Popcorn may be your go-to snack when you’re watching a movie or TV. If you like munching on popcorn kernels, you’ll be happy to hear that they’re relatively healthy. Popcorn contains fiber, is whole grain, and is gluten-free. Plus, it’s a low-calorie treat. One cup of air-popped popcorn has around 30 calories.

Unfortunately, the healthy benefits disappear if you cover your popcorn in butter or add too much salt. The calories can also add up fast.

Movie theatergoers may be disappointed to learn that most concession stands make popcorn in oils containing high amounts of saturated or trans fat. They also tend to add a large amount of butter and salt to each portion.

Here’s a look at the nutrition in movie, microwave, and stovetop popcorn.

Movie theater popcorn nutrition

It’s hard to imagine going to a movie without picking up a tub of popcorn at the snack stand. But the large serving sizes, high fat content, and the amount of salt in each portion is unhealthy. If you want to eat popcorn at the movies, share a small size with a friend. Hold off on adding extra butter or salt.


Cinemark Theaters

Oil used: Nonhydrogenated canola

200340 mg


AMC Theaters

Oil used: Coconut

CaloriesSaturated fat
59033 g


Regal Entertainment Group

Oil used: Coconut

1,200980 mg

Microwave popcorn nutrition information

If you’re looking for a high-volume snack, microwave popcorn is a good option. An entire bag of microwave popcorn is only going to set you back a few hundred calories. Your best bet is to look for all-natural, butter-, and salt-free varieties.

Orville Redenbacher’s Movie Theater Butter

Calories160 (per 4 cups popped)
Saturated fat4 g
Sodium250 mg

Newman’s Own Natural Popcorn

Calories130 (per 3.5 cups popped)
Saturated fat2 g
Sodium200 mg

Quinn Snacks Real Butter Popcorn

Calories180 (per 3 cups popped)
Saturated fat3 g
Sodium125 mg

Stovetop popcorn nutrition facts

Making your own popcorn on the stovetop might seem old-fashioned. But it’s the healthiest option compared to movie theater and microwave popcorn. That’s because most of the unpopped, whole kernels you’ll find at the store are salt-free.

You can also control what type of oil you cook the popcorn in and how much you use.

Orville Redenbacher’s Original Popping Kernels

Calories120 (per 7.5 cups popped)
Saturated fat0 g
Sodium0 mg

Trader Joe’s Organic Popping Corn

Calories120 (per 6 cups popped)
Saturated fat0 g
Sodium0 mg

Pop Secret 100 Percent Natural Premium Jumbo Popping Corn

Calories120 (per 5 cups popped)
Saturated fat0 g
Sodium0 mg

Next steps

If you like to eat popcorn, it can be a healthy snack. But not all popcorn is good for you. Your best bet is to buy kernels and pop them yourself on the stovetop. Instead of butter and salt, try topping popcorn with cayenne pepper, nutritional yeast, or dark chocolate cocoa powder and cinnamon for sweet, savory, or spicy treats.

What's your favorite type of popcorn?