No movie is complete without a giant tub of popcorn. This light, crunchy and delicious snack is inseparably linked to the history of movies and movie theaters. So much so that even when we are having a movie night at home, we feel the urge to have popcorn.
Thankfully, making delicious popcorn at home is not rocket science. With the right ingredients, you can easily cook up a batch of popcorn on the stovetop itself. But one ingredient plays a crucial part in creating that authentic movie theater popcorn flavor: the cooking oil.
This is why you need to be careful when picking the oil for popcorn. Due to the massive demand for homemade popcorn, there is a real glut of branded oils packaged specifically for making the “authentic” movie theater variety. But which one should you pick?
This is the question we try to provide concrete answers for, with our in-depth review list and comprehensive buyers guide. If you are in a hurry, you can also take quick peek at our handy comparison table of the best oil for popcorn making available online.
Best Oil for Popcorn Comparison Table
|Model||Photo||Volume (gallons)||Popping or Topping||Main Oil||Check Price|
|Snappy Popcorn Butter Burst Oil||1||Both||Soybean|
|Snappy Popcorn Colored Coconut Oil||1||Popping||Coconut|
|Snappy Popcorn Pure Peanut Oil||1||Popping||Peanut|
|Orville Redenbacher’s ||0.125||Both||Soybean|
|Franklin’s Butter Flavored Coconut Oil||0.24||Popping||Coconut|
|Wabash Valley Farms Classic Blend||0.06||Popping||Corn & Coconut|
|Amish Country Popcorn Oil||0.127||Popping||Canola|
|Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil ||1; 0.62; 0.43; 0.12||Popping||Coconut|
|Zoe Extra Virgin Olive Oil||0.26||Both||Olive|
|Baja Precious Organic Sunflower Oil||1||Popping||Sunflower|
|Great Northern Yellow Popping Oil||1||Popping||Coconut|
|La Tourangelle Organic Canola Oil||0.13||Both||Canola|
Best Oil For Popcorn Maker Reviews
Snappy Popcorn Butter Burst Oil – Best Soybean Oil With Butter Flavoring
Available in large 1-gallon jars, this popcorn oil is an ideal choice if you have larger households, or just love making popcorn often! This is a soybean oil based product, and according to the manufacturer, it is ideal for both topping as well as popping.
The main advantage of Snappy Popcorn Butter Burst is that it tries to deliver a close to the authentic taste of movie popcorn. The butter flavoring in this oil is highly reminiscent of the stuff you get from movie theater concession stands. The fact that it uses healthy soybean oil is another advantage.
Many users have complained that this oil fails to deliver any discernible butter flavoring. But that is probably because they used this product mainly as a popping oil. Though it can be used for popping, to get the flavors intact, you have to use it as a topping.
If you want to steer clear of artificial chemicals in your food, you might be forced to avoid this oil altogether. Though it is made from safe soybean oil, the blend also contains artificial flavoring agents and potentially harmful preservatives like TBHQ.
Snappy Popcorn Colored Coconut Oil – Affordable Coconut Topping Oil Without Flavoring
There are just two ingredients in this oil for popcorn variant from Snappy. This is basically coconut oil with some coloring ingredient thrown in to deliver that concession stand popcorn look. This product is designed to work primarily as a popping oil.
It is quite well known that coconut oil is one of the best options out there if you want to make great tasting popcorn at home. And since this contains 100% coconut oil, the nutty flavor is guaranteed. And the coloring agent used is beta-carotene, which is one of the safer, healthier options out there.
Workability takes a significant hit, as this basically has pure coconut oil that solidified at room temperature. So if you use some sort of popcorn maker, you might have trouble scooping enough oil into it. And talking about quantity, you will need more of this product to get a discernible coconut flavor. So it is clearly inferior to extra virgin coconut oil.
Snappy Popcorn Pure Peanut Oil – Best Peanut Oil For Cooking Popcorn
Though they call it a Popcorn oil, this Snappy product is suitable for a wide range of fried dishes. Its basically pure peanut oil, with no additives of any sort. This is refined oil, available in large 1-gallon jars.
The main advantage of the Snappy Peanut oil is that it contains no chemical ingredients. If you want a healthy oil for popcorn, this is an excellent choice. And since it is refined and deodorized, the oil will not have any strong impact on the flavor or smell of the popcorn. It can be used for popping, and as a base for flavored toppings. It can also be used for a wide range of frying.
Since it does not have any food coloring, you will not get that characteristic yellow shade on your popcorn. But you can counter that by carefully adding natural ingredients like turmeric powder to your topping oil.
