Airpoppers are one of the most purchased type of popcorn maker. And rightfully so for many good reasons. In this article you'll discover the benefits of airpoppers and what to look for when choosing the best Air Popcorn Popper for your home.
Before diving into the various benefits of air-popped popcorn, let's take a look at the top selling air-poppers!
Best Air Popcorn Popper Comparison Chart
|Brand/Name||Image||Output (Cups)||On/Off Switch||Price||*Our Rating|
|Presto 04820 PopLite Hot Air Popper|
|Cuisinart Easypop Hot Air CPM-100|
|Hamilton Beach 73400 Hot Air Popcorn Popper|
|Presto Fountain Hot Air Popper|
|SLENPET Air Pop Popcorn Maker|
|NHL Stanley Cup Hot Air Popcorn Popper|
|Star Wars R2-D2 Hot Air Popcorn Popper|
|Star Wars Death Star Hot Air Popcorn Maker|
|Disney Mickey Mouse Air Popper|
|Nostalgia Hot Air Popcorn Maker|
As you can see, there are literally a dozen air-poppers you can choose from. Each is a slight bit different despite being largely the same as all the others.
So let's look at each popper in more detail to evaluate the cons and pros of each and see which is the right one for you!
Detailed Hot Air Popcorn Popper Reviews
Presto Poplite Hot Air Popper Review
The Presto Poplite is an absolute bestseller. Not just in it's class, but is a best seller across all types of popcorn poppers.
Here is why everyone loves it:
The Presto air popper works very quickly. In less than 2.5 minutes it can make up to 18 cups of popcorn. And while the popcorn pops, you can melt you butter at the same time (thanks to the removable butter-melting tray in the chute).
That part also doubles as measuring cup to help you use the perfect amount of popcorn kernels every time.
If you are conscious about the material and ingredients your food is cooked in, you will be happy to hear that although the housing and chute cover are made from plastic, the inside part that 'cooks' the popcorn is actually made from stainless steel.
The Presto Poplite comes in a variety of color options - I am especially partial to the red one. And there also are black, blue and several different variations of white. Which one matches your kitchen best?
We've been using a Presto popcorn maker in a slightly older version for a long time and absolutely love it.
The only downside we found with out old one 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 underneath.
To help remedy this, we partially cover the air popper with a tea towel at the beginning to help guide the first kernels into the bowl. I believe this issue was addressed with this newer design.
The Presto hot air popper is a great yet affordable choice to get started making popcorn at home.
Cuisinart EasyPop Popcorn Maker Review
This Cuisinart Air Popper is definitely the best looking air popper you can get. At least in my humble opinion. It comes in a royal blue and - my favorite - an elegant red.
We picked one up a while back strictly for testing purposes and absolutely love it. Here is my in depth review of it!
Unlike other appliances that you may want to keep out of sight when not in use, this beautiful air popper has made a great permanent addition to my kitchen countertop.
The Cuisinart EasyPop makes about 10 cups of your favorite snack per cycle, each of which takes less than 3 minutes to complete.
The chute cover includes a removable measuring cap that serves as measuring cup as well as butter warmer.
The interior popping chamber has a stainless steel bottom and aluminum sides. And the on/off switch on the side makes operating the air popper really easy without having to unplug it every time.
Some users have remarked that the blow fan seems too strong, so that some unpopped kernels get blown out immediately after starting the cycle. I found this to be true as well, but discovered the best way to prevent that from happening is to add just a bit more kernels.
Others have shared that letting the appliance run empty for a couple of minutes to warm up the inner chamber before filling in the kernels seems to remedy that issue. Tilting the air popper backwards during the first little while seems to help as well.
Overall, the Cuisinart air popper turns unpopped kernels into large and fluffy popcorn that nobody will say no to.
Hamilton Beach Hot Air Popcorn Popper Review
The Hamilton Beach Air Popper is another popcorn appliance that comes in a beautiful red color! It pops up to 16 cups of popcorn in mere minutes ... all without oil or any other added ingredients.
It too comes with a removable measuring cup/butter warmer built into the plastic chute. But use it for melting butter at your own discretion, as it doesn't seem to be BPA free. Melting a little container with butter in the microwave at the same time is just as quick and convenient.
Users value the solid make of this air popper, because it doesn't move around on the counter as other similar poppers do.
The plastic chute is also sturdy without any issues of overheating and warping. Some have even washed those parts in the dishwasher without any problems.
My biggest beef with this air popper is that it doesn't have an on and off switch. It turns on as soon as you plug it in and to shut it off you need to unplug it. Not a big deal if you can make it work, but a simple switch would greatly increase my love for this machine.
The Hamilton Beach air popper - like most air poppers - is noisy while in operation. Sadly it seem to take a little longer to completely pop a full batch of kernels with this one as well.
It is a terrific air-popper if you are hoping to save a couple dollars, but it definitely is not the most convenient machine around.
Presto Fountain Hot Air Popper
This Presto Fountain Hot Air Popper has a few unique features that set it apart from all the other hot air popcorn makers we are reviewing here.
