What Oil Should I Use to Pop Popcorn?

The Kernel
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Popcorn’s rich buttery flavor brings back memories of going to the movies and having fun with friends. The salty, buttery, crunchy-soft snack is also deeply related to relaxation and good times.

What do all these things have in common? POPCORN! And the best popcorn means flawless technique (we’re kidding), a good-enough method (this one’s true), and, well, oil. The last one might end up being the most important.

If you’re planning on making it at home, you’ll need to figure out the best way to create popcorn that tastes precisely like theater popcorn, which is the best kind of popcorn. And for that, (here you have it, folks), the most essential ingredient is high-quality oil.

Bonus note: While there are a variety of popcorn-making devices available nowadays (microwave or air-popped), the ideal way for the besttaste and texture is to use the stovetop.

Types of Oil for Popcorn

Generally speaking, movie theater popcorn doesn’t contain any butter. It’s made with cooking oil and flavored with butter (albeit not real butter). 

After all, cooking the kernels in butter would make the popcorn heavy, oily, and soggy. Cooking popcorn in oil, however, prevents it from becoming mushy and drying out throughout the cooking process.

So if you plan to make great popcorn at home, and have decided to cook it the old-fashioned way instead of using the microwave, you’ll need to know which type of oil to use. Here are three points to consider while determining which oils are ideal:

  1. Smoke point
  2. Fat content
  3. Flavor profile

The smoke point of your oil is the temperature at which it starts to smoke. You’ll want a high smoke point oil so that the popcorn can become heated enough to pop without becoming bitter. 

Secondly, if you want a healthy snack, the fat level of a specific oil is critical in determining the number of calories you’ll ingest, and keep your nutrient levels in check. 

Finally, if you want the rich, buttery flavor of movie theater popcorn, it’s crucial to understand how different oils alter the flavor profile. 

So, let’s look at a few different types of oils for popcorn that we’ve gathered for you!

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has a 400-degree Fahrenheit smoke point, and it offers a buttery flavor without making your snack mushy. This is the type of oil used in most movie theaters to create popcorn.

Per serving, this oil contains about 14 grams of fat, the majority of which is saturated fat. Because of this, coconut oil is not the healthiest oil option and should be used sparingly. 

This oil can be used in both a traditional popcorn machine and a stove, though, which makes it pretty versatile. Franklin’s Gourmet is a great example of a perfect coconut oil for popping popcorn.

Franklin’s Gourmet Popcorn Butter Flavored Coconut Oil - 30 oz- Zero Trans Fat - Vegan & Gluten...
  • DELICIOUS & BUTTERY MOVIE THEATER POPCORN OIL: This is the popcorn flavoring you have been waiting for. Enjoy that mouthwatering authentic movie popcorn butter taste at home and discover why so many people love Franklin’s Gourmet Popcorn Oil butter flavor goodness!

Last update on 2024-07-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Olive Oil

When preparing popcorn, use refined olive oil, which has a smoke point of 410 degrees Fahrenheit, rather than extra virgin olive oil, as it has a much lower smoke point. This oil has a neutral flavor, so it won’t overpower your popcorn’s flavor. After popping, you can add clarified butter or a butter-flavored salt for a buttery flavor.

This type of oil contains monounsaturated fats, which are beneficial to your health, thus making it much healthier  than coconut oil. 

Additionally, olive oil contains approximately 12 – 13 grams of fat per suggested serving size, which is less than the amount found in coconut oil. Here is our refined olive oil suggestion:

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Canola Oil

The smoking point of canola oil is 430 degrees Fahrenheit. It is a popular substitute for coconut oil because it contains less saturated fat, and it’s much healthier for you. 

The suggested serving size does include 14 grams of fat, though, with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats accounting for the majority, which you should factor into your diet when you think about making it.

In any case, canola oil has a faintly noticeable mild, pleasant flavor, while also remaining one of the most cost-effective oils on the list, which accounts for its immense appeal. Amish Country makes a good one, butter flavored to go with their awesome kernels!

Amish Country Popcorn | Butter Flavored Canola Oil - 16 oz | Old Fashioned, Non-GMO and Gluten Free...
  • 16 OUNCES OF BUTTER FLAVORED CANOLA OIL - Pop yourself some delicious Amish Country Popcorn with our Canola Oil.

Last update on 2024-07-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Clarified butter from India has a distinct butter flavor and is high in vitamins and Omega fatty acids. It’s not the healthiest fat for cooking popcorn, and it has a low smoke point. Therefore it’s best used in combination with other oils.

Some people, however, believe it is ideal for popping popcorn, because of the depth and richness of flavor it infuses the popcorn with, making it a unique and required experience. Ghee is something you should try, this New Zealand Ghee is pretty tasty.

4th & Heart Original Grass-Fed Ghee, 9 Ounce, Keto, Pasture Raised, Lactose and Casein Free,...
  • WE SOURCE THE BEST: Our lactose-free ghee comes from grass-fed, pasture-raised, antibiotic and hormone free New Zealand cows.

Last update on 2024-07-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Sunflower Oil

The smoke point of sunflower oil is 450 degrees Fahrenheit and is made by squeezing the oil from sunflower seeds. Vitamin E, a crucial component for the health of your brain, blood, and skin, is abundant in this oil. 