If you or anybody in your household has nut allergies, this is definitely not ideal for you. But other than that, this product has few clear-cut flaws. If you love the nutty flavor of peanut oil, you might be disappointed because you will not be able to find that here.
Orville Redenbacher’s Popping & Topping – Best Soybean Topping Oil in Small Bottles
The base oil used in this product is soybean oil, mixed with butter flavor and food coloring. Available in individual 16-oz bottles, the Redenbacher’s flavored oil can be purchased online in combo packs containing six such bottles.
Soybean oil is considered very healthy as a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. Since this oil is based on soybean, it could be better for your health than coconut oil. The oil is quite versatile as it can be used for both popping and topping. The small 16oz bottles are also easier to work with.
Oils with artificial flavoring can be a bit of a hit or miss. Some have great taste, while others are quite underwhelming. The chemical flavoring in this one is not the best out there. Though the oil works great for popping, its performance when drizzled on top of your popcorn could be less than satisfactory.
Franklin’s Butter Flavored Coconut Oil – Best Coconut Oil With Butter Flavoring
This is a general purpose flavored oil from Franklin’s. It is available in 30-ounce jars. The main ingredients in it are pure coconut oil, butter flavoring, and beta-carotene for coloring. According to the manufacturer, it is suitable for normal use in meat, fish and vegetarian dishes. But its primary function is as oil for popcorn.
The combination of coconut oil and butter flavoring is considered the optimal choice for authentic tasting movie popcorn. And this mix from Franklin’s does something close to a perfect job when it comes to taste and appearance of the popcorn. The design of the jar also deserves a special mention, as it has a wide neck. This makes it easy to scoop out the oil. The oil is versatile and can be used for general cooking purposes as well.
Coconut oil is rich in saturated fats, so you have to control your intake. It is definitely not the healthiest oil for popcorn out there. The bottle design could also use some improvements, as some users have reported leakage issues.
Wabash Valley Farms Classic Blend – Best Corn-Coconut Hybrid Oil For Popcorns
While many other brands sell their popcorn oils in large gallon sized jars, the Wabash Valley blend is available in a more compact 8oz bottle. This is a blend of two vegetable oils: corn and coconut, with the usual artificial ingredients thrown in for good measure.
This Classic Blend tries to do two things at once: bring the flavor of coconut oil and the liquid consistency of ordinary cooking oil together into one bottle. And it does succeed somewhat. When used for popping, it delivers popcorn that looks like the theater variety.
But since the coconut oil is diluted with ordinary corn oil, you lose out on the flavors quite a bit. You will have to add some extra flavoring if you want the popcorn to have a noticeable butter flavor. Also, this oil contains chemical flavoring agents as well as preservatives. And the small bottles do not provide a value for money proposition if you make popcorn on a regular basis.
Amish Country Popcorn Oil – Best Flavored Canola Oil For Popcorn
The base ingredient in this butter flavored popping oil is canola oil. It is intended to be a companion to their brand of “hull-less popcorn”. But this popcorn oil can also be used with any other brand popcorn.
Canola oil is probably the best aspect of Amish Country Popcorn oil. Derived from rapeseeds, this is one of the healthiest cooking oils around. It has one of the lowest percentages of saturated fats among all vegetable oils. The flavor of the oil is also very light and doesn’t interfere with the popcorn. Though it is marketed as a popping oil, you can also use it for frying other foods with delicious results.
This is yet another oil blend that contains several chemicals. Along with the coloring agent and butter flavor, it also has preservatives like TBHQ. So do not let the Amish packaging beguile you. This is no all-natural down to earth product! The buttery flavor is also not quite there on this product. But that is a common complaint on most oils that uses artificial flavoring for popping.
Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil – Best Organic Coconut Oil for Popcorn
This is a massive 1-gallon tub of virgin coconut oil. It does not contain any extra ingredients and is marketed as a general purpose cooking oil. It deserves special mention here because pure coconut oil a fantastic choice for making tasty popcorn.
Unlike other oils purpose made for popping, this Nutiva product does not contain any artificial chemicals. It is made using cold press extraction process, which preserves the healthy nutrients in the oil. The BPA-free tub makes it very easy to scoop out the oil. And beyond use in the kitchen, the Nutiva oil is also great for health and skin care purposes.
When using this as a popping oil, you might have to consider adding other ingredients for taste and flavor. On its own, it will add a nutty flavor to your popcorn.
There are no major flaws to report against this specific product. But we have highlighted the potential dangers of using an oil that is high in saturated fats on a regular basis, especially in a snack that we are wont to consume in large quantities. In moderation, coconut oil is an excellent ingredient.
