Battle of the Popcorn: Microwave vs. Whole Kernels vs. Pre-Popped

Which version is best? Out of the top three types on the market, one really popped.
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whole kernels

Whole kernels

8¢ cup popped popcorn
4 mins prep

This old-school option is the cheapest, the least processed and the tastiest—so picking a winner was easy. Quinn Popcorn Kernels’ sweet flavor (and its eco-friendly cred) impressed testers.

microwave popcorn


24¢ per cup popped
3 mins prep

Sure, it’s satisfying to watch the bag puff in the microwave, but you pay way more for packaging and mystery ingredients. (TBHQ? No thank you!) BYO brown bag and kernels for a cleaner snack.



34¢ per cup popped
0 mins prep

If you’re all about convenience or love wacky flavors, grab a bag. (Rach digs the cheesy kind—try her Chicago-Style Sweet & Salty snack mix.) But it’ll never taste as fresh as the just-popped stuff.

 Nuke Your Whole Kernels

In a small paper bag with the top rolled down or in a large bowl covered with a paper plate, microwave 1/4 cup kernels on high until the popping slows, about 1 minute 30 seconds in the bag or 1 minute 45 seconds in the bowl. Makes 6 cups.