Air poppers have gained some popularity due to their ability to effortlessly cook popcorn without oil. In some ways, this makes air-popped popcorn a slightly healthier option, but that doesn’t mean you’re prevented from creating a delicious snack that’s just as buttery and flavorful as all the others. However, just like cooking on a stovetop, it all begins with a bag of dry kernels.
The best popcorn for an air popper are unseasoned kernels that are easy to pop and easy to store. Air poppers are meant to be easier and healthier than other popping methods, so the best popcorn will contribute to these goals.
Popcorn kernels vary in every way from quality to size, and there are a few things to keep in mind when you’re buying kernels for your air popper. Below, we’ll give you some buying tips, as well as what to look for when sourcing popcorn.
Can Air Poppers Pop Any Type of Popcorn?
As you shop for popcorn to make in your air popper, you’ll find that there are all sorts of different kinds. Popcorn kernels are sometimes a variety of colors, and they might come in different sizes, but the end result is generally the same.
Air poppers can pop any type of popcorn in terms of color, shape, or size. All popcorn kernels pop the same way, and air poppers work by simply heating the kernels with hot air, so as long as it’s popcorn, it should work.
With that being said, air poppers are limited on spaces, so they’ll only hold a certain amount of popcorn at a time. For that reason, they might not be ideal if you need to pop a large amount of popcorn.
What Should You Look For When Buying Popcorn Kernels?
Different popcorn brands have different things to offer. Some of the characteristics of a kernel will change how the kernel pops and how the kernel tastes. With a little diligence, you can high-quality popcorn that comes out great from the air popper.
Some things you should look for when buying popcorn kernels include:
- Freshness level
- Sturdiness of packaging
- Shape and size
- Moisture content
- Expansion rate
- Presence of hulls
- Source (gourmet, artisanal)
You should pay attention to the freshness level of a given food item, which means looking at the package date or expiration date. Also, keep in mind that popcorn kernels packaged in sealed containers, as opposed to bags or boxes, tend to be fresher. It’s also less likely for these packages to have been compromised during packaging or shipping.
The hulls of popcorn are the pieces that get stuck in your teeth, but some brands try harder to produce popcorn with lower hull content.
While many brands may not list the expansion rate or the moisture content, these will both play a huge factor in how the kernels pop in the popcorn maker. Kernels with higher moisture content will pop better than any others.
What Is The Best Popcorn For An Air Popper?
Oil contains a lot of fat, which some consumers may be trying to avoid, and one of the biggest appeals of the air popper is the ability to pop popcorn without it. Cooking popcorn without oil may sacrifice a little bit of flavor, but the result is popcorn that is a little bit lighter and lower in fat and calories.
The best popcorn kernels for an air popper are unseasoned, organic, and sourced from a quality provider. High-quality kernels often found in smaller shops or from local providers are great for air poppers as they’re often hull-less and as fresh as possible.
It might be difficult to establish the healthiness of the kernels themselves, but your best bet will be those that are bought without seasonings, butters, or oils. Many of the organic varieties will also be non-GMO. Some may consider non-GMO healthier, but given that GMOs are used to produce kernels with specific qualities, non-GMO varieties may have varied results.
With that in mind, Franklin’s Gourmet Popcorn (available on Amazon.com), is a simple, high-quality option that is organic and locally sourced. These kernels also come in a sealed canister, which helps preserve freshness.
While the highest quality popcorn might not always be the easiest to find or cook, you can still find a lot of popcorn brands that are more gourmet or artisanal for your air popper. The Amish community, for example, is notorious for producing high-quality food products, and the Amish Country Popcorn (available on Amazon.com) is often highly praised.
Due to the type of popcorn and the way it’s produced, the kernels are mostly hull-less. The hulls of the popcorn are the pieces that get stuck in your teeth, so a hull-less might be much more enjoyable to eat.
With popcorn kernels like this that are stored in bags, it might be best to transfer them to a sealable container if you don’t plan on making all of the popcorn right away.
Keep in mind, though, that small batch products from smaller brands often carry a higher price.
However, if you find it hard to distinguish between different popcorn brands as far as flavor and texture are concerned, you’re likely looking for the best value on popcorn that’s easily whipped up and able to be stored for a long time.
In that case, Orville Redenbacher is a household name in the popcorn business, and for value, I’d recommend this large container of Orville Redenbacher’s Gourmet Kernels (available on Amazon.com). It’s 100% natural and non-GMO project verified.
At the end of the day, the best popcorn for your air popper might depend on what you plan on doing with it once it’s cooked.
If you like to eat your popcorn in big handfuls, it’s best to select smaller popcorn kernels. However, if you want to season or coat your popcorn once it’s cooked, choose larger kernels that produce sturdier popcorn. And for the best value, buy in bulk from bigger brands. Overall, you’ll want to choose a brand of popcorn that best suits you.