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There are few snacks quite as satisfying (and bingeable) as popcorn. While we totally understand the appeal of using an old-school popper, some movie nights call for the convenience of microwave popcorn. But not all nukeable kernels are created equal. Here are eight of the best microwave popcorn brands you can buy, ranked from tasty to downright dangerous (because, fair warning: you’ll down the whole bag in minutes).

RELATED: Safe + Fair Drizzled Popcorn Is Just as Good as Actual Dessert (and Far Healthier, Too)

How We Ranked the Microwave Popcorns

The brands were chosen based on reviews and availability (both in stores and online), with our scores targeting five areas: value, quality of ingredients, popability (did the popcorn burn or were we left with a bunch of unpopped kernels, even after following the package instructions?), texture (crisp and fluffy > edible Styrofoam) and flavor.

Taryn Pire

8. Act II Buttery Kettle Corn

Best microwave kettle corn

  • Value: 19/20
  • Quality: 17/20
  • Popability: 17/20
  • Texture: 17/20
  • Flavor: 18/20

Total: 88/100

You may think of popcorn as a salty, savory snack, but let’s not overlook the glorious treat that is kettle corn. This pick is naturally and artificially flavored. Its ingredient list includes popping corn, palm oil, salt and sucralose (since kettle corn is salty and sweet). The packaging says it could take up to two and a half minutes to pop. We had about 50 seconds left on our 950-watt microwave once it slowed, but we might let it pop a little longer the second time around because of the leftover kernels and no signs of scorching.

You can smell its sweetness in the air as it pops, and its aroma gets even more delicious once you open the bag. To taste, its sweet notes shine brighter than the buttery, salty notes. The flavoring is pretty consistent throughout, as all the popcorn is yellow. Some pieces were kind of tough to chew and flattened in our teeth instead of breaking up, so it’s not as crisp as we’d like. But overall, this is a solid option (and bargain) for sweet popcorn lovers.

Buy it ($1.60/three-pack)

Taryn Pire

7. Newman’s Own Organics Butter

Best organic microwave popcorn

  • Value: 16/20
  • Quality: 20/20
  • Popability: 16/20
  • Texture: 18/20
  • Flavor: 19/20

Total: 89/100

If it’s quality ingredients you’re seeking, look no further. Newman’s uses organic, non-GMO popcorn, palm oil, sea salt and natural flavor. It took us almost the full two and a half minutes to pop the corn, stopping once a couple seconds passed between pops.

We love the flavor; it’s mildly buttery and tastes healthier—or more wholesome—than big-brand popcorns. Each piece was nice and crisp. Our only complaint is in the popability department: Despite some of the pieces being slightly scorched, there were still way more unpopped kernels than some other brands we tested. But if a clean ingredient label is your priority, don’t let those pesky kernels keep you away. Bonus? All Newman’s Own profits go straight to charity.

$36/12-pack at Amazon

Taryn Pire

6. Jolly Time The Big Cheez Ultimate Cheddar Popcorn

Best unconventional flavor

  • Value: 17/20
  • Quality: 18/20
  • Popability: 17/20
  • Texture: 18/20
  • Flavor: 20/20

Total: 90/100

We’ll throw anything on popcorn, from Parmesan to black pepper to maple sugar. But nothing beats the convenience of microwave popcorn that already contains a fun, surprising flavor. Exhibit A: The Big Cheez. Its ingredients include non-GMO popcorn, palm oil, salt, spices and both natural and artificial flavors. (But hey, that’s never stopped us from inhaling other neon orange treats that came our way in the past.) You’ll notice the deep red-orange hue showing through the bag, which may be alarming to some but had us beyond psyched before we even put it in the microwave.

The packaging said it could take up to 3 minutes to pop and to stop when the pops were one to three seconds apart. We stopped it a little after the two-minute mark. There were a handful of kernels left behind, but we truly didn’t even care once we smelled it. With one bite, we felt like a kid chowing down on cheese balls at a slumber party. It’s cheesy, savory, crisp and so well-seasoned. Fair warning: Your fingers will turn orange. But we think that’s part of the fun.

$23/four three-packs at Amazon

Taryn Pire

5. Clancy’s Movie Theater Butter Popcorn

Best bang for your buck

  • Value: 20/20
  • Quality: 18/20
  • Popability: 17/20
  • Texture: 18/20
  • Flavor: 18/20

Total: 91/100

If you’re familiar with this brand, odds are you’re an Aldi stan. And if this popcorn speaks for the rest of Clancy’s products, we totally see why. Despite being a value brand, it’s naturally flavored, unlike a few on this list. The label reads popping corn, palm oil and salt, plus natural color and flavor. The bag said it could take two to four minutes to pop, but it was ready after two for us.

