Popcorn is perhaps the most popular snack. It is tempting not to take more than one bite of popcorn. However, if you are on a low-calorie diet or are allergic to corn, popcorn might not be the best option for you.
There are many, healthier substitutes for popcorn that you can try instead.
Common substitutes for popcorn include sorghum, cauliflower popcorn, amaranth, barley, green beans, buckwheat, kale chips, quinoa, trail mix, apple chips, water lily seeds, cheese cubes, dried fruit bites, lentil chips, and dried carrots.
If you want to know more about these substitutes, read on!
Best Popcorn Substitutes
Many people often think that there are no actual substitutes for popcorn. However, we’ve found some of the best ones that can fulfill your cravings!
1. Popped sorghum
Sorghum popcorn is healthier than corn and easy to digest. It is also a good source of fiber, protein, and antioxidants. It is slightly sweeter and nuttier in taste than popcorn.
Sorghum popcorn is gluten-free and great for those allergic to corn. You can make popped sorghum on a stove or a microwave at home in less than 15 minutes. Here’s the recipe:
- Begin with preheating your pan or oven.
- Let the sorghum grains heat on medium heat. Shake the pan to ensure that they are being heated evenly.
- After two-thirds of the sorghum grains have popped, take them out and repeat the procedure with the remaining grains in the pan or oven.
Once done, you’ll have your crunchy sorghum popcorn!
2. Cauliflower popcorn
Cauliflower popcorn is one of the healthiest substitutes for popcorn. It is low in calories but rich in protein and has no sodium or cholesterol. Follow this recipe:
- To make cauliflower popcorn, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Add olive oil and salt in a large bowl, along with any other seasoning that you wish to add. Add cauliflower on top and mix it to coat evenly.
- Spread this cauliflower on your baking sheet and heat it for 10 to 12 minutes.
This process is quite quick and easy to follow!
3. Popped amaranth
Amaranth is an ancient grain that is gluten-free and rich in protein. It is also a good source of vitamin C and antioxidants. Amaranth has fewer calories than popcorn.
These grains are small in size and pop when heated. They take less time to make than standard popcorn. Here’s what you have to do:
- To make popped amaranth, firstly, preheat an oven or a pan over medium-high heat.
- Heat the seeds until two-thirds of them have popped. Add seasoning on top as you desire. Making popped amaranth will not take you more than 10 minutes.
Amaranth pops fast. If that does not occur, your pan or oven might not have been hot enough. This will cause the seeds to eventually burn instead of popping.
4. Puffed Barley
Unlike popcorn, barley does not pop when heated. The heating makes it cracked and puffed. This gives it a soft and chewy texture and a taste that is nutty and toasty.
Puffed barley is a good source of fiber, which is perfect for digestion and weight loss. It is more filling than normal popcorn and also has fewer calories.
- To make puffed barley, start with preheating an oven or a pan over medium heat.
- Heat barley in your oven or pan until two-thirds of the grains have puffed.
- Remove this puffed barley and repeat the process until the rest of the grains have also popped.
Well, your delicious puffed barley is ready!
5. Green Bean Fries
Green bean fries are a delicious and unique substitute for popcorn. They are one of the best foods to eat if you are trying to lose weight.
Green bean fries are nutritious and much healthier than regular popcorn due to their low-calorie content and high fiber and protein content. They are also very filling.
- For making green bean fries, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
- Take a bowl and add bread crumbs, olive oil, and seasoning. Mix until they are combined.
- Take another bowl and combine eggs and milk by mixing. Add breadcrumbs to this mixture after the two are combined.
- Take fresh green beans and dip them into this mixture.
- Lastly, heat these green beans in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes.
Once you’re done, you’ll have a healthy snack to binge on!
6. Popped buckwheat
Popped buckwheat is rich in fiber and proteins.
It has fewer calories than popcorn and does wonder for your digestive health and blood sugar. Buckwheat is also a good source of iron and is low in sodium and cholesterol.
Popped buckwheat can be easily made in an oven or over the stove.
- To begin, you will need to preheat your oven or grease your pan lightly with oil.
- Heat the buckwheat grains until two-thirds of them have popped. Repeat this process until all of the buckwheat grains have popped.
