Is Popcorn Gluten-Free?

A question commonly asked by those just starting out on a gluten-free diet. And the answer, in a word, is yes.

While that initial, one-worded answer is straightforward, there are some finer points that make it worth discussing at greater length. The ingredients in popcorn tend to be fairly limited (i.e. corn and oil), and neither one of those fundamental ingredients contains gluten. So, in theory, popcorn is gluten-free.

In practice, there are many variables that may lead to gluten-containing popcorn. Cross-contamination is always a possibility for popcorn from companies that don’t explicitly label their product as “gluten-free.” Many companies may process popcorn in a facility that also processes gluten-containing products, leading to a risk of the popcorn being contaminated.

Flavoring is another thing to watch out for with popcorn. Sometimes, different spices and seasonings can contain gluten, making popcorn unsafe for Celiacs. Make sure to read ingredient labels to be sure they are safe to eat. Whether you’re eating microwaveable popcorn, pre-popped popcorn, or making your own the hard way, make sure everything that’s been added to the popcorn for flavoring is gluten-free.

The Essential Gluten-Free Grocery Guide lists 28 brands whose popcorn is gluten-free. It also lists gluten-free popcorn in a variety of flavors, including butter, kettle corn, caramel corn, caramel apple corn, and white cheddar. And then there are the fun gluten-free flavors from America’s old-fashioned family favorite, Jolly Time, which include KettleMania, Mallow Magic, Sassy Salsa, and The Big Cheez, among others. (Please be advised that not every flavor from every brand is gluten-free. Check the Guide to match flavors with brands, and remember to double check labels.)

Orville Redenbacher’s makes some of the most popular gluten-free microwave popcorn. Most flavors are gluten-free, and the company reports that it is easy to tell from the ingredients list which ones these are. Smartfood, owned by FritoLay, makes pre-popped bags of popcorn that all my friends rave about. (“You don’t know what Smartfood is?” they’ve accused me, incredulously.) Act II, owned by the same parent brand as Orville Redenbacher’s, also carries a few flavors of popcorn that are gluten-free.

If you’re looking for gourmet gluten-free popcorn, try L&J Popcorn (www.landjpopcorn.com), which shows up on many Celiac websites and at many gluten-free events. These guys pride themselves on making all flavors gluten-free, including cheddar, caramel, and kettle corn. Their products can be purchased in bags and in mixed tins that make excellent gifts for your gluten-free friends!

So that’s the deal with popcorn. Yes, it’s gluten-free. Unless, of course, it’s not. Simple enough, right?

What’s your favorite brand of gluten-free popcorn? Do share!


37 thoughts on “Is Popcorn Gluten-Free?”

  1. Great Post! Gluten Free bread, snacks seems to be the biggest hurdle when you are gluten intolerant. I have been gluten free for almost 2 yrs and still struggle with the bread, pizza thing. Ugh!

  2. Great Post! Gluten Free bread, snacks seems to be the biggest hurdle when you are gluten intolerant. I have been gluten free for almost 2 yrs and still struggle with the bread, pizza thing. Ugh!

  3. Any thoughts on movie theater popcorn? We have been sneaking popcorn from home in ziplock bags because we have no idea what they put in their popcorn at the theater.

  4. Any thoughts on movie theater popcorn? We have been sneaking popcorn from home in ziplock bags because we have no idea what they put in their popcorn at the theater.

  5. I like Paul Newman’s. I get the unsalted version and then add Smart Balance to it (it’s gluten-free) and maybe a touch of salt. I used to add a spicy paprika mix, but ran out and can’t seem to find it anymore.

    I was also wondering about movie popcorn. Anyone know the answer?

  6. I like Paul Newman’s. I get the unsalted version and then add Smart Balance to it (it’s gluten-free) and maybe a touch of salt. I used to add a spicy paprika mix, but ran out and can’t seem to find it anymore.

    I was also wondering about movie popcorn. Anyone know the answer?

  7. According to the extensive article about popcorn in Gluten-Free Living, all major theatre chains in the U.S. state their popcorn is gluten-free. I eat AMC (unbuttered) popcorn every time I go to the movies (several times a month) and have been since 2006 when I called AMC to inquire about their popcorn. I’ve also had it at United and Regal Cinemas. Going to the movies is the only time I can order my food without asking any questions.

  8. According to the extensive article about popcorn in Gluten-Free Living, all major theatre chains in the U.S. state their popcorn is gluten-free. I eat AMC (unbuttered) popcorn every time I go to the movies (several times a month) and have been since 2006 when I called AMC to inquire about their popcorn. I’ve also had it at United and Regal Cinemas. Going to the movies is the only time I can order my food without asking any questions.

