Vegan Microwave Popcorn: The Ultimate Guide [Dairy-Free Brands]

Popcorn is my favorite food. No exaggeration—it’s number one. And in 13 years as a vegan, I’ve had popcorn so many ways. Today, I decided to do a complete survey of microwave popcorn brands to make a list of vegan options. So, is microwave popcorn vegan?

Out of 99 microwave popcorn products checked, 34 were vegan and 65 were not vegan. Most microwave popcorn flavors contain “butter” or “natural flavors (including milk).” The most common vegan flavors are “sea salt” and “kettle corn,” but some “butter” flavors are vegan, too.

When I started working on this post, I decided to make it the ultimate vegan guide to microwave popcorn—and I think I’ve succeeded. Below, I cover every major brand of microwave popcorn and which of their products are vegan. Let’s go!

How to Check If Microwave Popcorn Is Vegan

When it comes to finding vegan microwave popcorn, you need to quickly identify whether the popcorn contains a milk ingredient.

I recommend first checking for an allergen warning at the end of the ingredients list.

If the popcorn contains dairy, then it should say “CONTAINS MILK” or something similar. When you see that milk warning, just move on and check the next box of microwave popcorn.

Keep in mind, if the allergen warning says “MAY CONTAIN MILK,” that is typically still considered vegan-friendly. “May contain milk” just means that it was made in a facility that uses dairy products, but there is no dairy being used intentionally in that product.

Read more about “may contain milk” warnings here.

Milk Ingredients in Microwave Popcorn

There are quite a few different milk ingredients you can find in microwave popcorn products. Keep an eye out for the following dairy ingredients:

  • Butter
  • Clarified Butter
  • Dried Butter
  • Butter Oil
  • Natural Butter Flavor
  • Dry Buttermilk
  • Natural Flavor (Includes Milk)
  • Dried Parmesan Cheese
  • Dried Cheddar Cheese
  • White Cheddar Powder
  • Natural White Cheddar Flavor

The cheese ingredients are not very common, but “butter” and “natural flavors (including milk)” are very common. Most microwave popcorn flavors are likely to contain one of those. But I promise you—there are dairy-free microwave popcorn brands!

“Gray Area” Ingredients in Microwave Popcorn

There are a couple other ingredients in microwave popcorn that the most picky vegans may worry about.

  • Sucralose – Kettle corn and other sweet flavors of popcorns sometimes have sucralose, which is typically considered vegan but has an infamous history of animal testing (read more here).
  • Artificial Colors – Some popcorn flavors are flavored to be a deeper yellow color using artificial colors like yellow 5 or yellow 6. Artificial colors are not always considered vegan due to ongoing animal testing concerns.

Alright, now that we covered which ingredients to look for, let’s get into the vegan microwave popcorn brands!

In the following lists, I won’t bother mentioning the “gray area” ingredients. I’ll just be looking at the dairy ingredients.

Is Act 2 Popcorn Vegan?

Three flavors of Act 2 microwave popcorn are vegan: Butter Lovers, Kettle Corn, and Llama Party (Cotton Candy). All the other flavors contain butter or milk ingredients.

Act II Butter Lovers popcorn is one of the most famous examples of a food that sounds non-vegan, but it actually is vegan. It doesn’t contain real butter. It’s some kind of crazy chemical magic—but it’s not derived from animals.

Here is the full list of Act 2 popcorn flavors and whether they’re vegan:

FlavorIs It Vegan?Animal Ingredients
Xtreme ButterNoButter
Butter LoversYes
Movie Theater ButterNoNatural Flavor (Including Milk)
ButterNoNatural Flavor (Including Milk)
Light ButterNoNatural Flavor (Including Milk)
HomestyleNoNatural Flavor (Including Milk)
Kettle CornYes
Buttery Kettle CornNoMilk
94% Fat Free ButterNoButter
Llama Party (Cotton Candy)Yes
Which Act II microwave popcorn flavors are vegan? (source)

Is Orville Redenbacher Popcorn Vegan?

Six flavors of Orville Redenbacher microwave popcorn are vegan: Kettle Corn, SmartPop! Kettle Corn, Naturals: Simply Salted, Naturals Light: Simply Salted, Avocado Oil Popcorn, and Skinnygirl Lime & Salt. The rest contain milk ingredients.

Here is the full list of Orville Redenbacher microwave popcorn flavors and whether they’re vegan:

FlavorIs It Vegan?Animal Ingredients
Movie Theater ButterNoNatural Flavor (Including Milk)
Pour Over Movie Theater ButterNoButter
Ultimate ButterNoButter
ButterNoButter
Light ButterNoButter
Tender WhiteNoButter
Home RecipeNoButter
Kettle CornYes
Cheddar CheeseNoNatural Flavor (Including Milk), Butter Oil
SmartPop! Kettle CornYes
SmartPop! ButterNoButter
Naturals: Simply SaltedYes
Naturals Light: Simply SaltedYes
Naturals Light: Butter & Sea SaltNoButter
Avocado Oil PopcornYes
Skinnygirl Butter & Sea SaltNoButter
Skinnygirl Lime & SaltYes
Which Orville Redenbacher microwave popcorn flavors are vegan? (source)

Is Pop Secret Vegan?

