Yellow vs. white popcorn - which is better? Does it even matter?
Find out if the color of these different types of popcorn are more than skin deep.
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I love popping my own popcorn. It is my ideal snack. Reasons being:
- Affordable price
- Easy to make
- Tasty treat
- Long shelf life
- Believe it or not it comes in different flavors and textures
Most of us would think that popcorn is just popcorn. But when you go out there and seek out popcorn to pop yourself you will see that this is not the case. If you are just getting into the world of popping your own popcorn, this post is going to be a good introduction for you.
I want to start with the top most commonly found popcorn in the store - yellow and white popcorn. Those are still pretty generic terms.
For the sake of this post we are talking about what is commonly found labeled as yellow and white popcorn. There are actually numerous varieties of each color that actually exist. I will talk a little about them as well.
🥊 Yellow vs. White Popcorn
Here is a breakdown of the differences between them:
🟡 Yellow - Larger kernels, fluffy, thick hulls, stronger flavor, off white color when popped
⚪ White - Smaller kernels, tender, thinner hulls, milder flavor, snow white color when popped
You will find several brands like Orville Redenbacher and Bob's Red Mill offering both yellow and white popcorn kernels. Some stores may only carry the yellow ones, so you might have to go to a different store to find both.
In general if you want more fluffy popcorn you go with yellow kernels. And if you want more tender you go with white kernels.
🎆 Popped Kernel Color
At first glance the clear difference is the color of the kernels themselves. But when you pop them the inside of the popcorn is white no matter what the color of the kernel outside is.
The shade of white can vary. Look closely at the photo below.
Yellow corn tends to pop up larger than does white corn. I first saw this at an apple orchard that brought in popcorn to sell. It labeled the difference between the two as being the size of the popcorn when it has been popped. I observed this for myself at home. The yellow kernels themselves are generally larger in size, that makes sense.
👅 Taste Difference
When it comes down just to flavor, everything else aside - size, texture, etc, I think yellow popcorn has more flavor than white. The flavor is simply more corny - and in this case being corny is a good thing!
I have tried many different types and for me the best popcorn kernels I ever popped is a yellow variety called Monarch Butterfly. The flavor is unmatched. I could even dedicate some flavor before I put on the salt! I discovered it in Wisconsin is grown by Wisconsin Gold Harvest.
⛵ The Hulls
The main difference between the two types is the hulls of the kernels.
When it comes to eating popcorn, a lot of people are bothered by the hulls. They get stuck in their teeth. In general, the white kernels is better for that group. The hull on it is smaller.
Some white varieties I have seen labeled as hulless. This doesn't mean that the kernels have no hulls just that when popped the hulls explode enough for you not to detect them when you eat the popcorn.
So far in this post we have been focusing on the standard yellow or white varieties sold in the typical grocery store. Now I want to look at some exceptions. There are in fact different types of popcorn that are yellow on the outside.
As I said above, yellow popcorn kernels tends to pop larger, however that isn't the case 100% of the time. Some small kernels are actually yellow. A couple examples are Ladyfinger and Tiny But Mighty kernels.
I have also seen baby rice popcorn that is yellow and is more shaped like a grain of rice. These tend to be tender and hull less.
One the other end of the spectrum you may find mushroom kernels. These pop up really big, almost like a ball. This is the kind you want for making your own caramel corn or kettle corn at home. These kernels are always yellow in my experience.
🍿 RELATED - There are many different varieties of popcorn and if you can explore beyond what you find in most grocery stores, you will see what I mean. Read our post on the Best Heirloom & Amish Popcorn.
🎥 What Do Movie Theaters Use?
I can't confirm this as I have never worked in a theater, but from the popcorn I have had, it tends to be large kernels. Since yellow kernels are the most widely available, I would bet that what you will find in theaters is yellow popcorn.
🍳 Cooking Methods
Whether you microwave, pop it on the stove, or use an air popper does it matter if use you use yellow or white kernels? I would say no. You just need to adjust the time for microwaving and stove top depending on what popcorn you have.
Size of kernel can matter for certain air poppers. The one I had before that I got from thrift store
💡 Tip - For a single serving of popcorn you will need ¼ cup of kernels. If I am really hungry I will pop ⅓ of a cup.
💓 What I Prefer - Yellow or White Popcorn
I think that's pretty clear which one I favor. Both varieties I said you need to check out are yellow. I prefer the yellow popcorn simply because of flavor and the hull thing has never been an issue for me.
I do eat a variety of popcorn. I like to mix it up with some yellow, white, red, midnight blue, black, purple, ladyfinger, Tiny But Mighty, Monarch Butterfly, etc. I just love popcorn and experiencing the wide range of sizes, textures, colors, and flavors. Some Real Salt (the best popcorn salt) and butter or coconut oil is all I ever add to it.
🍿 More Popcorn Posts
Continue your popcorn education with these posts:
- How to Microwave Popcorn
- Best Salt for Popcorn
- How to Evenly Butter Your Popcorn
- How to Reduce Unpopped Popcorn Kernels
- The Best Popcorn [Amish & Heirloom]
- How to Make Your Own Popcorn Salt
➕ More What's the Difference Posts
Learn more about the differences between these different foods.