It’s not as overwhelmingly buttery as other movie theater-inspired popcorns, but it’s salty, savory and definitely hits the spot. Something about the flavoring is also distinctly nutty, albeit subtle. Most importantly, it’s a steal: One six-bag box will only cost you $1.70 at Aldi.

Buy it ($1.70/six-pack)

Taryn Pire

4. Pop Secret Light Butter Popcorn

Best flavored light microwave popcorn

  • Value: 17/20
  • Quality: 19/20
  • Popability: 18/20
  • Texture: 19/20
  • Flavor: 18/20

Total: 91/100

So, you want to minimize calories but can’t chow down without butter in the mix. We don’t blame you. This light popcorn is the best of both worlds. It’s free of artificial flavors and dyes, as well as preservatives. The ingredients include popcorn, palm oil, salt, natural flavors and annatto and paprika for natural coloring. The packaging said to nuke it for up to four minutes, stopping once the pops were one second apart. We took it out after two minutes and 15 seconds and noted that some pieces looked a bit burnt.

Nevertheless, it’s crisp and satisfying, and the flavor is without a doubt buttery without racking up the calories. In fact, this pick is slightly lower in calories *and* fat per serving than Skinny Pop—butter flavoring included.

Buy it ($4.60/three-pack)

Taryn Pire

3. 365 Organic Buttery Flavor Microwave Popcorn

Best texture

  • Value: 18/20
  • Quality: 19/20
  • Popability: 18/20
  • Texture: 20/20
  • Flavor: 17/20

Total: 92/100

Alexa, add microwave popcorn to our Whole Foods shopping list. We had a lot of good things to say about this organic gem, made with nothing but organic popcorn, palm oil, salt and natural flavoring. It’s also free of added colors and diacetyl, which is a common additive used for dairy flavoring. It took about two and half minutes to fully pop. Even though we stopped it right as the popping slowed as instructed, some of the pieces had already been slightly burned. On the bright side, there were almost no kernels left behind.

While the flavor is only slightly buttery, our favorite thing about this popcorn is definitely its texture—each piece is perfectly light, airy and crisp. Catch us noshing on it by the fistful.

$3 at Amazon

Taryn Pire

2. SkinnyPop Sea Salt Popcorn

Best plain microwave popcorn

  • Value: 18/20
  • Quality: 20/20
  • Popability: 17/20
  • Texture: 19/20
  • Flavor: 19/20

Total: 93/100

Believe it or not, popcorn can be straight-up delicious even without any butter flavoring. And SkinnyPop Sea Salt Popcorn is proof. At only 25 calories a cup (or 130 calories per serving), it’s a great option for people craving better-for-you snacks. It’s just plain popcorn, sunflower oil, palm oil and sea salt, all non-GMO and free of artificial ingredients and preservatives.

The packaging said it could take up to two and a half minutes to pop; it slowed for us with a minute left. But judging by how many kernels were left over with no signs of burning, we could have probably let it go a few more seconds. The popcorn is salty, crisp and satisfying as is, but we wouldn’t blame you for going ham with whatever spices and seasonings you have on hand.

Buy it ($4.50/six-pack)

Taryn Pire

1. Orville Redenbacher’s Ultimate Butter

Best for butter lovers

  • Value: 19/20
  • Quality: 20/20
  • Popability: 20/20
  • Texture: 19/20
  • Flavor: 19/20

Total: 97/100

This is it, folks: The all-around best popcorn on our list—especially if you’re all about the butter. The label reads popping corn, palm oil, salt, butter and natural flavor and colors. It’s free of artificial preservatives, flavors and dyes to boot. While popcorn is naturally whole-grain and gluten-free, this one’s also made with non-GMO kernels.

The instructions read to start the clock with two and half minutes, but the popping slowed after about two for us. It’s super buttery (we’re talking little drips oozing out the top of the bag) without being overwhelming or wet. The popcorn is super yellow for the most part with a few white pieces throughout. (In terms of how coated with butter your fingers will get, this is like the Cheetos of microwave popcorn.) Better yet, its texture is beyond crisp and there were minimal leftover kernels. It’s the ideal stand-in for anyone missing the movie-theater popcorn experience.

Buy it ($5/12-pack)

The PureWow100 is a scale our editors use to vet new products and services, so you know what's worth the spend—and what's total hype. Learn more about our process here.

RELATED: Is Healthy Popcorn a Thing? Yes…But You Won’t Find It at a Movie Theater

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