small, they are almost hull-less, thus, more tender and easier to digest. Black Jewel popcorn is non-GMO verified, whole grain, gluten-free, and cholesterol-free.

The Black jewel popcorn has a nut-like flavor, which is unique for popcorn.

3.Bob’s Red Mill Resealable Whole White Popcorn

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Bob’s Red Mill popcorn kernels are a connoisseur’s choice. A 100% whole grain popcorn marketed as a familiar classic, Bob’s Red Mill popcorn can be topped with herbs, garlic, smoked paprika, and Parmesan.

This is a high-quality product where all kernels pop and nothing is left on the bottom of the bowl or in the popper.

4. Arrowhead Mills Organic White Popcorn

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Another connoisseur’s choice, the Arrowhead Mills organic white popcorn is a low-fat source of fiber, kosher-certified, USDA-certified organic, and non-GMO verified popcorn brand. One popcorn serving has 36 grams of whole grains and 4 grams of protein, and all plants are grown organically.

The Arrowhead Mills popcorn never disappoints as it is truly organic and simply delicious.

5.Snappy White Popcorn

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Considered an ideal choice of popcorn kernels, the Snappy white popcorn has gourmet quality and flavor. Grown in Iowa, America’s heartland, the Snappy popcorn is ready to pop on the stovetop, in the air popper, electric popper, or in a popcorn machine. The kernels are small and they pop in a light and tender puff with almost no hull.

The company is a third-generation family business, exclusively dedicated to growing popcorn.

6.Hoosier Hill Farm Gourmet Mushroom Popcorn

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The Hosier Mushroom popcorn pops in a large, fluffy, and crunchy ball. As it is lightly sweet, it is ideal for gourmet candy corn and other toppings, such as caramel or chocolate. The popcorn is grown, packaged, and shipped from Northeast Indiana.

The Hoosier Hill popcorn pops into large kernels that are very easy to season as they absorb more oil and butter.

7. Fireworks Popcorn Gourmet Popping Corn

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An assortment of 10 varieties of popcorn kernels, the Fireworks gourmet corn is also recommended on Reddit. The 10 popcorn varieties included in the assortment areOrchard blossom, Harvest blend, Red river valley, High mountain midnight, Baby white rice, Savanna gold (2), Sunset fire, Autumn blaze, and Wisconsin white birch. The varieties all have slightly different flavors, kernel sizes, and textures.

Buyers appreciate the wide variety the selection offers and also the fact that the assortment displays heirloom popcorn kernel varieties.

8.Orville Redenbacher’s Gourmet Popcorn Kernels

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The best popcorn brand according to some, the Orville Redenbacher’s gourmet popcorn kernels are very similar to movie theatre popcorn. A yellow-variety popcorn, the Orville Redenbacher popcorn can be cooked on the stovetop, in the microwave, or using an electric popper or an air popper.

9.Great Northern Popcorn

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The best feature of the Great Northern popcorn is the packaging, as the popcorn kernels come together with small bags of coconut oil and butter-flavored salt. This means that no measuring is required as all you need to make the popcorn is inside the pouch. The pouch and the products inside it also guarantee that there will be no over- or under-portioning. The oil is solidified, it melts perfectly and cooks the kernels, flavoring them at the same time.

10.Amish Country Popcorn – 10 Pack Assorted Varieties

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The Amish country popcorn assortment comes in 10 kernel varieties:Medium Yellow, Rainbow, Ladyfinger, Blue, Medium White, Mushroom, Purple, Extra Large, Red, and Baby White. Also, the package comes with several popcorn recipes, which recommend the best use for every variety.

All popcorn kernels are grown in Berne, Indiana, and the popcorn is non-GMO and preservative-free.

Chef’s Pencil is part of the Amazon Associate Program and earns from qualifying purchases. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission,though this not impact the product selection, which is done independently by our editors and contributors.

Gourmet Popcorn Recipes

If you’re ever willing to jazz up your popcorn, try one of the gourmet recipes created by chefs. For instance, chef Amanda fromthechunkychef.comhas come up with two very easy gourmet savory popcorn flavors.

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For theherbed truffle butter popcorn, she cooks 8 cups of sea salt popcorn in a mix of butter, herbs, and truffle oil. The mix includes: 1 tablespoon white truffle oil, 4 tablespoons melted butter, ½ teaspoons minced fresh rosemary, 1 tablespoon minced chives, ½ tablespoon salt, and a pinch of black pepper. When the kernels are popped, add 3 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese and garnish with additional cheese. For thesriracha lime popcorn, the chef cooks the 8 popcorn cups in a mixture of 4 tablespoons melted butter, 2-3 tablespoons sriracha, 1 teaspoon lime zest, and ½ tablespoon lime juice. She advises that after the kernels pop, garnish with minced cilantro if desired.

When cooking popcorn, keep in mind that popcorn oil is also very important as different types of oil react differently to temperature. If you want to find out more about this, read our comprehensivereview for 10 types of popcorn oil.

Chef’s Pencil is part of the Amazon Associate Program and earns from qualifying purchases. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission,though this not impact the product selection, which is done independently by our editors and contributors.

