Is there dairy free popcorn?

Popcorn is a popular snack food that is enjoyed by many people. For those with dietary restrictions like lactose intolerance or vegan diets, a common question is whether there are dairy free popcorn options available. The good news is that popcorn can easily be made without dairy ingredients. While traditional popcorn is often topped with butter, there are many simple dairy free popcorn seasoning ideas and recipes to try instead.

Is Plain Popcorn Dairy Free?

Plain popcorn that is simply popped from popcorn kernels and salt is inherently dairy free. Popcorn kernels are whole grains that come from corn. When heated, the natural moisture inside the kernel turns to steam causing the kernel to pop into an airy piece of popcorn. On its own without any additional seasonings or toppings, popcorn is vegan and dairy free.

Store-bought popcorn in bags is typically just popcorn kernels and oil. There are rarely any dairy ingredients in basic ready-to-eat popcorn. However, it is still a good idea to check the ingredient list to be sure there is no added butter flavoring or other dairy-based ingredients snuck in.

Is Microwave Popcorn Dairy Free?

Microwave popcorn can sometimes have dairy ingredients added during processing and in flavoring packets. Some microwave popcorn relies on actual butter or butter flavoring to achieve that classic movie theater taste.

To be sure your microwave popcorn is vegan, check the ingredients list for:

  • Milk
  • Butter
  • Buttermilk powder
  • Cheese
  • Artificial butter flavor

Watch out for terms like “natural flavors” as well, as these can come from dairy sources. Your safest bet is to look for microwave popcorn that is specifically labeled “dairy free” or “vegan.” Many major brands now offer these options.

Best Dairy Free Popcorn Toppings

While plain popcorn is already dairy free, part of the fun of popcorn is jazzing it up with different toppings and flavors. Here are some ideas for dairy free popcorn toppings:


Drizzle plain popcorn with olive oil or avocado oil and sprinkle on some sea salt for a simple seasoned popcorn.

Coconut Oil

Melted coconut oil adds a touch of natural sweetness and tropical flavor to popcorn. Sprinkle on cinnamon for a sweet and savory snack.

Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast adds a cheesy umami flavor to popcorn. It’s a complete vegan replacement for Parmesan cheese powder.

Nuts and Seeds

Chopped nuts like peanuts, almonds or cashews add crunch and flavor. Chia seeds and sunflower seeds also make great dairy free toppings.

Dried Fruit

Try diced dried fruit like mango, cranberries, banana chips or apricots for a sweet and salty snack.


Cajun seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, chili powder and cumin are all tasty spice blends to use on dairy free popcorn.

Homemade Dairy Free Popcorn Seasonings

Making your own custom popcorn seasoning at home lets you control the ingredients. Here are some dairy free popcorn seasoning ideas to mix up:

Sea Salt and Vinegar

Whisk together sea salt and malt vinegar powder for a classic salty and tangy flavor.

Pizza Popcorn

Use nutritional yeast, Italian seasoning, salt, garlic powder and onion powder for a pizza-flavored popcorn.

Tex-Mex Popcorn

Combine chili powder, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, salt and lime juice for a southwest kick.

BBQ Popcorn

Mix together brown sugar, smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt, onion powder, mustard powder and liquid smoke.

Sweet and Spicy

For sweet heat, blend brown sugar, cayenne pepper, cinnamon and a pinch of salt.

Dairy Free Popcorn Brands

Looking for an already pre-made dairy free popcorn? Here are some recommended brands:

Pop Secret

Look for Pop Secret’s dairy free and non-GMO certified popcorn range. Flavors include Sea Salt and Avocado Oil.


SkinnyPop makes many classic flavors of popcorn using non-GMO corn, sunflower oil and salt. Options include Original, White Cheddar, Kettle Corn, Sea Salt & Vinegar.

Amish Country Popcorn

This brand offers organic and non-GMO certified popcorn in fun flavors like Jalapeno Cheese, Aged White Cheddar, and Sea Salt.


LesserEvil Organic Popcorn comes in vegan varieties like Himalayan Pink Salt and Olive Oil.


Try BOOMCHICKAPOP’s dairy free and vegan popcorn range, with flavors such as Sea Salt, Sweet & Salty Kettle Corn, and Olive Oil & Sea Salt.

Dairy Free Popcorn Recipe Ideas

You can easily make homemade dairy free popcorn right on your stovetop or in an air popper. Try out these fun recipes:

Jalapeño Lime Popcorn


  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 jalapeño, finely diced
  • Salt to taste


  1. Pop kernels according to package instructions.
  2. Drizzle with melted coconut oil and toss to coat.
  3. Sprinkle on remaining ingredients and toss again to distribute.

Cookie Dough Popcorn


  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons non-dairy chocolate chips


  1. Pop kernels according to package instructions.
  2. Drizzle popcorn with coconut oil and sprinkle with brown sugar, tossing to coat.
  3. Add vanilla extract and chocolate chips, tossing again to combine.

