The Best Popcorn Kernels

Unpopped Popcorn

Popcorn is a light and airy snack. It can be made in various ways, from on the stovetop to using an air popper. Though the microwavable options offer convenience, popping your own kernels gives you better fresh and tasty popcorn. 

When shopping for popcorn kernels, there are a lot of different options. If you get overwhelmed when looking to buy, search no further because we have rounded up the best popcorn kernels. The best ones we chose win the top spot in three of our categories- best overall, best organic, and best for flavors option. The others are our top ten runners-up. 

Let’s take a look at all of the best popcorn kernels and break it down. One thing to note before we get started is that all popcorn is naturally gluten-free. 

Tiny But Mighty Heirloom Popcorn – Best Overall 

Tiny But Mighty Heirloom Popcorn - Best Overall

Tiny But Mighty Heirloom Popcorn is non-hybridized corn that has kept the same lineage since the 1850s, making it a rare type of popcorn kernel. The Tiny But Mighty Heirloom Popcorn is our best overall winner because of their attention to keeping to the roots and history of popcorn, not to mention it has been a favorite for centuries. Here are some other benefits:

Benefits:

  • Hulless, small, and fluffy
  • 20 ounces bag that makes 70 cups of popcorn
  • Autism approved by the Autism Hope Alliance
  • Non-GMO

Franklin’s Gourmet Organic Popcorn Kernels – Best Organic

Franklin’s Gourmet Organic Popcorn Kernels- Best Organic

Franklin’s popcorn was created from a man’s obsession with movie theater popcorn who set out to create a better for you brand with the same classic taste. They have been successful in their ventures, with customers always raving about this popcorn. 

They win our title of best organic popcorn kernels because of their commitment to providing the highest quality product, locally sourced, with great flavor. Here are some of the benefits:  

Benefits:

  • Organic, Non-GMO
  • Sourced from family farms in Iowa
  • Money-back guarantee
  • Large and fluffy

Hoosier Hill Farm Gourmet Mushroom Popcorn Kernels – Best For Flavors

Hoosier Hill Farm Gourmet Mushroom Popcorn Kernels- Best For Flavors

Mushroom popcorn is the type of popcorn that you typically see caramel corn made out of. Hoosier Hill makes a great one in addition to their other varieties. These mushroom popcorn kernels are our top choice for flavored popcorns because the shape makes them perfect for adding seasonings and coatings. Here are the benefits: 

Benefits:

  • Non-GMO
  • Grown, packaged, and shipped from the same location in Indiana
  • Ideal round shape for flavored popcorn
  • Several sizes to choose from and wholesale if needed

Amish Country Ladyfinger Popcorn

Ladyfinger Popcorn
Photo Credit: Eclecticyellowhouse.com

Amish Country popcorn has a lot of variety, but a fan favorite is their Ladyfinger. Keep in mind that since the Ladyfinger variety is the smallest of all kernels, they don’t recommend air popping. Nonetheless, here are some great benefits of Amish Country popcorn:

Benefits:

  • Hulless
  • Tender
  • Comes in 14-ounce bottles to 25lb bags
  • Small, great for eating by the handful

Bob’s Red Mill Resealable White Popcorn

Bob’s Red Mill Resealable White Popcorn

Bob’s Red Mill is known for its resealable bags, which make for easy storage. The white popcorn comes in the resealable bag as well and has a lot of other benefits such as:

Benefits:

  • No added oil or salt
  • 100% Whole-grain
  • Classic flavor
  • Perfect 30oz size bag

Arrowhead Mills popcorn comes in both white and yellow varieties, but their white popcorn is the definite favorite of many. Here are some of the great benefits of the white popcorn variety.

Benefits:

  • Organic
  • Now comes in a resealable bag
  • 24-ounce bag
  • No added ingredients

Snappy’s white popcorn is often called “the best of the west” by their loyalists. Some of the benefits of Snappy White popcorn kernels include:

Benefits:

  • Smaller hull for fluffier popcorn
  • Old-fashioned popcorn taste
  • Comes in multiple sizes, including bulk sizing
  • Third-generation family-owned

Black Jewel has been around for more than 50 years, and over the years, their black popcorn has gained some attraction. Here are some benefits of Black Jewel kernels.

Benefits:

  • Hulless
  • Grown on family farms
  • Non-GMO
  • Heirloom black corn that pops white

Orville Redenbacher is probably the most well-known brand that you’ll find on your list. Why? Because they have been supplying great popcorn for years! Here are the benefits of Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn kernels: 

Benefits:

  • Non-GMO
  • Classic butterfly kernels
  • Packing to lower carbon emissions
  • Various sizes to choose from

Anthony’s sells many different pantry staples, but their yellow popcorn kernels are a customer favorite. Here are some benefits to their popcorn kernels:

Benefits:

  • Grown and packaged in California
  • Organic, Non-GMO
  • Each batch is tested for gluten
  • Various sized packaging with bulk pricing

Dutchman’s hulless white popcorn kernels are made in America and known for having very few unpopped kernels after popping. Some other benefits include:

Benefits:

