The 12 Best Popcorn Makers for Movie Night at Home

Popcorn-maker-on-the-kitchen-table

The very first popcorn machine for commercial use featured a steam-powered roaster tweaked to deliver seasoned popcorn bathed in oil.

Since those days, the popcorn maker has undergone many changes in terms of design, although you’ll still see plenty of machines that use hot oil, even if they are no longer steam-powered.

We understand many of you will have absolutely no idea what to look for when comparing these machines. To help you, focus on the following pointers before you explore our popcorn maker reviews:

  • Type of popcorn maker: A stovetop popcorn popper is one of the most traditional ways to get popcorn at home. These units are typically quite costly and made of stainless steel. If you prize flavor above all else, consider one of these poppers. A microwave popper is the cheapest of all popcorn makers, and it’s also incredibly simple to use. You’ll get great flavor in minutes flat. An air popper makes use of hot air circulated by a fan to cook your popcorn kernels. These machines don’t require any oil or butter, with the circulated hot air sufficient to cook your kernels without them sticking to the sides
  • Capacity: Most popcorn makers quote capacity in terms of cups of popcorn or by quarts. A large-capacity machine is ideal if you’re looking to whip up lots of popcorn in each cycle, but you’ll need the room to accommodate a bulkier machine
  • Cooking time: Most of the popcorn makers on our shortlist generate great popcorn in between 2 and 5 minutes. This should be more than enough for most needs, but if speed is key, look for some of the more efficient microwave poppers. Nothing can beat these in terms of speed of delivery
  • Stirring function: One of the most common causes of burned or half-cooked popcorn is corn that’s inadequately stirred. The best popcorn makers come equipped with inbuilt stirring mechanisms which can help you avoid this problem. If your popcorn maker does not feature on of these, be sure to stir it mid-cycle
  • Ease of use: You should make sure that all the popcorn makers on your shortlist are easy to use. Explore some user reviews to get a feel for what consumers think about the popcorn maker in action. Most people are pretty honest about flaws in products, especially after they have parted with their hard-earned money. As well as responsive and intuitive controls, you should also be certain that handles are stay-cool, and that containers feature the measurement marks you need to make your life easier. Finally, the popcorn maker should also be easy to clean

Right, with that simple framework in place, you have all you need to know to navigate our collection of the most effective popcorn makers in a variety of shapes, styles, and sizes.

Dive in!

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I. The 12 Best Popcorn Makers

1. Our #1 Pick: Original Salbree Microwave Popcorn Maker

Original-Salbree-Microwave-Popcorn-Popper,-Silicone-Popcorn-Maker

Features

  • Type: Microwave popper
  • Weight: 9oz
  • Dimensions: 8 x 8 x 2.5 inches

First up and our overall favorite in today’s showcase of the best popcorn makers come from Salbree in the form of this super-convenient microwave popper. How does it shape up, then?

You can first pick from a wide palette of striking colors to coordinate with your kitchen, including this bright red popper.

Made from food-safe plastic with no contaminants or toxins, this lightweight container is also surprisingly robust, and you should get plenty of faithful service from this popper.

With no oil required, all you need to do is load your kernels into this popcorn maker and you’ll have tasty snacks in minutes flat.

Although most user reviews of this popcorn maker are positive, we found some isolated gripes about popcorn catching on and burning. Do your due diligence here. Burning popcorn is always a possibility whatever method you use.

Overall, you’re getting a user-friendly popcorn solution allowing you to feed a small family in minutes, so what’s not to love?

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Huge choice of colors
  • Ergonomic grab handles
  • Super-simple to use
  • Some issues with popcorn burning

2. Presto Orville Redenbacher’s Hot Air Popper

Presto-04821-Orville-Redenbacher's-Hot-Air-Popper

Features

  • Type: Electric hot air popper
  • Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Dimensions: 6.94 x 9.77 x 11.71 inches

Next up comes an innovative hot air popper from Presto Orville Redenbacher.

