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The Best & Worst Popcorn in America in 2021—Ranked!

Spoiler alert: Microwave popcorn is the way to go!
FACT CHECKED BY Amanda McDonald

Popcorn is one of the best salty snacks out there, because not only is it tasty, but it's light enough that you can feel good about eating a heaping serving of it. But while some popcorn varieties will fit well into a healthy eating plan, others are simply an indulgence.

For example, you probably already know that movie theater popcorn is a salt and calorie bomb. At AMC, a small popcorn without butter has 740 milligrams of sodium—and adding that butter to it will only make it worse. Sure, it's delicious, but it's going to set you way back on your nutrition for the week.

Don't worry, though. What you can do instead is find other alternatives to the heavy movie theater popcorn that you can enjoy at home. We've compiled a list here of a bunch of options you can grab at the grocery store and ranked them as far as their nutrition goes. Taking a look at calories, sugar, sodium, and ingredients, we've outlined which popcorn is the best to choose if you want a healthy option. As you go through, you'll notice that the best way to go is with microwave popcorn you can make yourself. Check out the rest of the list when you keep reading.

Related: 100 Easiest Recipes You Can Make

14

Cheetos Popcorn

cheetos popcorn

28g serving: 160 calories, 11g fat (2g saturated fat), 260mg sodium, 13g carbs (2g fiber, 2g sugar), 3g protein

For the cheesiest popcorn experience, Cheetos popcorn is an option. While it's a little higher in sodium than regular popcorn, where you're really running into trouble is with the fat. This is one popcorn that should be saved for a special treat.

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13

Pop Zero Cinema Popcorn

pop zero

28g serving: 150 calories, 8g fat (0 g saturated fat), 190mg sodium, 15g carbs (3g fiber, 0g sugar), 2g protein

Pop Zero makes a healthier alternative to the popcorn you typically get at the movie theater. Much lower in fat, calories, and carbs, this popcorn is instead a plant-based snack. But while it's a better option, it's still far from the healthiest one out there.

12

Orville Redenbacher SmartPop!

smartpop

37g serving: 120 calories, 2g fat (.5g saturated fat), 340mg sodium, 26g carbs (4g fiber, 0g sugar), 4g protein

Orville Redenbacher's SmartPop! popcorn packets are the brand's healthier option, however, this popcorn still clocks a good amount of sodium and carbs. But considering the saltier, fattier popcorn options, this one from a classic brand isn't a bad way to go.

11

G.H. Cretors Cheese and Caramel Mix

cretors

28g serving: 140 calories, 8g fat (2g saturated fat), 220mg sodium, 17g carbs (1g fiber, 10g sugar), 2g protein

There's no denying the salty-sweet deliciousness of G.H. Cretors Cheese and Caramel Mix popcorn. With the sharp cheddar flavor balanced by the crunchy caramel, you're getting a well-balanced treat that can satisfy all the cravings. What you're also getting, though, is the sugar from the caramel—and it can add up fast. Using a bowl or plate can help keep portion sizes in control.

10

Smartfood White Cheddar Popcorn

smartfood

28g serving: 160 calories, 10g fat (2g saturated fat), 240 mg sodium, 13g carbs (2g fiber, 2g sugar), 4g protein

Smartfood lives up to its name. It packs a punch of cheesy flavor without a ton of sodium. Each serving even has 4 grams of protein, which is an added bonus and will help keep you full.

9

Indiana Drizzled Black & White Kettlecorn

indiana drizzle

28g serving: 130 calories, 6g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 75mg sodium, 20g carbs (1g fiber, 13g sugar), 1g protein

Never again will you have to choose between chocolate and popcorn—and this combo is super sweet. Not only is it kettle corn to begin with, but it's then drizzled in chocolate, as well. It's no wonder it has quite a big of sugar in it, though the calories and sodium aren't bad.

8

Angie's BOOMCHICKAPOP Sweet and Salty Kettle Corn

boomchickapop

28g serving: 140 calories, 8g fat (.5g saturated fat), 110mg sodium, 18g carbs (2g fiber, 8g sugar), 1g protein

Of course with kettle corn, you're going to have added sugar—it has to get sweet somehow. A serving of this brand contains 8 grams, which isn't terrible if you don't have a lot of other sugar in your day. And actually, with a fairly low calorie count, this makes for a decent sweet snack while watching Netflix.

7

Skinny Pop

skinny pop

28g serving: 150 calories, 10g fat (1g saturated fat), 75mg sodium, 15g carbs (3g fiber, 0g sugar), 2g protein

Skinny Pop comes in a few different flavors, but you can't go wrong with the classic popcorn. It's a low-cal snack that's also incredibly low in sodium, making it an excellent healthy choice without tasting bland.

6

LesserEvil Himalayan Gold Popcorn

lesser evil

28g serving: 110 calories, 5g fat (4g saturated fat), 170mg sodium, 15g carbs (5g fiber, 0g sugar), 2g protein

This popcorn is a little lower in calories than some of the other options and is made from organic ingredients. Plus, because it's made from coconut oil, you'll get the faintest hint of coconut flavor!

5

Lily's Sweets, Milk Chocolate Style Caramel Popcorn

lilys

28g serving: 120 calories, 8g fat (4g saturated fat), 75mg sodium, 18g carbs (9g fiber, <1g sugar), 1g protein

Though you might be inclined to think that this chocolate-covered popcorn is super indulgent, you'd be surprised to know that it's really not! It's sweetened with Stevia, so it's low in sugar, and packs a huge wallop of fiber. If you want a rich popcorn treat, opt for this one.

4

ACT II Butter Lovers Microwave Popcorn

act 2 butter

1 cup serving: 25 calories, 1g fat (.5g saturated fat), 45mg sodium, 3g carbs (<1g fiber, 0g sugar), <1g protein

For being a buttery option, this microwave popcorn actually isn't horrible. It's incredibly low in calories and carbs, which makes it a better choice than other prepackaged buttery popcorns.

3

Pipcorn Sea Salt Popcorn

pipcorn

28g serving: 120 calories, 6g fat (.5g saturated fat), 120mg sodium, 19g carbs (5g fiber, 1g sugar), 3g protein

Pipcorn doesn't have anything extra when it comes to ingredients. The carbs and fiber you're getting are natural from the corn itself. The only things added are a bit of oil and salt to pop the corn and flavor it.

2

Jolly Time Healthy Pop Microwave Popcorn

jolly time healthy pop

1 cup serving: 20 calories, 0g fat (0g saturated fat), 45mg sodium, 5g carbs (<1g fiber, 0g sugar), <1g protein

Jolly Time keeps the sodium, sugar, and fat content super low in this healthier popcorn option. Though the ingredients have a few more additives than some other options, this is still a great healthy choice.

1

365 by WFM Microwave Light Butter Popcorn

365 popcorn

1 cup serving: 30 calories, .5g fat (0g saturated fat), 45mg sodium, 5g carbs (<1g fiber, 0g sugar), <1g protein

What you'll get with this light popcorn is a filling snack that doesn't have a whole lot to it. It only has a little bit of oil, salt, and flavoring, which keeps all the nutrition content low. If you're looking for a healthy popcorn, this is your winner!

And for more on how to make the most of this snack, here is The #1 Unhealthiest Way to Prepare Popcorn, According to Dietitians.

Hedy Phillips
Hedy is a freelance writer with years of experience covering buzzy food trends, wellness, and weight loss. Read more