Eight flavors of Pop Secret microwave popcorn are vegan: Kettle Corn, Sea Salt, 94% Fat Free Kettle Corn, Sweet ‘n Crunchy Caramel, Sweet ‘n Crunchy Kettle Corn, Kidz First Order Kettle Corn, Pumpkin Spice, and Popfetti. The others contain milk ingredients.

Here is the full list of Pop Secret microwave popcorn flavors and whether they’re vegan:

FlavorIs It Vegan?Animal Ingredients
ButterNoNatural Flavors (Including Milk)
Movie Theater ButterNoNatural Flavors (Including Milk)
Jumbo Pop! Movie Theater ButterNoNatural Flavors (Including Milk)
Extra ButterNoNatural Flavors (Including Milk)
Double ButterNoNatural Flavors (Including Milk)
HomestyleNoNatural Flavors (Including Milk)
Jumbo Pop! ButterNoNatural Flavors (Including Milk)
Kettle CornYes
Sea SaltYes
94% Fat Free ButterNoNatural Flavors (Including Milk)
Light ButterNoNatural Flavors (Including Milk)
94% Fat Free Kettle CornYes
Sweet ‘n Crunchy CaramelYes
Sweet ‘n Crunchy Kettle CornYes
Kidz Galactic ButterNoNatural Flavors (Including Milk)
Kidz First Order Kettle CornYes
Pumpkin SpiceYes
PopfettiYes
Which flavors of Pop Secret microwave popcorn are vegan? (source)

Is Jolly Time Popcorn Vegan?

Three flavors of Jolly Time microwave popcorn are vegan: Simply Popped Sea Salt, KettleMania, and Healthy Pop Kettle Corn. The other flavors contain milk ingredients.

Here is the full list of Jolly Time microwave popcorn flavors and whether they’re vegan:

FlavorIs It Vegan?Animal Ingredients
Blast O ButterNoButter, Dry Buttermilk
Simply Popped ButterNoClarified Butter
Simply Popped Sea SaltYes
Xtra ButterNoButter, Dry Buttermilk
ButterNoButter, Dry Buttermilk
Crispy ‘n WhiteNoNatural Flavor (Including Milk)
Crispy ‘n White LightNoNatural Flavor (Including Milk)
KettleManiaYes
Mallow MagicNoNatural Flavor (Including Milk)
The Big CheezNoNatural Flavor (Including Milk)
Healthy Pop ButterNoNatural Flavor (Including Milk)
Healthy Pop Crispy ‘n WhiteNoNatural Flavor (Including Milk)
Healthy Pop Kettle CornYes
Which flavors of Jolly Time microwave popcorn are vegan? (source)

Is Newman’s Own Popcorn Vegan?

Two flavors of Newman’s Own microwave popcorn are vegan: Sea Salt and Tender White. The other flavors all contain milk ingredients.

Here is the full list of Newman’s Own microwave popcorn flavors and whether they’re vegan:

FlavorIs It Vegan?Animal Ingredients
ButterNoNatural Butter Flavor
Movie Theater ButterNoNatural Butter Flavor
Sea SaltYes
Tender WhiteYes
Touch of ButterNoNatural Butter Flavor
Organic ButterNoNatural Flavor (Contains Milk)
Organic Touch of ButterNoNatural Flavor (Contains Milk)
Which flavors of Newman’s Own microwave popcorn are vegan? (source)

Is Boom Chicka Pop Microwave Popcorn Vegan?

Two flavors of Boom Chicka Pop microwave popcorn are vegan: Sea Salt Microwave Popcorn and Lightly Sweet Kettle Corn. However, the Real Butter Popcorn flavor is not vegan, as it contains butter.

Here is the full table of Book Chicka Pop microwave popcorn flavors and whether they’re vegan:

FlavorIs it Vegan?Animal Ingredients
Sea Salt Microwave PopcornYes
Real Butter PopcornNoButter
Lightly Sweet Kettle CornYes
Which flavors of Boom Chicka Pop microwave popcorn are vegan? (source)

Is 365 Microwave Popcorn Vegan?

The “No Oil or Salt Added” flavor of 365 microwave popcorn is vegan. The Butter Flavor and Light Butter Flavor are not vegan, as they contain milk ingredients.

Here is the full table of 365 microwave popcorn flavors and whether they’re vegan:

FlavorIs it Vegan?Animal Ingredients
Butter FlavorNoOrganic Butter Flavor
Light Butter FlavorNoOrganic Butter Flavor
No Oil or Salt AddedYes
Which flavors of 365 microwave popcorn are vegan? (source)

Is Quinn Popcorn Vegan?

Two flavors of Quinn Pop microwave popcorn are vegan: Vermont Maple Kettle Corn and Just Sea Salt. The other flavors all contain milk ingredients.