Garlic Rosemary Parmesan Popcorn


  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. Pop kernels according to package instructions.
  2. Heat olive oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add garlic and rosemary and cook 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
  3. Drizzle garlic rosemary oil over popped popcorn. Add nutritional yeast and salt, then toss to combine.

Where to Buy Dairy Free Popcorn

Dairy free and vegan popcorn can be found at most major grocery stores, health food markets, online retailers, and movie theaters. Here are some specific places to look for dairy free popcorn options:

Grocery Stores

  • Whole Foods Market – Large selection of domestic and organic popcorn brands.
  • Sprouts Farmers Market – Many healthy popcorn varieties near other snacks.
  • Trader Joe’s – Look for their in-house non-dairy flavored popcorn.
  • Natural food section of stores like Safeway, Stop & Shop, etc. – Carry brands like Boom Chicka Pop.

Health Food Stores

  • Earth Fare
  • Fresh Thyme
  • Natural Grocers


  • Amazon: wide range of microwave popcorn and kernels
  • Thrive Market: filters for vegan and non-GMO foods
  • Vitacost: stocks many natural popcorn brands
  • Brand websites: order directly from SkinnyPop, LesserEvil, etc.

Movie Theaters

  • Look for oil-popped or air-popped options without butter topping
  • Request popcorn without butter-flavored oil
  • Bring in own snacks like dairy free microwave bags or pre-popped popcorn

Popcorn Nutrition Facts

Plain air-popped popcorn is a healthy whole grain snack that is naturally low in calories. Here is the nutrition breakdown for 1 cup of air-popped popcorn (source: USDA):

Nutrient Amount
Calories 31
Carbohydrates 5.9 g
Fiber 1.2 g
Protein 1 g
Fat 0.3 g

When choosing store-bought popcorn, try to pick options made with healthy oils like olive, avocado or coconut oil and minimal added sugar and sodium.

The Healthiest Dairy Free Popcorn Options

Air-popped or stovetop popped popcorn is the healthiest homemade option, as you can control how much oil and salt goes on it. When buying pre-packaged dairy free popcorn, look for these things:

  • Made with healthy oils like olive, coconut or avocado oil
  • Low in saturated fat and sodium
  • No or minimal added sugar
  • Organic and non-GMO ingredients
  • High fiber
  • No artificial flavors, colors or preservatives

Brands like SkinnyPop, Boom Chicka Pop, Lesser Evil and Amish Country Popcorn make good better-for-you store-bought options.

Risks of Dairy in Popcorn

For those with lactose intolerance or milk allergies, consuming dairy ingredients can cause negative reactions. Symptoms may include (source: Healthline):

  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Cramps

In severe milk allergies, dairy can also cause potentially life-threatening anaphylaxis with symptoms like swelling, skin reactions, trouble breathing, chest tightness and low blood pressure.

Dairy proteins can sometimes stick around on equipment where dairy popcorn is made, so cross-contamination is a risk for those with severe allergies.

Vegan Substitutes for Milk and Butter on Popcorn

For popcorn recipes that call for milk and butter, there are plenty of dairy free substitutions to use instead:

Milk Substitutes

  • Almond milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Oat milk
  • Cashew milk
  • Soy milk
  • Rice milk

Butter Substitutes

  • Coconut oil
  • Vegan butter spreads
  • Olive oil or avocado oil

When baking popcorn balls or caramel corn, dairy free milk and butter perform just the same as the dairy versions.

Common Questions

Is Movie Theater Popcorn Dairy Free?

Most movie theater popcorn uses a butter-flavored oil on it, so it is not dairy free. Some theaters may allow requests for no butter topping, but there is still a risk of cross-contamination from the butter topping used for other popcorn batches. Your best bet is bringing your own popcorn snacks from home.

What Milk Alternative Works Best for Popcorn Balls?

Coconut milk is a great non-dairy milk for popcorn ball recipes, as it provides a creamy texture and some natural sweetness. For caramel corn, almond milk is also a good choice. Always look for unsweetened varieties.

Is Popcorn Gluten Free?

Plain popcorn made from corn kernels is naturally gluten free, since corn does not contain gluten. Flavored popcorn seasonings may contain gluten-based ingredients, so check labels if gluten is a concern.

Can You Be Allergic to Popcorn?

Yes, it is possible to be allergic to corn and develop reactions from eating popcorn, though this is uncommon. Symptoms may include hives, swelling, diarrhea, vomiting, dizziness and trouble breathing.


Finding dairy free popcorn is easy, as plain popcorn is vegan and allergen-friendly on its own. Homemade stovetop or air-popped popcorn gives you full control over ingredients. You can also find many pre-made dairy free popcorn options in stores and online for quick snacking. With a little label reading and simple ingredient swaps, popcorn can be enjoyed by those avoiding dairy and animal products.

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