  9. I checked with manager at our local movie theater Cinemark and talked with him regarding our concerns with gluten free. He let me see the packaging and I read the ingredients. I was not sure, so I wrote down the information from the manufactor that they purchase the popcorn from and contacted them myself. It was indeed gluten free. So, I don’t know about any other theaters, but you might do the same for your local theater.

  10. I checked with manager at our local movie theater Cinemark and talked with him regarding our concerns with gluten free. He let me see the packaging and I read the ingredients. I was not sure, so I wrote down the information from the manufactor that they purchase the popcorn from and contacted them myself. It was indeed gluten free. So, I don’t know about any other theaters, but you might do the same for your local theater.

  11. I’ve also inquired at 2 different movie theatres. Each time I explained, the clerk brought me the packaging so I could read the ingredients. Hooray!

  12. I’ve also inquired at 2 different movie theatres. Each time I explained, the clerk brought me the packaging so I could read the ingredients. Hooray!

  13. What are your favorite gluten-free breads, already made–preferably in the major supermarkets–Shop Rite, Acme, Trader Joe’s Whole Foods, Pathmark, Giant, Super Fresh?

  14. What are your favorite gluten-free breads, already made–preferably in the major supermarkets–Shop Rite, Acme, Trader Joe’s Whole Foods, Pathmark, Giant, Super Fresh?

  15. I have found the absolute best bread ever after a stay in the hospital. Diagnoses with Collagenous Sprue. (very rare, lucky me) It’s from a bakery called The Grainless Baker. (the grainlessbaker.com) It’s based out of PA but they sell in allot of different states. The sandwich bread is so good, when I was released from the hospital I asked to stay for lunch so I could have my sandwich. No kidding. It was like eating pound cake.

  16. I have found the absolute best bread ever after a stay in the hospital. Diagnoses with Collagenous Sprue. (very rare, lucky me) It’s from a bakery called The Grainless Baker. (the grainlessbaker.com) It’s based out of PA but they sell in allot of different states. The sandwich bread is so good, when I was released from the hospital I asked to stay for lunch so I could have my sandwich. No kidding. It was like eating pound cake.

  17. First and foremost, is Pop Secret Jumbo Pop Gluten Free?
    Even General Mills has ignored this question.

    Second…….Why all the double entries for the questions?

  18. Hi Mike,

    No idea what’s happening with the comments on this entry! You may already know this, but we did a site redesign recently – this might be the result of the buggy initial phases of the redesign? Strange.

    Second – we looked up the ingredients on Amazon for PopSecret Jumbo Pop, and they are:

    Whole Grain Popcorn, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Salt, Butter (Cream, Milk, Salt), Artificial and Natural Flavor, Color Added. Freshness Preserved By Propyl Gallate.

    So far so good, right? We visited the Pop Secret website (Diamond Foods is the manufacturer of Pop Secret, not General Mills, just so you know). Their FAQ says that all their popcorn is free of gluten from wheat, rye, barley and oats. They also say that their flavoring manufacturer has assured them that the flavorings are GF as well.

    Some people with gluten intolerance do have problems with corn, but it’s not common, and if you’ve eaten popcorn in the past with no issues, then Pop Secret Jumbo should be just fine!

    Thanks for writing!

  19. I have Celiac Disease and are also allergic to corn and rice gluten. What am I to do for a recipe book or snacks on a strict gluten-free diet? I can’t eat almonds, cashews, pistachios, Brazil nuts and some more… My allergist said for me to leave all nuts out of my diet, HELP!, ” I’m hungry too”.

  20. i think Udi’s brand is fantastic. i like their bread and i have tried their blueberry muffins and they are great. i make chex mix with the gluten free chex brands. watch peanuts if you add them. some contain wheat. i bought cub scout trails end popcorn and it list wheat so be careful.

  21. i think that popcorn is gluten free i have been on soooooo many sites and they have all said the acualmpopcorn is gluton free what you dont know is whether the stuff on the popcorn is gluton free

  22. Trader Joe’s has a popcorn that the most pure one I can find…It is organic with sea salt, organic extra virgin olive oil, and protected completly from all else with in the companies production of other products…Also they have a corn chip called Longboard’s that are gluten free with all pure organic ingredients also…I use these instead of bread, of which I rarely eat…You can be creative with these items also…

  23. i picked up a 2.00 BRAND NEW popcorn popper at a yard sale. I try different flavors of oils and different salts and spices on the corn kernels. When the popcorn pops, it picks up the oil and spice flavors! I like the spicy oils with garlic!

  24. They often imply that a food is much better for you than it actually is.

    Another area that many have a trouble adjusting
    to is baking sweets and snacks. Decades ago, these foods would’ve been impossible for
    celiac disease sufferers to consume, unless they wanted to
    eat bread that tasted like cardboard and was as dense as a rock.

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