Best Popcorn For Keto

Keto can be an effective diet plan for people looking to lose weight. It works differently from traditional diets, as it stipulates a high fat intake, with reduced protein and very low amounts of carbohydrates. 

This encourages the body to learn to burn fat rather than carbohydrate for energy, by severely restricting how much carbohydrate you consume.

Any high-carbohydrate foods are cut out, as well as many fruits, vegetables, and sugary products. There are a number of known side effects, including constipation, kidney stones and high cholesterol.

The worst thing about following a keto diet is that you can’t enjoy the same tasty foods, right?

Wrong - there are plenty of keto-friendly versions of all your favorite snacks available on the market, and you usually don’t even have to visit a specialist store to get your hands on them. 

Popcorn is a little more tricky, because it is naturally high in carbohydrates, which you need to avoid as much as possible.

This doesn’t mean you have to cut out popcorn completely, though; the key to eating popcorn on a keto diet is to consume it in moderation. 

The recommended serving of popcorn for keto is one cup, as this should contain only around 5g of carbs while still satisfying your craving.

Many stores stock interesting flavors of popcorn, both mid-range and gourmet, that you can pick up without issue; however most of these are not the most suitable for a keto diet. 

Some brands of popcorn are better than others in this regard, and after careful consideration (A LOT of taste-testing!), we have compiled a list of the 10 best popcorn brands that won’t disturb your diet. Read on to enter maize heaven!

Store-Bought Keto Popcorn

You should be able to find most of these in your local grocery store, as they’re well-known brands nationally.

Alternatively, all the products listed in this section are available online, so you can buy them without even leaving your house.

OUR TOP PICK

SkinnyPop Popcorn (24 ct.)

SkinnyPop is one of the best brands there is for keto, because their popcorn has only 7g of carbs per bag and is low in calories.

The only addition to the corn is a sprinkle of salt, but sometimes less is more and these are nevertheless very tasty. This means they are also free from GMOs, gluten and preservatives.

Pros

  • They contain only simple and clean ingredients so can be eaten by almost anybody, regardless of dietary restrictions.
  • Low in carbs and calories.
  • Available in bulk boxes of 24 packs to satisfy your cravings.

Cons

  • Some people may prefer a stronger flavor.

EDITORS CHOICE

Smartfood White Cheddar Popcorn (50 ct.)

Cheese is a valid food to eat on keto, so if you can’t resist the tangy taste then indulge in a handful of this white cheddar popcorn.

It is low in sugar as it’s a savory popcorn flavor, so the carb content isn’t sneakily driven up with the seasoning. 

This brand uses the finest kernels, which are carefully checked to make sure they are properly popped before packaging.

Pros

  • Only 100 calories in each pack. 
  • Small bag size helps portion control.
  • Comes in large boxes of 50 individual bags, so you can have access to some at all times.

Cons

  • There is usually a limited expiration date on the bulk boxes, so you will need to eat them fairly quickly before they go past their best.

BEST VALUE

Pop IQ Air Popped Sorghum, Sea Salt and Pepper

While not strictly popcorn, we’ve included this here as an exciting alternative. Sorghum is a versatile grain that can be popped just like popcorn, but is smaller and has a somewhat sweeter taste. 

Although it also has a high carb content, it is generally considered to be healthier overall, and is full of nutrients like B vitamins, magnesium, and iron.

Pros

  • Contains more essential nutrients than popcorn for a healthy body.
  • Only 4 ingredients, and no preservatives.
  • Suitable for if you have an allergy to corn.

Cons

  • Quite expensive and difficult to find in stores, but you can purchase from Pop Iq’s online store.

RUNNER UP

Jolly Time Popcorn 100 Calorie Healthy Pop Butter Mini Bags - 10 CT

You may think that butter is an unusual flavor for popcorn to have, but it really works in this instance, giving the sensation of delicious, freshly-popped corn. 

The bags are carefully regulated to ensure that you get the perfect amount to satisfy you, while not letting you overindulge.

This tasty snack is also low in fat, which makes up only 6% of the total ingredients.

Pros

  • Bags are a handy size to carry around and keep you energized on the go.
  • Only 100 calories in each pack.

Cons

  • Quite expensive for the amount you get.
  • We found the flavor a little difficult to distinguish, as butter doesn’t taste of much on its own.

RUNNER UP

SkinnyPop Sweet & Salty Kettle Popcorn, 12ct, 1.9oz Individual Snack Size Bags, Skinny Pop, Healthy...