As with most other alternatives, fourteen grams of beneficial fats are included in a typical serving size. The somewhat nutty flavor of sunflower oil might be perfect for you, so you should at least give it a try.

Safya - 100% Pure Sunflower Oil, (2 L) 67.6 Fl Oz
  • 100% Pure Sunflower Seed Oil, Premium Quality, Non-GMO

Last update on 2024-07-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Peanut Oil

For people who aren’t allergic to nuts and enjoy the flavor of peanuts, peanut oil is an excellent option for making tasty popcorn.

It is not the healthiest option on this list because it contains saturated fats, which can be harmful. It does, however, contain a considerable quantity of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that helps damaged cells regenerate, making the whole product pretty balanced in the health department.

Last update on 2024-07-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Bacon Grease/ Lard

Old-school taste enthusiasts swear by the strong bacon-like flavor of bacon fat when preparing popcorn. Some people believe that “nothing tastes more delicious” than popcorn fried in bacon grease.

On the other hand, for people who prefer strong-flavored popcorn, the oil/fat has remarkably little impact on the flavor, and the toppings are more significant. Also, pigs are cute… so? If you must, you can “make your own” or buy a tub of this…

Bacon UpⓇ Bacon Grease for Cooking - 14 Ounce Tub of Authentic Bacon Fat for Cooking, Frying and...
  • All the Flavor, None of the Fuss - Now there’s a convenient way to get the richer, more complex flavor of cooking with bacon grease – without the time, mess, or expense of frying bacon! No more needing to ration your saved grease, you’ve got Bacon Up: real bacon grease, ready-to-go!

Last update on 2024-07-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Safflower Oil

With a whooping smoke point of 510 degrees Fahrenheit, Safflower oil is another great choice for popping popcorn. Can you figure out just how much fat this oil contains? You’d be correct if you said 14 grams (again)! 

Safflower oil is ideal for cooking popcorn because of its undetectable flavor and scent. This oil can be used in a popcorn machine or on the stovetop due to its high smoke point.

Last update on 2024-07-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Grapeseed Oil

Grapeseed oil is recommended for creating gourmet popcorn since it has a high smoke point of 420 degrees Fahrenheit. Grapeseed oil has a practically neutral taste, with a slightly nutty undertone.

Because of its delicate flavor, the oil can be mixed with other fats or used to season popcorn with specific flavors.

Grapeseed oil also includes natural antioxidants and is high in Vitamin E and Omega-6 Fatty Acids.

Last update on 2024-07-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

 Avocado Oil

Avocado oil has a smoke point of between 375 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Secondly, it has numerous health benefits, making it a pretty healthy alternative to some of the other options on this list. Case in point; it contains healthy fats and can eliminate dangerous pollutants, and it has antioxidants that help with eye health. 

Another feature that makes it ideal for cooking popcorn is the flavor, as avocado oil has a distinct creamy and buttery flavor that complements the taste of classic popcorn. 

The price, however, is much higher than that of other types of oils, making it a premium option. But, also the best in our opinion… Give this one a try.

BetterBody Foods Refined Non-GMO Cooking Oil, Kosher, Keto and Paleo Diet Friendly, for High-Heat...
  • COLD WEATHER WARNING: Avocado Oil has natural sediment and waxes, making the oil appear cloudy or thick when exposed to cold temperatures. This cloudiness does not affect the flavor or quality of the oil. The cloudiness can be resolved by placing the bottle of oil in a hot tap-water bath (not boiling water) until the cloudiness dissipates. The oil will then remain in that state if kept at room temperature.

Last update on 2024-07-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What Is The Ideal Oil To Use In A Commercial Popcorn Machine?

Coconut oil will be the ideal oil to use if you have a commercial popcorn machine. Most large movie theaters use it. However, some use a mix of coconut and canola oil. Using coconut oil and flavacol popcorn salt will get a truly authentic movie theater popcorn experience.

These are the ingredients used to make the salty, buttery movie theater popcorn that we all enjoy. If you’re trying to eat healthily, you should avoid flavacol.

Healthiest Oil To Cook the Popcorn In?

We discovered a variety of healthy oils that may be used to make popcorn, but which one is the healthiest? Based on the antioxidants and healthy fats it contains, the healthiest oil to use for popping popcorn is avocado oil.

Avocado oil includes lutein, an antioxidant that helps with eye health, which is one of its many benefits. Make sure to get cold-pressed avocado oil, as this form of extraction preserves the greatest nutrients.

Some might claim that extra virgin olive oil provides similar health benefits, which would be true if you used it when cooking. However, we recommend using refined olive oil instead of extra virgin olive oil if you’re using olive oil at all, because extra virgin olive oil has a low smoke point. 

Moreover, because many minerals are lost during the refining process, refined olive oil has significantly fewer health benefits.  It also lacks the creamy richness of avocado oil, necessitating the addition of butter and calories to create a similar flavor.


Popcorn is the ultimate snack, whether you’re binge-watching your favorite Netflix show or just want a nutritious snack. If you want to replicate the taste of a classic movie theater, combine refined coconut oil with flavacol. If you want to be healthy, you can use avocado oil.

You can prepare this delightful snack whenever you want now that you know what sorts of oils you may use to create popcorn at home. And if you’re willing to pig out with multiple different varieties, try all of them! 

If you manage to find the best option (and the best combination, too, if you’re mixing up different oils), send us a message because we’d love to hear all about it.

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