Best Microwave Popcorn: Top 5 Brands Most Recommended By Experts

Whether you’re looking for a fun way to spruce up your next movie night or just need a quick, delicious snack in the middle of your day, it always pays to know your options for microwave popcorn. Although you might not be able to perfectly duplicate a batch of your favorite movie theater popcorn, the best microwave popcorn options will get you pretty darn close to the cinematic popcorn experience we all know and love. 

However, according to a recent scientific breakthrough, popcorn is great for more than just movie nights. In a remarkable new discovery, scientists at the University of Göttingen have developed a method to turn popcorn into eco-friendly building insulation. That’s right, America’s favorite movie theater snack food could soon be used to actually help build the movie theater. Essentially, university researchers developed a way to produce popcorn-based insulation boards. After testing these boards, scientists say popcorn-based insulation boards possess excellent thermal insulation properties and could soon present a way to move off of unsustainable building materials. 

Putting the thermal insulating properties of popcorn aside, we can all agree that it’s incredibly frustrating to pull your bag of popcorn out of the microwave only to discover that a majority of the kernels didn’t pop. Well, more good news, a recent study looked at what it takes to get every kernel of popcorn in your bag to actually pop

Researchers at the State University of Maringá in Brazil say the biggest factors that influence popcorn’s quality include the amount of starch in each kernel, kernel moisture, expansion ratios, and popping ratios. Study authors say that the starchy substances inside popcorn kernels dictate heat transfer, directly impacting the temperature at which popcorn actually pops. Perhaps the major microwave popcorn suppliers should start examining the starch content of their popcorn – it could be a major selling point.

So, how do you achieve the perfect pop at home? StudyFinds did the research, consulting 10 expert review websites in an effort to find the best microwave popcorn available today. Our list is comprised of the five most frequently recommended options across these sites. As always, feel free to share your choice for the best microwave popcorn with us in the comments section below!

Popcorn in bowls
(Photo by Mahmoud Fawzy on Unsplash)

The List: Best Microwave Popcorn, According to Expert Reviews

1. Whole Foods 365 Microwave Popcorn

Topping the list is Whole Foods 365 Microwave Popcorn. It’s somewhat rare for a store brand to consistently top the expert lists, but this buttery snack appeared at or near the top of 60 percent of the lists we referenced. The critics agree, Whole Foods 365 Microwave Popcorn is one of the best microwave popcorn options available on the market today.

Whole Foods 365 Microwave Popcorn
Whole Foods 365 Microwave Popcorn

“This pick was the crowd favorite among our testers for its big and fluffy kernels, consistent taste and crispy texture. It is also certified organic and non-GMO. We tested the Light Buttery and Buttery flavors. The Light choice has a very slight taste with a touch of salt, but if you’re looking for more of that indulgent movie theater popcorn flavor, we recommend the Buttery option,” writes Good Housekeeping.

Yes, Whole Foods 365 Microwave Popcorn is available in various flavors. Regardless of which you choose, this is one of the best microwave popcorn options because it uses natural, organic popcorn kernels. “But, good on you, Whole Foods, for honoring the kernel and not the additives. The grocery store’s commitment to celebrating the simple, high-quality flavors [of] its organic products really showed and this has now become a permanent staple in my pantry,” writes Today.

What are the natural flavors that Whole Foods uses? “Alexa, add microwave popcorn to our Whole Foods shopping list. We had a lot of good things to say about this organic gem, made with nothing but organic popcorn, palm oil, salt and natural flavoring. It’s also free of added colors and diacetyl, which is a common additive used for dairy flavoring. It took about two and half minutes to fully pop,” adds Pure Wow.

2. Orville Redenbacher’s Movie Theater Butter Microwave Popcorn

Coming in second is none other than Orville Redenbacher’s Movie Theater Butter. This microwave popcorn is a classic brand that’s available in most every grocery store across the country and it definitely does its job at simulating that movie theater experience at home.

Orville Redenbacher's Movie Theater Butter Microwave Popcorn
Orville Redenbacher’s Movie Theater Butter Microwave Popcorn

“Orville Redenbacher’s Movie Theater Butter is hands down the best microwave popcorn brand on the market and the only one that deserves permanent shelf space in your pantry. In researching the brand, I found out that Orville is actually the brand of popcorn that most big movie chains carry,” explains Uproxx.