The key selling point with this popper is the way it lets you rustle up popcorn without using oil, so you can get away with a 2-cup serving containing just 30 calories. There’s no reason to go without popcorn on movie night, then, even if you’re on a diet.

Speed is also of the essence here. You can generate up to 18 cups of popcorn in less than 3 minutes, perfect for a halftime snack when you’re midway through a film marathon.

The hot air cooking method means you don’t need to use any salt, and there’s no need for artificial flavors either.

Not only is this popcorn maker easy to use, it’s equally simple to keep clean, so you should get years of service from this nifty device, even if you make popcorn on the regular.

Almost all feedback concerning this innovative popcorn maker are positive, but we found some scattered complaints about the fact there is no on/off switch. This is a minor issue, though, and all you need to do is plug the machine on for it to kick into action.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • 2 bowls of popcorn in 2 minutes
  • Cook with no oil for fewer calories
  • Very easy to clean
  • No on/off switch

3. Wabash Valley Farms Popper

Wabash-Valley-Farms-Popper

Features

  • Type: Manual hand crank stovetop popper
  • Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Dimensions: 16.5 x 9.5 x 8 inches

Next up is something for those of you who prefer a more hands-on experience when you’re making popcorn.

Although this hand-crank unit is manually operated, don’t let that fool you. You can still deliver lip-smacking popcorn with this simple but effective popcorn maker by a highly reputable brand.

You use this model over the stovetop, so you’ll fill your kitchen with the smell of popcorn baking, almost as good as the unmissable taste.

The stirring system baked in means you should avoid the burned popcorn that can blight many cheaper and less effective popcorn makers.

If you’re still in any doubt about investing in this popcorn maker, the 25-year limited warranty should show you how much confidence this manufacturer places in their product. After all, no manufacturer expects to lose out when offering a guarantee, right?

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Class-leading 25-year warranty
  • Make 6 quarts of popcorn in 3 minutes
  • Removable quick-release lid
  • Quite flimsy in places

4. Cuisinart Microwave Popcorn Maker

Cuisinart-CTG-00-MPM,-Microwave-Popcorn-Maker

Features

  • Type: Microwave popper
  • Weight: 1.19 pounds
  • Dimensions: 8.75 x 9.5 x 2 inches

Next up in our showcase of the best popcorn makers comes a beginner-friendly microwave popper.

Now, while a microwave may not typically yield great results for anything but reheated foods, the simplicity of making popcorn means you can get great results from microwave poppers.

This silicone pop-and-serve container lets you make your popcorn and eat it from the same pot, perfect if you have limited space in the kitchen or you live in an apartment. Less is more with this thing.

The tightly sealed lid allows you to microwave your kernels with confidence and no chance of any unwanted spillage.

As a neat touch, this container is collapsible, ideal if you have storage space constraints like most of us.

Once you’re done eating your popcorn, cleaning this container couldn’t be easier. Just wash it out with some warm, soapy water and you’re good to go.

Although you don’t get the ceremony or the hands-on enjoyment of making popcorn the traditional way, this microwave popper gives you unbeatable convenience as a trade-off, elevating it to one of the best popcorn makers out there for anyone always crunched for time.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Collapsible for easy storage
  • No oil needed
  • Pop and serve in one bowl
  • Bowl could be deeper

5. Great Northern Red Little Bambino Retro Popcorn Machine

6073-Great-Northern-Red-Little-Bambino-Table-Top-Retro-Machine-Popcorn-Popper

Features

  • Type: Tabletop popper
  • Weight: 9.9 pounds
  • Dimensions: 9.75 x 11 x 18.75 inches

If you have kids at home and you want to give them a retro taste of your childhood, check out this tabletop popper that’s styled like something from the 1950s.

You can make decent 1-gallon batches of popcorn in this thing, so you can get back to your movie rather than constantly fussing over the machine.

The pull out tray allows everyone to access their popcorn with ease.

