The Best Microwave Popcorn For an At Home Movie Theater Experience

The best microwave popcorn is exceptionally buttery, salty, and the kernels are sweet, earthy, and they have a distinct corn flavor. Fake butter is welcome, we almost prefer it, but the best microwave popcorn comes at you hard with either fatty, salty flavors or a pure, natural taste. So what popcorn popped best? Read to find out. 

I get hype for movie theater popcorn. I mean, what kind of psychopath goes to the movies and doesn’t look forward to the snacks? Actually, here in L.A., I have plenty of friends who just drink water during movies. People in Hollywood regularly sneak matcha tea inside their jackets and try to bring their service animal into a screening of the year’s new Joaquin Phoenix movie. That’s not my style, partner. Where I’m from, when you go to the movie theater, you are there to watch Transformers 17: Age of the Quadrupeds, and walk out of it absolutely sick to your stomach from eating an entire tub of popcorn drowned in butter. That’s the American way, hombre.

But what makes the best microwave popcorn? Well, here’s what we looked for in this taste test: More than anything, we wanted the package to deliver on its promise. If it says “extra butter,” then we’re assuming there’s going to be a ton of butter. If it says “sea salt,” then we expect a seasoned bag of popcorn with a subtle, not iodized, salt taste. If it says “organic,” then we want fluffy, tasty kernels that don’t feel too dry. And if it says “movie theater” on it, well, we expect it to be the perfect alchemy of salt and butter.

When it comes to popcorn, we either want something that’s organic, textured, and just a tad sweet, or something completely drenched in butter and salt. Here at Sporked, we want food to be healthy or we want it to kill us. “Anything in the middle sucks,” says staff writer Jordan Myrick.

So peep the list, these brands were all in high consideration when it comes to the best microwave popcorn.

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best microwave popcorn

Best of the Best

Pop Secret Movie Theater Butter

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my time working as a line cook, it’s this: Proper seasoning is the hardest thing to get right. You either have it, or you don’t. And Pop Secret has it. It has the perfect balance of salt and butter that we’re looking for in the best microwave popcorn. It mimics the alchemy of delicious movie theater popcorn so incredibly well. Sure, it’s artificial butter, but we love that and we think you do, too. The price is great, to boot. Look, it’s popcorn; it shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. That’s why Pop Secret is the best of the best.

Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon

Rating:

8.5/10

Sporks

best microwave popcorn

Best Fluffy

Whole Foods 365 Buttery Flavor Popcorn

Whole Foods makes great microwave popcorn. It stands out above the rest as far as texture is concerned. The light and airy puffs of popcorn make for a highly snackable experience. It’s so good that Pringles should loan their “Once you pop, you can’t stop” tagline to Whole Foods. Also, there’s a delightful corn-like aftertaste to each kernel that feels fresh and new if you’ve been eating nothing but movie theater-style popcorn your whole life. The butter flavoring here doesn’t reek of artificial flavor, either; the popcorn isn’t stained yellow from additives. This is just a solid, natural popcorn that tastes great without being pretentious. Fluffy and flavorful, and when you’re talking about the best microwave popocorn, you have to mention Whole Foods.

Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon

Rating:

8.5/10

Sporks

best microwave popcorn

Best Movie Theater Style

Jolly Time Ultimate Theater Style Popcorn

The use of “ultimate” here is akin to the use of the word in the phrase, “ultimate frisbee.”. Yes, it’s still frisbee, but now it’s badass frisbee. This is still movie theater popcorn, but it’s also more than that. It has more butter than Pop Secret—you can see it with your own eyes. 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. Jolly Time is a great brand name, too. Who doesn’t love having a jolly time?

Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon

Rating:

8/10

Sporks

best microwave popcorn

Best Butter

Market Pantry Butter Microwave Popcorn

The best butter popcorn is Market Pantry. I mean, the box shows popcorn floating along a river of butter, so yeah, we expected an intensely rich taste. Good news: This popcorn delivered. If you go to the movie theater and love to absolutely drown your popcorn in artificial butter from the pump, then this is your brand. Market Pantry is seriously heavy on that irresistibly creamy, salty butter flavor. It should also be said that this was the number one pick for staff writer Jordan Myrick, who claims she has a death wish by way of butter. Don’t we all want the last thing we see to be a river of butter? I know I do!

Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon

Rating:

7/10

Sporks

best microwave popcorn

Best with Cheese

Sprouts Organic Butter Popcorn

Sprouts’ popcorn has a touch of smoke and an underlying sweet flavor that handily earns it a spot on this list of the best microwave popcorn. The subtle flavor here goes a long way, and it’s not overly dragged down by butter and salt, either. That makes it our pick for the best popcorn for toppings. There’s enough base flavor here to provide a solid base, but adding shredded cheddar or shaved parmesan would enhance things greatly. Look at Sprouts as if it were a good blank canvas on which to paint with your flavor brush. Wow. That was beautiful, Danny.

Credit: Ryan Martin / Instacart

Rating:

6.5/10

Sporks

best microwave popcorn

Best Plain

Quinn Butter & Sea Salt Popcorn

If you like plain popcorn, Quinn has got you covered. That said, 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. There is something really gratifying about plain popcorn that allows you to savor each bite. It’s probably the more dignified way to eat, instead of shoveling loads of butter soaked, salt packed popcorn into your mouth like Jordan and I do. It’s not the best microwave popcorn, but Quinn is tasty and simple. And hey, they have a ton of different flavors, too.

Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon

Rating:

6/10

Sporks

best microwave popcorn

Best Budget

Great Value Popcorn

It would be impossible to not include Great Value on this list. The price is nearly impossible to beat and at the end of the day, guess what? It’s microwaved popcorn. Can you taste butter? Check. Can you taste salt? Check. That’s all popcorn needs to be good. It’s not the best microwave popcorn in the world, but Great Value gets the job done.

Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon

Rating:

6/10

Sporks

Orville Redenbacher’s Butter Popcorn

“It is very light, it’s very crispy, and it has a good, solid taste,” Rhett commented on the classic Orville Redenbacher popcorn. Link jumped in, “I mean, I think this is great. There’s nothing to complain about. At 62 cents a bag, seems like a pretty good deal.” Both Rhett & Link made sure to mention that Orville Redenbacher died in a jacuzzi in 1995. It seemed to be a selling point for them. Anyway, pretty good popcorn, but it just missed our list.

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About the Author

Danny Palumbo

Danny is a comedian, cook, and food writer living in Los Angeles. He loves gas station eggs, canned sardines, and Easter candy. He also passionately believes that all the best chips come from Pennsylvania (Herr's!). If you can't understand Danny when he talks, it's because he's from Pittsburgh.

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  • For the next Popcorn addition, y’all need to get on the pre-bagged Popcorn train. Smartfood Flamin’ Hot White Cheddar for the win babyyyyyyyy!!!

    Reply
    • Comin’ at ya real soon!

      Reply
  • The best popcorn is boom chicka pop. No doubt.

    Reply
  • Orville Redenbacher blows Pop Secret out of the water. Who is paying you off?? Big Pop Secret???

    Reply
  • You don’t mention that the top rated popcorn is only 8.5/10? You must seek a better peninsula.

    Reply
  • Which one has the most realistic butter taste?

    Reply
  • Idk if you all were only tasting butter flavor but personally I think Orville’s kettle corn is the best microwave popcorn. It’s sweet but not to overpowering and it has a very subtle underlying butter flavor.

    Reply