Popcorn is one of the most endearing snack foods of all time, as it’s become a mainstay within homes (and movie theatres) all over the world. The reasons are easy to understand: aside from being undeniably delicious, it is also incredibly fast and easy to make, regardless of how you do it.
You certainly have plenty of choices on how to go about it. Making popcorn can be as primitive as heating up some seeds in a cast iron skillet over a campfire, or using a more advanced air popper.
With that said, there has been some progress and innovation in recent years in terms of popcorn makers, but that doesn’t mean some of the older, more time-tested options have grown irrelevant. Here are best popcorn popper choices on the market ranging from more traditional methods, to some newer ones as well.
#1 Recommendation – Wabash Valley Farms Stovetop Popcorn Maker
There really are a lot of different ways to make popcorns nowadays, but for many, the stovetop method still shelves supreme. To some of us old souls, there’s really something about heating up the stove, placing the popcorn maker on it, and listening to the kernels pop as you stir them.
When it comes to stovetop popcorn machines, the materials and design make a huge difference in how the process goes. The Wabash Valley Farm’s maker may look old-fashioned (and it is,) but it’s got some modern touches that allow it to make delicious popcorns with little effort on a consistent basis.
What we like
Aluminum Body – The aluminum material makes it lightweight, conducts heat evenly and quickly for popping all the corns in the vessel and not burning any!
Easy to CleanUp: The surface of the aluminum pan can be cleaned with a paper towel afterward -no water or soap required.
Clip-On Top – The top of the machine can flip up on either side for easy pouring once popping is complete, or you can just remove the top altogether for better access. This makes cleaning easier as well.
Wooden Handles – Both the handles, one on the body and the crank handle are made of wood, so you don’t have to worry about them getting too hot while cooking.
Stainless Steel Stirrer – Two small metal pieces on the bottom of the inside of the machine serve as stirrers, operated by the hand crank. The stirrers keep the kernels turning as they heat, preventing burns while keeping the popcorn moving as it pops.
What we don’t like
If you’re someone who likes to push a few buttons and walks away while the popcorn cooks, this isn’t the best choice for you, as it does require your attention the entire time it’s popping.
If you have fallen in love with the idea of stovetop popcorn, the Wabash Valley Farms Stovetop is the best bet. You’ll be surprised by how convenient it is, and how well it cooks perfect dish every time. Everything about it is easy, and well worth the 3 minutes you spend at the stove.
Presto 04821 Orville Redenbacher Hot Air Popper — Best Air Popcorn Popper
Air poppers take the mess and fuss out of popping popcorn, and are championed for often requiring only the push of a button. Not much has changed with these poppers over the years, and that’s actually a good thing. The Presto 04821 Orville Redenbacher Hot Air Popper is a modern version of an old favorite, and it outperforms the competition.
The Presto 04821 is basic, accessible, easy to handle, quick and is capable of churning out a decent amount of perfectly popped corn in just a few minutes, and all without having to monitor it or use any kind of oil or butter.
What we like
Large capacity – It can pop about 18 cups of popcorn in under 3 minutes, all you need to do is just add the kernels, turn it on, sit a down in front of the spout, and let it get to work.
Oil-Free – Since this is an air popper, you don’t need to use any butter or oil, which means you can cut back on the calories and fat.
Wipes Clean – No need to run the Presto 04821 through a wash cycle or scrub it down, just use a clean rag to wipe down after using, and it’ll be as good as new.
Butter Tray – The measuring cup used to add the kernels to the popper doubles as a butter tray. After filling the corns, place the desired amount of butter in the cup, set it on top, and the popper’s natural heat will melt it while the popcorn pops.
What we don’t like
There is no actual on/off switch; plugging the popper in is what turns it on. This may catch a few users off guard at first.
The Presto 04821 is everything you’ve always loved about air poppers, but just an even better version. It’s fast, convenient, and easy to use, and is always up to the task, whether you need a cup or two of corns, or multiple bowls for the family on a movie night.
Salbree Microwave Popcorn Popper — #1 Compact Popcorn Popper
Think silicone is only for spatulas and funnels? Think again. This handy popcorn maker from Salbree combines the functionality, durability, and heat-proof feature of silicone with smart design and the ability to size down to the something just a little bigger than a plate.
The Salbree Microwave Popper couldn’t be any simpler or easy to use. It’s an all-in-one popper that lets you both cook and eat the popcorn right out of it, while also having the option to easily add salt, butter, or whatever else you want. And once you’re done, wipe and collapse it to get a drawer-friendly size.
What we like:
Collapsible – The popper stands at a little over 5 inches tall when it’s in bowl form, but easy collapses down to just over 2 inches tall when you push the bottom in. This is perfect for RVs dorms, or just anyone who wants to save some cabinet or drawer space.
Cool to the Touch – The popper is made from silicone, which doesn’t conduct heat. That means you can pull it right out of the microwave as soon as it’s done, and not worry about burning your hands.
No Oil Required – Although you can cook the popcorn with oil, it’s not required to pop, so you can make delicious corns with no hassle, and fewer calories.
Multiple Colors – The Salbree Microwave Popcorn Popper comes in a ton of different colors, so you can find the perfect one for your tastes.
What we don’t like
The only real disadvantage with this machine is its limited capacity as a bowl. Not a big deal though, as you can always just make more.
