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Want a healthy, salty, crunchy snack that just doesn’t quit? Haaaave you met popcorn?

Not only does it offer up some gut-friendly fiber, but a serving is — get this — 3 to 4 cups. (We weren’t kidding when we said it doesn’t quit.)

And with the right toppings, it’s a perfectly healthy and delectable snack that’s not just for movie night anymore.

So, what’s the best popcorn out there?

Let’s pop to it — here are our fave healthy-ish popcorns of 2022.

Best healthy popcorn of 2022

We spoke with Bess Berger, dietitian and owner of Nutrition by Bess, about what to look for in a healthy popcorn. Here’s what she recs:

  • Organic and non-GMO. Berger says organic and non-GMO popcorn seems to be a better choice for her clients in terms of their general health. However, we understand that these versions can be pricier — so we’ve also included some non-organic options and one non-GMO option.
  • Minimal ingredients. We also included popcorns made with whole-food ingredients. Most of the options on this list contain just a handful of ingredients, and they’re all things that you could likely find in your pantry.
  • Limited added sugar. Berger recommends limiting popcorns that contain more than a few grams of added sugar per serving. That includes varieties like caramel corn, chocolate-drizzled popcorn, and sweet kettle corn (apologies).

We also included popcorns at a variety of price points, as well as some bagged, microwaveable, and kernels-in-the-buff varieties — so you can get your pop on however you see fit.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $0.40 per serving
  • $$ = $0.40–$0.79 per serving
  • $$$ = over $0.79 per serving

These are our faves, without a kernel of doubt!

Best overall healthy popcorn

Lesser Evil Himalayan Pink Salt

  • Price: $$$
  • Type: bagged
  • Certs: organic, non-GMO

This popcorn from Lesser Evil features just four ingredients: organic and non-GMO popcorn (check and check), coconut oil, and Himalayan pink salt. It was also recommended to us by Rachelle Mallik, dietitian and owner of The Food Therapist, as one of her personal faves. Tasty and healthy? It’s in the bag.

Top-rated healthy popcorn

Skinny Pop Sea Salt and Pepper

  • Price: $$
  • Type: bagged
  • Certs: non-GMO

It’s so munchable 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 while still packing a major punch in the flavor department.

Additionally, Berger says Skinny Pop tastes like it has WAY more salt than it actually does. Score for the Salt Baes!

Best microwave healthy popcorn

Newman’s Own Organic Touch of Butter

  • Price: $
  • Type: microwaveable
  • Certs: organic, non-GMO

When you hear “Newman’s Own,” you probably think of salad dressing. But Newman knows what’s up when it comes to popcorn too. Pop this (lightly) buttered bag in the microwave and you’re good to go.

Best plain kernels healthy popcorn

Tiny But Mighty Unpopped Kernels

  • Price: $
  • Type: unpopped kernels
  • Certs: non-GMO

Made from an ancient heirloom variety of corn grown on the owners’ pristine family farm, this popcorn is truly unique and tasty. And this bag of unpopped kernels is a blank canvas (or is it hundreds of tiny blank canvases?), waiting for you to create your own popcorn masterpieces.

Best bagged healthy popcorn

Boom Chicka Pop Avocado Oil Popcorn

  • Price: $$
  • Type: bagged
  • Certs: non-GMO

Hold up — we just stumbled upon one of the greatest mash-ups of all time: avo oil and popcorn. (Sorry, PB&J.) The nutty deliciousness of avocado oil (one of our fave healthy fats) on this ready-to-eat popcorn will have you cheering, “I said a-Boom Chicka Pop!”

Best healthy popcorn for movie night

Quinn Movie Night Popcorn Kit

  • Price: $$$
  • Type: microwaveable (plus separate oil and seasonings)
  • Certs: organic, non-GMO

Having a home movie night? The popcorn is essential. If your fingers aren’t a little bit greasy, it’s not a true “bring the movie theater home” experience.

Quinn’s got you covered with this popcorn kit, featuring the organic popcorn, oil, and drool-worthy seasonings (Aged Parmesan & Rosemary, Butter, and Cheddar) you need for your next movie night and/or Netflix marathon.

