Best Popcorn Kernels 2018 – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

Homemade popcorn is one of my favorite snacks, but I have come across a few types of kernels that either did not pop well or taste good. Most of the time, I use an air popper to make popcorn, but sometimes I make it using hot oil on the stove.

Once in a while, I make homemade popcorn in the microwave. Instead of playing a guessing game every time I shop for the best popcorn kernels, I decided to do some research and look into which kernels are the best for making popcorn at home.

The information that I found has already helped me save money on popcorn that does not pop well or taste good. I think this information will be helpful to you the next time you decide to make popcorn for a healthy and tasty snack for yourself or your family.

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How to Choose Kernels for Making Popcorn on the Stove

When making popcorn on the stove, you need a kernel that can withstand the heat in order to cook properly before it opens up. Kernels that just soak up the oil without being cooked inside will result in pieces of popcorn that are small and oily rather than big and fluffy.

Look for a kernel that has a rounder shape rather than one that is elongated. A round kernel will cook evenly and not absorb as much oil through its covering.

According to this article, cooking the kernels evenly will help ensure that nearly all of them pop and none of them are overcooked or burned.

In the video below, you can learn how to heat up the oil and add the kernels without making a mess or getting splashed by the hot grease. The heated oil can get up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, so make sure to wear hot pads or oven mitts when making popcorn at home with this technique.

Kernels for Using Hot Air Poppers to Make Popcorn

best-popcorn-kernels-hot-air-popper

Via nostalgiaelectrics.com

A hot air popper uses a different method to pop the kernels. With the hot air popper, a motor within the machine's metal or plastic housing blows hot air through perforations in the chamber that holds the popcorn.

The kernels swirl around and get heated as they move. Once the internal temperature of the kernel reaches the critical point, it pops open. As more and more kernels pop, the chamber fills. The popped kernels are pushed out of the machine's spout by the action of the hot air.

This method does not require the use of any oil, which means that your bowl of popcorn will be a healthier snack option than if you made it on the stovetop. The drawbacks of using a hot air popper include a slightly chewier texture and an increase in the number of unpopped kernels.

Because your finished popcorn will be flavorless, you'll probably want to add some salt or seasoning. If you are using a powdered seasoning and need it to stick to the popcorn, you can use a can of buttery or unflavored nonstick cooking spray.

Push down on the button and spray for one second. Toss the kernels around and spray them again for one second. You can then sprinkle your desired seasoning onto the popcorn.

Kernel Options for Homemade Microwave Popcorn

best-popcorn-kernels-microwave

Via bostonherald.com

Microwave popcorn purchased at the store can be a lot pricier per serving than other methods of making popcorn at home. Fortunately, you can make your own microwave popcorn at home for a low cost. To do this, choose a kernel that is round in shape for optimal absorption of the oil.

You will need a paper lunch bag, 3 tablespoons of unpopped kernels and 1 tablespoon of the oil of your choosing. Put the kernels into the bag, pour in the oil, roll the bag shut and shake the bag for one minute to evenly coat the kernels. Put the paper bag into the microwave and heat it on full power for 90 seconds.

If the time between pops is more than two seconds, shut off the microwave and take the bag out so that the popcorn does not burn.

Proportion of Popped KernelsWhen you spend your money on popcorn, you do not want to have to throw away half of the batch because some kernels did not pop. In addition to following the popping instructions on the package, you can also make sure that you follow the directions on your popper if you're using one.

The age of the popcorn factors into how well it pops. The way you store the popcorn is also important. Popcorn that is carefully sealed so that it is not exposed to air will stay fresher and pop better. Different brands of popcorn have different popping success rates.

Holding the Seasoning

best-popcorn-kernels-hot-

Via lyellowblissroad.com

If you like to put salt, butter or cheese powder onto your popcorn, you'll want a kernel that grabs onto the seasoning. Some kernels have too soft of a texture, and all the butter or salt will end up on the bottom of your bowl.

It's important to find a kernel that has just enough texture to it to hold onto the seasoning whether you like lots of butter or a little bit of salt.

5 Best Popcorn Kernels On Today's Market

*Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.

Country Harvest Popcorn Portion-Pack for 4-Ounce Poppers

The Country Harvest Popcorn is a unique product because it comes in pre-measured servings that make it easy to create one batch at a time.

When popped, this popcorn has a slight tint of the yellow color of the hull. If you cook this popcorn in oil on the stove, it will grow to a large size.

Most of my kernels were as large as a quarter in diameter. When I used the microwave and hot air popper methods with this popcorn, the kernels came out smaller at about the diameter of a nickel. Most of my kernels were as large as a quarter in diameter. When I used the microwave and hot air popper methods with this popcorn, the kernels came out smaller at about the diameter of a nickel.

The flavor of this popcorn is slightly nutty; it had a hint of peanut or walnut flavoring when I tried it although there are no nut ingredients.

