Choosing the best popcorn kernels to impress your kids is not as easy as it sounds. You know how kids these days can be picky and hard to please, do you? Add to that the fact that there literally thousands of brands out there that instead of making your job of choosing easy, they only escalate your confusion.
I understand your pain and to help with your predicament, I’ve compiled 10 of what I believe to be the best popcorn kernels this year. I’ve also included ratings based on the feedback of those who have actually cooked them and how their kids react to the finished product. And while this might sound a bit subjective, lurking in this article are my own impressions of each kernel as I cooked them first hand.
Tips in Choosing the Best Popcorn Kernels
Popcorn is the staple that goes with our favorite entertainment. Whether you’re inside the movie house with the entire family or at home watching your favorite soap, the experience is not complete without the popcorn. But nothing will ruin the entire experience than putting into the microwave a bag of instant popcorn, excited for the snack, only to find some burnt and half-popped kernels. Or what could be worse than a cardboard tasting popcorn that movie houses sell? I can only imagine the look on your kids’ faces.
Choosing the best popcorn kernels is entirely your responsibility and the good news is, situations like this can be avoided. Whether ordering online or shopping at a local store, you will choose the best kernels if you understand what you’re looking for.
- Verify that its fresh. If you order huge batches and you can’t consume it in time, you will have issues with freshness. The Stale kernel will have nowhere near that earthy taste that popcorn lovers sought after, so freshness is paramount in choosing your kernel. The best thing to do is to order smaller batches that you can easily consume. Determine how much your family can consume in a given time frame and just order that much.
- Review the packaging and storing. If you have ordered bulk and your family is slow to consume it, make sure to choose those in resealable containers. Again, this is not going to be an issue if your family have a huge appetite and you order in smaller batches. If you bought your kernels from a local store, you can always bring your own container. I recommend bringing a mason jar because, from my experience, it works perfectly in keeping my kernels fresh until I’m ready to pop them open.If you’re new to ordering popcorn online, don’t be alarmed if you find hardened lumps of oil in your package. Actually, some companies do add coconut oil in their package because it tastes better than other oils, and if it arrives in the cold season, you can expect it to harden.
- Try hull-less kernels. If you or any member of you family have orthodontic appliances or if you suffer from any diseases such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Crohn’s disease, you might look into the hull-less kernel variety. This is because the hull of traditional kernels will always cause issues for people with this predicament. The hulls are hard to digest and often times, they get caught up in the retainers and dentures. You don’t have to worry though, major brands now offer hull-less alternatives.
- Don’t panic, it’s organic. If health is really an issue for you, why don’t you go organic? With the whole food and organic movement sweeping the whole world today, it’s not difficult anymore to find more and more natural products online and in local stores. While popcorn is essentially a buttery indulgence, there is no reason for you not to go for healthier alternatives. Try looking for non-GMO, low fat and organically grown kernels. Not only are these healthier, they are also better for the environment and you help sustain the farmers that grow them. So, either your purpose is saving the plane or you just want to lose weight while still indulging in your favorite snacks, or both, the healthier organic alternative is an option worth pursuing.
- Try different producers. Not all popcorn are produced the same way. Manufacturers and producers vary greatly in terms of production practices and to find out what works for you, you have to do your own trials. Another thing to consider is what’s available in your location. Although like I said, there are literally thousands of brands out there, your choices are greatly affected by what’s available in your location.An advantage that I find when buying from local producers is that they offer taste testing. Can anything be better than that? I get a free taste of my favorite snack before really deciding on what brand to stick on.
My Top 8 Choices in 2017
1. Orville Redenbacher Popcorn Kernel
I did insist that freshness is paramount in choosing the best popcorn kernels and the best thing about Orville Redenbacher Popcorn Kernel is that it’s fresh. The manufacturer also claims that this is 100% non-GMO so I find this healthier.
When the kernel is heated properly in a popper that really just works, you can be sure to be rewarded with popcorn that expands to its maximum volume. I recommend that you use the same brand of oil to achieve its chewy consistency.
It works with stovetop, electric popper or air popper. One caveat though, this brand can be a bit pricey. What’s holding me back is the price but if money is not an issue for you, I recommend you go give it a try.
- Certified non-GMO corn kernels
- Expands to maximum volume in a good popper
- Easy to store container in a pantry
- A bit expensive compared to other brands
2. Snappy Yellow Popcorn
The Snappy Yellow Popcorn comes in an airtight plastic container to maintain its freshness. Moms who have tried this brand swear that it’s equally as good as the Orville Redenbacher Popcorn Kernel and it’s also non-GMO.
It comes in the white and yellow variety with the latter being a bit harder to find. It pops up big but I find it less flavor full. I find it nice with butter and salt but even better if you use the coconut oil that comes with it.