Best sweet healthy popcorn

Black Jewell Sweet and Salty Popcorn

  • Price: $$
  • Type: microwaveable
  • Certs: non-GMO

If savory isn’t your pop of choice, Black Jewell’s basic kettle popcorn is sweet but not sickeningly so (thanks to a sprinkle of stevia balanced with sea salt). It’s also made from heirloom black popcorn, which pops teeny-tiny and practically free of hulls.

Best cheesy healthy popcorn

Smartfood White Cheddar Popcorn

  • Price: $
  • Type: bagged
  • Certs: N/A

Some like it hot… but we prefer it cheesy. And so does the rest of the world, apparently, because this is the bestselling popped popcorn on Amazon. Each bite is loaded with cheesy, salty flavor — and each convenient single-serving bag has only 100 calories and 8 grams of carbs.

Big note: This popcorn is NOT non-GMO.

Best healthy popcorn for unique natural flavor

Pipcorn Truffle Popcorn

  • Price: $$$
  • Type: bagged
  • Certs: non-GMO

Avid truffle shuffler? You’ll love this one. Like truffle fries but way healthier, this adorably miniature popcorn has all that rich flavor without any unnecessary additives. And did we mention the popcorn is ADORABLY miniature? This popcorn is pricey but SOOOOO worth it.

Best budget healthy popcorn

Anthony’s Organic Yellow Popcorn Kernels

  • Price: $
  • Type: unpopped kernels
  • Certs: non-GMO, organic

If you’re a bulk buyer, you NEED this 3-pound bag of non-GMO, organic popcorn kernels in your life. This bag makes roughly 255 cups of popcorn that you can dress up however you like — all for just under 15 bucks.

And there’s no greater feeling of security than knowing you could, at a moment’s notice, fill your bathtub with popcorn without needing to leave the house.

We know — there are a ton of snacks out there claiming to be “healthy” when they really aren’t. But what’s great about popcorn is that much of its healthiness comes down to how you choose to dress it up (or not).

Here are some considerations for when you’re standing in the store, trying to decipher whether the popcorn you want hits the mark.

How it’s grown

Berger recommends organic and non-GMO poppin’ corn because of the benefits she has seen in her clients. Choosing these varieties may also cut down on your exposure to potentially harmful synthetic pesticides. (But again, we ain’t judgin’ — your popcorn, your rules.)

Nutrient content

All popcorn — even the movie theater stuff that’s drowning in (irresistible?) fake butter (and def not organic or non-GMO) — has good “bones.”

“When clients ask for snack ideas,” Mallik says, “I often suggest popcorn because it’s a whole grain and provides about 3 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber for a 3-cup serving.”

Ingredients

If you’re reaching for a bagged or microwaveable popcorn, you’ll wanna do a quick read-through of the ingredients. Minimally processed is ideal, so the best ingredient list is one that contains only popcorn, oil, and seasonings.

Healthy-ish toppings

Last but not least, what you put on your popcorn can really make or break its nutrition potential. Here’s how to keep your popcorn accoutrements on the healthier side:

  • Don’t overdo the oil. We’re all about embracing the healthy fats, but it’s best if your popcorn isn’t swimming in oil. And on that note, what’s the best oil to use? “Cooking the kernels in extra-virgin olive oil adds heart-healthy fat,” says Mallik, “and makes popcorn a more filling and satisfying snack.”
  • Avoid added sugars. Caramel, marshmallows, candies, chocolate drizzles — delicious but sugary. If you want your popcorn to be a healthier option, you’ll need to limit these types of ingredients. HOWEVER, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying some indulgent, over-the-top dessert popcorn every once in a while.
  • Salt strategically. If you need to limit your salt intake for any reason, you’ll want to be careful about eating premade popcorns (which tend to be extra-salty). And if you’re making your own, a tiny sprinkle is all you need to wake up the other flavors.
  • Season creatively. Go wild with herbs, spices, and other seasonings — and take some notes from Mallik! She says, “My favorite toppings are salt and rosemary, smoked paprika, or nutritional yeast (which adds B vitamins and a little extra protein). You can also toss in a handful of roasted peanuts or nuts if desired.”

Popcorn is a *chef’s kiss* snack. It’s rich in fiber and nutrients and pretty low in calories, so you can eat a LOT in one serving.

To keep it on the healthier side, you can choose organic and non-GMO products (if those things are important to you), check premade popcorn for unnecessary or highly processed ingredients, and limit the oil, salt, and sugar.