If you’ve heard about air-popped popcorn but think it isn’t healthier than the other types of popcorn, think again. Although you can add unhealthy ingredients such as butter and salt to air-popped popcorn if you like, most people make it plain because when you don’t add anything, it is still crispy and chewy but has very few calories and fat.
Why Choose Air-Popped Popcorn?
It isn’t just the health benefits of air-popped popcorn that make it so popular. It’s also the feeling of control that you get when you make it. In other words, you can still make it tasty and not so bland if you like by adding healthy alternatives such as sea salt and certain seasonings such as spices and herbs. Regular popcorn is usually made with oil and butter, such as microwave popcorn, that you cannot remove before you make it.
When you have choices regarding what to add to your popcorn, you get both healthier options and more personalized options that guarantee you’ll love the popcorn in the end. This is yet another one of the many reasons to choose popcorn that is air-popped instead of cooked on the stove or in the microwave. So just how can you make sure that your popcorn is the absolute best when you cook it in an air popper? You can start by following all of the directions to the letter, which can vary slightly with each machine.
For instance, here is a basic recipe suggested by one of the more popular air poppers on the market:
Take 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels and pour them into the popping chamber of the machine. Place a 4-quart bowl underneath the popping chute and plug the popcorn maker in. The kernels will immediately start popping and should be completely finished popping in two to three minutes. Once the popcorn maker shoots out the popcorn into the bowl, you can add melted butter and a little salt if you like.
For a healthier alternative, skip the butter, use sea salt instead of table salt, and add one to two teaspoons of one of the following spices:
- Garlic seasoning
- Southwest seasoning
- Ranch seasoning
- Italian seasoning
- Mixed herbs seasoning
- Pesto seasoning
- Jalapeno or Tex-Mex seasoning
- Parmesan seasoning
Regardless of your favorite flavors, you can usually find a seasoning mix that satisfies your palate. Just shop around in your favorite store or online, and you’ll have access to tons of options that you are sure to love.
Check out our buyers guide on air poppers here.
Why Is Air-Popped Popcorn Healthier for You?
The reason that plain air popcorn is so healthy is that you get all of the health benefits of popcorn without any of the things that usually make popcorn bad for you. What type of benefits does popcorn provide? Here are a few of them:
- High in fiber
- A whole-grain food
- No cholesterol
- Lots of vitamins and minerals
- Lots of protein
- Very low amounts of fat and sugar
Eating air-popped popcorn gives you all of these health benefits without any added salt, sugar, and oils such as butter or vegetable oil. Since it is possible to add ingredients that are healthier than oils and salt, such as sea salt and herbs, you don’t have to always eat popcorn that is plain, which some people consider too bland and not tasty enough to eat.
Another advantage of eating popcorn as a snack, regardless of how you cook it, is that most recipes make a lot of popcorn that you can then eat as a snack in the days ahead. You can store away your leftovers in an airtight reusable bag and eat the popcorn anytime you like.
Tips for Making the Very Best Air-Popped Popcorn
We mentioned earlier that you should always cook the popcorn according to the directions for that particular popper. Air poppers are usually super easy to use because all you do is either plug them in or flip the on/off switch to “on” and the kernels start popping. Nevertheless, it’s important that you read the instructions that come with the machine to make sure you don’t do anything that might burn the kernels or otherwise ruin their flavor.
There are other ways to make the absolute best air popcorn as well, and one of those is to buy only organic corn kernels. Organic kernels do a better job of digesting properly once you swallow them. Their fiber stays intact, which can also help keep you regular! Also, keeping the kernels in the freezer until you need them keeps them fresh longer, and some people say this always gives them a much better flavor.
If you feel like you have to have melted butter on your popcorn, choose the unsalted organic butter instead of regular butter. You can also choose low-fat margarine rather than real butter, but it doesn’t always melt or stick to the popcorn as good as butter does. Other options include coconut oil or olive oil, which are also a little healthier than butter and can help any salt or seasonings you sprinkle on the popcorn stick much better.
If you like cheesy popcorn, but you want to keep your popcorn healthy, try sprinkling some nutritional yeast over the bowl of popcorn after it pops. Nutritional yeast tastes a lot like cheese but is much healthier for you. In addition, if you’re going to use butter, make sure you melt it for the proper amount of time the first time.
If you let it sit, then try to remelt it later on, it can cause a mini “explosion” once you add your flavorings and cause the butter to go everywhere, making for one messy kitchen!
No type of popcorn is as healthy as popcorn that is air-popped, so regardless of how you pop it or what you add to it, it is usually healthier than popcorn that is cooked on the stove or in the microwave, especially if the popcorn is pre-packaged and already has chemicals or unhealthy ingredients included in the mix. The fresher the kernels and the fewer ingredients you add to the popcorn, the healthier and tastier it’s going to be, making air-popped popcorn a great option for all popcorn lovers.