93
/100

Editor's Rating: 93/100

Price on Amazon: $33.99


Pros

  • This popcorn has a medium density and a high level of crunchiness when prepared in olive oil.
  • Nearly all of the kernels popped when using the hot oil stovetop method of cooking.

Cons

  • There are more unpopped kernels when using oils other than olive oil on the stovetop.
  • These kernels are pricier per ounce compared with other types of popcorn.
  • This popcorn comes in a plastic bag that can be difficult to handle.
  • This popcorn comes in a plastic bag that can be difficult to handle.

Wabash Valley Farms Amish Country Gourmet Popping Corn

Via Amazon.com

Wabash Valley Farms Country Gourmet Popcorn kernels feature a rounded shape, which is helpful if you plan to pop on the stove or using the do-it-yourself microwaving method.

Included in each bag of the Wabash Valley Farms Country Gourmet Popcorn is a pre-measured amount of coconut oil and seasoning. These yellow kernels contain no trans fats or cholesterol.

This popcorn comes in 6-pound bags, which is ideal for making large quantities of popcorn as a treat, but the kernels might end up becoming stale if the entire bag isn't used up at once. This popcorn comes in 6-pound bags, which is ideal for making large quantities of popcorn as a treat, but the kernels might end up becoming stale if the entire bag isn't used up at once.

Due to the oil being included, this type of kernel is not meant for a hot air popper.

91
/100

Editor's Rating: 91/100

Price on Amazon: from $5.99


Pros

  • The popped kernels are not greasy or chewy.
  • Seasoning is included, which means that you will not have to guess how much to use.

Cons

  • If you do not like coconut oil, this may not be your best option.
  • The finished popcorn may taste too salty to some people.
  • Butter does not stick well to the popped kernels.
  • If you do not make the entire bag, the rest of it is difficult to store, and the kernels might go stale.
  • Butter does not stick well to the popped kernels.
  • If you do not make the entire bag, the rest of it is difficult to store, and the kernels might go stale.

Paragon Bulk Bag Yellow PopCorn

Via Amazon.com

Paragon Bulk Yellow popcorn comes in a large, 12.5-pound bag that is bulky, so you'll need to put it in another container to store it in the pantry. The oblong, yellowish kernels are uniform in shape.

When I popped them, they performed equally well in the microwave and on the stovetop, but I had a lot of duds when I used them in a hot air popper.

The popcorn had a slightly sweet and nutty flavor when cooked in oil, and it was drier when I prepared it with the hot air method. The popped kernels are big, measuring between a nickel and a quarter in diameter.The popcorn had a slightly sweet and nutty flavor when cooked in oil , and it was drier when I prepared it with the hot air method. The popped kernels are big, measuring between a nickel and a quarter in diameter.

89
/100

Editor's Rating: 89/100

Price on Amazon: $27.94


Pros

  • The large popped kernel size means that each kernel can get nicely coated with the seasoning.
  • The popping results are better when the kernels are made in small batches.
  • These popped kernels hold butter and other seasonings well and do not get soggy even if you use a lot of butter.

Cons

  • The large amount of popcorn in this bag is difficult to handle and store.
  • The amount of unpopped kernels varies between batches.
  • If not stored in a sealed container, the popcorn kernels can quickly become stale.

Orville Redenbacher Popcorn Kernel Jug

Via Amazon.com

Orville Redenbacher is a well-known brand of popcorn that comes in yellow, round kernels. Because this is a large jug of popcorn, it can be a good option if you eat popcorn every couple of days or make large batches once a week.

If you only eat popcorn once a month, these kernels will get stale before you can use them all. The popped kernels are light and fluffy and are of a uniform shape and size.

This kind of popcorn works best in hot oil or with the do-it-yourself microwave bags. When I used popcorn kernels from the Orville Redenbacher Popcorn Kernel Jug in the hot air popper, I got a lot of unpopped kernels. This kind of popcorn works best in hot oil or with the do-it-yourself microwave bags. When I used popcorn kernels from the Orville Redenbacher Popcorn Kernel Jug in the hot air popper, I got a lot of unpopped kernels.

84
/100

Editor's Rating: 84/100

Price on Amazon: from $12.55


Pros

  • These popcorn kernels are easy to pour into the container for popping.
  • This container is easy to store in the pantry.
  • This popcorn is certified as non-GMO and grown without the use of any pesticides.
  • The hulls stay attached to the popped kernels.

Cons

  • Some of the kernels don't open all the way when popped.
  • The jar may be inconvenient to store because of its larger size.
  • The popcorn may become stale before it can be used.

Bob's Red Mill Whole White Popcorn

Via Amazon.com

Bob's Red Mill Whole White Popcorn is oblong in shape. The hulls are pale white, and the popped kernels are bright white.

These kernels popped well in my hot air popper; there were only a few left unpopped. The kernels did not do so well when they were heated with oil. When hot oil was used, about 10 to 20 percent of the kernels did not pop.