Most noticeable is the fact that this popper is bigger than all the other ones. This is because the cover also doubles as a serving bowl that can hold up to 20 cups of popped corn. It also means that there will be absolutely no issue of popped or unpopped kernels flying amok around your kitchen.
Unpopped kernels aren't really a problem altogether because the popping chamber can be covered with 3 stainless steel restrainers. These keep unpopped kernels from flying out too soon. Once the popping starts, the restrainers flip back to let the popped kernels out.
The plastic cover has openings at the top to vent out hot air. These vents can be closed with a lid to use the cover as a bowl.
Because of the openings at the bottom of the bowl (when eating the popcorn out of the bowl), any unpopped kernels that may have snuck out (as well as husks) are collected in the lid. This allows you to enjoy all of the popcorn without frustrating particles.
If unpopped kernels and popcorn not landing in the designated bowl have been a turn off for you with other air poppers, and if you have always wanted to make really large batches of air popped corn, this fountain hot air popper is the solution for you!
CONS: It does not have a built in a butter melter. So if you like buttery popcorn, you will need to melt it separately. Also, the big pot/cover is unfortunately not dishwasher-safe.
Keep in mind though that the Presto Fountain Air Popper will take up more storage space in your cabinets than any other air popper. And like so many other Presto air popcorn makers this unit does not have an on/off switch, and therefore is turned on the second it's plugged in.
Star Wars R2-D2 Hot Air Popcorn Popper Review
When it comes to novelty appliances appearance seems to take priority over function. While they make fantastic gifts for movie, sports or comic character fans, some of these novelty popcorn machines aren't actually that great at popping popcorn.
This - I am happy to report - is not the case with this Star Wars R2-D2 Hot Air Popcorn Popper. While enhancing any Star War lovers kitchen, this R2-D2 shaped popcorn maker also makes a good bowl of popcorn... Star Wars movie night or not.
The appliance has a handy on/off switch, as well as a measuring cup that doubles as butter melter in the top of the cover.
The chute of the cover doesn't extend down very far. So to counteract popcorn flying all over your kitchen it is recommended to use a deep tall bowl to catch the popped corn.
This cute Star Wars popcorn appliance will automatically shut-off if needed to prevent overheating - which sometimes happens when doing more than 2 popping cycles in a row. If that happens, give it a 10 minutes rest and it will work again.
This is the perfect hot air popcorn popper for someone who is a Star Wars fan that also loves popcorn.
What is an Air Popper?
Now that I have shared extensively what I believe to be a list of the best air poppers out there, let me back up a bit and explain exactly what an air popper is and how they are different from every other type of popcorn popper.
Unlike most other mechanisms of making popcorn, air poppers make popcorn without the use of oil. That's right. No oil whatsoever. It solely uses hot air to turn hard kernels into fluffy popcorn. You also get to avoid the preservatives and additives of store-bought microwavable popcorn bags.
It's almost as though you put popcorn kernels into a cylinder and then use a blow dryer on "extreme heat" mode to blow hot air into it. Due to this heat, the kernels start popping just 1 to 2 minutes later. Pretty cool, right?
If you proactively try to avoid oils or fats and yet want to enjoy a bowl of popcorn every now and then, you will want to get yourself one of the air popcorn poppers reviewed on this page. Not all are made the same and not all have the exact same built in gadgets, but they all do one thing: they turn corn kernels into delicious popcorn!
In other words, you really can't go wrong with any of the machines I listed above!
How do Air Poppers Work?
One of my favorite things about air poppers is how easy they are to use. Heck, you could even train a monkey on how to use them. I'm not saying that to insult a monkey's intelligence, but rather to make the point that air poppers are super easy to use, haha!
Here is how it works:
- Unpopped kernels are filled into a popping chamber.
- When turned on, the popping chamber circulates hot air.
- The hot air keeps the kernels moving so that they don't burn.
- The kernels pop, resulting in an explosion of mouthwatering popcorn.
Once the kernels pop they are guided down a chute into a bowl that you need to place at the bottom of the small appliance. Most chutes even have a removable butter warmer built in so that butter can get melted at the same time as the kernels get popped.
You place a small amount of softened butter into the tray and during the popping cycle the hot air (that passed by underneath) will melt the butter. Once all the kernels are popped you can pour the melted butter on the finished popcorn.
That same butter tray can also be used at the beginning to measure out exactly the right amount of kernels needed per batch.
Air poppers really are that easy and straightforward to use. You couldn't do it wrong even if you tried!
Advantages of air poppers over other Popcorn Makers
There are several advantages to air poppers compared to any other popcorn makers. For starters:
The biggest advantage that sets aside air poppers from every other popcorn making appliance is that fact that they make popcorn without any added oil. Hot air alone is in charge of the whole popping process.
Of course you can add melted butter or coconut oil and salt to taste to the popped kernels later on, but you don't have to. If you just want a simple, quick and healthy delicious low-fat treat, air popped popcorn is the #1 choice for many health conscious snackers.