Orville offers everything you’re looking for. “Orville Redenbacher’s is a quintessential popcorn brand, and it lives up to its legendary status. This popcorn was a bit salty and had an ideal amount of butter. The pieces were crunchy but still maintained some airiness to them,” writes Eat This, Not That.

The brand has also figured out one of the keys to producing a great microwave popcorn product. “Orville Redenbacher’s has a nice ‘old-timey‘ popcorn taste according to our testers. The bag also holds up well in the microwave with no residual grease leaking through to the outside,” adds Good Housekeeping.

3. Quinn Snacks Microwaveable Popcorn

Quinn appeared on half of the lists we referenced and even took the top spot on one occasion. The experts loved this popcorn and it showed.

Quinn Snacks Microwaveable Popcorn
Quinn Snacks Microwaveable Popcorn

“The seasoning and the butter for this popcorn come in little packets on the side, so you’re really in the driver’s seat when it comes to dictating the amount of salt and butter here. We tried Quinn plain, and, man, it was really good. It has a clean and fresh corn flavor to it, and the kernels aren’t rubbery so they don’t get stuck in your teeth. It’s just fluffy and airy, making it highly snackable,” writes Sporked.

Quinn Snacks also introduced a safe way of popping. “The Quinn Snacks microwavable popcorn is the most expensive option on our list when compared to how much popcorn you actually get in each package, but there’s a good reason for that. Instead of popping your popcorn in chemically coated bags, Quinn popcorn is uses what they call their ‘pure-pop’ paper bag that’s sure to be healthier than anything else,” explains Gadget Review.

Organic popcorn in a healthy bag, that’s why Quinn Snacks is one of the best microwave popcorn options available today. “This pick is unique to the other choices because it contains only two wholesome ingredients, popcorn and sea salt. It is USDA-certified organic and certified non-GMO and has one of the lowest fat and sodium contents of all picks we reviewed. The bags are made of composted paper and ingredients are transparent from farm-to-bag,” adds Good Housekeeping.

4. Pop Secret Movie Theater Butter Microwave Popcorn

Pop Secret offers a classic brand of microwave popcorn that is well-loved by families across the nation. “The texture of Pop-Secret perfectly balances the light, airy feel with crunchiness. We also loved that the butter didn’t taste artificial or overly salty, and there was the right amount of butter. It didn’t leave your mouth coated in it, but there was still enough to taste. It would be no surprise if you grabbed a bag and ate it all while watching a movie,” writes Eat This, Not That.

Pop Secret Movie Theater Butter Microwave Popcorn
Pop Secret Movie Theater Butter Microwave Popcorn

Pop Secret doesn’t try to be something it isn’t, and lovers of microwave popcorn appreciate that. Still, Pop Secret just seems to strike the right balance of butter and kernels. “Proper seasoning is the hardest thing to get right. You either have it, or you don’t. And Pop Secret has it,” explains Sporked. “It mimics the alchemy of delicious movie theater popcorn so incredibly well.”

“More butter? Bring it on; let’s make things tasty. Pop Secret Movie Theater Butter popcorn doesn’t hold back on the flavor and gives you an amazing taste without all the grease for the perfect movie night,” adds Gadget Review.

5. Jolly Time Microwave Popcorn

Jolly Time is another classic brand. In fact, Jolly Time is the oldest popcorn brand in America, dating back to 1914. Stands to reason Jolly Time appeared on 60 percent of the lists we referenced. Don’t get it twisted, though, Jolly Time isn’t always the healthiest option, but experts agree that it satisfies all the right cravings.

Jolly Time Microwave Popcorn
Jolly Time Microwave Popcorn four-pack

“The inside of the bag is stained with yellow, artificial butter goodness. Each kernel is coated well with buttery flavor. You know how the last third of a movie theater tub of popcorn is no longer buttery? That’s not a problem with Jolly Time. It’s salted well, too, and overall just incredibly tasty,” writes Sporked.

And Jolly Time offers a variety of flavors to meet your snacking needs including cheesy goodness. “We’ll throw anything on popcorn, from Parmesan to black pepper to maple sugar. But nothing beats the convenience of microwave popcorn that already contains a fun, surprising flavor. Exhibit A: The Big Cheez,” writes Pure Wow.

“[Jolly Time] happens to be the longest continuous Good Housekeeping Seal-holder, earning its seal in 1925,” writes Good Housekeeping.

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.