Reviewed: 10 Best Popcorn Kernels - Chef's Pencil (14)

Corina Gruber

Corina is a content writer and blogger with a passion for food and traveling. With over 16 years of experience as a copywriter, content writer, and localization specialist, she has a knack for writing about entertainment and a passion for tech. A foodie and travel enthusiast, she likes to explore everything food-related in her travels and discover traditions and authentic products.

Reviewed: 10 Best Popcorn Kernels - Chef's Pencil (2024)

FAQs

What popcorn is the crunchiest? ›

Red popcorn is smaller than other types of popcorn, so it's a little crunchier. It's similar in size to white popcorn kernels and used for many of the same gourmet applications.

What is the secret of perfect popcorn popping? ›

Cover the pot. SECRET #1: listen for the 3 kernels to POP! Once they pop, remove from the heat and count to 10. Counting to 10 ensures the oil is just under the perfect temperature so that when you add the rest of the kernels, they all begin to pop evenly.

What is the healthiest popcorn to eat? ›

The 10 Best Healthy Popcorn Brands of 2022, According to...
  • How We Chose.
  • Skinny Pop Original.
  • Lesser Evil Himalayan Pink Salt.
  • Quinn Aged Parmesan and Rosemary.
  • Boom Chicka Pop Sweet and Salty Kettle Corn.
  • Bjorn Qorn.
  • Pipcorn Truffle Mini Popcorn.
  • Newman's Own Organic Touch of Butter.
Sep 27, 2022

What popcorn do movie theaters use? ›

Yellow Popcorn

It is the least expensive type of popcorn available, making it a popular choice for businesses looking to offer a cost-effective snack option without compromising quality or flavor. Because of its appealing appearance and taste, yellow popcorn is commonly used for making movie theater popcorn.

What popcorn kernels does AMC use? ›

Pop Weaver Popcorn Kernels - Weaver Gold 50-lb Bag - Butterfly Style Popping Corn. This is the brand and type AMC theaters use for their popcorn. It is formulated to pop larger with more crevices to “grab” the seasonings.

What brand of popcorn pops the most kernels? ›

Orville Redenbacher brand popped left 10 kernels un-popped, Pop Secret left 14 kernels un-popped, and Wal-Mart brand left 23 kernels un-popped. In conclusion, the popcorn brand that popped the most popcorn is Orville Redenbacher compared to Pop Secret and Wal-Mart brand.

How do I make my popcorn very crunchy? ›

In general, 3 tablespoons of oil for 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels tends to be a good ratio to keep your popcorn from getting too chewy.

Is there a difference in the quality of popcorn kernels? ›

Higher quality popcorn is associated with kernels that expand more. This popped corn has a better texture and softness.

Does soaking popcorn in water make it pop better? ›

There isn't enough moisture in unpopped kernels to create the pressure, so they fail to burst and open. To make your popcorn pop better, try soaking the kernels in a bowl of water for 10 minutes and then draining them. Then, pop the kernels as usual.

Should you refrigerate popcorn kernels? ›

A popcorn kernel without water will not pop – which is why you often find kernels at the bottom of the bowl – these guys didn't have enough moisture to pop. DO NOT store your kernels in the refrigerator, as this will also cause the kernels to dry out.

What is the secret ingredient in popcorn? ›

The flavor all comes down to one ingredient: Flavacol. You've likely never heard of Flavacol because, really, only movie theaters use it. Essentially, it's butter-flavored salt. It's a really fine, bright orange powder that adds that buttery flavor you crave and the signature yellow color.

What is the most unhealthy popcorn? ›

Unhealthiest: Orville Redenbacher's Ultimate Butter

Each bag contains 2.5 servings, and the popcorn is made using palm oil. Since portion size is a relative concept, with many of us polishing off a full bag in one sitting, that saturated fat and sodium can quickly add up.

Is popcorn OK to eat everyday? ›

However, moderation is key. Even though it is much more filling than many other snack foods, it can still be fattening if you eat too much of it. Popcorn is high in fiber, relatively low in calories and has a low energy density. Eating it in moderation may help with weight loss.

Is Orville Redenbacher real? ›

Orville Redenbacher isn't just a brand name; he was a real person. Born in 1907 in a small town in Indiana, Orville was named after Orville Wright of the Wright brothers. His father was a farmer, and Orville got involved in agriculture from a young age. At just 12, he started a small business growing popcorn.

Which popcorn kernel is better? ›

So, now you know. If you want a smaller, more tender popcorn flake, use white kernels. Yellow kernels will give you larger, fluffier flakes that are sturdy. You probably won't find popcorn labeled as snowflake or mushroom on grocery store shelves; they're nearly all snowflake.

Is Orville Redenbacher better than Jolly Time? ›

We liked Orville Redenbacher's the best because of its smooth butter flavor, which was evenly distributed over the popcorn. Jolly Time tasted most closely like movie theater popcorn and came in second place. Act II came in third, Newman's Own came in fourth, and Pop Secret came in last.

What is the most famous popcorn in the world? ›

What Is the Most Popular Brand of Popcorn?
  • Orville Redenbacher's. A leading brand known for its gourmet popping corn. ...
  • Pop Secret. Popular for its range of flavors and microwave popcorn. ...
  • SkinnyPop. Praised for its simple ingredients and no artificial additives. ...
  • Act II. ...
  • Jolly Time. ...
  • Smartfood. ...
  • Angie's BOOMCHICKAPOP. ...
  • Quinn.

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