Inside this popcorn maker, you get an integrated kettle, as well as a stirring system to discourage the popcorn from burning, a common issue with poor quality popcorn makers.

You get a pair of popping kettle hangers thrown in, and you’ll also get a measuring spoon, a cup, and a removable popcorn tray.

There is a warming light to keep your popcorn at its best, too, a small but valuable extra.

As crowning glory, this top-notch old-school popcorn maker is also pretty keenly priced, so what are you waiting for?

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Makes 1-gallon batches
  • Generous batch of accessories
  • Warming light
  • Reported issues with warranty

6. Wabash Valley Farms Open Fire Pop Gift Set

Wabash-Valley-Farms-Open-Fire-Pop-Gift-Set-5-Popcorn-Kits

Features

  • Type: Open fire popper
  • Weight: 3.89 pounds
  • Dimensions: 15.5 x 10.25 x 5 inches

Up next is another entry from the Wabash Valley Farms stable, so what do you get for your money here?

Well, unlike some of the set-and-forget microwave poppers we review, this model calls for an open fire and a more hands-on approach to making popcorn. If that’s what you’re looking for, read on.

You get a complete starter kit here along with the open fire popper. 5 all-in kits give you everything you need for perfect popcorn at home, right down to the seasoning.

Capacity is impressive, with a 4-quart batch of popcorn ready in less than 5 minutes.

All you need to do in terms of cleanup is to wipe down the outside of the machine using a damp cloth. The sealed kits can be used and then ditched for your convenience.

Almost all user reviews praise the convenience of this popper, as well as commenting on the high-grade popcorn it delivers. The only meaningful blowback we found concerns the overall flimsiness of the build.

For anyone looking for one of the best outdoor popcorn makers, whether for camping or tailgating, you can’t go wrong with these kits.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Everything pre-measured
  • Creates no mess
  • Ideal for outdoor use
  • Not the greatest build quality

7. West Bend Electric Hot Oil Popcorn Machine

West-Bend-82505-Stir-Crazy-Electric-Hot-Oil-Popcorn-Popper-Machine-Offers

Features

  • Type: Electric hot oil popper
  • Weight: 3.35 pounds
  • Dimensions: 11.5 x 11.7 x 7.5 inches

As we pass the midpoint of our popcorn maker reviews, we have another electric hot oil machine, this time from the highly reputable West Bend.

The Stir Crazy is a substantial 6-quart pot, allowing you to rustle up movie-time snacks for the whole family and guests without multiple cooking sessions.

The see-through cover lets you keep an eye on your popcorn as it cooks, and this also serves double duty as a bowl.

Handles on either side let you grasp the whole unit securely when you need to shift it around.

Super-simple to use and keep clean, this is one of the best popcorn makers out there.

The nesting design of the lid helps if you have storage issues in the kitchen.

A motorized stir rod helps to ensure your popcorn is all evenly cooked, and it should also inhibit burning.

While let down by some cheap components in place, the generous capacity and ease of use means this is a strong contender for the best hot oil popcorn maker out there.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Transparent cover doubles as bowl
  • Onboard cord storage
  • Spacious 6-quart capacity
  • Some cheap components

8. Nordic Ware Microwave Popcorn Popper

Nordic-Ware-Microwave-Popcorn-Popper

Features

  • Type: Microwave popper
  • Weight: 12oz
  • Dimensions: 9.88 x 9.88 x 5 inches

Next in line is another microwave popper, perfect if you place convenience uppermost.

Choose from a variety of capacities to suit, including this family-friendly 12-cup model. You also get a choice of 3 colors to coordinate with your kitchen.

The unbreakable nature of this material is impressive, and you should get years of faithful service and the fuel for many movie marathons if you invest in this outstanding microwave popper.

Safe to pop in the dishwasher as well as the microwave, it’s hard to believe you can make popcorn this good using a device that’s so simple.

