Fast foods

Air Popped Popcorn Vs Microwave Popcorn: Which One’s Better?

Making popcorn at home is quite a breeze now. The two popular options considered are:

  • Air popped popcorn made with a mini electrical hot air popper machine
  • Microwave-ready bagged popcorn made with the household microwave oven

Many people opt for microwave popcorns to cook them in the microwave oven. They also find it the easiest and tastiest option for popcorn to enjoy at home. However, the oil and ingredients they contain are highly questionable for health.

On the other hand, you’ve got the air popped popcorn which is well known for its health benefits. Although they mightn’t be as tasty as the microwave versions, you can improvise them to control the taste and flavorings according to your preference.

So which one’s better? Let’s find out!

Air Popped Popcorn

What Is Air Popped Popcorn?

Air popping is a technique to make popcorn with a particular appliance such as the air popper. It circulates hot air on every side of the popcorn kernels, and when they get hot enough, they pop out of the bowl into the storage section. You usually see them at carnivals and movie theaters.

But those theater air poppers are too large to use at home. Recently, some electric versions of the air popper have come into the market, compact enough to fit on the kitchen top and have the exact mechanism for making popcorns.

The air popped popcorns made from mini popcorn poppers at home are much healthier than movie-theater or microwave popcorns since they don’t contain added oil or artificial flavorings. The air popped popcorns can also be seasoned according to your preference. And you can also choose the ingredients to control the nutritional facts and taste.

Microwave Popcorn

What is Microwave Popcorn?

Microwave popcorns are unpopped popcorns available in a sealed, enhanced paper bag at the store with additional ingredients. Such as oil, salt, and artificial flavorings. The bags have dry popcorns with all the ingredients, and you put them into a microwave oven to heat the kernels using microwaves.

The bag traps stream and cooks the popcorn to pop. These kinds of bags contain Perfluorinated compounds that prevent oil from seeping through. So while it helps the ingredients mix with the popcorn, it also allows harmful chemicals to get into it. And that makes the health concern of microwave popcorn questionable.

Air Popped Popcorn Vs Microwave Popcorn

Here we are with comparison between air popped popcorn and microwave popcorn to find out which one excels where.

The Way They’re Prepared

Air popped popcorns are made with a particular appliance known as a hot air popcorn popper, traditionally used in movie theaters. They’re now available as household mini popcorn machines that circulate hot air all around the kernels to get them popped to perfection. And the good thing about this machine is you can use it at home without requiring oil or artificial chemicals, unlike the theater popcorn makers.

Line the bottom of the appliance’s basket using aluminum foil, add an optimal amount of kernels, and turn on the machine. Get your popcorn ready without oil within 8 to 10 minutes.

On the other hand, there are microwave-ready bagged popcorns with added oil, flavorings, and seasoning in the package. You just have to put them in the microwave and turn it on. The kernels will start popping in 15 to 20 seconds, and within 3 minutes, you should have all your popcorns popped and ready to eat.

Health Concerns

Regarding health concerns, the air popped popcorns are a far healthier snack than their microwave counterparts. They don’t need oil to be cooked; however, you can add them later for flavoring.

Nutritionist Maya Vadiveloo from the University of Rhode Island thinks the best part about air popped popcorns is that you have control over seasonings to be added afterward. Like the amount of oil, butter, or salt to be used.

Besides requiring oil or artificial flavorings to cook the bagged or pre-packaged microwave popcorns, the bag also contains harmful PFCs that can get mixed up into the popcorn, causing different health issues. They’re also higher in sodium and calories while containing less fiber than the air-popped versions.

Read: Benefits of Eating Popcorn


Both the air popped popcorn and microwave popcorn is easy to make. However, microwave popcorns are probably more convenient here. Every home has a microwave oven, and microwave popcorn packaging comes with all the ingredients ready. They also require less cooking time and have an enhanced shelf life.

On the other hand, the air popped popcorns require a particular appliance and need slightly more cooking time. But when it comes to burning or overcooking, the air popped popcorns are popped to perfection as they don’t remain in contact with heat once popped.

Microwave popcorns taste


Microwave popcorns are indeed the tastier ones. The oil and artificial flavorings give it a buttery taste and fragrance, making it a gem of a snack at your leisure. Although they’re pretty unhealthy, having these popcorns once in a while shouldn’t be very damaging.

On the other hand, you’ve got the air popped popcorns that can be improvised in so many ways. But unlike microwave popcorns, it allows adding salt, butter, or seasonings afterward. So, even though they provide a good taste, it falls flat compared to the potentially unhealthy yet delicious microwave popcorns.

Air Popped Popcorn And Microwave Popcorn: Which One’s Better

Declaring the better option between the air popped and the microwave popcorn isn’t easy. We’ve seen one’s healthier while the other is tastier. If you want a taste close to popcorns made in the theater, you must go for the microwave popcorns.

They contain oil and artificial flavorings like the theater popcorns, even though they’re prepared differently. They’re buttery and aromatic that can satisfy your tastebuds as a perfect snack.

However, some good recipes for seasoned air popped popcorns also use healthy ingredients like melted butter, salt, oregano, Parmesan cheese, or garlic salt to a taste somewhat close to what you want. So if you can carry out a tasty recipe for the air popped popcorn, then you’d probably want to avoid taking the risks of consuming potentially unhealthy microwave popcorn.

Final Words

Popcorn is a part of leisure culture in many parts of the world, especially in America. Besides enjoying them in carnivals and events, many enjoy them at home. Since there are two popular options, it could be challenging to figure out between the air popped popcorn and microwave popcorn.

But the competition is more like healthiness vs taste, where air popped popcorns are healthier, and the microwave versions are tastier.

We’d recommend you slightly compromise with the taste and go with the air popped popcorn if you want to enjoy it frequently. But if it’s about consuming it once in a while, there’s nothing wrong in having the delicious and easy-going microwave-ready bagged popcorns.