If family nights at your home look anything like ours, a movie and popcorn cannot be missing! Be it at home or at the movie theatre, popcorn is the ultimate snack to munch on while watching movies. But what are the best popcorn poppers to make movie theatre quality popcorn at home?
Let me show you – in this guide – the various types of popcorn machines available today. I am reviewing the top seven home use popcorn makers so you can make an educated decision on which popper is right for your home.
Why Should You Use a Popcorn Popper?
If you like popcorn and you regularly have movie nights at home with popcorn as the snack of choice, then yes, you should add a popcorn popper to your kitchen inventory.
Here is why home popcorn makers trump pre-packaged microwave popcorn bags any day:
Plain popcorn kernels (and sometimes a little oil) are all the ingredients of homemade popcorn. Pre-packaged microwave popcorn bags contain not only popcorn kernels, but also a whole list of chemical additives that can pose serious health risks. Diacetyl is the chemical used to synthetically add butter flavor. PFOA, the chemical used to line the microwave bags is considered a ‘likely carcinogenic’. Furthermore, trans-fat is added to imitate melted butter. Ugh.
Using a popcorn making appliance results in minimal waste. Pre-packaged microwave popcorn bags don’t exactly yield the largest amount of popped corn. If you are getting together with family or friends for a movie night, you likely have to use several bags to make enough popcorn for everyone. All of these bags create trash that you wouldn’t have when using a popcorn maker.
If you’ve never bought a bag of popcorn kernels in bulk, you’ll be surprised to learn how affordable they are. A big bag of kernels results in a LOT of popped corn. When compared to pre-packaged microwave bags, you can save up to 70%! We make homemade popcorn several times a week and all of our popcorn makers have more than paid for themselves by this calculation.
How To Choose The Best Popcorn Maker
So you have decided (or maybe I have convinced you 😉 ) that you need a home popcorn maker. The next question is, which one? There are different aspects to consider when choosing the best popcorn maker for home.
Essentially, all popcorn poppers fall in 2 categories: they are either standalone small appliances or need an outside heat source.
Within the latter category, that heat source is either the microwave or the stovetop. If you avoid using the microwave altogether or just plain don’t own one, your option is a stovetop popper or a countertop popcorn machine.
Among the countertop popcorn makers there also are two categories: air poppers or popcorn makers that require oil or butter.
If you are avoiding fat for health reasons, air poppers are the way to go. With just high heat and a revolving fan, air poppers do a great job of making fat-free popcorn.
Considering the size is important when deciding which popcorn maker to buy. Air poppers are usually the smallest appliance, because they require a separate bowl to collect the popped kernels. Microwave and stove top poppers can easily be stored nesting with your other bowls and cooking pots.
Electric countertop poppers will take up the most space. You’ll have to consider if you have counter space to spare. Especially when you are investing in a retro style movie popcorn maker, you may not even want to hide it out of sight in a cabinet.
Without any extra counter space to store and display a popcorn popper, you will at least need to find some cabinet space for it.
Have a look at how much popcorn you get in each batch. If you have regular family movie nights, you need a popcorn maker that can produce more than one serving. Otherwise, making enough popcorn for a family or group of friends can turn into a laborious and time-intensive activity.
You may also need to pay attention to the material the popcorn popper is made of. If you are avoiding non-stick coatings on your cookware or plastic in general, you want to make sure that the popcorn making appliance you are choosing isn’t made of these. Look for stainless steel in stand-alone appliances or silicone with microwave poppers.
5. Cleaning Ease
You’ve enjoyed your crunchy popcorn snack, but now it’s time to clean (and possibly put away) the popcorn maker. If you prefer not having to hand wash, pick a type of popcorn popper that is in part or entirely dishwasher safe.
6. Aesthetic Appeal
With most (small) appliances function is more important than appearance. However, the question of aesthetic appeal arises when your popcorn machine is going to get a permanent spot on your kitchen counter (see 2. Size). If you are going to see it every day, you should at least not hate the way it looks.
Best Popcorn Poppers Comparison Chart
This comparison chart shows all the best rated popcorn poppers along with ratings from Amazon. Below that are more detailed popcorn machine reviews of the best of these.
|Brand/Name||Image||Output (Cups)||Stand Alone||Price||*Our Rating|
|Lekue Popcorn Popper|
|Nordic Ware Microwave Popcorn Popper|
|Wabash Valley Farms Whirley-Pop Stovetop Popcorn Popper|
|Presto Poplite Hot Air Popper|
|Presto PowerPop Microwave Multi-Popper|
|West Bend Stir Crazy Electric Popcorn Popper|
|Cuisinart EasyPop Hot Air Popcorn Maker|
|Great Northern Pop Pup Retro Style Popcorn Machine|
|Great Northern Roosevelt Top Antique Style Popcorn Machine|
*Ratings are /5 (out of five)
Reviews of The Best Household Popcorn Machines
Lékué Popcorn Popper Review
The Lékué Popcorn Maker would have to be the best microwave popcorn maker bowl. It is made from silicone, which makes it light weight and collapsable (from 5 down to 2-inches height) for easy storage. Silicone is also very durable and easy to clean. In fact, the Lékué Popcorn Maker is safe to wash in the dishwasher.
