Delving into a bag of popcorn is not just meant for the movies. They are an easy snack to enjoy anywhere at any time - and we mean, anywhere.
For example, imagine going on a long hike in the middle of nowhere and you start to feel super hungry. You then realize with excitement that you have a tasty bag of popcorn waiting to be engulfed within your backpack.
Not only can they be a healthier option when it comes to a snack, but they also fill in the gaps between meals when you are hungry, yet it is too close (but also too far away) to dinner time - you know the feeling.
With so many available to choose from, it can be a nightmare just trying to pick one out to take on that hike with you. However, that is okay, because we have already done the hard work for you.
So, sit back and be prepared to feel hungry as we take you through the top 5 popcorn picks, as well as a handy buyer’s guide to help you choose the right packet of popped popcorn.
Best Bagged Popcorns
OUR TOP PICK
If you are looking for a healthier bag of popped popcorn, then the Boom Chicka Pop popcorn is going to be your new favorite go-to.
Containing only 40 calories per recommended cup serving size, and absolutely no trans fat - the stuff that if eaten in high amounts can put you at risk of heart disease - it is a great healthier option.
With a large 4.4 oz bag it will be enough to share with at least two other people, but that is if you stick to the recommended serving size.
If you do not plan to share, then you will notice that the bag is not resealable. This means that you will need to transfer the contents to an air-tight container so the popcorn does not go soft and stale quickly.
It is lightly covered in sea salt for some extra taste, and also includes sunflower oil. Other than that, there are no other ingredients added. Having a more simple ingredients list lets you know exactly what you are eating without the fuss of googling what something is.
Due to this, it is completely vegan and gluten-free, and is a great way to get some whole grain into your diet. Who said eating popcorn was unhealthy?
- Healthy option - includes no trans fat and low in calories
- 3 ingredients - simple to know what is included
- 4.4 oz bag - great to share
- Non-resealable - if you do not want to share, you will need to transfer it to an air-tight container
Sometimes you just need help with portion control rather than trying to figure it out for yourself. This is where separate, snack-size bags come into play.
They are also a lot more convenient, meaning you will not need to house the rest of the food into a separate container to keep it fresh, unlike the Boom Chicka Pop variety.
Smartfood popcorn come in separate bags which are great to have on-the-go or to keep inside a backpack. Its notorious black bags are known to house deliciously tasty popcorn that is ready to eat.
Made using real cheese, the bag boasts a low calorie count of 100. Due to the cheese flavor, they are not as healthy as a low salted bag of popcorn, but are still not as terrible as caramel flavored popcorn. So if you want something that sits somewhere in the middle, this is it.
They do have a short shelf life of 60-90 days. So for freshness and to keep the flavor unimpaired, they must be eaten within the date shown on the packet. However, that is still a long time to get through popcorn!
- Low calories - 100 per pack
- Real cheese - for better flavor
- Separate snack bags - for better convenience and portion control
- Short shelf life - 60-90 days, but that is more than enough time to get through the popcorn
Having made popcorn for the last 90 years, Wise Snacks most definitely know a thing or two about making it fluffy and irresistible.
They also have snack-sized bags available which can help with portion control and overall convenience, such as if you want to travel with some popcorn in your bag.
These are slightly bigger than the Smartfood popcorn at 1.75 ounce per bag. Each portion is also only 50 calories, making it an ideal option if you are concerned about the calories you are consuming every day.
They do not actually include real butter, and instead use flavoring. Whilst some might think it ruins the overall experience of buttery popcorn, it does make it a much healthier option if you want buttered popcorn but without the health worries of real butter.
- 50 calories - low in fat
- Snack bags - great for portion control and convenience
- Experts in the field - have been making popcorn for 90 years
- Not real butter - uses flavoring, however it is much healthier
Known for their low fat popcorn snacks, at 39 calories per cup, SkinnyPop is ideal for those who want something healthier that will not add to the waistline.
With 4.4 ounces worth of popcorn, this big bag will have you sorted for a while. It is a great option if you are planning to share it during an afternoon of Netflix, or if you plan to put some into lunchboxes.
Whilst sea salt is a great flavor alone, SkinnyPop teams it with pepper for a subtle, heat-like twist.
It is also highly inexpensive compared to other brands without compromising on taste or quality.
Just like with the Boom Chicka Pop, you cannot reseal the bag. This means you will have to find other ways to keep the popcorn fresh without it going stale fast. An air-tight container should do the trick at keeping it edible for longer.
- 4.4 oz - a big bag of popcorn goodness
- Low calorie - only 39 calories per cup
- Great flavor - with minimal ingredients
- Inexpensive - great value for the size of package
- Non-resealable packaging - will go stale quicker
If you want sweet and more sweet, and do not care so much about counting calories, then you are going to love the Crunch ‘n Munch Birthday Cake popcorn.
This one is all about savouring the delicious flavor of cake batter, mini sugar cookie pieces and rainbow sprinkles. Believe it or not, this is exactly what each piece of popcorn includes.
Whilst this is not the healthiest, not every snack needs to be. It is a fun and sweet twist on popcorn and is great as a surprise snack or to eat something different.
The big 5.5 ounce bag is resealable to help the popcorn stay fresh. That means no need to store any in an air-tight container. Hooray!
Even though it is higher in sugar than the others in this list, the 140 calories per serving is not actually an astonishing amount. However, it does have a lot of ingredients included compared to the others, which had about 4 at most.
Again, this is not a bad thing, especially when eaten in moderation. So have your cake and it.
