Inside and outside theaters, popcorn has always been a popular instant snack! And whether you like sweet or savory, this versatile snack can blend with either, and even both!
But did you think of giving up this treat when you went vegan? Well you don’t have to! There are many vegan popcorn flavors out there, and you can even make your own quite easily!
From vegan popcorn brands to easy DIY flavors you can do at home, this list will cover you!
Is your popcorn maker ready? Let’s get poppin’!
Is Popcorn Vegan?
Popcorn kernels don’t just come from any corn plants. If you’re thinking of putting any corn kernels in your popcorn maker, I should warn you not to. They will just burn at the bottom!
Popcorn is grown from the fertile seeds of the maize variety Zea mays everta. This is the only type of corn that bursts and expands in dry heat. This, of course, just by itself, is vegan.
But to cook popcorn, you need oil. While this usually involves vegetable oils only, we know that palm oils are a no-no in the vegan world. Not unless they’re from a responsible and sustainable source. But that’s not where the real issue lies…
To make popcorn tasty, well there’s A LOT of stuff you can throw in, and this is where non-vegan ingredients can come in. I’m sure you’ll also agree that one of the most common you’ll see literally everywhere is butter. Then there’s also cheese… barbeque… well, anything you can use for flavor actually.
To sum it up, plain popcorn before cooking is absolutely vegan. But to keep it that way, you have to be careful with the flavors. If you’re buying ready-to-eat packs, then you must check the label first, as always.
Additives In Commercial Popcorn
- TBHQ (Tertiary Butylhydroquinone) – a form of the chemical butane that acts as a preservative in microwave popcorn. This chemical has links to several health problems like dermatitis, obesity, asthma, and estrogen imbalance in women.
- PFOA (Perflurooctanoic acid) – another chemical that manufacturers use as an inner lining in microwave popcorn bags. This prevents oil and grease from leaking through the paper bag. The problem is, during heating, the popcorn can also absorb this chemical, which is also an endocrine disruptor.
- Propyl gallate – an artificial additive that microwave popcorn manufacturers use to keep oil from going rancid.
- Citric acid/Ascorbic acid – a natural preservative which is also a safer alternative, although some manufacturers still use toxic chemicals with it.
- Diacetyl – a chemical with a buttery taste (also known as fake butter), which manufacturers often add to microwave popcorn. This is also the chemical responsible for the “popcorn-lung” disease seen among people who work in microwave popcorn factories.
However, this doesn’t just affect factory workers. Consumers may also inhale the toxic vapor from “fresh from the microwave” popcorn. This is why it is better to allow it to cool down first before opening the bag to avoid exposure.
- Flavacol butter salt – a mixture of salt, artificial flavors, and yellow food color that imitates butter flavor. You’ll see this in movie or theater popcorns most commonly. The good thing is it does not contain diacetyl.
- Hydrogenated oils – solidified unsaturated fats which are also cheaper cooking oils that are high in trans fat.
Corn is known as the number one GM food, probably competing with soybeans. There’s been a long-standing debate about the safety of genetically modified crops for human consumption. However, more people prefer to stay away from it since it is also unnatural.
The good news is there are many brands with a “non-GMO” label, especially with vegan popcorn brands. This is despite the fact that the majority of corn production are known to be GM.
In many cases, the use of pesticides is something that is difficult to avoid, especially in large scale production. These chemicals may leave toxic residue in corn crops, which is a cause of concern for a lot of people.
1. Is Skinny Pop popcorn vegan?
Although most of their products are dairy-free, NOT ALL of their popcorn flavors are vegan. But don’t worry because the vegan-friendly ones are easy to spot. Just look for the vegan logo on the labels!
2. Is Kirkland popcorn vegan?
Kirkland’s popcorn have an undisclosed “natural flavors” in its ingredients. Since their popcorn’s flavor is butter, it’s safe to say that they contain real butter. So to me, Kirkland popcorn is not vegan.
3. Is Harkins popcorn vegan?
Harkins popcorn is a brand of theater popcorn. Like all other theater popcorn, the ingredients may be different in every location.
In pre-packed popcorn, just check the ingredients and watch for names that are either hard to understand or are non-specific like “natural flavors”. For theater popcorn sold in open tubs, just ask the vendors.
4. Is Orville Redenbacher popcorn vegan?
Basing on the list of ingredients, Orville does have popcorns that do not contain animal products. However, they all carry the “dairy” label since they are all made in a facility that handles dairy products. This cross-contamination can be an issue for strict vegans.
5. Is Earth Balance vegan popcorn?
Yes! Earth Balance is one of the most popular brands of vegan popcorn. Some of their flavors have been discontinued, unfortunately, but their vegan butter and cheddar flavors are still available!
6. Is Act 2 popcorn vegan?
Along with Orville’s, Act II popcorn is under Conagra Brands and the same manufacturer. So just like Orville’s, Act II carries flavors with no animal ingredients, but all are made in the same facility that handles dairy products. As with any case of cross-contamination, not all vegans are okay with it, so this will be up to you.
7. Is salted popcorn vegan?
Popcorns with nothing but salt is vegan. Some vegans may feel unsure about the use of sea salt. Don’t worry though, most brands use iodized salt! The ones that use sea salt often say it in the label anyway.
