Yellow vs White Popcorn: What’s the Difference?

Popcorn, the classic snack that we seem to never outgrow! Whether it’s for family game nights, movie nights, sleepover parties, or casual dinner parties, popcorn likes to make an appearance. As a low-calorie, healthy snack at an affordable price, it’s no one that it’s such a popular snack!

As a popcorn fan, you may have found some choices in shopping in the grocery store for popcorn, such as yellow kernels and white kernels, so which one do you buy? In this post, we’ll cover the differences between yellow vs white popcorn. Does one taste better than the other? Is one healthier than the other? Keep reading to find out more!

Key Differences Between Yellow vs White Popcorn

The main difference between yellow vs white popcorn is that white kernels tend to be smaller kernels and more delicate than yellow kernels that are larger and fuller in size. Yellow popcorn has a thicker hull than white popcorn. Popcorn hulls are the outer layer of the popcorn kernel that can get stuck between teeth.

When popped, white corn tends to be smaller with more of a tender texture, and brighter white in color. Yellow corn when popped tends to be larger in size than white popcorn, firmer in texture, and have a slight yellow tint coloring to them.

Yellow Popcorn

Yellow popcorn kernels are large kernels more pearl-shaped and firmer than white kernels and yellow in color. Yellow popcorn kernels have thick hulls compared to white popcorn. Hulls are the outer layer of the popcorn kernel. It’s the part that can get stuck in your teeth, or you’ll sometimes find left at the bottom of the popcorn bowl.

Yellow popcorn is the most common of the two colors of popcorn kernels and what you will find at most movie theaters or in the grocery store marketed as “movie theater popcorn.” Yellow popcorn pops into larger, more fluffy popcorn, which looks more enticing in a popcorn machine.

Many people state that yellow popcorn tastes more like the original flavor of corn than white popcorn does.

Being the fluffier popcorn, yellow popcorn also holds extra moisture, such as butter and other flavorings, better due to its larger size and firmer texture, making it popular among all sorts of popcorn vendors from movie theatres to fairs and ballparks.

White Popcorn

White popcorn is also known as rice popcorn. White popcorn kernels are small kernels that some say looks like rice granules. White popcorn is much, much less popular than yellow popcorn.

One great feature about white popcorn is the smaller hull of the white kernels. Some varieties may even market certain types of white popcorn as hulless popcorn, which means the kernels pop or open enough that the hull is not hard or large enough to notice when eating. For people with sensitive teeth, gums, or are prone to getting hulls stuck between their teeth; white popcorn may be a great option.

White popcorn is snow white in color when popped. It is said to have a more mildly sweet taste to it than yellow popcorn.

Although white popcorn is much less popular than yellow popcorn, it is sold at many grocery stores and carried by popular brands such as Orville Redenbacher.

Types of Popcorn

There are mainly two different types of popped popcorn, mushroom popcorn and butterfly popcorn, also known as snowflake popcorn. Both yellow and white popcorn comes in both of these varieties.

Butterfly Popcorn/ Snowflake Popcorn

Snowflake-shaped popcorn has an irregular shape and is a bit more common for everyday popcorn than mushroom-shaped popcorn. Butterfly or snowflake popcorn is what you’ll typically find in movie theaters, microwave popcorn, or standard at-home popcorn. Butterfly/snowflake popcorn is best when enjoyed freshly popped for maximum crunch.

Mushroom Popcorn

Mushroom-shaped popcorn is common at gourmet popcorn shops. It is extra sturdy and often used for confection or candy-coated flavors such as caramel or chocolate.

Mushroom popcorn has a larger surface area and is more of a baseball shape than butterfly popcorn, which has more wing-like surface area. The larger surface area of the mushroom popcorn allows it to hold up and stay fresh and crispy much longer and is less prone to being crushed when coated with a topping than a butterfly popcorn does.

Mushroom-shaped popcorn comes from mushroom kernels which have thick hulls.

Nutrition

Overall there isn’t much significant nutritional difference in Yellow vs white popcorn. In general, when it comes to nutritional benefits, popcorn is a whole grain food containing essential vitamins and nutrients.

Popcorn is also a low GI food, meaning it’s low on the glycemic index scale, helping maintain blood sugar levels more easily.

In general, what you want to be cautious about when eating popcorn is the toppings used, which can easily add sugars or calories to an otherwise simple and healthy snack.

The calories and other nutritional values may vary based on the brand and any toppings you add or oils it is cooked with. Always check the nutritional label of the popcorn you consume for more accurate information as calories, vitamins, and minerals may vary by brand.

The chart below compares Arrowhead Mills Organic Yellow Popcorn vs Arrowhead Mills Organic White Popcorn based on 1/4 cup (52 g).

Yellow PopcornWhite Popcorn
Calories170130
Total Fat
-Saturated Fat
-Trans Fat
0 g
0 g
0 g
1.5 g 2%
0 g
0 g
Cholesterol0 mg0 mg
Sodium0 mg0 mg
Total Carb
-Dietary Fiber
-Sugars
33 g
7 g
1 g
34 g
10 g
1 g
Protein5 g5 g
Vitamin A0 %0 %
Calcium0%0 %
Vitamin C0%0 %
Iron6%6 %
Thiamine10%
Niacin4%
Riboflavin2%

Which us the Best Popcorn Kernels?

I think that’s for you to decide depending on what variety of popcorn you prefer! If you like caramel corn, kettle corn, buttery popcorn, or other toppings to your popcorn, a yellow variety will be a better choice for you.

If you like to keep it simple, with just salt or plain- it’s best to do a taste test for yourself. However, popcorn is fairly inexpensive, and side-by-side comparison can add some fun and conversation the next time you are entertaining or have a family or friends game night.

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Author Biography

Karla Kueber is a Certified Evidence Based EFT Practioner and Health Coach, with a double Masters Degree in Education. She works with people to overcome emotional eating, curb cravings, and overcome resistance to eating new healthy foods. You can learn more about ending the food struggle here.