In this guide, you will learn about TOP-5 best popcorn poppers and how they actually work. Read about 9 main factors to consider when buying a product, how many servings the device should make, as well as other recommendations regarding the speed, convenience, and durability. This guide will also tell you about the difference between the main types: microwave, stovetop, and hot air units, their advantages and downsides. A comparative chart featuring the most popular products on the market will help you decide which one is right for you while a section containing the most frequently asked questions will provide you with detailed answers.

Nothing is better than the smell of warm popcorn throughout the house on a comfortable movie night at home. Popcorn can be a healthy whole-grain snack that is a good source of fiber and low in calories. For thousands of years humans have been eating popcorn as a delicious snack. Unfortunately modern microwave popcorn is produced with large amounts of fat, salt and sugar, making the popcorn a far less healthy snack. There are, however, healthy ways to make popcorn at home without the fat and salt of conventional popcorn.

What You Will Learn From This Guide:

How Do Popcorn Poppers Work?

All popcorn poppers work by heating up the fibrous outside of the kernels until the minimal amount of water inside the kernel heats up, creating steam. Eventually the steam causes the kernel to burst inside out and the popcorn is ready to be eaten.

What Are the Types of Popcorn Machines and Their Differences?

Microwave Type

Microwave popcorn typically consists of un-popped kernels of corn in a sealed paper bag with a certain amount of fat and flavoring and kept in plastic until its intended use. The paper bag is intended to be unfolded and placed in the microwave for a prescribed amount of time until all or most of the kernels have popped. It is undoubtedly one of the easiest ways to make popcorn.

Another way to enjoy microwave popcorn involved a microwave safe bowl with a lid. The desired amount of un-popped corn is placed into the bowl and the lid is placed on top before the device is placed into the microwave. This device can be tricky to get the hang of, but once you become used to it, it can be a useful and reusable healthy alternative to conventional microwaved bags of popcorn.

Stovetop Type

Stovetop popcorn is the most traditional way to make popcorn. A pot is heated with a fat, usually vegetable oil, and the bottom of the pot is layered with un-popped kernels. As the oil heats up the pot is swished to keep the kernels evenly heated until they pop. There are pots specifically designed for rotating the popcorn as it pops which can help prevent burning, though an every-day pot would easily do the trick.

Hot Air Type

The healthiest way of popping corn is to use a hot air popper. The air popcorn maker contains an electric heating element, a fan and an enclosed space for the uncooked popcorn. The fan blows hot air from the heating element to the chamber of rotating uncooked popcorn. The hot air expands into steam inside the popcorn kernel until it bursts open and the air pushes the popped popcorn out of the machine into a bowl next to it. Because un-popped kernels are heavier than popped kernels they are able to stay inside the machine until they pop. Occasionally air pop machines are built with a bowl on the inside to catch the popcorn without leaving the machine.

What to Look for When Buying A Product?

Convenience. You want to be sure that you find a popper that will integrate seamlessly with your kitchen. Be sure there is counter space or space in a cupboard to store your popping device. Get a device that you would be comfortable using each time you wanted popcorn. An air popper could seem like a nice idea, but if it is too inconvenient to use every time it can be a waste of money.

Cost. Popping machines vary greatly in cost from tens of dollars to hundreds of dollars but you can usually get some type of device for around $30-40. Assess your budget and shop accordingly.

Durability. Depending on your needs you may choose a smaller device or a much larger standing device and durability will definitely come into play. Smaller, less expensive devices usually cost less but may need to be repaired more often.

Speed. Certain devices can be placed in the microwave and done in minutes, while other devices might require time to heat up before cooking the popcorn. Along with convenience, you should consider the speed of your device with regards to how likely you are to use it.

Output. Many popping devices make one to two servings of popcorn. If you want to make popcorn in larger quantities--say for a family gathering or sporting event--consider a larger machine made for semi-commercial use.

Brand Quality. Research brands of the devices you are considering and take into account the brand quality. Brands that have a reputation for producing quality products are more likely to be trusted than brands you have never heard of before.

Lifespan. The lifespan of your device ties in with its cost and durability. Consider putting more money into a durable machine from a quality brand. The fewer repairs and replacements you have to make in the future will validate the cost you pay up front.

Aesthetics. Does the machine you want match the aesthetics of your kitchen? Whether you plan to keep the device out in the open or tucked away in a cupboard will affect the importance of aesthetics when purchasing your device. If you plan to keep your popping machine on a counter-top, make sure that it matches the decor of the rest of your kitchen.

Warranty. They say that you should expect the best but plan for the worst, and that's why warranties are so important. But there's a careful line to walk here. A warranty in and of itself shouldn't be a selling point, and it shouldn't be used to justify a purchase when you're looking at an inexpensive popper, but it can provide you with an added level of assurance when investing in a higher end unit.

TOP-5 Best Popcorn Poppers

Below, you will find TOP-5 best products within the price range from $15 to $150. These models are of different types and have varying capacity and power. In addition, they differ in materials used in the production, with silicone items being more lightweight and cheaper and stainless steel models being more durable and expensive. Some models have their own peculiarities, such as the patented stirring system preventing burning or a built-in warmer light.

Electric Hot Oil Popcorn Popper Machine with Stirring Rod | West Bend Stir Crazy

Electric Hot Oil Popcorn Popper Machine: photo

A lot of people might see a popcorn popper as a needlessly extraneous device. There are countless kitchen appliances vying for your attention and only so much counter and cabinet space, but the West Bend's Stir Crazy makes a strong argument due to the compactness of its design.

