Popcorn has been a favorite snack for centuries. People have been eating it at movie theaters, carnivals, and at home for ages and enjoying every bite. However, there are actually a wide variety of popcorn kernels that you can use to make popped popcorn. 

The type of popcorn in your bowl can vary significantly based on the variety of corn used to create the kernels. It is pretty amazing how unique popcorns can look, taste and feel when made from different kernels.

We are going to go over all the key differences between different types of popcorn. We will talk about the contrast in taste, price, and even nutritional value when it comes to types of popcorn. You are going to learn a lot and likely come away with a favorite type of popcorn. 

Most Common Types of Popcorn Kernels

There are a few different types of popcorn kernels that you can find in grocery stores. Each type is a little different and each one has its own perks. We will go over the seven most common types of popcorn kernels and explain the key differences between all of them. We will also talk about what each type of popcorn is good for so you can choose the best kernels for your snacking needs. 

Yellow Popcorn

Yellow popcorn is probably the most common type of popcorn kernel on the market. Not only does it have great accessibility and can easily be found in any grocery store, but yellow popcorn is also the least expensive type of popcorn kernel. However, just because it is common and inexpensive doesn’t mean it isn’t great. 

In fact, yellow popcorn is a pretty fantastic type of popcorn. The kernels are large in size and have a yellow-orange tint. Yellow popcorn kernels pop to be about 45 times the size of the original kernel which is much larger than most others. This makes it a favorite choice for movie theater popcorn, microwave popcorn, and for making at home on the stovetop or in a popcorn popper. 

White Popcorn

White popcorn kernels are the next most common type of popcorn. They are not quite as big as yellow popcorn, popping to only 40 times the size of the kernel compared to 45 times the size, but they are still pretty amazing. In fact, the smaller size of white popcorn gives it a crispy, crunchier texture that is great for making caramel corn, kettle corn, or other types of gourmet popcorn. 

White popcorn is often considered one of the healthiest types of popcorn. It has a neutral popcorn flavor and a compact size. White popcorn is definitely popular and a type of kernel you have probably already enjoyed many times. 

Red Popcorn

Red popcorn kernels have a reddish tint to them, hence the name of the popcorn. The kernels are actually a deep red, almost crimson color but still pop to be white. The red color comes from anthocyanin and cyanidin, compounds that are found in other red fruits like grapes and onions. 

Red popcorn is smaller than other types of popcorn which makes it a little bit crunchier than the rest. They are similar in size to white popcorn kernels and used for many of the same, gourmet applications. Red popcorn is considered to be a hulless popcorn kernel since the hull on the kernel is so small. This makes the popped popcorn soft and lacking those pesky pieces that tend to get stuck in your teeth. 

Blue Popcorn

Blue popcorn kernels are actually more common than you may think. You can find this type of popcorn in many health food stores and specialty grocery stores since they are considered to be one of the healthiest types of popcorn. Blue popcorn is high in antioxidants which is one of the reasons why it has a deep blue color. However, that blue tint does go away when the popcorn is popped, turning into a bright white piece of popcorn. 

You can use blue popcorn for pretty much any popcorn recipe. It pops well in home popcorn machines and on the stovetop. The neutral flavor is great for seasoning and flavoring however you wish. 

Popcorn Kernel Shapes

Not only does popcorn come in a wide variety of colors and sizes, but it also comes in different shapes. The two types of popcorn shapes are mushroom-shaped and butterfly popcorn. Popcorn shape isn’t exclusive to one type of popcorn. In fact, one kind of kernel may pop into two different shapes. However, the shape does affect the texture, taste, and appearance of your popcorn kernels. 

Mushroom Popcorn

Mushroom popcorn is big, round, and puffy. It actually looks like a round mushroom with small speckles and all. Varieties of popcorn that pop into mushroom shapes are stronger and more sturdy than butterfly popcorn. Because of this durable shape, mushroom popcorn is often used in sweet varieties of popcorn. 

Mushroom popcorn is great for recreating gourmet popcorn flavors at home. Make popcorn with chocolate, sticky marshmallow topping, or try your hand at caramel popcorn. The big, round shape is perfect for holding those heavy, sweet toppings. 

Butterfly Popcorn

Butterly popcorn is the shape of popcorn that you typically see in movie theater popcorn or in microwave popcorn bags. It has an irregular shape and tends to be softer and fluffier than mushroom popcorn. 

The butterfly-shaped popcorn breaks easily but the light, crispy texture is part of the appeal. The airy, tender popcorn is delicious. It makes really good butter popcorn that is perfect for any movie night. 

What Type of Corn is Popcorn Made From?

Many people think that popcorn can be made from any type of corn. However, this is not true. The sweet corn that you see in the grocery store and the field corn used to feed livestock will not pop under pressure. Popcorn pops due to its hard outside shell and high quantity of moisture inside the kernel. Only a few types of popcorn really have the perfect setup to pop into popcorn.

Popcorn kernels are made from a type of corn called flint corn. Flint popcorn is typically found in the midwest of the United States. It comes in a variety of colors and each type of popcorn you see in the grocery store is from a different variety of flint corn. Pretty interesting.

Hulless vs Hulled Popcorn: Which is Better for You?

The hull of a popcorn kernel is the crunchy part that is on the inside of the popped kernel. It is the part that gets stuck in your teeth. Many people think that popcorn hull is unhealthy but that is not true. 

The hull of the popcorn actually has lots of disease-fighting antioxidants. It is a very important part of the popcorn kernel. Also, the hull can never be completely removed or absent from the kernel. There are no completely hulless popcorns, just kernels with smaller hulls. 

You can feel free to purchase any kind of popcorn kernels without worrying about them being unhealthy. Plain popcorn kernels are whole grains and they make a very healthy snack. Try not to use too much melted butter, coconut oil, sugar, or salt when seasoning your popcorn and you’ll be just fine. 

Get More Snacking Inspiration for Popcorn Lovers

There are a surprising number of popcorn types on the market. From variations in color, texture, and shape, each popcorn is unique. We can’t wait to try them all and see which kind of popcorn we like best.

If you are looking for more snack inspiration, be sure to check out some of our other articles. We have lots of info about popcorn that will make you crave our favorite snack. Check back often as we at Popsmith are always researching and writing about popcorn, bringing you lots of new articles to satisfy your popcorn curiosity.