8. Is movie popcorn vegan?
The term “movie popcorn” is too broad for a singular dietary classification. This depends on the flavors that vendors add in their popcorn. The good thing is, most vendors will have a vegan popcorn, or will be willing to make you one if possible. All you need to do is ask!
9. Is AMC popcorn vegan?
Popcorns sold in AMC Theaters, depending on the location, will sometimes vary in ingredients. It’s best to ask the vendor directly, or better yet, request for vegan-friendly flavors.
Vegan Popcorn Brands
We all know that majority of the most popular popcorn flavors always contain animal ingredients. But those days are now over! If you’re looking for vegan caramel popcorn, vegan toffee popcorn, vegan chocolate popcorn, and even vegan butter popcorn or vegan cheese popcorn, check out these brands!
Ready-To-Eat Vegan Popcorn
This all vegan brand offers all-natural, non-GMO, and gluten-free popcorn.
Although they’re not all-vegan, their vegan-friendly popcorn flavors are easy to spot when you check their labels. Their popcorns are whole grain, non-GMO, gluten-free, Kosher, cholesterol-free, and with zero trans fat. All flavors are made with simple ingredients, and have no preservatives and HFCS.
This earth-friendly popcorn from Lesser Evil is organic, non-GMO, Kosher, and gluten-free. Only some of their flavors are vegan but they come in convenient vegan labels.
Their website also comes with a handy product filter so you can easily find their vegan products. However, their popcorn share facilities with dairy products, so if you’re particular with cross-contamination, you’ll have to cross this off from your list.
Have you heard of superfood popcorn? This brand’s unique flavors are made from healthier ingredients like turmeric, spirulina, berries, and cinnamon! All their popcorns are vegan, organic, non-GMO, and are made without fillers and additives.
All Pipcorn popcorn flavors are vegan except for the Ghee Flavor. They’re also all-natural, gluten-free, non-GMO, and made with whole grain.
This non-GMO and gluten-free popcorn brand offers vegan flavors that are also free from artificial ingredients and preservatives. Not all their flavors are vegan though, so make sure to look for the vegan logo!
Feel free to choose from all BjornQorn popcorn flavors because they’re not just non-GMO, all-natural, and gluten-free, they’re all vegan too! BjornQorn also uses nutritional yeast seasoning on their homegrown and sun-popped corn kernels.
Boasting unique flavors, Pop Art popcorns are non-GMO, gluten-free, and MSG-free. The vegan flavors they offer also come with a vegan label for convenience.
Made with simple ingredients, Popzup is non-GMO and gluten-free! However, only a few of their flavors are vegan. Don’t worry, they have vegan stamps too to give you a green light!
Nooch is a term for nutritional yeast popcorn, which is what this brand is all about! They’re all-vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, and made of organic ingredients!
This one is a whole grain, non-GMO popcorn brand that’s also gluten-free. Not all their popcorns are vegan but the ones that are a-ok has a “vegan-friendly” label.
GH Cretors’ Organic Dill Pickle and Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil are vegan. They’re also Kosher and non-GMO. The brand uses organic sunflower, safflower oil, and extra virgin olive oil to pop their vegan flavors.
All-vegan and all-natural, Hollee Pop is an organic, gourmet popcorn that’s also non-GMO, gluten-free, and sugar-free!
Another all-vegan popcorn brand with flavors that contain 0 trans fat! All their popcorns are Kosher, non-GMO, nut-free, and cholesterol-free.
This totally vegan brand’s popcorn flavors are all non-GMO, nut-free, and gluten-free!
Hand-picked, all-vegan popcorn without the MSG! Ten Acre popcorns are also gluten-free, with Halal and Kosher certifications!
From Wilkin & Sons, the all-vegan Tiptree popcorns are non-GMO, gluten-free, nut-free, and contains no artificial ingredients!
BONUS: To learn more about how you can improve your vegan popcorn snack, check out how you can add vegan popcorn seasoning to them!
Vegan Microwave Popcorn Brands
- Skinny Pop Butter Microwave Popcorn
- J&D’s Bacon Pop
- Propercorn Salted Microwave Popcorn
- Quinn Microwave Popcorn (Just Sea Salt, Vermont Maple Kettle)
- Nature’s Crush (all flavors)
- Seeberger Microwave Popcorn (all flavors)
You can also try DIY microwave popcorn using brown paper bags with your choice of oil and seasoning!
For vegan popcorn seasoning flavors that you can do easily do at home, checkout recipe ideas from VegNews here.
Plain popcorn kernels without any additives and flavors are vegan. If deciphering ingredients isn’t your thing yet, there are now lots of brands that have a vegan stamp on their vegan-friendly flavors. As for theater or movie popcorn, it’s best to just ask the vendors.
BUT! Don’t forget that too much popcorn may also leave you with so much sugar, sodium, and calories. If you want your popcorn healthier, just pop the plain kernels yourself and use oil and salt as little as possible.
What’s your go-to brand when your craving for popcorn snacking kicks in? Do you also have a recipe you’d like to share with us? Let me know on the comment section below. And don’t forget to share this article in your favorite social media platform.