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What is the carbohydrate content of popcorn?

Popcorn is a popular snack that is made from the dried kernels of a particular variety of corn. Dried corn kernels can be made into popcorn in a variety of ways. They can be cooked in a small amount of oil on the stovetop, air popped in the microwave or popped in a dedicated popcorn machine. 

When prepared simply, popcorn is a nutritious and satisfying snack. Plain popcorn is low in kilojoules and high in fibre, which makes it more satiating than other common snacks such as potato chips or rice crackers. It’s also a good source of whole grains and low GI carbohydrates, meaning it’s digested slowly and keeps you feeling fuller for longer. Popcorn is also packed with essential vitamins and minerals.

What are the different types of popcorn?

Popcorn can be enjoyed in many different ways – plain air-popped popcorn, home-cooked popcorn with oil and salt, commercial microwave popcorn or movie theatre popcorn. While plain popcorn without any additions is the most nutritious option, other varieties can still be a healthier option compared to other popular snacks like potato chips. 

Air popped popcorn
This is by far the best way to consume popcorn. Without anything extra added, it’s a great snack and offers a good source of fibre and other essential vitamins and minerals.  

Home-cooked popcorn with oil and salt
This way of cooking popcorn adds extra flavour and mouth feel to the snack. 

Microwave popcorn (commercial)
Easy and quick to make, and a favourite for movie nights. Butter flavoured microwave popcorn is a popular snack sold in many supermarkets and stores

Movie theatre popcorn
Popular around the world, movie theatre popcorn is a snack enjoyed among movie goers old and young alike. This type of popcorn is similar to microwave popcorn in nutritional value. It is often one of the better options when choosing a snack at the movies.

Does popcorn contain sugar?

The way you choose to prepare your popcorn will greatly affect the nutritional value, as well as the sugar content. Natural air-popped popcorn with no additions doesn’t contain any sugar. Commercial varieties, including caramel coated popcorn, may have additional flavours and a higher sugar and kilojoule content. 

Below is a breakdown of the energy, carbohydrate, sugar and fibre totals of different types of popcorn. The values are per 100g of the food.


 Type Energy   Carbohydrates   Sugar   Fibre 
 Air popped popcorn, unsalted:  Energy 1600 kJ  Carbohydrates 77.9g  Sugar 0g  Fibre 15.1g
 Home-cooked with oil and salt:  Energy 2090 kJ  Carbohydrates 57.2g  

Sugar 0.54g


 Fibre 10g

Butter flavoured microwave or movie theatre popcorn: 


 Energy 2053 kJ  

Carbohydrates 49.6g



Sugar 0.6g



Fibre 8.8g



Caramel coated popcorn (US variety):



Energy 1800 kJ



Carbohydrates 79.1g



Sugar 53.2g



Fibre 5.2g




Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central.

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