The Salbree Microwave Popcorn Popper is a great example of a modern approach to popcorn making. You get the benefits of BPA-free silicone, the ability to save space, and an easy route to making fast, perfectly popped microwave corns — and all for under $20.
West Bend 82505 Stir Crazy Electric Popcorn Popper – #1 Electric Popcorn Maker
If you want stovetop style popcorn, but don’t want to have to do all the work, the West Bend 8205 Stir Crazy Electric Popcorn Popper can do it all for you, resulting in perfect corns that are ready to eat out of the container it was popped in.
Why we love this popper is simple and clear, It comes with a solid design, quality materials which is durable and a user-friendly aesthetic providing you evenly cooked popcorn each time.
What we like
One-Button Operation – Doesn’t get any easier than this. Plug it in, add the oil and corn, hit the switch and sit back and wait a few minutes as the popcorn maker gets to work.
Dual-Purpose Lid – The clear lid over the pan can also be used as a bowl. Just flip it over, remove it from the popcorn machine and you’re all set.
Non-Stick Popping Surface – The surface of the pan is made of non-stick material, which supplies even heating to all of the kernels, and prevents the corn from getting stuck and/or burnt during the process.
Self-Stirring – The Stir Crazy uses automated stirrers on the bottom to keep the popcorn moving, and thus prevent burning. This works just like a stovetop maker, only without you having to use a hand crank.
What we don’t like
The Stir Crazy is definitely not small, so you probably won’t be able to store it in the average drawer. It’s also a little pricey compared to other top rated popcorn machines.
If you don’t want to stand over a stove and turn a hand crank, the Stir Crazy is the best choice. For just under $30, you get excellent popcorns that taste great, and as an added bonus, you don’t need a separate bowl.
Presto 04830 PowerPop — #1 Budget Popcorn Machine (Microwave)
At first thought, a microwave option may seem a little redundant, but it’s more useful than you think. Have you ever microwaved a bag of corn, only to get about ⅓ unpopped kernels leftover, and a bunch of burnt pieces as well? Pretty frustrating, right?
It lets you use regular popcorn seeds in it, skipping the need for using those often inconsistent pre-portioned microwave bags. The process as a whole couldn’t be any simpler with the Presto 04830 PowerPop, and the results are awesome. Just pour the seeds in, put the top on, and place it in the microwave.
What we like
Simple, Efficient Design – It’s not all that complicated. The design allows for maximum heat circulation within the kernels, making sure each one will pop without burning.
Flavor Additions Made Easy – If you want to add salt, butter, or oil, just pour it into the bottom cup area, and let the Presto 04830 PowerPop take care of the rest in just under 1 /12 minutes.
Compact – The Presto 04830 PowerPop can fit into any microwave, even small compact versions for an RV or office.
Easy Cleanup – The Presto 04830 PowerPop is dishwasher safe, or you can just pop the top off and give it a quick wipedown.
What we don’t like
Oddly enough, the Presto 04830 PowerPop requires disposable paper cups to use in the bottom. It comes with a pack of eight with each purchase, which can be used anywhere from 12 to 28 times before being replaced.
I’m not crazy about the disposable aspect of the Presto 04830 PowerPop, but it’s still a great buy considering its price, and how effective and easy it is to use. This is definitely one of the best ways to make popcorn in the microwave, without having to deal with the mediocre results of bagged corn and it’s durable enough to last you years.
How to Choose the Best Popcorn Maker
Popcorn makers are not that complicated but they do come in a few different varieties in terms of how they work. In order to ensure you get the best one according to your needs, it’s necessary to understand the different types and their working.
Air poppers work exactly how they sound. Rather than using oil or hot surfaces, this machine blows hot air onto the kernels to pop seeds. As the kernels pop, they make their way out of a spout into a bowl, or whatever you want to use to serve the popcorn in.
Air poppers are best for those who want to cook popcorn without using any oil or manual labor.
These are a much better alternative to bags of popcorn in a microwave. Microwave poppers are heat-proof, so you simply fill them with fresh seeds, put them in the microwave, and leave them in for a few minutes as the kernels are safely popped, right inside the bowl. You can also eat right out of them, making them the most simple and inexpensive of all popcorn poppers.
Stovetop poppers are the most old-fashioned of popcorn machines. They resemble a pot, which you place over the stove as the bottom heats up. There is also a hand crank attached that keeps the popcorn moving along the bottom so it doesn’t get stuck during cooking. When used properly, these poppers are very fast, produce light, fluffy kernels in your choice of oil.
Electric poppers use the same concept as stovetop poppers, but do all the work for you. They use a hot bottom surface with stirring arms that move the seeds as they pop. These are ideal for people that prefer popcorn popped the old-fashioned way, but would rather have the popper do all the effort on its own. Electric poppers are also typically the most expensive but do produce top-tier results.
Why Do You Need a Popcorn Maker?
The general idea of making corns is not all that complicated — just heat a kernel up until it pops.
I suppose if you were lacking a popcorn maker, you could try your luck using a pan over a stove, but I assure you it’s not going to go as well as you think.
- Using it is your only real option outside of buying overpriced bags of microwave popcorn full of additives and preservatives.
- They are fast, efficient, and almost always very inexpensive, so they are accessible to most anyone.
- They come in a lot of different types, so it’s not hard to find one that best for your taste or kitchen set up.