Another SkinnyPop offering, this is a favorite among people who can’t choose between savory and sweet - you get the best of both worlds in each 1.9 oz snack bag. 

One cup of popcorn contains just 56 calories, so you can enjoy it without feeling guilty.

Pros

  • Low-calorie compared to many other brands.
  • Perfect balance of sweet and salty flavors, with neither being too intense or too subtle.

Cons

  • Some of the information provided on the packet can be misleading, so make sure you read all details carefully.
  • Although they are ‘snack bags’, each one has too many carbs for you to eat in one sitting, so you have to manage your own portion control.

Keto Popcorn Recipes

If nothing in the above list tickles your fancy, you might consider making your own popcorn that is suitable for a keto diet.

This is also a good idea because you know exactly what has gone into it, so there aren’t any sneaky hidden ingredients to catch you out. 

You’d be surprised at how many recipes exist for this specific dietary requirement, and we’ve picked some of our favorites to share with you here.

While you can also just pop your own actual popcorn, these recipes mimic the snack as closely as possible. 


Keto Cheese Puff ‘Popcorn’

While cheese isn’t exactly the most similar thing we can think of to popcorn, these puffs have the same rich salty and cheesy taste you know and love.

They’re also irresistibly light and fluffy, with a pleasing crunch. 

You can fill a bag with them, just like popcorn, and take them with you to enjoy anywhere.

The recipe uses cheddar cheese, coconut oil (healthier alternative to butter), and corn extract - these few ingredients work together beautifully, and the resulting dish is greater than the sum of its parts. 

Don’t leave these to the last minute to make, though, as they need a few days for the cheese to set after the first step.

Pros

  • Perfect if you’re a cheese fiend!
  • Only 1.2 g of carbs per serving.
  • You can make it taste very close to traditional cheesy popcorn whilst being keto-friendly.
  • Recipe works with different kinds of hard cheese, so you can choose your favorite.

Cons

  • They require a lot of preparation time, so you can’t just whip them up in a few minutes when you’re feeling peckish.
  • Includes specific techniques that you may find tricky if you’re not familiar with them.


Keto Cheese Popcorn

This is a similar recipe to the one above, once again using cheese as the base.

The main difference is that it doesn’t take as long to make, due to drying out the cheese before you bake it. 

However, you will still need to give them 24 hours to make sure they’re ready. Once dry, they will take less than 10 minutes to transform into delicious, bite-sized pieces.

Again, you can use any hard cheese, but this recipe also recommends cheddar.

There are a number of different toppings suggested, to cover a wide variety of tastes - try sweet and salty for a standard popcorn flavor, or ranch seasoning if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous. 

Everyone knows cheese and garlic go together beautifully, so why not give the parmesan garlic variant a go? The possibilities are endless. 

Pros

  • Versatile recipe that can be customized with a variety of flavors - you can combine different ones for a fun platter.
  • These can be stored for up to 4 weeks at room temperature, or up to 6 months in the freezer.

Cons

  • Like all cheese-based popcorn substitutes, you need to wait for at least a full day to let the cheese dry out; it can’t be done at the last minute. However, the actual baking part will be quick, so you can pre-dry them and then bake at your convenience.


Keto Pork Popcorn

If you’re not so fond of cheese, and you prefer your meaty snacks, these light popcorn-style pork bites are just the thing for you.

Amazingly, there are no carbs at all in this recipe, allowing you to enjoy it without disturbing your strict keto diet. 

You can make an optional sticky sauce to accompany your ‘popcorn’, or you can savor the meaty flavor on its own.

Coconut oil is the recommended oil in this instance, which is great in conjunction with keto.

The only other ingredients to make the main dish are sea salt (specifically gray sea salt here, although regular works just as well), five spice, and of course your pork belly cut of choice. 

If you buy pork with the skin on, you should separate this before you start for best results.

Pros

  • Much quicker to make than the cheese popcorn, taking about half an hour from start to finish (slightly longer if you want the sauce as well).
  • The recipe is straightforward and doesn’t require any advanced techniques.
  • 0% carbs.

Cons

  • It doesn’t have the same crispiness as actual popcorn, so isn’t as similar as some other substitutes.
  • Contains a lot of fat, so you wouldn’t want to eat a lot of it when you’re not doing keto.