The second big advantage of air poppers also has to do with the fact that they operate without any oil. For that same reason they are super easy to clean.
You don't even have to worry about cleanup for the inner popping chamber, since that usually stays completely clean. Or at least a quick dry wipe will suffice. The same goes for the outer housing.
The chute can usually also just be wiped or you can also give it a quick rinse. Only the butter warmer tray - if you used it for melting butter - will need a good wash in hot soapy water.
Most air poppers are designed so that they only need to hold the unpopped kernels. Any popped kernels fly out into a bowl that is separate from the appliance.
Since they don't have to hold the whole volume of an entire batch of popped popcorn, air poppers are the smallest among popcorn making appliances (aside from the all new collapsible microwave silicone bowl type).
That means they don't take up lots of space on the counter, cupboard, or wherever you decide to store it. This makes them an ideal appliance if storage space is limited.
Hot Air Popcorn Popper vs Microwave Popcorn Makers
Many people don't like to use a microwave if they can help it. Myself included. Nuking food with a million micro waves per second just does not sound like a healthy decision. Especially when there are other options available.
This same principle applies to popping popcorn kernels. There are plenty of microwave poppers out there but why nuke popcorn kernels if you don't have to?
With that said, here are a few reasons I will pick an air popper over a microwave popcorn popper any day:
- Simple hot air instead of microwaves.
- No need for oil instead of high heated oil.
- No mess instead of a greasy hard-to-clean bowl.
I've also reviewed the best stovetop popcorn poppers, in case that is something else you are looking at.
What to look for when Choosing an Air Popper
The first question I would ask myself is: How much popcorn would I typically need to pop at a time? If it's for two people, any of these poppers will do just fine. If it's for three or more people, I'd make sure the air popper I pick can handle popping for that many in one or two cycles.
As a side note, if you will be popping regularly for a large family or groups of people, I would recommend taking a look at a bigger popcorn machine. They are not air poppers, but are specifically designed to handle popping large amounts of popcorn in one go. Some of these are just slightly smaller versions of the machines you see in movie theaters with a kettle inside a glass box.
Next, where will I be storing it? If it's going to remain on the counter, I would want to make sure it is aesthetically appealing. Whether that is a an R2-D2 design or a fine looking plain color machine, I'd want to make sure it matches my kitchen at least somewhat.
Best air popper for roasting coffee
Hot Air Poppers are commonly used by home coffee roasters. Instead of buying very expensive coffee bean roasting equipment, air poppers can be used for the same purpose.
Usually, a little modification is required to make hot air popcorn poppers work for roasting coffee beans. Most air poppers have an internal thermostat which will cause the appliance to shut off automatically when it reaches a certain temperature to avoid overheating.
For coffee roasting a higher temperature is required for a longer period of time than a popcorn popping cycle. For that reason home coffee roasters remove the thermostat or use an air popper that comes without it.
There are dozens of different air poppers out there. Aside from added features and gadgets, they all do one thing: they pop corn using hot air!
No oil. No additives. Just hot air!
Which one you decide to get ultimately depends on the gadgets and features you want your air popper to have.
- Do you need a butter melter built in? Do you need an on and off switch?
- Do you need something extra compact for storage purposes?
- Or do you prefer a stylish one that looks good on your counter?
- How many cups of popcorn do you need it to pop at a time?
Find the best popcorn maker that fits your need, want, or budget best, and you can't go wrong with any of the ones I've reviewed above!
And if you want to flavor your batch of popcorn, here are some ideas for you:
One thing which was not mentioned is that if you simply eat the popcorn as it comes out of the machine, it is as tasteless as it is healthy. Salting it helps, but it is difficult to get the salt to stick to the popcorn evenly-even if you use popcorn salt. Perhaps you could make your recommendations as to how to make the popcorn as tasteful as what you get at a store or theater. Using melted butter helps in this regard, but it's impossible to coat the popcorn in a manner similar to the machines like the West Bend Stir Crazy, which melts the butter and distributes it while the corn is popping. It would be helpful if they made a device to slowly drizzle the butter evenly, but even then, the popcorn would have to be turning to get it well distributed. I have found a popcorn seasoning spray which helps, and you can also find spray-on olive oil. I would be interested if you can do an article on the best products you have found to help salt and otherwise season/flavor the popcorn which comes out of the hot air poppers. Lastly, I find that the popcorn from my Presto Pop Lite machine is a bit on the chewy side, and that is even with a brand-new jar of Orville Redenbacher corn. Not as dry and crunchy as what you get commercially.
Regina | Leelalicious
Hey Larry, I agree that popcorn really needs some butter on it. Personally, I melt the butter in a saucepan or the microwave. Then drizzle it over the popcorn in a very large bowl (even better if it has a lid) and just toss vigorously to coat everything. Maybe that's not as evenly as a movie theater machine but it works well for us. Even better if the butter is flavored like my latest Rosemary Garlic Parmesan Popcorn recipe https://leelalicious.com/garlic-parmesan-rosemary-popcorn/