What To Do With Old Popcorn Kernels – A Quick Tip Guide

Good Ways to Use Old Popcorn Kernels

good ways to use old popcorn kernels

Good news! You don’t have to throw out your old popcorn kernels if you’re bored of making popcorn or have leftover unpopped kernels. There are several ways to put them to good use.

Way to put popcorn kernels to good use

1. Mix the Kernels with Cheesy Grits

A good way to use your old popcorn kernels is by mixing them with cheesy grits. Some people think adding your popcorn kernels to grits is unusual, but you’ll likely love this combination once you taste it.

You must soften the popcorn kernels for a day before grinding them into a smooth paste. The next step is to pour the paste on your cheesy grits which can make a good side dish for nearly any meal.

2. Uses the kernels as an Ice Pack

You can use your old popcorn kernels as an ice pack instead of the traditional ice packs you buy. The main shortcoming of using standard ice packs is that they get wet when you use them several times.

And of course, some people also use frozen peas as ice packs but they become mushy after a while.

To do this with popcorn, store your old popcorn kernels in a freezer bag and freeze them for a few hours. You’ll get a nice frozen bag of kernels that makes a great ice pack that molds to the wounded area.

3. Use Your Old Popcorn Kernels To Make Ice Cream

Did you know? You can create popcorn-flavored ice cream using your old popcorn kernels. Soak the unpopped kernels in milk. Next, filter the liquid to make a suitable custard base.

This base is a primary ingredient for making ice cream. Next, mix the custard base with sugar and ice before blending it. When it’s all finished you’ll have a popcorn-flavored ice cream that’s really unique.

What Causes Popcorn Kernels Not To Pop?

what causes popcorn kernels not to pop

Your popcorn kernels won’t pop if they have high or low moisture content inside the kernels. The pericarp (the outer shell surrounding the kernels) determines the popcorn kernels’ moisture content.

Good popcorn kernels need a moisture content of approximately 13-14.5% to pop well. Anything below or above this moisture content prevents the popcorn kernels from exploding.

When heating the popcorn kernels, the water inside is converted into steam, which builds pressure to pop the kernels. As such, if the kernel contains less moisture, there won’t be enough steam pressure built up as needed.

If the moisture content is high, it will cause the kernel to sprout, thus weakening the hull. Ultimately, these kernels will not pop and may end up burning.

Poor (insufficient) heating in your microwave oven or popcorn maker is also another reason for kernels to fail.

Can You Revive Old Popcorn Kernels?

can you revive old popcorn kernels

Fresh popcorn kernels yield flavored popcorn unlike old ones that have a stale taste after popping.

However, there is a way you can revive the stale popcorn kernels. You only need to steam the kernels for ten minutes on top of the boiling water.

Your old kernels will be rehydrated and you can pop them immediately.

There is also an easier way you can rehydrate your old popcorn kernels:

  • Place them in a jar and add one teaspoon of dechlorinated water.
  • Next, mix the contents in the jar over a few days as they soak and the popcorn kernels will be ready for popping.

Keep in mind that you should add one cup of popcorn kernels for every teaspoon of dechlorinated water when soaking them to get them ready.

Can You Refresh Leftover Popped Popcorn?

can you refresh leftover popped popcorn

It happens to all of us: we trying making fresh popcorn and and end up some we never finish but hate to waste the rest. While many of us throw away the leftover popcorn, it’s possible to eat it later even if it’s stale.

However, you can warm the leftover popped popcorn to refresh it. The easiest way to refresh this stale popcorn is to heat it using an oven. You should spread the popcorn on a baking sheet and warm it at 250 degrees Fahrenheit until it’s crispy.

You can also reheat the popcorn using a microwave:

  • Pour it in a bowl then cover it with a damp paper towel.
  • Heat it at 100% power using 10-second intervals. (As an added bonus, you can drizzle melted butter on the popcorn before serving to boost the flavor!)

Whichever method you choose, it’s important to regularly check the popcorn when heating to avoid burning it.

How Long Are Popcorn Kernels Good for After Expiration Date?

how long are popcorn kernels good for after expiration date

Popcorn kernels are usually dry and you can help prolong their shelf life if you store them well. They can last for years if done right, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get the same result when you pop fresh ones.

For instance, fresh popcorn kernels will be larger and have a better flavor than old ones.

The expiration date in most of these popcorn kernels indicates the time you have until the popcorns start losing their natural flavor.

  • Generally speaking popcorn kernels can be used within two years after the production date.
  • To be safe you should use them between six to twelve months after the expiration date.

To get the best shelf life out of them, store them in a moderately cool place in an airtight sealed container.

Modified 11/24/2023: Change author title line from to type based on Pagespeed Insights accessability note regarding h5 out of sequence.

About the author

Daniel loves to eat snacks - and finds unique kinds of candy, treats, and food in general a fun topic to share. When not writing or volunteering, you can usually find him in the kitchen cooking up some delicious treats. He's fascinated with classic treats because of how each one has a different story behind it which makes them unique. Read more »