As with all microwave poppers, you may find there is quite a discrepancy between the times recommended in the manual and the real-world times you’ll experience. Microwaves vary substantially in terms of wattage, so you may need to experiment with timings until you dial this in.

For delectable popcorn without the need for oil, this is one of the best solutions you’ll find.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Cook without coil
  • Makes popcorn quickly
  • Chip-proof and unbreakable
  • May need to tweak times

9. Ecolution Original Microwave Popcorn Popper

Ecolution-Original-Microwave-Micro-Pop-Popcorn-Popper

Features

  • Type: Microwave popper
  • Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Dimensions: 8.1 x 7.3 x 8 inches

Ecolution’s popcorn maker comes in a wide palette of colorways to suit all tastes. We know you’re not buying a popcorn machine based primarily on the way it looks, though, so how does the Ecolution perform?

Made from a hardwearing borosilicate glass with a plastic wrap around it, you should find this unit stands up to plenty of rough and tumble.

The glass nature of the bowl lets you keep a close eye on your popcorn as it’s cooking.

Safe to slide in the microwave, you’ll be enjoying fluffy and delicate popcorn minutes later, without any of the hassle of using a machine, and without the extra calories of oil.

This model is also dishwasher-safe, so you’ll have no messy cleanup after the movie credits roll.

Unfortunately, this is another popcorn maker where a few customers report issues with their popcorn burning. Setting this aside, you’re getting a popcorn maker that’s incredibly convenient, and also delivers quick and tasty results.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Glass build
  • Wide array of colors
  • Rugged and robust
  • Some burning reported

10. West Bend Electric Hot Oil Popcorn Popper

West-Bend-Stir-Crazy-Electric-Hot-Oil-Popcorn-Popper-Machine-Offers

Features

  • Type: Electric hot oil popper
  • Weight: 4 pounds
  • Dimensions: 11.65 x 12.63 x 11.65 inches

As we edge to the end of our collection of the best popcorn makers, we have another entry from West Bend, with this highly effective hot oil popcorn maker.

If you dislike the idea of popcorn with added oil, explore some of the oil-free options on our shortlist. For anyone partial to a full-fat feast, read on.

This unit is rated at 900 watts, making it one of the most powerful popcorn makers in its class.

With handles on each side, you’ll have no snags moving this machine around, and the handles also stay cool to the touch.

The cover is clear and equipped with vents. You can also use this as a makeshift serving bowl to save on mess.

There is a stir rod baked into this unit, so all your popcorn should come out light and fluffy, with none of it stuck on or burned.

Inside this popcorn maker, the non-stick coating gives you a seamless experience, while also minimizing the hassle of cleanup.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • 900 watts of firepower
  • Heat-resistant handles
  • Solid build
  • Dome prone to cracking

11. DASH Hot Air Popcorn Popper

DASH-Hot-Air-Popcorn-Popper-Maker-with-Measuring-Cup-to-Portion-Popping-Corn-Kernels

Features

  • Type: Microwave popper
  • Weight: 1.76 pounds
  • Dimensions: 9.9 x 9.49 x 5.43 inches

DASH make some pocket-friendly kitchenware in some muted pastel colorways, so how does this popcorn popper stand and fall?

With a 16-cup capacity, you’ll have more than enough popcorn up your sleeve for a larger family.

This electric appliance uses hot air to bake your popcorn, so you won’t get any of the extra calories of cooking oil.

The measuring cup on top of your machine can also serve as a butter melting tray once your popcorn is ready to eat.

Despite the spacious capacity, this is a reasonably compact and space-saving countertop model, so it makes a good choice even for those with limited space in the kitchen.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • 16-cup capacity
  • Compact footprint
  • Vibrant colorways
  • Kernels can pop out of machine

12. Hamilton Beach Electric Hot Oil Popcorn Maker

Hamilton-Beach-Electric-Hot-Oil-Popcorn-Popper

Features

  • Type: Electric hot oil popper
  • Weight: 6.3 pounds
  • Dimensions: 11.12 x 13.5 x 9.25 inches

To round out our popcorn maker reviews, a great option from Hamilton Beach, a brand with a reputation for producing excellent kitchenware on a budget.

