Popcorn is one of the easiest and fastest gluten-free snacks. It’s a mainstream product that is delicious and almost synonymous with movie-going, which is popular now as Oscar season approaches. Unfortunately, however, as with most commercial products, gluten-free goods that are packaged and processed can often lay victim to gluten contamination. One of the biggest questions I have faced is whether or not movie theater popcorn, that buttery, irresistible snack, is gluten-free.
After doing some research, I found this article that summarizes the major movie theaters and their response to whether or not their popcorn is gluten-free. In short, the verdict seems to indicate that the popcorn itself is gluten-free, but the butter on the popcorn (which is increasingly an optional addition) is gluten-filled (thus contaminating the whole product). As with all things, it is important to follow your own reaction to whether or not the popcorn is gluten-free. Additionally, theater chains can vary from city to city. So although an AMC in one part of the country may still use butter with gluten, your local AMC may be keener to the gluten-free demands of their audience. Reassuringly, most movie theaters use commercial products that are subject to product labeling, which you can look at to determine whether or not the popcorn is a go!
If you’re craving popcorn, and don’t trust the microwave kind either (some celiacs are sensitive to all packaged products that are not manufactured in gluten-free facilities), try popping your own from the whole kernels! Just heat ½ cup of kernels with 2-3 tablespoons of oil (like canola or olive) over medium heat. You can sprinkle on some salt, cheese, or other spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or pepper flakes to the kernels as they pop so they’ll have a personalized touch of flavor. You can also add ¼ cup of sugar to the kernels before they pop to get a sweet kettle corn batch! Be sure to use a pan with a fitted lid, and hold the lid on (the popping can get pretty powerful!) I’ve also found that shaking the pan over the stove as it pops will help prevent your popcorn (and pan) from burning. You can finish your popcorn off with your own gluten-free butter, salt and pepper.
Put in the DVD and enjoy your own movie-theater-style popcorn!