Is popcorn considered vegan? It seems vegan, being made from corn kernels popped in the microwave. This aspect holds as it essentially consists of corn. However, what other ingredients are added to store bought brands?

Vegan popcorn.

In this comprehensive guide, I will go over what popcorn is made from, what brands to try, and which brands are vegan. I have also included a list of my preferred vegan popcorn brands!

What is Popcorn Made of?

Popcorn is made of a special type of corn kernel called Zea mays everta. While all corn belongs to the same species, popcorn has unique properties that allow it to pop when heated. Unlike other corns like sweet corn or dent corn, popcorn kernels have three key parts:

Endosperm: This is the starchy center of the kernel, made up of both hard and soft starches. Soft starch turns gooey when heated, while hard starch remains solid. This difference creates the fluffy texture of popcorn.

Germ: This is the tiny embryo of the plant, containing nutrients and oils.

Pericarp: This is the hard outer shell of the kernel, also known as the hull or bran. It’s thicker and more moisture-resistant than other corn varieties, allowing pressure to build inside during heating.

When heated, the water inside the kernel turns to steam, building pressure within the hull. Once the pressure becomes too high, the hull ruptures, causing the starchy endosperm to expand and push outwards. This rapid expansion is what creates the fluffy, white popcorn we know and love!

Plant based popcorn.

Is Popcorn Vegan?

Plain popcorn kernels themselves are 100% vegan. They are simply a type of corn, which is a plant-based ingredient. However, things can get a little more complicated once flavorings and additives are introduced.

Here’s a breakdown:

Vegan-friendly popcorn:

Plain, air-popped kernels: This is the simplest and most definitively vegan option.

Popped with plant-based oil: Coconut oil, olive oil, and avocado oil are all vegan alternatives to butter.

Seasoned with spices and herbs: Salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili flakes, nutritional yeast, etc., are all vegan-friendly ways to add flavor.

Pre-packaged popcorn with vegan ingredients: Check the ingredient list carefully for things like dairy, butter, milk powder, or cheese flavorings. Many brands offer specifically vegan-labeled popcorn options.

Non-vegan popcorn:

Popped with butter or ghee: These are dairy products and not suitable for vegans.

Flavored with cheese powder, milk chocolate, or caramel: These often contain dairy or other animal-derived ingredients.

Microwave popcorn with non-vegan ingredients: Check the label carefully, as some brands sneak in butter flavorings or other animal products.

Tips for enjoying vegan popcorn:

Make your own at home to control the ingredients.

Look for pre-packaged popcorn specifically labeled as vegan.

When in doubt, always check the ingredient list.

Experiment with different spices and herbs to create your own unique flavor combinations.

By following these tips, you can enjoy all the deliciousness of popcorn without compromising your vegan principles.

Movie theater popcorn.

Brands You Should Try

Whether you’re vegan for ethical reasons, health-conscious, or just looking for a new snack to try, here are some fantastic vegan popcorn brands.

1. Angie’s Boomchickapop

This brand offers delicious vegan options like Sea Salt, Light Kettle Corn, and Sweet & Salty Kettle Corn.

Boom chicka pop.

2. SkinnyPop

Known for its light and airy texture, SkinnyPop is made with natural ingredients like popcorn, sunflower oil, and a sprinkle of salt. Their Original, White Cheddar, Sea Salt & Pepper, Kettle Corn, and Organic flavors are vegan-friendly.

Skinny pop.

3. Lesser Evil

Lesser Evil is committed to delicious healthy snacks. Their vegan offerings include No Cheese Cheesiness, Avocado-Licious, Fiery Hot!, Himalayan Gold, Himalayan Pink Salt, and even a Sugar Cookie flavor!

Lesser evil snacks.

4. Quinn Foods

This brand focuses on using organic non-GMO ingredients. Try their Just Sea Salt Microwave Popcorn or Vermont Maple Kettle Corn Microwave Popcorn.

Quinn snacks.

5. Pop Secret

Pop Secret has a wide variety of vegan-friendly popcorn! Look for flavors like Kettle Corn, Sea Salt, Sweet n Crunchy Kettle Corn, Pumpkin Spice, Kidz First Order Kettle Corn, Sweet n Crunchy Caramel, Popfetti, and 94% Fat-Free Kettle Corn.

Pop secret.

6. Orville Redenbacher

Another classic brand with vegan options, Orville Redenbacher offers Kettle Corn, SmartPop Kettle Corn, Naturals Simply Salt, and Naturals Lightly Salted Simply Salt flavors that are dairy-free.

Orville Redenbacher's.

7. Act II

While not all Act II flavors are vegan, they do offer some delicious dairy-free options like Kettle Corn and, surprisingly, Butter Lovers (made with plant-based butter)!

Act II popcorn.

8. Jolly Time

Jolly Time offers a variety of vegan popcorn options, including Simply Popped Sea Salt, Kettle Mania, and Healthy Pop Kettle Corn.

Jolly time popcorn.

9. AshaPops

This unique brand takes popcorn to the next level by using water lily seeds instead of corn kernels. Their vegan-friendly flavors include Turmeric Garlic, Chili, Vegan Cheese, and Himalayan Pink Salt.

Popped water lily seeds.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can vegans eat popcorn?

Plain popcorn kernels are absolutely vegan-friendly. They are simply a type of corn, which is a plant-based ingredient. However, the preparation of popcorn is where things get tricky for vegans.

What popcorn is not vegan?

Popcorn becomes non-vegan when it includes animal-derived ingredients like:
Butter: Many pre-packaged and microwave popcorn varieties use dairy butter, making them off-limits for vegans.
Cheese: Flavors like “cheddar” or “parmesan” usually contain cheese powder, which contains dairy.
Milk chocolate or caramel: These sweet options often contain milk or other dairy products.
Unidentified “flavorings”: Check the ingredient list carefully, as some flavorings may sneak in animal products.

Is microwave popcorn vegan?

Some microwave popcorn options are vegan, but you have to read the label carefully. Many contain butter, cheese, or other non-vegan ingredients. However, several brands offer specifically vegan-labeled microwave popcorn with plant-based oils and seasonings.

Can vegans have salted popcorn?

Plain salt itself is vegan, so salted popcorn is generally vegan-friendly. However, pre-packaged or seasoned popcorn that mentions “butter salt” or uses non-vegan seasonings might not be suitable for vegans.

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If you found this post about vegan popcorn helpful, I would really appreciate a review! You can find me on InstagramFacebook, and Pinterest. Check out these Vegan Recipes for more information!