  • Comes in a nice glass jar with refill bags available for purchase
  • Hulless
  • Medium size and sweet
  • Non-GMO

Preferred Popcorn has been around since the 1950s and prides itself on sustainable farming while still growing delicious popcorn kernels. Some of the benefits of their yellow popcorn include: 

Benefits:

  • Organic, Non-GMO
  • Kosher
  • Made in the USA
  • 28-ounce bags that pop up to 150 cups of popcorn

Pop Secret is another big brand that a lot of people know about. Though they have many different varieties, their unpopped jumbo popping corn is a customer favorite. Here are some of the benefits: 

Benefits:

  • ½ cup measuring cap
  • Large and fluffy
  • Few unpopped kernels
  • Non-GMO

Buying Guide

Though many of us have never even realized that there were different types of popcorn, as it turns out, there are a lot of options. So let us help you make the best decision for you with this buying guide. 

Types of Popcorn

Every type of popcorn has a different flavor, texture, and shape. There are several varieties of corn and, therefore, several types of popcorn. Here are some of the different types of popcorn and their features so that you can decide which qualities are best for you.

  • Mushroom: pops into a ball, great for candied popcorn
  • Midnight Blue: Hulless but still slightly crunchy
  • Medium Yellow: Classic popcorn flavor with a medium size
  • Baby Yellow: Tender and small pieces
  • Ladyfinger: Tender, hulless, small pieces
  • Medium White Hulless: Medium size, tender texture
  • Baby White: Small size, crunchier 
  • Extra Large Yellow: Large and fluffy with classic taste
  • Black Heirloom: Balck kernels that pop into medium, fluffy white pieces

Organic and Non-GMO vs. Genetically Modified

Many people don’t understand food labels, and for a good reason- they’re confusing! Every symbol and wording means something different. Above in the product reviews, you would have noticed some terms like Non-GMO and organic so let’s break down the difference so you can make the choice that is right for you. 

Organic 

For something to be deemed organic, it goes through the USDA, which is a standard regulated by government guidelines. To get the USDA-certified organic label, the product must be free of GMOs, antibiotics, growth hormones, artificial colors, preservatives, artificial flavors, synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, irradiation, or sewage sludge. Additionally, the processes and facilities are regularly tested. Though many of these don’t apply to popcorn production, it gives you an idea of how strict the process is.

Non-GMO

The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit organization that uses third-party testing to verify that a product is free of genetically modified organisms. To get the Non-GMO seal, the product and any feed must be GMO-free. Just because it is certified Non-GMO does not mean that it doesn’t have other harmful ingredients. It just means that there are no genetically modified organisms in the product. 

Genetically Modified

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are living things whose genetic material has been modified in a lab. For example, corn has historically been modified to resist drought and increase production. The problem that many people cite with GMOs is that the genetic modifications create combinations that do not occur in nature, which creates the possibility to have differences in nutrition, undesired side effects, gene transfer, or allergic response. 

The Difference

The main difference is that all organic products are Non-GMO because of the standards that go into becoming certified, which we listed above. However, not all non-GMO products are organic because there is no other testing for harmful ingredients with the non-GMO seal. 

Genetically modified organisms are neither non-GMO nor organic. If you are conscious about what you put in your body, you might consider popcorn that is organic since the testing is so rigorous.

Kernel Size

Many of the different varieties of popcorn come in different kernel sizes. Ladyfinger and baby kernels are the smallest, while sizing goes all the way up to extra large. Choosing the size best for you often includes deciding whether you like to eat popcorn by the individual piece or the handful. Smaller sizes tend to be better for handful eating, but larger ones tend to be better for eating by the piece. 

Hulless vs. Regular Popcorn

Hull holds the popcorn together. When we say that it is a hulless popcorn, it still has a hull. It’s just softer and thinner, meaning that the hull will break into smaller pieces when the popcorn pops. 

Hulless popcorn is great for those that don’t like popcorn getting stuck in their teeth. The hulls are what get stuck in your teeth, so when they are thinner and break into smaller pieces, they get stuck less often. However, regular popcorn with the hulls tends to be crunchier, which means that if you desire a super crunchy taste in your popcorn, traditional popcorn would be best for you. 

Fluffy Popcorn is a Tasty Snack

No matter which popcorn kernels you choose, popcorn is always a favorite family snack. The popcorn kernels on this list are the best popcorn kernels, according to thousands of reviews. As you can see, there are so many different types than just the classic movie theater popcorn, which means that you are sure to find one that you like. Happy snacking!

FAQs

What is the best unpopped popcorn to buy?

The best-unpopped popcorn to buy is Tiny But Mighty Heirloom Popcorn because they use the same kernel as they did in the 1800s. 

Which popcorn kernels are best?

Hulless popcorn kernels are the best because they get stuck in your teeth less and create a fluffier popcorn.

What is the healthiest popcorn kernel?

The healthiest popcorn kernel is Franklin’s Gourmet Organic Popcorn Kernels because of their commitment to being organic and locally sourced in Iowa. 

What kind of popcorn kernels do movie theaters use?

Most of them use medium yellow kernel popcorn.

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