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Can you get popcorn without salt?

Yes, you can absolutely get popcorn without salt. In fact, there are many ways to enjoy tasty, salt-free popcorn at home or when dining out. Popcorn can be a healthy, low-calorie snack when prepared properly without large amounts of butter, oil or salt. Below we’ll explore some quick answers to common questions about getting popcorn without salt and provide tips for the best salt-free popcorn.

Quick Answers

Can you buy popcorn without salt? Yes, many brands sell plain popcorn kernels or pre-popped bags of popcorn without salt added. Look for options labeled as “unsalted” or “no salt added”.

What if I buy popcorn and want to remove the salt? You can rinse salted popcorn under water to wash away some surface salt. Pat dry with paper towels afterwards. This won’t remove all the salt but can reduce the amount.

Is air-popped popcorn salt-free? Yes, plain air-popped popcorn contains no salt, oil or butter. It’s one of the healthiest ways to prepare popcorn at home.

Can movie theaters make popcorn without salt? Most movie theaters will prepare plain popcorn without salt upon request. You may need to specifically ask for it unsalted when ordering.

What are good salt substitutes for popcorn? For flavor without salt, you can use nutritional yeast, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, paprika or other spices. Lemon juice and zest also add flavor.

Buying Pre-Packaged No Salt Popcorn

When shopping for popcorn, check labels and look for varieties marked as “unsalted”, “no salt added” or “lightly salted.” Many major brands sell plain popcorn kernels or pre-popped popcorn bags without salt. Here are some good options:

  • Orville Redenbacher’s Gourmet Popping Corn (unsalted) – Comes in jars of popcorn kernels you pop yourself at home.
  • Pop Secret Unsalted Popcorn – Pre-popped bags sold in grocery stores.
  • SkinnyPop Original Popcorn – Their classic flavor is unsalted.
  • Angie’s Boomchickapop Sea Salt & Olive Oil – Lightly salted with sea salt, much less than typical popcorn.
  • Amish Country Popcorn – Sells plain popcorn kernels online.

When buying pre-packaged popcorn, always check the nutrition label for salt content. Some brands advertise as “natural” or “lightly salted” but can still have 150+ mg of sodium per serving. Look for 0mg or 5mg and under.

Air-Popping Popcorn

One of the healthiest ways to prepare plain, salt-free popcorn is to air-pop it. Air poppers are small appliances that use hot air to pop popcorn kernels. No oil or butter is needed, resulting in completely salt-free and low calorie popcorn.

Air-popped popcorn tastes fresh and light. You can then add your own toppings like Parmesan, garlic powder or lemon zest. When shopping for an air popper, look for the following features:

  • Dishwasher-safe parts for easy cleaning.
  • Short popping time under 3 minutes.
  • Lid to minimize escaped kernels.
  • Built-in butter melter (optional).
  • Yields around 3-4 quarts popped popcorn.

Some top-rated salt-free air popper models include the Dash Compact Air Popper, the Mueller Austria Popcorn Machine, and the West Bend Stir Crazy Popcorn Popper. Be sure to use only plain popcorn kernels in the air popper, not pre-packaged microwave popcorn.

Stovetop Popcorn

You can also make plain, salt-free popcorn on any stovetop by using a heavy-bottomed pot with a lid. Here is a quick stovetop popcorn recipe:

Stovetop Popcorn


  • 1/3 cup unsalted popcorn kernels
  • 1 tsp vegetable, coconut or olive oil (optional)


  1. Heat a 3-4 quart pot over medium-high heat. Add 1 tsp oil if desired for slightly crispier popcorn.
  2. Add popcorn kernels in an even layer and cover pot with lid.
  3. Shake pot gently or swirl occasionally as popcorn pops.
  4. Once popping slows to 2-3 seconds between pops, remove from heat.
  5. Transfer popcorn to a serving bowl and enjoy salt-free!

The key for stovetop popcorn is using a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid to keep kernels contained. Stirring halfway through helps prevent burning. Remove from heat shortly after the popping slows to avoid over-cooked, chewy pieces.