The lid that covers the popcorn doubles as a serving bowl, allowing you to minimize the dishes you need to watch while also limiting the amount of space you take up in the kitchen. This lid is also nested so it can shrink down to accommodate more limited storage situations.

Further adding to the reduced design is the cord which is permanent and wraps right around the unit for more sensible containment. Whether you plan on using your popcorn popper every day or you want to reserve it for your monthly movie night, the product can suit your needs, and you won't have to worry about it getting in the way.

The model also comes with a motorized stir rod that can maximize the amount of kernels that get popped and prevent burning. While the device is available in sizes designed to simulate movie theater machines, this six quart version should be more than enough for families, individuals, and small parties.

West Bend Stir Crazy: Check the current price

Affordable Silicone Popcorn Maker | Salbree

Silicone Popcorn Maker Salbree: photo

A good bowl of popcorn can make or break a party, and that's something that Salbree understands. Their popcorn poppers come in 14 festive colors, and their sleek and poppy design make them a great centerpiece for any get-together.

Their collapsible space saving design makes it easy to put the Salbree out of sight and out of mind between your gatherings, and its intuitive design allows anyone to figure out how it works in a matter of minutes. Its silicone structure is microwave safe and nearly indestructible, and its easy grab handles mean you can pluck it straight from the microwave without worrying about burns.

Salbree: Check the current price

Stovetop Popcorn Popper with Popping Kit | Wabash Valley Farms

Stovetop Popcorn Popper with Popping Kit: photo

This popcorn popper by Wabash Valley Farms may look like something you'd find in an Amish community, but it's one of the most efficient units you'll find. It sacrifices aesthetics for the sake of quality, and you can count on it to deliver perfectly cooked popcorn in just three minutes.

A churner is built right into the handle so that you never have to worry about burnt popcorn, and it can be cleaned well with just a quick wipe down from a paper towel. This kit comes with kernels, oil, and salt packed in so you can make movie style popcorn right out of the box.

Wabash Valley Farms: Check the current price

Antique Countertop-Style Popcorn Popper Machine | Roosevelt

Roosevelt - Antique Countertop-Style Popcorn Popper Machine: photo

The Great Northern Red is more than just a popcorn popper. It's a centerpiece. The antique design replicates the look of traditional movie theater poppers, and it will look good at any party.

While you can't expect it to fit as comfortably in your cabinets as some of the other poppers in our list, you can expect it to leave an impression and provide enough popcorn to satisfy the hungers of guests at even the biggest parties. A built-in warmer light and scoop improve its value as a party popper, and it can make up to three gallons of popcorn per batch.

Roosevelt: Check the current price

Powerful 1500W Hot Air Popcorn Maker | Cuisinart 

Powerful Popcorn Maker Cuisinart : photo

The Cuisinart CPM-100W may not have the charm that many of our other poppers do, but it's an efficient piece of machinery that belongs on the shelf of anyone who finds themselves regularly preparing popcorn. It can provide you with up to ten cups of popcorn in less than three minutes time, and its removable chute and butter warming tray allow you to produce popcorn at the quality of a movie theater with significantly less clean-up. All of the removable parts are dishwasher safe, so all you have to do is pop them in the machine and let them run.

Cuisinart: Check the current price

Comparative Chart of Popcorn Popper Effectiveness

Products Features

West Bend

6-quart capacity bowl
Nonstick coated plate
Motorized stir rod
Weight: 4.4 pounds

Effectiveness: 8

Salbree

Available in 14 colors
Collapsible design
Convenient handles
Made of silicone
Weight: 13.6 ounces

Effectiveness: 7

Wabash Valley Farms

Up to 6 quarts in 3 minutes
25-year warranty
The patented stirring system prevents burning
Weight: 2.15 pounds

Effectiveness: 9

Roosevelt

3-position control switch
Power: 860 Watts
Makes 3 gallons per batch
Built-in warmer light
Heavy-duty steel construction
Stylish
Weight: 36 pounds

Effectiveness: 10

Cuisinart

Power: 1500 Watts
Makes up to 10 cups of popcorn in 3 minutes
Built-in stirring system
Material: metal and plastic
Weight: 2.85

Effectiveness: 10

FAQ

What popcorn maker is the best?
The best popcorn popper is going to come down to personal preference. Whether you're cooking for yourself or company is a big choice in choosing a popper, and you also have to keep your budget in mind. Our list of popcorn poppers cover the full range of options, and you can count on each to be the best in their class.

Which popcorn popper can be used to roast coffee beans?
Many popcorn poppers can serve double duty as units that can also roast coffee beans, but many of the newer models can't reach the necessary temperatures to properly toast a bean. If you're looking for a popper that can also serve as a roaster, look for units with higher max temps and air vents along the sides. Units without vents may need some modification to work safely as a roasting station.

How do you clean it?
The cleaning options for popcorn machines vary according to unit, but any popper worth its salt can be cleaned with little hassle. Some can simply be wiped down with a simple dry paper towel, but most of the more complex models break down to component parts and can run in the dishwasher.

Are silicon popcorn poppers safe?
Yes. Microwave popcorn bags come soaked with chemicals, and they've been associated with a number of different health risks. Silicon poppers can provide a healthier alternative to microwave popcorn.

Are hot devices healthy?
Humans have been cooking over fire for the entirety of our existence. While some diets suggest minimizing heat in your cooking methodology, popcorn poppers don't make use of radiation like microwaves, and that makes them a clean and neat choice for cooking.

Conclusion

Making popcorn is a national past-time enjoyed by many. Buying the right popping device can make your popcorn experience that much more enjoyable. Take time to research the type of machine that you would like and the durability of the product itself. Choosing the right device for your needs will ensure that you will enjoy popcorn for years to come.