- Comes in airtight plastic container
- Certified non-GMO kernels
- Pops well with any popper
- The white corn variety is a bit hard to find
- Less compelling flavor
3. Trader Joe’s Organic Popping Corn
For a healthier touch and kernels that produce huge, fluffy popcorn that’s crunchy and foamy at the same time, the Trader Joe’s Organic Popping Corn is the number one contender.
Another plus to this kernel is that it’s a bit inexpensive compared to most organic products. The only drawback that I found out is that some kernels pop really faster than the others and by the time they are all popped, you have some burnt bits in the mix.
- Certified organic ideal for the health buffs
- Less expensive compared to other organic products
- Fluffy and crunchy texture
- Some kernel pops faster than others
- Burnt bits due to fast popping
4. Great Northern Popcorn Original Popcorn
If the budget is a bit tight, I would recommend Great Northern Popcorn for its price friendly packaging without sacrificing on the taste department. While popcorn has never been a luxurious snack, fads and production methods continue to change resulting in the unnecessary price increase.
If you’re looking for value for bulk purchase or if you’re planning to serve it to some hungry kids after a game, then its 12-ounce portion packs at 24 packs is what you’re looking for. This brand will give you big, fluffy and tender popcorn ideal for huge servings like parties or big family gatherings.
It comes packed in a moisture proof bag to ensure total freshness and its huge packets at a very affordable price will ensure that you will have ample supply for a while. With an air popper, I used three parts corn to one part oil to ensure better results. There were a few unpopped kernels that remain but overall, it’s great.
- Price friendly packaging
- Great taste and texture
- Huge, fluffy and tender popcorn
- Some unpopped kernels
5. Amish Country Popcorn
Known for kernels that consistently pops, the Amish Country Popcorn gives a unique corn flavor mixed with a nuttiness that is consistent with peanuts. Most moms and reviewers swear by its tastiness and say that it can beat any of the leading brands of popcorn in the market.
Since the kernels are a bit smaller compared the most brands, you have to use a stovetop popper of an electric one. If all you have is an air popper, make sure to tilt it to prevent the popcorn from flying out.
- Kernels pop with consistency
- Good taste
- Better than any leading brand according to reviewers
- Kernels are a bit smaller than usual popcorn
- Needs a little care with the air popper
6. Bob’s Red Mill Whole White Popcorn
The Bob’s Red Mill Whole White Popcorn is a white, tasty and very fluffy and non-GMO popcorn that is known to have an almost 100% pop rate. For the health conscious, this brand does not contain any transfat or saturated fats. If you really want to push on the health department, you can just air pop this brand and don’t add any salt and you’ll get a healthy whole grain snack that you can eat without guilt.
On the other hand, if want to indulge a bit, you can add a little oil and butter and pop the kernel on a stove top popper. The package comes with some recipes that you can try if you want to be adventurous but the usual salt and butter will suffice to give you that traditional popcorn you’re used to
- Near 100% pop rate
- Non-GMO corn kernels
- Does not contain any trans and saturated fats
- Fluffy texture and no hard spots
- You will need a separate container because the original container is flimsy
- Hard to pour from the original flimsy container
7. Hoosier Hill Farm Popcorn Kernels
It’s difficult to put a finger on the Hoosier Hill Farm Popcorn Kernels because their popcorn comes in different varieties with each having a distinct and unique taste. This brand is for people who value variety over consistency.
If you think you’ve tasted popcorn before, try this brand and you’re in for a little surprise because while it’s known for taste and tenderness, each variety has a unique flavor that you can’t find in another.
- Offers variety of taste and texture with every kernel
- Unique flavor in each variety
- Offers great value for your money
- Not the one you’ll pick if you want consistency in taste and flavor
8. TruPop Mushroom Popcorn Kernels
If you’re looking for a kernel that really pops big, suitable for caramel and chocolate popcorn, then the TruPop Mushroom Popcorn Kernels are what you’re looking for. The kernel comes in a resealable package which is good for keeping it fresh. It works well with electric, air popper and stove top popper with the resulting popcorn being fluffy and delicious.
Some reviewers reported mixed experience with some kernels not popping at all but this is probably due to improper heating of the kernel. If you’re using stove top popper, make sure to heat the kernel properly to ensure the most pops. I have great success using air popper with almost 100% pop rate.
- Kernels pop into really huge popcorns
- Comes in resealable container to maintain freshness
- Fluffy texture and delicious taste
- 100% pop rate using air popper
- Kernels are not popping well in stove top popper
- You need to properly heat the kernel to ensure popping success
This is because of its health benefits which are on top of my list when choosing a brand. Nevertheless, all these brands are good and you are the final arbiter between them.
I believe reducing the number of choices to eight will greatly reduce the confusion but at the same time, offer enough choices for you to choose from.
Tell me your experience and recommendation by sharing a comment below.