How Do I Choose the Best Microwave Popcorn?

Sherry Holetzky

Microwaves can be made differently, which means that some are more powerful than others are. It is important to know the strength of your appliance before selecting foods such as microwave popcorn. You will also likely need to observe and possibly adjust the recommended cooking time on the popcorn package to suit your appliance. Never leave microwave popcorn unattended while cooking as doing so can result in damage, fire, or injury.

Salt, which is often used to top popcorn.
Salt, which is often used to top popcorn.

Aside from choosing the product that best matches your appliance’s specifications, you will also want to select a product that is tasty, a good value, and perhaps one that is considered more healthy than others. You can also select different sizes. Economy size packages are available, which contain a large number of popcorn packets generally at a lower price. Serving size may also be an issue. Many brands of microwave popcorn offer mini or single serving packets.

Popcorn is a popular salty snack.
Popcorn is a popular salty snack.

Microwave popcorn is available in a large variety of flavors, from plain to kettle corn. There is movie theater style, extra butter, cheese, caramel corn, and more. There are many styles from sweet to spicy from which you can choose. After selecting a flavor, you may still have other choices to make, such as which type of preparation you prefer. Some types of microwave popcorn have the flavor cooked in as the popcorn pops, while others include packets of "pour-over" flavoring to apply after cooking.

Check out reviews of microwave popcorn. There are books, magazines, shows, and websites that test food products and offer reviews. Some brands may pop up better than others do or may be especially tasty. You might want to try some of the highly rated options suggested by these resources.

There may be options listed that you have not seen or heard of before visiting the site. Not all brands are available in all areas, so you may want to see if the brand has its own website. If so, it is probably a good idea to look for a store locator before heading out to buy microwave popcorn. Keep in mind that many brands can be ordered online if not available at your favorite store.

If you are looking for healthier microwave popcorn, some brands have offerings that do not contain butter, butter flavoring, or added salt. Those that offer smaller servings can be used to help with portion control. To choose a healthier snack, you may wish to look for brands that do not contain high amounts of saturated fat or trans-fat.

There has also been some concern over the dangers of diacetyl, the chemical that is believed to be responsible for “popcorn lung.” This is a serious condition that has affected workers in factories where microwave popcorn is made. While consumers have been told that the levels of diacetyl from making popcorn at home are safe, many people prefer to avoid the risk by purchasing brands that do not use it.

Leaving popcorn unattended in the microwave can sometimes result in fire.
Leaving popcorn unattended in the microwave can sometimes result in fire.

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