Microwave Popcorn

To make salt-free microwave popcorn, buy plain popcorn kernels and pop them in a paper bag. This allows you to control the ingredients. Add only a teaspoon of oil if needed. Here are directions:

  1. Place 1/3 cup popcorn kernels in a standard paper lunch bag.
  2. Fold over the top of the bag twice and wrap tape around the end to seal it.
  3. Microwave on high for 2-3 minutes, until popping slows.
  4. Carefully open bag to avoid steam and pour popcorn into a serving bowl.

Avoid using pre-packaged microwave popcorn bags, as these contain salt, butter and other unhealthy ingredients. Make sure any paper bags used are plain brown lunch bags – no staples.

Ordering Salt-Free Popcorn at Theaters

Movie theater popcorn is notoriously loaded with salt, with a large 16 cup serving often containing over 1,500mg sodium – two-thirds of the daily recommended limit!

Thankfully, all major movie theater chains will prepare plain popcorn without salt upon request. When ordering at the concession stand, simply ask for it to be made fresh without salt. Some tips:

  • Say you’d prefer no salt due to dietary restrictions.
  • Request that they change gloves or use fresh scoops.
  • Ask them to wipe out the warming bin before scooping unsalted popcorn.
  • Avoid oil/butterflavoring as those contain salt too.

The popcorn may take an extra minute or two to prepare, but it’s worth it to be able to indulge at the movies without excess sodium. Then you can add your own salt-free flavorings like garlic powder or nutritional yeast.

Salt Substitutes and Seasonings

While plain popcorn is delicious on its own, you can add lots of flavor without salt. Here are some tasty salt-free popcorn toppings:

Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast adds a savory, cheesy umami pop. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons over 6-8 cups popped popcorn.

Parmesan Cheese

Freshly grated Parmesan gives a sharp, salty taste. Use about 1/4 cup grated Parmesan.

Garlic Powder

Garlic powder provides a zing of garlic flavor. Use 1/2 to 1 teaspoon mixed into oil before popping or sprinkled over popped popcorn.


Paprika lends a slightly sweet, smoky taste. Use 1 teaspoon sprinkled over 6-8 cups of popcorn.

Dill or Ranch Seasoning

These mix-in seasoning packets add creamy, herbaceous flavor. Follow package instructions.

Lemon or Lime Juice and Zest

A spritz of citrus juice and zest gives popcorn a fresh, bright taste. Use 1 teaspoon juice and 1/2 teaspoon zest.

Experiment with spices like onion powder, dried oregano, cayenne pepper, cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice blends. Brush popped popcorn with olive oil or melted coconut oil before seasoning for maximum flavor.

Healthiest Ways to Prepare Popcorn

To get all the benefits of popcorn without any downsides, follow these tips for healthy preparation:

  • Pop only plain kernels – no boxed microwave popcorn or oil pops.
  • Use hot air poppers – no oil needed and kernels get maximum expansion.
  • Flavor lightly – use 1 tsp olive oil or coconut oil max.
  • Avoid butter – butter adds saturated fat.
  • Skip salt – prevent excess sodium intake.
  • Limit toppings – stick to a couple teaspoons of herbs, spices or cheese.

With these guidelines, popcorn can be a slimming snack around 100 calories per 3-4 cups. Packed with fiber and whole grains, it provides long-lasting energy. The key is moderation – stick to 1-2 servings.


Popcorn can absolutely still be enjoyed without any salt! With the rise of low-sodium diets, many salt-free popcorn options exist both for preparing at home and purchasing pre-made. Air-popped popcorn is the healthiest bet, but stovetop or microwaved plain kernels work too. Top with Parmesan, garlic powder or other herbs and spices for flavor bursts without salt. Movie theaters will also make fresh popcorn salt-free upon request. Just beware of misleading labels on popcorn products and always check nutrition info for sodium content. With smart preparation and seasoning, popcorn provides a crunchy, satisfying snack minus the salt and guilt.