For our Greatist-Approved Groceries series, we're narrowing down the tens of thousands of products out there to the ones we think are worth buying so you can get in and out of the store faster. (Past lists have included the best beef jerky, ice cream, and nut butter.) With the help of Elizabeth Jarrard, R.D., we came up with a set of standards to figure out what is best. Every item must:
- Contain only recognizable ingredients
- Have no artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners (stevia and monk fruit are OK)
- Never list sugar as the first ingredient
- Have a reasonable serving size
- Taste absolutely amazing
- Cost a reasonable price
In addition, the popcorn selections below have no more than 200 mg of sodium and 5 grams of sugar per serving, avoid hydrogenated oils (which can increase risk of heart diesease, cancer, and diabetes), and ideally use only eight ingredients or less.
As we're sure you've experienced, most "healthy" popcorns are still chock-full of ingredients you can’t pronounce, sky-high in sodium, or taste so bland you’d rather eat salted cardboard. Which is why you should try these options instead.
Editor's note: Popcorn is listed in no particular order.
This company may have started in a small Minnesota garage as a family project, but there's nothing tiny about the flavor it packs. Vegan, non-GMO, and made with only four ingredients, it's flavorful and just the right amount of sweet (without being bad for you). $4.49 for 5 ounces
Sexy Pop Nantucket Salted
Don't let the name deter you: Sexy Pop is delightfully uncomplicated—like a good first date. Butterfly popcorn, sunflower oil, and sea salt is all it takes to transport you straight to the New England seaside. $4.25 for 4.5 ounces
Kale-mania meets popcorn. This "munchable superfood" is the perfect blend of sweet and salty and uses only clean ingredients, like organic kale. Plus, with the company’s farm-to-bag policy, you can see exactly what went into each bag, so you know exactly where your food is coming from. $9.99 for two 4.3 ounce bags
It’s so addicting you’ll be tempted to eat the whole bag. A smattering of salt and pepper (seriously, that's it besides the popcorn and sunflower oil) keep this bag simple and healthy while still packing a major punch in the flavor department. $3.49 for 4.4 ounces
If you’re a truffle lover (and who isn't?), you’ll go crazy for this one. Like truffle fries only way healthier, this popcorn has all that rich flavor without any added junk. Founded by a brother-sister duo, the company pops its mini popcorn in small batches and flavors each one by hand. $4.99 for 4 ounces
The buttery snack that's perfect for everyone—even vegans! Unlike many vegan products, however, this popcorn keeps it simple but delicious with only a few ingredients (sunflower oil, salt, and natural flavoring). $3.99 for 6 ounces
While this popcorn does contain 11 ingredients, it's still less than the majority of cheese popcorns on the market. Plus, it uses non-GMO kernels and natural ingredients. We love the flavorful pop of white cheddar you get with every bite. $24 for 12 3-ounce bags (Editor's note: This popcorn bends our rules in part because it includes disodium phosphate, which is a chemical that keeps cheese from clumping (gross). However, we felt our list would be incomplete without the inclusion of one cheesy popcorn, and this was the healthiest found.)
Made from an ancient heirloom variety of corn grown on owners' Gene and Lynn Mealhows family farm, this popcorn is truly unique and tasty. Made with only canola oil, salt, and butter flavor, it's the corn that makes this bag a new favorite. $3.99 for 5 ounces
Not your typical bag of microwave popcorn, this one features that perfect Parmesan flavor (plus a dash of rosemary) without all of those ingredients that are so bad for your body. The Quinn team is all about food being delicious and full of clean ingredients. We have to agree. $4.99 for 7 ounces
The sweet-and-salty mix of maple and sea salt make this a feast for the tastebuds. With only four basic ingredients, we guarantee you'll never turn your nose up at microwave popcorn again. $4.99 for 7 ounces
For the traditional popcorn lover. Simple and lightly buttered, this one will remind you of Friday nights at the theater—minus the gross fake flavorings. Plus, it’s all organic, and the ingredients are about as simple as you can get. $2.69 for 9 ounces
When you hear Newman's Own, you typically think salad dressing. But Newman knows what's up when it comes to popcorn too. Pop this buttery bad boy in the microwave and you're good to go. $3.99 for 3.3 ounces
If savory’s not your pop of choice, Black Jewel’s basic kettle popcorn is sweet but not sickeningly so (thanks to stevia). Made from a proprietary strain of black kernel popcorn from Illinois, it pops snow white and practically free of hulls. $3.99 for 10.5 ounces