How many calories are in a whole bag of microwave buttered popcorn?

Microwave popcorn is a popular and convenient snack food. It is available in many flavors, including butter and cheese options. A whole bag of microwave popcorn can contain a significant number of calories, especially if it is coated in butter or other oils and seasonings.

Serving Size

To determine how many calories are in a whole bag of microwave popcorn, you first need to check the nutrition facts label for the serving size. Most bags of popcorn are around 3.5 or 4 ounces (99-113 grams).

So a typical nutrition label may list the serving size as about 3.5 ounces or 1 cup of popped popcorn. It is important to note this, as the calorie and nutrition information listed is for the serving size only, not the entire bag.

Calories per Serving

For a serving size of around 3.5 ounces (99g), a bag of microwave buttered popcorn may contain:

  • 150-180 calories
  • 10 grams total fat
  • 2 grams saturated fat
  • 0 grams trans fat
  • 45-60 mg sodium

However, nutrition information can vary between brands and flavors. Some popcorn may be lower in calories like 100 calories per serving, while others may be higher like 200 calories per serving.

Calories in a Whole Bag

Now that we know the typical calorie count per serving, we can estimate the calories for the entire bag:

  • Serving size: 3.5 ounces (99g)
  • Calories per serving: 150 calories
  • Total bag size: ~12.5-14 ounces

Doing the math:

– 12.5 ounces / 3.5 ounces per serving = 3.6 servings

– 3.6 servings x 150 calories per serving = 540 calories

So for a 12.5 ounce whole bag of microwave buttered popcorn with 150 calories per serving, the total calories would be approximately 540 calories.

Calorie Range for Whole Bag

Based on typical nutrition facts, we can estimate the total calorie range for a whole standard size bag of microwave popcorn:

Calories per Serving Estimated Total Calories
100 calories 360 calories
130 calories (average) 468 calories
150 calories 540 calories
180 calories 648 calories

As you can see from the table, a whole bag of microwave buttered popcorn can contain 360-648 calories depending on the brand. On average, most standard size 12-14 ounce bags contain about 450-550 calories.

Factors Affecting Calories

There are a few things that can impact the calorie count in microwave popcorn:

1. Flavoring

Buttered and flavored popcorn tends to be higher in calories than plain popcorn. The extra oils, butter flavoring, and seasonings add more fat and calories. Plain or lightly salted popcorn generally has 100-130 calories per serving.

2. Bag Size

Larger family or movie theater sized bags that are 16-20 ounces will have even more servings and calories. An extra large bag could have over 800 calories total.

3. Brand

Some brands use lower calorie oil blends or less butter flavoring, reducing the calories per serving. Checking labels between brands allows you to compare and choose a lower calorie option.

4. Calories from Fat

Pay attention to the calories from fat, which should be listed under the total calories on nutrition labels. The more calories coming from fat rather than carbs, the higher the calorie density.

Reduced Calorie Options

If you are looking for ways to enjoy popcorn with fewer calories, here are some tips:

  • Choose plain or light popcorn with no butter or oil
  • Use half the seasoning packet or sprinkle with your own herbs and spices
  • Look for low-fat or air-popped varieties that use 97% fat free oil blends
  • Make popcorn from kernels on the stovetop with a small amount of olive oil or cooking spray
  • Measure out and share one single-serve package rather than eating an entire large bag

Healthy Serving Tips

To keep your snack sized and reasonable in calories, follow these microwave popcorn serving recommendations:

  • Read serving sizes and stick to eating just one serving
  • Measure out or divide popcorn into snack bags 100-150 calories each
  • Choose mini 100 calorie bags rather than large family size
  • Split very large bags into multiple servings

Portion size examples

  • 1 cup popped popcorn
  • Half an individually packaged bag
  • 2-3 cups

Be mindful while enjoying your popcorn treat. Savor each bite without overindulging or mindless eating directly from a full calorie bag.

Nutritional Profile

In addition to calories, popcorn contains some beneficial nutrients. Plain air-popped popcorn is low calorie, high fiber, and whole grain. It provides:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Protein
  • Vitamins B3, B6, B9
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Antioxidants
  • Polyphenols
  • Fiber

The fiber and volume can help you feel full. But the extra fat, sodium, and calories from oils, butter flavors, and toppings add less nutritional value. To get the most nutrition from popcorn, enjoy it air-popped or lightly seasoned.

Weight Loss Considerations

Popcorn can be part of a healthy weight loss diet, but portion control is key. Even though it is low calorie density, the calories can add up fast from oversized portions, topping, and high fat preparation.

Sticking near the recommended 1-2 serving size is important for managing calories. Measuring servings and the calories/nutrients for your tracking needs takes the guesswork out. This allows you to keep popcorn as a tasty and filling snack within your daily calorie goals.


A whole bag of microwave popcorn can range from 360-650 calories depending on size, flavoring, and ingredients. To get an accurate calorie count, check the nutrition facts label and do the math based on the serving size. Plain popcorn with less butter and salt is lowest in calories, while flavored and buttered popcorn is higher in fat and calories.

Enjoy popcorn in reasonable portions as part of a balanced diet and active lifestyle. Proper measuring and tracking of serving sizes allows you to keep popcorn as a delicious snack within your daily calorie needs and health goals.

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