You can whip up as many as 24 cups of popcorn in each batch using this machine, ideal if your kids are having friends over for movie night.

The non-stick plate ensures your popcorn doesn’t end up smeared all over the inside of the machine.

The stirring arm is motorized, giving you a great popping experience.

There is a butter well baked in. This gives you the scope to add seasonings to your popcorn to taste.

This unit makes use of hot oil to deliver popcorn as good as you’ll taste from a concession stand, but you won’t need to leave home to get it.

Aside from the substantial size and weight of this popcorn maker, there’s not much else to knock.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Make 24 cups per batch
  • Non-stick plate
  • Great price/performance ratio
  • Pretty heavy and bulky

II. FAQs

1) What wattage do I need if I choose an electric popcorn popper?

As a general benchmark, the higher the wattage of your popper, the quicker you’ll have popcorn on your plate. 650 watts is around the minimum wattage you should consider, with some of these compact appliances rated at 900 watts and above. If you never plan to make larger batches of popcorn, you could easily get away with a lower-wattage machine. As with all elements of comparing popcorn makers, there is boilerplate solution, and all that counts is finding what works for you.

2) What kettle size should I look for with an electric popcorn maker?

As with the wattage, the only thing that counts here is buying in line with your needs. The larger the kettle, the more popcorn you’ll be able to produce. What you need to consider is just how much popcorn you really need, and whether it’s worth accommodating a heavier and bulkier unit to achieve extra capacity, or whether you’re happier with a machine featuring a smaller kettle, and a correspondingly slimmer footprint.

3) Is a warming deck important?

Warming decks or lights help you to keep your popcorn ready to serve and this makes a valuable extra when you’re comparing the best popcorn makers. When the heating element is positioned underneath the deck, this will reduce the occurrence of overly chewy popcorn. Throw in a warming light, and you’ll have fresh and fluffy popcorn on demand and at its finest.

4) Is a microwave popper worth considering or do they produce poor quality popcorn?

These models are certainly worth exploring, especially for anyone placing convenience uppermost when comparing popcorn machines. While all you need to do is pop your popcorn in the microwave using these simple and microwave-safe devices, you’ll be amazed at the quality of the corn you get. Some people feel using a microwave takes some of the fun out of making popcorn, but when you taste the end results, you’ll soon stop questioning whether microwave poppers are any good.

5) What do I need to do to take care of my popcorn maker?

How much care and maintenance is involved will depend on the type of popcorn maker you choose. A stovetop popper is very easy to look after, but an electric popper and an air popper require slightly more by the way of upkeep. For regular cleaning, unplug your machine before doing anything else. Once unplugged, you should allow your popcorn maker to cool down. Wait at least 30 minutes. Remove the kettle from the machine. Clean this with a damp cloth. Avoid using any ammonia-based cleaner. Every few months, you should perform a deep-clean. If you often make large batches of popcorn and you use your machine frequently, deep-clean it more often. Fill the kettle with a kettle cleaning solution diluted with some water. Turn on your popcorn maker and let the mixture come to a boil. Switch off your machine and unplug it. You should now leave the kettle for some time before you empty the cleaning solution. The time period varies from model to model, so consult the instruction manual to make sure you get this right. Rinse the kettle and you’re good to go.


III. Conclusion

If you turned up here today at Madiba without any clear idea about how to choose the best popcorn maker, you should now be spoiled for choice.

With our comprehensive curation of various styles of popcorn maker, there’s no excuse not to find one that meshes with your needs. Whether you want set-and-forget ease, or you prefer getting more hands-on when you’re making popcorn, there’s something for everyone today.

As summer gives way to fall, we’re extremely busy here at Madiba, and we have a huge amount of great content coming your way, so bookmark our blog and be sure to pop back soon!

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