Here is the full table of Quinn microwave popcorn flavors and whether they’re vegan:

FlavorIs It Vegan?Animal Ingredients
Aged Parmesan & RosemaryNoDried Parmesan Cheese
Real Butter & Sea SaltNoDried Butter
White Cheddar & Sea SaltNoDried Cheddar Cheese
Vermont Maple Kettle CornYes
Just Sea SaltYes
Movie Theater Extra ButterNoGrass-Fed Clarified Butter
Which flavors of Quinn microwave popcorn are vegan? (source)

Is Skinny Pop Microwave Popcorn Vegan?

Both flavors of Skinny Pop microwave popcorn are vegan. Surprisingly, the Butter flavor of Skinny Pop does not include real butter. Instead, it includes “Natural Non-Dairy Butter Flavor” and it is certified vegan.

Here is the table of Skinny Pop microwave popcorn flavors and whether they’re vegan:

FlavorIs It Vegan?Animal Ingredients
Sea SaltYes
ButterYes
Which flavors of Skinny Pop microwave popcorn are vegan? (source)

Is Pop Weaver Popcorn Vegan?

No flavors of Pop Weaver microwave popcorn are vegan. All of them contain real butter.

Here is the table of Pop Weaver microwave popcorn flavors and whether they’re vegan:

FlavorIs It Vegan?Animal Ingredients
Extra ButterNoButter
ButterNoButter
Light ButterNoButter
Kettle CornNoButter
Which flavors of Pop Weaver microwave popcorn are vegan? (source)

Is Cousin Willie’s Popcorn Vegan?

Only one flavor of Cousin Willie’s microwave popcorn is vegan: Just a Hint of Sea Salt Microwave Popcorn. The other flavors all contain milk ingredients.

Here is the full table of Cousin Willie’s microwave popcorn flavors and whether they’re vegan:

FlavorIs It Vegan?Animal Ingredients
Buttery ExplosionNoNatural Butter Flavor
Movie Theater ButterNoNatural Butter Flavor
Sweet & Salty Kettle CornNoNatural Butter Flavor
White CheddarNoNatural White Cheddar Flavor
Natural White CheddarNoWhite Cheddar Powder,
Natural White Cheddar Flavor
Cinnamon ToastNoNatural Butter Flavor
ButterNoNatural Butter Flavor
Real ButterNoNatural Butter Flavor
Just a Hint of Sea SaltYes
Which flavors of Cousin Willie’s microwave popcorn are vegan? (source)

Is Black Jewell Popcorn Vegan?

Three flavors of Black Jewell microwave popcorn are vegan: Natural, No Salt / No Oil, and Simply Sea Salt. The other flavors contain milk ingredients.

Here is the full table of Black Jewell microwave popcorn flavors and whether they’re vegan:

FlavorIs It Vegan?Animal Ingredients
NaturalYes
Touch of ButterNoNatural Butter Flavor
Sweet & SaltyNoNatural Butter Flavor
No Salt / No OilYes
Simply Sea SaltYes
Which flavors of Black Jewell microwave popcorn are vegan? (source)

Is O Organics Microwave Popcorn Vegan?

The Simply Salted flavor of O Organics microwave popcorn is vegan. However, the Butter flavor of O Organics microwave popcorn is not vegan, as it contains milk ingredients.

Here is the full table of O Organics microwave popcorn flavors and whether they’re vegan:

FlavorIs It Vegan?Animal Ingredients
Simply SaltedYes
ButterNoNatural Butter Flavor
Which flavors of O Organics microwave popcorn are vegan?

How to Make Microwave Popcorn With Just Plain Kernals

You can also make popcorn in the microwave with plain popcorn kernels. To do this, you’ll want a safe container to put the kernels in. For example, you can use this collapsible silicon bowl with a lid (Amazon link).

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Is There Vegan Microwave Popcorn Without Palm Oil?

Quinn does not use palm oil in their microwave popcorn. They have two vegan options without palm oil: Just Sea Salt and Vermont Maple Kettle Corn. You can also get the “No Oil or Salt” flavors by 365 or Black Jewell—they contain no oil whatsoever.

I was surprised to learn how common palm oil is in microwave popcorn, but it truly is the norm, present in almost all microwave popcorn products.

Even brands like Skinny Pop and Boom Chicka Pop, which use sunflower oil for their pre-popped popcorn, use palm oil for their microwave offerings.

Tip: Melting Vegan Butter to Pour on Popcorn

One time I dated someone who did this with her popcorn. She would take some Earth Balance (vegan butter), put it in a little pot on the stove, melt it, and pour it on her popcorn.

I never thought to do that before, so I thought it was pretty neat.

Most microwave popcorn comes with plenty of salt, oil, and flavor, so you probably won’t need to add melted vegan butter… But I just felt like adding this bonus tip at the end of the article in case it’s what’s been missing in your life!

Two More Recommendations for Your Vegan Journey

1. This is the best vegan multivitamin I’ve found in 13 years of being vegan. It has vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega-3—and nothing else. Translation: It only has the nutrients vegans are actually low in. Read my full review of Future Kind’s multivitamin here (with 10% discount).

2. This is the best vegan starter kit I know of. It’s a bundle of 9 beautiful e-books that help you transition to a healthy plant-based diet—the right way. The advice is spot-on, and it has print-outs and checklists that make it easy to implement. Read my full review of Nutriciously here.