Zoe Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Best Olive Oil For Popcorn Topping and Popping
Much like the Nutiva oil above, this is another high-quality general purpose cooking oil. It so happens that extra virgin olive oil can be used for popping and topping homemade popcorn. The Zoe oil is available in a pair of 1-liter tins.
This is a high-quality extra virgin olive, and it has all the health benefits you would commonly associate with such an oil. Spanish olive oils are considered one of the top quality products in its class. This is a great choice for making gourmet popcorn, and it can be used for both popping and topping.
There are few issues with the oil itself. But the packaging leaves a lot to be desired. The opening is prone to leakages when pouring. You will be forced to store this oil in a different container to prevent messy countertops. Also, some folks may not enjoy the olive oil flavor on their popcorn.
Baja Precious Organic Sunflower Oil – Best Sunflower-based Popcorn Oil
Baja has undoubtedly the best looking product in this list, with a sparkling 25oz bottle that looks like a wine bottle. But since appearance is not that important for cooking oil, we cannot add that to the pros list in good conscience! That aside, this is a pure sunflower oil ideal for all things frying.
The mild-tasting sunflower oil is one of the healthiest cooking oils out there. And this particular version is expeller pressed, containing zero additives. Thanks to the high smoking point, this oil can be used for popping with great results. The bottle also has a retractable spout, which makes pouring a breeze.
Though they call it organic, this is not a USDA certified organic product. They really should update the labeling or run the risk of misleading customers. That is the only complaint we have against this otherwise decent product.
Great Northern Yellow Popping Oil – Best Colored Coconut Oil For Popcorn
This is a product specifically designed for use in making popcorn. The blend is available in gallon sized jars and contains just two primary ingredients: coconut oil and beta-carotene coloring agent.
Besides beta-carotene, this coconut oil contains no other chemical additives or ingredients. The popcorn made using this oil has great taste and flavor. The color also looks quite authentic in yellow. It is also priced economically and comes in a large jar with a wide open mouth that makes it easy to use.
To add some buttery flavor to your popcorn, you will have to add extra flavoring ingredients, like the popular Flavaco salt. This particular oil can deliver great tasting popcorn, but it will not have the strong buttery flavor.
Since it is pure coconut oil, this Great Northern Popcorn oil looks more like an orange colored butter than liquid oil. That means that it is not easy to remove or work with. It is also not cold pressed or certified organic.
La Tourangelle Organic Canola Oil – Best Pure Canola Oil For Popping
This artisanal cooking oil perfect for those who want a healthy popping or topping oil for popcorn. The French brand oil contains no additives or chemicals. It is sold in both 1 gallon and 16oz bottles.
The main highlight here is the oil itself. It is extremely pure and virgin quality. There are no chemicals, and you can safely use this product in your kitchen for a wide-ranging of culinary processes including frying. It is a good choice for popcorn as the taste, and the flavor of the oil is very mild.
The containers have a design flaw that leads to frequent dents, especially during shipping. And if you want the authentic buttery flavor in your popcorn, this oil will not provide that.
Best Oil For Popcorn Making Buyers Guide
Why is oil necessary for cooking popcorn?
Technically, oil is not absolutely essential for making popcorn. The fluffy snack is created when heat is applied to a kernel or corn. The water inside the kernel is converted to steam and causes rapid expansion, which leads to an explosion or the “pop.”
There are many ways to apply heat to popcorn kernels. Some methods do not need any oil at all, while for others oil is beneficial or essential. The main issue is even transfer of heat all over the kernels. When you add kernels to hot oil, the heat is evenly distributed. This means that all the kernels pop, and you can also avoid burnt kernels.
Another not insignificant issue is taste and flavor. Some oils are flavor neutral and do not affect the final taste of the dish. But unrefined oils from certain seeds tend to have a strong nutty flavor, which can make the popcorn tastier.
If you want your popcorn to taste the way theater popcorn tastes, you will have to use some sort of oil, either in the cooking process or as part of the final dressing.
What is the importance of oil in the different methods of popcorn making?
When you cook popcorn on the stovetop in a pan or dutch oven pot, it is conduction at work. This is the simplest and least expensive way of making popcorn. You can avoid using oil, and add some water to the pot instead.
But there is increased risk of the kernels getting burnt this way, so you will have to keep a close eye on the pot. Adding oil makes the whole process easier, with less chance of bitter, burnt kernels. Unless you really want to avoid oil at all costs, it is highly recommended for stovetop cooking of popcorn.
This is the method of heat transfer involved in air cookers. The air flow inside keeps the kernels mobile, with even heat transfer. So this type of cooking does not need any oil for convenience. But if you want to add some flavor, you can add your favorite oil. It is totally optional.
