Whether you are looking for a healthy snack or going to the movies – popcorn is the first thing that comes to mind for many. With its heavenly smell and many flavors to choose from, you simply cannot dislike popcorn.
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Is Popcorn Vegan?
Essentially, popcorn is a specific variety of corn kernels that expand and pop when heated. The only ingredient needed for popcorn is corn, so it’s easy to see that the snack in its purest form is entirely vegan! However, it is often made non-vegan by adding different toppings and seasoning. Lets see what we need to pay attention to when buying or making popcorn to ensure that it fits our plant-based lifestyle.
Is plain popcorn vegan?
Popcorn is simply a type of corn, making it a whole-grain and 100% plant-based snack. Only specific varieties of corn kernels are used for popcorn. That’s because a certain amount of moisture is needed to make it possible for the corn kernels to expand and pop when heated.
The only ingredient needed for popcorn is corn, which means that plain popcorn is always suitable for vegans. As long as you pop it using either plant-based oil or hot air and don’t use any non-vegan products to season and flavor it, you don’t have anything to worry about. Popcorn becomes non-vegan when it has animal-derived ingredients such as butter added.
How to make Vegan Popcorn at home?
As we already mentioned above, popcorn kernels on their own are naturally plant-based. So how can you make popcorn at home? Pick up a bag of plain unflavored corn kernels from your nearest supermarket, and you won’t need much else.
There are several ways to make popcorn pop at home.
- Popcorn On the Stovetop – All you need is the following: a large pot, popcorn kernels, and oil. Place the pot over high heat, cover the bottom of the pot with oil and throw 2-3 corn kernels in. Let the oil heat up until the kernels pop, and then add the rest of your corn kernels. Cover with a lid, give your pot a shake, and slightly reduce the heat. Wait until you can hear the kernels start to pop, and gently shake the pot now and then. Once your popcorn has finished popping, season it, and voila! If you don’t want it plain, here’s a cheesy vegan popcorn recipe that I love.
- Microwave Popcorn – This is another popular way to make popcorn at home, it’s also quicker and easier than making it on the stove. You’ll need a microwave (duh!) and corn kernels. Either pour some plain corn kernels into a microwave-safe bowl, cover it lightly with a lid, and microwave it for 2-3 minutes. Or throw a pre-packaged bag of corn kernels in the microwave and follow the instructions on the package. Here are some tasty microwave popcorns worth a try.
- Air Popped Popcorn – You do need an air popper for this method. Air popper circulates hot air around the popcorn kernels and when it gets hot enough, the kernels pop. Safe to say that this is the healthiest popcorn you could have, as it’s completely oil-free.
Is pre-popped popcorn vegan?
Sometimes we just want a quick snack without having to do any work ourselves – no judging here. Pre-popped popcorn bags can be found pretty much in any grocery store. The issue with these ready-to-eat bags is that they have already been seasoned. That makes the vast majority of those snacks not suitable for vegans as they are often seasoned with animal-based ingredients. Just to name a few – butter, honey, caramel, cheese, and even bacon are commonly used.
But hey, certainly not impossible to find vegan-friendly pre-popped popcorn. Always check the ingredient list, and steer clear of unspecific ingredients such as ¨natural flavoring¨. It’s good to keep your eyes open for simple flavors.
Here are some tasty vegan popcorn brands to try out.
- Smartfood Sweet and Salty – The slight hint of sugar and salt go so well together. Such a classic, yet so good.
- Angie’s Boom Chicka Pop Avocado Oil – This is one of the many vegan popcorn flavors that Angie’s offers. Made with 100% avocado oil, fully cholesterol-free, and non-GMO – it’s great for folks who want something very healthy.
- Angie’s Boom Chicka Pop Salted Maple – Another plant-based flavor by Angie’s. It’s my absolute favorite, so I wanted to include it. If you haven’t tried this yet, do yourself a favor and get a bag!
- Skinny Pop White Cheddar – Yes, you read that right! The cheesy flavor is not animal-based – it comes from a non-dairy cheddar flavoring. Honestly, I’ve never liked anything cheesy, but this is heavenly. SkinnyPop has quite a few vegan options.
- Pop Art Thai Coconut Curry Popcorn – As the name suggests – this is not for everyone. I have tried this once, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. It’s in no way bad, but it is a strangely good flavor for popcorn.
Is movie theater popcorn vegan?
The popcorn sold at movie theaters is often vegan-friendly. Surprisingly most movie theaters don’t pop their popcorn in butter. Instead, oils such as canola oil, sunflower oil, or coconut oil are used. So as long as you choose plain popcorn, you should be safe. In case you’re asked if you want butter, simply decline.
The following movie theater chains have stated that their popcorn is suitable for vegans.
- Regal Cinemas
If you’re not sure whether the popcorn at a specific movie theater is vegan or not, you can always give them a call or ask the staff.