It’s also very easy to fill without requiring a measuring cup. Inside the bowl is a fill line marking the amount of popcorn kernels it can safely pop.
Thanks to the suction lid, there is no worry about popped kernels overflowing and having to be cleaned out from the microwave.
The Lékué Popcorn Maker doubles as an attractive serving bowl that holds up to 12 cups of popped popcorn. This is a standard amount among microwave popcorn makers, which are limited by microwave sizes. If you are looking to make large amounts of popcorn regularly, this one may not be ideal for you. Otherwise, this would have to be the best and easiest to use home popcorn maker.
Presto Poplite Hot Air Popper Review
The Presto Poplite is an absolute bestseller not only among air poppers but popcorn poppers in general. The hot air technology makes popcorn without any added oil! Because the popcorn leaves the heat source after popping, there is no risk of burning the popcorn.
It also works very quickly! In less than 2.5 minutes it can produce up to 18 cups of popcorn per cycle. The removable butter warmer in the chute doubles as measuring cup for the right amount of popcorn kernels.
We’ve been using this air popper in a slightly older version for a long time and love it. The only downside we found are the first few popped kernels running amok in your kitchen. They shoot out at high speed and usually don’t end up in the bowl. To remedy this, we partially cover the air popper with a tea towel at the beginning to help guide the first kernels into the bowl.
Although the housing and chute cover are from plastic, the inside part that ‘cooks’ the popcorn kernels is actually stainless steel. The Presto Poplite comes with a variety of color options. I love this red one. There also is a black and several different white versions.
Whirley-Pop Stovetop Popcorn Popper Review
With the Whirley-Pop you get stovetop popcorn at its best! The one-of-a-kind design of this aluminum pot features a clip on lid and a stainless steel stirring mechanism with a wooden hand crank that stays cool.
The Whirley-Pop makes up to 24 cups of fresh, crisp popcorn at once in just 3 minutes. If you are familiar with stovetop popcorn, you know how you have to keep the pot moving to prevent burning.
The hand crank stirring system of the Whirley-Pop makes stovetop popcorn a breeze. No vigorous shaking of a dangerously hot pot required.
Just make sure you are using medium heat. The light-weight aluminum pot is different from most of your regular heavy bottom cookware. Medium heat is all it needs to heat it up quickly and evenly.
West Bend Stir Crazy Electric Popcorn Popper Review
The Stir Crazy Popcorn Popper by West Bend is one unique looking appliance. I probably would never have known about it, if we hadn’t received one for a wedding gift. It reminded me of a UFO when I first saw it.
The kernels and a little oil are placed on the non-stick heating surface. A stirring rod keeps them moving to ensure even heating and no burning of popped kernels.
The plastic lid doubles as serving bowl. If you place a little butter in the butter well, it drizzles over the popcorn as it melts in the popping process.
We’ve had a lot fun with our Stir Crazy Popcorn Popper. My only caveat is, that it is rather bulky and takes up a lot of cabinet space.
Nordic Ware Microwave Popcorn Popper Review
The Nordic Ware Microwave Popcorn Popper is the way we’ve made microwave popcorn since ditching pre-packaged microwave bags. The bowl is made from unbreakable, chip-proof gemstone material with a plastic lid. I love that both parts are dishwasher safe.
You can pop and serve the popcorn in the same bowl. Like an air popper, this microwave popcorn bowl requires no oil for popping. However, we found that adding a little oil to the unpopped kernels, actually results in better popcorn.
There is a learning curve to making the best possible popcorn with each new appliance. With the Nordic Ware Microwave Popcorn Popper we learnt that we had to turn off the microwave before it gets to ‘1 pop per second’ as instructed in the manual. When we waited this long the popped kernels started burning.
Once you’ve figured out the timing, it is very easy to use. It also is the most affordable of all home popcorn makers.
Cuisinart EasyPop Hot Air Popcorn Maker Review
This Cuisinart air popper is a great looking small appliance that would make an elegant style statement in your kitchen. I’d definitely be comfortable to have this one sitting on my countertop permanently.
It makes up to 10 cups of popcorn at a time. Compared to lower priced air poppers it has some really useful additional features. Instead of starting up when being plugged in, it has an on/off switch and a nifty way to roll up the cord for storage. It is also more quiet.
All removable parts (the cover and butter melter) are dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. The plastic parts are BPA free. The color options include red, white and metallic red, which looks especially classy.
Great Northern Pop Pup Retro Style Popcorn Popper Review
This Great Northern Pop Pup Popcorn Machine gives you a full experience of movie theater popcorn at home. It not only tastes but also looks just like at the movies.
A stainless steel kettle pops the corn, which can then be inverted into a removable serving tray (which is dishwasher safe). It is small enough to fit on the kitchen counter.
It can pop 2-1/2 ounces of kernels at a time, which makes 16 cup of popped corn. For something bigger, check out the Great Northern Popcorn 6010 Roosevelt Popper (up to 48 cups).
The warm keeping light is a function that is unique to this type of popcorn maker. It keeps the popped corn fresh and warm.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. This does not reflect my opinion of any popcorn popper listed though. Thank you for your support in making Leelalicious possible. I really appreciate it!