Low Carb Caramel Popcorn

Here’s a sweet recipe to balance out the plethora of savory ‘popcorn’ recipes on offer.

It manages to stay low in carbs because it utilizes xylitol instead of regular sugar, so you get that sugary kick you crave without bumping up your carb intake. 

This means that not only is it keto-friendly, it is also a great treat for kids when you don’t want them consuming too much sugar. 

Xylitol is a sweetener that occurs naturally in plants such as fruits and vegetables.

It has 40% fewer calories than sugar, but tastes very similar - therefore it can frequently be found in food products or drinks that are marketed as being low in sugar. 

You can also use allulose to achieve the same effect in this recipe.

Pros

  • Perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth on a keto diet - who says you can’t have nice things?!
  • Only 1g of carbs per serving (recipe makes 10 servings).
  • Crispy snack that replicates the pleasing crunch of caramel popcorn.

Cons

  • It can be tricky to get the egg whites correct, as you may be tempted not to whip them enough - make sure they are whipped fully before you proceed.
  • The xylitol is also temperamental and needs to be very hot to work properly.

Best Popcorn For Keto Buying Guide

Portion Size

The main thing you should remember when you’re looking for keto-friendly popcorn is to keep your portions small.

Fortunately, a lot of companies sell their popcorn in snack bags, which should be enough to give you the taste you love and still be in compliance with keto.

Best Popcorn for Keto

That said, a ‘safe’ quantity of popcorn is considered to be 6-8g, which is less than most snack-size packs.

If you’re concerned, you could always weigh out your own bags so you know that your portion is within the allowable range.

All you will need is a set of precision scales that can weigh tiny amounts, and some food-safe storage bags.

Oil

The oil that your popcorn is cooked in can make a big difference to how keto-friendly it is. The best oils for keto are olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil.

If you’re buying popcorn, try and look on the ingredients list to see which oil each brand contains, or choose one of these if you’re making your own. 

Alternatively, butter is a great option for cooking your popcorn, due to its rich flavor and the fact that keto diets encourage you to have a high dairy intake. 

Flavor

The flavor of your popcorn is probably the most important factor in whether you can eat it on a keto diet.

The popcorn kernels themselves are already high-carb, so you need to try and limit additional carbs as much as possible. 

The best way to do this is to avoid popcorn that has been smothered in sugary items such as syrups, chocolate or just regular sugar.

Salted popcorn is the perfect choice because you will need to be careful to keep your sodium levels up when you’re doing keto anyway, since you’re reducing the amount of processed food that you eat. 

Another good flavor to try is peanut butter popcorn - nuts are high in fat and relatively low in carbs, meaning they work for keto.

Alternatively, you could add some popcorn to a handful of mixed nuts and drizzle with cinnamon, giving you a sort of keto-friendly trail mix.

If none of the above seems appealing, you may consider popping some popcorn and leaving it plain - it makes a fun snack in its own right!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some good keto-friendly popcorn alternatives?

If you are worried about whether or not you should eat popcorn when you’re following a keto diet, you can always opt for another kind of snack altogether. 

While it’s true that popcorn is better for you in general than most snack items, as it is a whole grain, there are a number of other food products that are just as good at filling that hole in your stomach in between meals. 

  • Nuts - there are many different types of nuts available, which are great for eating on keto due to their high healthy fat content. You can buy plain nuts or flavored nuts, such as these Nutrail keto glazed walnuts or pecans

  • Keto cookies - some brands make keto versions of bakery favorites, including traditional cookies like HighKey Keto Cookies, as well as the exciting Quest Nutrition Peanut Butter Cups and the fabulously nutty Keto Caramel Almond Clusters. Whatever your tastes, there’s bound to be a sweet snack for you.

  • Potato chips - Likewise, there are brands that manufacture specialty keto chips: Quest Nutrition Tortilla Style Protein Chips are just like tortilla chips, but have just 4 g net cards and are made with no oils. You might think it is impossible to have potato chips on a keto diet, but these carefully-considered products prove that it’s not!

  • Granola bars - these Munk Pack Keto Granola Bars are the perfect size for snacking on the go. With a delicious coconut and chocolate chip flavor and a whole load of nuts and seeds, they have 2g of carbs, 1g of sugar and 4g of protein. There is also this Cinnamon Pecan Keto Granola breakfast cereal from The Granola Bakery, so you can enjoy a keto-friendly first meal of the day.

Andy Waters
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