If you are making popcorn using the microwave oven, heat transfer is achieved using radiation. This does not require a medium for even transfer of heat, so oil is not essential. But lightly coating the kernels with some oil will give you a better outcome, as it does allow all the parts of the kernel to get evenly heated. So oil is recommended if you are planning to microwave your popcorn.
What are some common features of popcorn oils found on the market?
You can use pretty much any regular cooking oil for popping or topping your homemade popcorn. But many brands do sell specially manufactured oils/oil blends specifically for making popcorn. These oils/mixes have the following features:
- A vegetable oil base: coconut, peanut, soybean, olive, and canola are all popular choices.
- Butter Flavoring: to replicate the authentic movie theater flavor, some brands use artificial butter flavoring (diacetyl, acetyl propionyl, or acetoin)
- Artificial coloring: the golden yellow/orange colored popcorn is highly desired by consumers. To achieve this effect, some brands use artificial food coloring ( (beta-carotene).
What are the risks of high-fat content in oils for popcorn?
All vegetable oils are made almost entirely from fats. So the calorie content is largely uniform, regardless of the source of the oil. One tablespoon of oil usually contains between 115 to 125 calories.
But there are different types of fats, some of which are considered healthier than others. Before we examine the different oils for popcorn, we should take a brief look at these different types of fats and their impact on human health.
Saturated Fat – The main “unhealthy fat,” it increases bad cholesterol (LDL) and raises the chance of heart disease. Oils high in these tend to be solid at room temperature. They usually come from meat and dairy products.
Unsaturated Fat – It is considered the healthy kind, as it reduces bad LDL cholesterol and has many other positive health benefits. Oils high in unsaturated fats will be liquid at room temperature. There are two types of unsaturated fats:
- Monosaturated Fatty Acid (MUFA) – helps reduces LDL cholesterol, prevents heart disease and helps control blood sugar levels.
- Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid (PUFA) – Omega 3 and Omega 6 are the two types of PUFA. Omega 3 is essential for health, but Omega 6 can be harmful if consumed in large quantities.
Most vegetable oils contain high amounts of unsaturated fat, but a lot of it is the potentially unhealthy Omega 6 variety. So even though unsaturated fat is generally considered better than saturated fat from animals, too much can be bad for your health.
What are the different types of oil for popcorn?
All vegetable oils with a high smoking point can be used for popping popcorn. This includes any oils that you would use for frying and other general cooking purposes. The following are some of the common options found in the market.
This oil is a firm favorite of health experts and dieticians. Canola is extracted from rapeseed. The best thing about Canola is that it is high in healthy MUFA, and low in saturated fats. As it doesn’t have a strong flavor, it will not affect the taste of your popcorn in any way. This can be a good thing or bad thing, depending on your taste preferences. Canola oil can get rancid relatively quicker than other cooking oils.
From a health perspective, olive oil needs no introduction. It is an integral part of the famous Mediterranean diet which is one of the healthiest diets known to man. Olive oil is rich in unsaturated fats like MUFA and PUFA. It also has a stronger flavor, which you may enjoy in your popcorn, especially if mixed with certain spices. It can be used for popping, and as a dressing oil.
If you want authentic movie theater popcorn, then coconut oil is the best option. This oil has a very nutty taste that can make your popcorn extra delicious. But it is extremely rich in saturated fats, which can be a problem for your heart. But the research is still ongoing into the health effects of the MCT fats in coconut oil. Other components in natural coconut oil are very healthy though. It is a popular ingredient in popcorn oil mixes.
This is another great choice if you want your popcorn to have a nutty taste. As long as you don’t suffer from any nut-related allergies, peanut oil is a great choice for popcorn. It is low in saturated fat and contains a high percentage of MUFA. It also contains PUFA and antioxidants like Vitamin E. If you want a less nutty taste, you can look at refined peanut oils.
A popular modern cooking oil, Soybean is rich in unsaturated fats, both MUFA and PUFA. It is high in Omega 3 which is essential for health. The flavor of this oil is not very intense, and you can safely use it for popping. It can also be used as a base for your spicy topping as it does not overpower other flavors or smells. This is why it is available commercially in a lot of salad dressing products.
The taste of corn oil neatly mixes with the natural flavor of popcorn, making it an excellent choice if you like the natural taste of popcorn. Corn oil has one of the lowest percentages of saturated fat and is high in MUFA. It is often used to create branded oil dressings for popcorn due to its taste and health benefits.
The oil has a mild flavor and aroma and contains meager amounts of saturated fats. It is rich in both MUFA and PUFA and has a strong effect on cholesterol in your body. Thanks to its mild flavor profile and high smoking point, you can use this in toppings as well as for the popping part of popcorn making.