- 5.5 ounce bag - a lot of popcorn to eat
- Resealable bag - it can stay fresh for longer
- A fun snack - that does not taste like popcorn
- A lot of ingredients - compared to basic popcorn
- Very sweet - high in sugar
Best Bagged Popcorns Buying Guide
As promised, here is the buyer’s guide which looks at the key areas to understand when purchasing a bag of popped popcorn.
Healthy vs Unhealthy
Popcorn is always a better choice than choosing a bag of chips. Whilst chips have a high portion of salt and sugar, it may also include ingredients which can over time, if too much is consumed, cause illnesses like heart disease.
Popcorn on the other hand can be made using little, or no, ingredients. The healthiest option is to eat popcorn plain, but after a while, this can become very boring. Other flavors out there include sea salt, pepper and cheese, amongst more sweeter ingredients.
Whilst popcorn becomes unhealthier as more ingredients are added, it is still a much better option than choosing chips.
Also, like all snacks, they are there to be eaten in moderation, so if you want to indulge in a bag of sugar coated popcorn, then every once in a while that is absolutely fine.
When we think of popcorn, we imagine thrusting our hands into a share bag. As popcorn has grown in popularity as a snack, it is now available in single portion bags. This has made it even easier to eat popcorn as a snack.
Whilst the individual snack bags are convenient, you can still buy a big 5 ounce share bag. Nothing says sitting down for a movie than sharing some popcorn, and these allow for you to pour it into a bowl and pass it around.
What it does not do is allow for you to pick a portion size out and hope that the popcorn inside the bag stays fresh. Unless it is resealable, you will have to put the remaining popcorn into an air-tight container to keep it edible for longer.
Popcorn is known for its sweet and salty flavors, and the best part? Popcorn does not need a long list of ingredients to make it satisfying on the taste buds.
The majority of popcorn has 3 ingredients: the popcorn itself, an oil and flavoring like salt. The more extravagant the flavor, the more the ingredients expand - but you know this already.
If ingredients are a big thing for you, and you like to know what you are consuming, then snacking on popped popcorn is the way to go.
If you are on a specialized diet that requires a lower calorie count, then popcorn is a good addition if you still want something that makes you feel full, has great flavor, and does not include a lot of calories.
Something like the SkinnyPop popcorn only includes 39 calories per cup, and the Boom Chicka Pop only includes 40 calories per portion size.
It will not only help you with your dietary concerns, but it will also give you that much needed fix for a sweet or savory snack, without it adding to the waistline.
Allergies and Food Choices
When it comes to food, there are many reasons why some of us can not eat certain things. Popcorn is a great option for those who have gluten allergies, or who may be vegan or eat kosher.
If any of these apply to you, then you can most certainly eat the majority of popcorn unless it states otherwise.
Due to the simple ingredients and only being made from whole grain corn, they are suitable for most diets.
Once certain toppings are added, then things may change, but if you stick to basic, yet tasty, ingredients, then you may find that it is suitable to include into your diet as a fulfilling snack.
When buying popcorn, always choose air popped. It is the healthiest popcorn available to buy, and it has the least calories due to it not including oil during the kernel popping stage.
You can also eat air popped popcorn plain which is beneficial due to its low calorie and low sugar content, as well as it being high in fiber to help with the digestive system.
Always look out for air popped popcorn if you are wanting a snack or needing popcorn to eat as you Netflix the evening away.
Popcorn is a relatively inexpensive food item which you can buy in large quantities making it good value for money. You also get so much popcorn within a large bag that it can last several days if you are only taking a portion out each time to add to a snackbox.
You can also buy portion ready bags which again are great value for money. So, if you are on a budget or wanting to generally save some money because you keep buying expensive snacks, then popcorn is the way to go.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is bagged popcorn healthier than microwave popcorn?
It is a lot healthier to buy air popped bagged popcorn rather than microwaving the popcorn kernels yourself. Not only does bagged popcorn contain less sodium and calories, it includes more fiber.
Microwavable popcorn also includes more trans fat. If there is too much added to your diet, you are much more likely to suffer from heart disease and other problems related to health.
Can you eat popcorn before bed?
Whilst we should not eat too much within the couple of hours before bed, popcorn will not keep you up at night.
It is a complex carbohydrate which is low in both fat and protein. Basically, it is easy to digest. Just keep it plain if you plan to eat it closer to bedtime.
Is eating bagged popcorn better than chips?
In short, yes. If you opt for plain or low salt varieties, then popcorn will always win this fight, hands down. However, if you add in sweet toppings, then it will not be better than eating a bag of chips.
What is the healthiest kind of popcorn?
When it comes to popcorn, what makes it unhealthy is the toppings. If you want to eat the healthiest version, then choose a popcorn which is completely unflavored (no salt or sugar added), and is air popped.
Which one is the healthiest out of yellow or white popcorn?
Apart from being aesthetically pleasing on the eye, neither of them are healthier than the other. In fact they are both exactly the same.
Why choose air popped popcorn?
You may have heard that air popped popcorn is the healthiest. Well, that is correct. Due to it not needing oil during the process of ‘popping’, it has the least amount of calories.
Is microwaving popcorn bad?
Microwaving popcorn is not the worst thing to do per se, but some contain chemicals that coat the inside of the bag and in large quantities, this may prove harmful to the lungs. Even so, microwaving popcorn at home will not cause an issue.
How can I make movie theatre popcorn at home using air popped popcorn?
Whilst it is not the healthiest, it can be fun to eat occasionally, and doing it yourself allows for you to see how much of the ingredients you are adding in.
Put plain air popped popcorn into a bowl and mix it with either lots of salt, sugar or melted butter. It really is that easy to make popcorn as if you were sitting eating it at the movies.