Buckwheat grains are smaller than popcorn and look like popcorn that hasn’t fully popped. They are smaller in size, so you may want to pop a handful of them.
7. Kale Chips
These chips include a lot of antioxidants, vitamin C and K. These can help lower cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. Kale chips are also low in calories and very filling.
- To make kale chips at home, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Remove the stem from the kale leaf and chop it into small pieces. Let the kale chips heat in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes and they will be prepared.
No one can resist kale, be it in the form of salad or chips!
8. Popped quinoa
Quinoa is a good source of iron, manganese, fiber, and protein. It is lower in fat and calories than regular popcorn and can help in weight loss and digestion.
- To make popped quinoa at home, start with preheating your pan or oven.
- Let the quinoa heat on medium heat. Shake the pan to ensure that they are being heated evenly.
- After two-thirds of the grains have popped, take them out and repeat the procedure with the remaining grains in the pan or oven.
So, try popped quinoa at home and you won’t even miss popcorn!
9. Trail mix
Trail mix is a healthy and filling substitute for popcorn. It usually contains nuts, granola, dried fruit, or candy. You can even add some regular popcorn to your trail mix. Trail mix is high in fiber, healthy fats, and proteins. Dried nuts and fruits help with weight loss and digestion.
The best part? You can make your own trail mix at home to make it as healthy as you want it to be.
10. Apple chips
Apple chips are a healthier snack than popcorn. They are rich in vitamins and antioxidants. Also, their unique yet scrumptious taste is worth trying.
- To make apple chips, preheat your oven to 250 degrees.
- Cut slices of apple and add seasoning like salt, pepper, and cinnamon. Heat the apple slices for 45 to 60 minutes.
You won’t stop eating them even if you try hard!
11. Water Lily seeds
Popped water lily seeds make a delicious snack. They are free of gluten, nuts, and grains. Moreover, they are perfect for people that have allergies.
The best part about eating water lily seeds is that they provide just the right crunch. It’s almost similar to popcorn. With the right seasoning, these seeds taste even better than popcorn.
12. Keto popcorn
Keto popcorn is low in carbs and calories and makes a perfect choice for health and diet-conscious people. So, let’s see how you can make them at home:
- To make keto popcorn at home, start with chopping pieces of cheese into popcorn-sized bites.
- Leave the pieces out for about 24 hours to dry out.
- Then, put these in the oven for no more than 10 minutes. This will make the cheese bites pop and puff, and your keto popcorn will be ready to eat.
13. Dried fruit bites
Dried fruits have almost the same nutrients as fresh fruit. Therefore, they make a healthier substitute for popcorn. Moreover, they are also lower in fat and sugar than popcorn.
- To make dried fruit bites at home, all you need to do is chop fruits up in small bite-sized pieces.
- Then, put them in the dehydrator or oven for around 10 minutes.
Once they’re done, you can experience their delicious and unique flavor.
14. Lentil chips
If you have any allergies, replace popcorn with lentil chips. They do not contain corn, gluten, or nuts. Moreover, they are also extremely healthy otherwise.
They are a good source of protein and fiber and are low in fat and calories. Here’s how to make these chips at home:
- To make lentil chips at home, start with soaking the lentils in salted water for at least an hour or overnight.
- Drain the lentils and add them to a blender with the seasoning of your choice.
- Preheat your oven to 200 degrees and leave this mixture to bake. This should take you around 30 minutes.
Once the lentil chips turn golden, you can take them out and enjoy them.
15. Dried carrot chips
Dried carrot chips are a healthy snack that can replace popcorn. They are rich in fiber, vitamin A and iron and low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
- To make dried carrots at home, begin with washing and chopping up carrots. Add seasoning like salt and pepper.
- Then, use a dehydrator or a low-temperature oven to dry the carrots out.
This process will take around two hours, and your healthy substitute for popcorn will be ready.
Is there such a thing as corn-free popcorn?
Yes, corn-free popcorn exists. Grains like barley, buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth, and sorghum can be popped and consumed instead of popcorn.
Is popcorn a healthy alternative snack?
Air-popped and lightly seasoned popcorn is a relatively healthy snack.
Popcorn is made of whole grain which is low-calorie and fiber-rich. Adding butter, sugar, or salt is what makes it unhealthy.