Is Popcorn Gluten-Free?

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  • Fact checked
A box full of gluten free popcorns

Popcorn is believed to be a gluten-free snack, safe for people with gluten intolerance, wheat allergy, celiac disease, and other gluten-related health disorders. 

However, once the ingredients list of popcorn starts stretching beyond corn and butter, this snack enters the grey area in the world of the gluten-free diet.

Is popcorn gluten free?

Yes, popcorn is gluten-free in its most basic form. It is made from corn kernels, and corn [1]Beyond Celiac: Is Corn Gluten-Free? is a naturally gluten-free grain. However, not all popcorn is gluten-free.

Some store-bought or movie theater popcorn may have flavoring additives that contain gluten. These can cause adverse effects in people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Common gluten-containing additives include BBQ and soy sauce flavoring, imitation meat flavoring (bacon), malt flavoring, and so on.

So, eating plain popcorn or homemade popcorn with gluten-free seasonings is safe. The same cannot be said about all the popcorn available in the market. When looking to buy store-bought popcorn, it is best to look for products labeled gluten-free.

Is movie theater popcorn gluten-free?

Eating popcorn at a movie theater will always carry a margin of risk. If you are on a gluten-free diet, the only way to eat popcorn in theaters is to find gluten-free popcorn brands.

Some theaters have gluten-free options but without the buttery topping. Interestingly, two of the largest movie theaters in the United States- Regal and AMC claim that they serve gluten-free popcorn. 

Nevertheless, avoiding popcorn in movie theaters is a safe option if you are sensitive to gluten.

Tips to buy gluten-free popcorn

Fortunately, many gluten-free, ready-to-eat flavors and microwavable popcorn are available in the market. But, you need to be a little careful while purchasing them. Here are some tips that will help you buy the best popcorn when you are on a gluten-free diet:

Read Labels Carefully

One of the most important things you must do is read the labels carefully. You should look for a “gluten-free” label [2]U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Gluten and Food Labeling on the packaging. However,  if you don’t see this label, it doesn’t automatically mean that the product contains gluten. 

You need to check the list of ingredients to ensure that the popcorn has no gluten-containing ingredients. Some ingredients to watch out for are wheat starch, barley, rye, and malt. The product is not gluten-free if you see any of these ingredients listed on the package.

In addition to that, you also need to check the allergen and cross-contamination information. Such information is usually present at the end of the ingredient list. 

Look For Third-Party Certification

Another thing that you need to look for is third-party certification. Many organizations offer gluten-free certification. 

National Celiac Foundation [3]National Celiac Association: Certified Gluten-Free Products, the NSF, and the Gluten-free Certification Organization (GFCO) [4]Gluten Intolerance Group: The Leader in Gluten-Free Certification are the most reputed organizations that offer certification. If a product has been certified by any of these organizations, it is safe for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

Manufacturer’s Website

Another thing that you can do is check the manufacturer’s website. Many manufacturers have allergen [5]U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Food Allergen Labeling And Consumer Protection Act of 2004 Questions and Answers and cross-contamination information available on their websites. So, you can quickly identify if a product is gluten-free or not. 

In addition to that, you can also contact the manufacturer directly and ask them about their products.

Make gluten-free popcorn at home

If you are unsure about the gluten-free status of commercial popcorn, the next best thing to do is to make it at home. You can either use air-popped popcorn or microwave popcorn method to make this snack at home. When you make your own gluten-free popcorn at home, you can also eliminate concerns of cross-contamination. 

Making popcorn at home is not only safe but also relatively cheaper. You can easily find gluten-free popcorn kernels online or at your local store. Once you have the kernels, you must pop them and add your favorite seasoning. You can use pre-made gluten-free seasoning or make your own by mixing different spices.

If you are looking for a variation of gluten-free popcorn, here are a few recipes you can try.

Gluten-Free Caramel Popcorn

Here is a simple recipe for a gluten-diet friendly caramel popcorn:


  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup


  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat.
  3. Add popcorn kernels and cover the pot with a lid.
  4. Once the kernels start popping, reduce the heat to low and shake the pot occasionally, so the kernels don’t burn.
  5. Mix brown sugar, corn syrup, salt, and baking soda in a small saucepan.
  6. Cook the mixture over medium heat until it comes to a boil.
  7. Once it starts boiling, cook for 1 minute and remove it from heat.
  8. Pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn and stir it, so it is evenly coated.
  9. Spread the popcorn on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes.
  10. Let the popcorn cool before serving.

Gluten-Free White Chocolate Popcorn

Gluten-free white chocolate popcorn is simple to prepare and is an excellent treat for get-togethers or movie nights. With three simple ingredients, you can enjoy a sweet and delightful snack.


  • 10 cups of popcorn
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. In a small saucepan, melt white chocolate chips over low heat.
  2. Once the chocolate chips are melted, pour them over the popcorn and stir it, so it is evenly coated.
  3. Let the popcorn cool before serving.
  4. Add other toppings like chopped nuts or dried fruit. 

Popular gluten-free popcorn brands

If you are looking for some good gluten-free popcorn brands, here are a few that you can try:

  1. Jiffy Pop: This brand has gluten-free popcorn options that test to less than 20 ppm gluten.
  2. Bob’s Red Mill: This popular gluten-free products manufacturing company offers white and yellow popcorn kernels.
  3. Great Northern Popcorn Company: This brand offers gluten-free white and yellow popping kernels. 
  4. Jolly Time: This popcorn is made with 100% whole grain and comes with a certified gluten-free label.
  5. Act II: This easy-to-make popcorn brand offers gluten-free microwavable popcorn in 8 flavors, including sweet and savory flavors.
  6. Black Jewell Popcorn: For over a half-century, this brand has been offering gluten-free popcorn kernels that pop fluffy corn.


Although popcorn is gluten-free, it is always safer to buy clearly labeled, gluten-free popcorn. Consider buying plain popcorn, organic popcorn, or try making flavored popcorn at home with your own gluten-free flavorings. If you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivities, talk to a certified doctor or dietician before you include popcorn in your diet’s “to-eat” list.


1 Beyond Celiac: Is Corn Gluten-Free?
2 U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Gluten and Food Labeling
3 National Celiac Association: Certified Gluten-Free Products
4 Gluten Intolerance Group: The Leader in Gluten-Free Certification
5 U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Food Allergen Labeling And Consumer Protection Act of 2004 Questions and Answers

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