The hulls mostly stayed attached to the kernels, but I did notice that I had some hulls stuck in my mouth after eating this kind of popcorn. If you wear braces or have dental work, these hulls could be difficult to remove.The hulls mostly stayed attached to the kernels, but I did notice that I had some hulls stuck in my mouth after eating this kind of popcorn. If you wear braces or have dental work, these hulls could be difficult to remove.

80
/100

Editor's Rating: 80/100

Price on Amazon: $2.84


Pros

  • This popcorn has a fluffy texture and does not have any tough or chewy spots.
  • The kernels popped all the way in my hot air popper, and there were no half-popped pieces.

Cons

  • The plastic bag that holds the kernels is flimsy and easy to tear, so a separate container may be needed.
  • The kernels are hard to pour out of the plastic bag unless you only make a tiny hole.
  • A portion of the kernels did not pop when cooked in oil.
  • A portion of the kernels did not pop when cooked in oil.

My Pick

best-popcorn-kernels-seasoning

Via loveandlemons.com

After testing all of these products using various cooking methods, I found that the best popcorn kernels were the Country Harvest Popcorn brand.

The robust hulls added a touch of flavor that was deeper and fresher than any of the other products. The kernels popped well no matter which method of cooking I used. The good size of the kernels allowed them to get nicely covered in the sea salt, powdered seasoning or butter that I tested them with.

This popcorn even tasted good when I did not add anything extra. If you want a type of kernel that you can cook at home using your hot air popper or stovetop for a perfect snack, the Country Harvest brand is a great choice.

What is your favorite method of cooking popcorn? Did you like this article? Please share it with fellow popcorn lovers and post your comments below!

Paula Hughes
 

I’m Paula, and I’m absolutely in love with food blogs. I’m a foodie at heart but being the mother of two small boys, it’s not always easy to keep up with fancy dinners… so I rely on the support of other blogging moms like me to help along the way. Contact me at Paula@authoritysitemaster.com

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 5 comments
Rick - December 17, 2016

Hi Paula, thanks for the popcorn review. I am going to try the Country Harvest popcorn. I don’t know how this started but a co-worker of mine and I got on the topic of popcorn. Turns out we are both popcorn lovers and have been trying to duplicate the popcorn you get at the movie theater. I am certain that my co-worker has perfected the technique and the last time I ate popcorn at the theater I felt that it wasn’t as good as what I can make at home. So I am going to share what I have learned. So first off my co-worker swears by the whirly-pop that you hand crank on the stove. I am lazy so I like my electric popper that has the stirring bar/wire in it. We use coconut oil but if you want that yellow movie theater color then we use Snappy brand colored popcorn oil. It is colored with beta carotene to give it the yellow color so it’s not some weird chemical or dye. We put a couple of heaping tablespoons in our popcorn makers. Then we add a teaspoon of the Flavacol Popcorn seasoning salt into the popcorn maker. I like mine a little saltier so I use a heaping teaspoon, but be careful because a little goes a long way. Then we add our popcorn, one even layer, I use Orville Redenbacher and he uses Jolly Time but now I want to try the Country Harvest. Then you pop your popcorn. Then after it’s done we dump our popcorn into a bowl. Now, here is the biggest secret to perfecting the popcorn! I used to add melted butter but always found that it made my popcorn soggy. My co-worker said that you have to use Ghee (clarified butter). So I tried it and it does not make you popcorn soggy! It’s amazing. Now I know Ghee can be expensive but it’s really easy to make. So that all there is to it. You can find the Snappy and Flavacol (and Ghee) on Amazon but just google ghee recipes and save money there!

Reply
Paula Hughes - December 20, 2016

Hello Rick! Wow! That’s a really awesome trick! My mouth waters whenever I’m passing through the movie house. And truly, the mouthwatering smell is enough to entice me into me into watching a movie I may not even be planning to see. I am trying these tricks over the weekend. I also used to add melted butter on my homemade popcorn, but I haven’t tried ghee on my popcorn before. And you’re right, butter can leave the popcorn soggy. Thanks a lot for the tip! Happy holidays!!!

Reply
    Rick - December 29, 2016

    Hi again Paula! I got my Country Harvest popcorn in the mail and it popped great, with very few unpopped kernsls. So thank you for the recommendation. So, it was a popcorn Christmas because I received a Kernel Katcher Popcorn Bowl! This thing is cool because it acts as a sieve to let the unpopped kernal go through the bowl, leaving you with only popped popcorn, yay! Just wanted to let you know about that nifty option available out there in popcorn land. Happy holidays to you!

    Reply
Paula Hughes - December 30, 2016

Glad to hear from you again, Rick! Haha yeah, can be quite annoying having to sift through the popcorn and getting the unpopped ones out. This will be very useful, especially since we’ve been having a lot of movie nights the past couple of weeks and kids are digging into the popcorn bowl right along with everyone else. LOL, they are still at that age wherein they don’t realize that unpopped kernels are not any good. Happy holidays to you, too, Rick!

Reply
billy - January 6, 2017

you guys should add this to cornhub

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