The Best Popcorn Makers

Table of Contents

Turning corn kernels into popped corn is a chemical reaction that seems almost magical. Luckily, it doesn’t take the wave of a wand to conjure up a bowl of this tasty treat and favourite movie snack.

If popcorn is your go-to munchie, you probably fall into one of three popcorn maker camps: an air-popper, the oil-in-a-pot-on-the-stovetop method, or in the microwave. We don’t judge; all three ways to pop up a bowl of hot, crunchy glory have their benefits. The good news is, being able to choose your favourite way to pop corn is as easy as finding the right popcorn maker.

If you’re on the fence and don’t know what you want, if you are looking for a new popcorn maker to replace an old one, or if you are new to the game, let us try and help you make that all important decision. Read below and find our list of popcorn makers, how they work, how much popcorn they produce per batch, and their pros and cons so you can get busy popping up a bowl as soon as possible.

1. Editor's Pick: Cuisinart EasyPop Popcorn Maker

ProsCons
  • Automatic popcorn maker
  • Use the popping container as a bowl
  • More expensive than other models

Key Specs

Product Dimensions: 28.58 x 27.31 x 36.83 cm
Capacity: 16 cups
Material: Stainless steel
Item Weight: 2.81 kg

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This popcorn maker may not pop corn as fast as some other models, but it has a number of convenient features that make it worth your while. In just under five minutes, it can pop up to 16 cups of popcorn.

The popping bowl has specialized vents that allow moisture to escape, eliminating chewy popcorn and instead, producing crisp and crunchy popcorn with every batch. The motorized stirring mechanism moves the kernels around and the aluminum in the base of the popping plate makes for even heat distribution. Together, it produces fewer unpopped kernels and gives you unlimited popping cycles; if you like, you can make a new batch right after the first one is done.

To use, measure out the popcorn and add a small amount of oil, cover with the lid and turn the switch to on. When the popcorn is done, turn the switch to off and then empty into a bowl or you can use the container as your bowl. Less to wash is always a bonus, right?

2. Best Air-Popper: Presto 04820 PopLite Hot Air Popper

ProsCons
  • Pops faster than a microwave
  • Creates the ideal heat to pop corn
  • No on/off switch

Key Specs

Product Dimensions: 16.81 x 24.13 x 31.27 cm
Capacity: 18 cups
Material: Plastic
Item Weight: 907 g

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You can spare the fat but not the taste with this popcorn air popper.This model from Presto produces 18 cups of popcorn in under three minutes, which is faster than the average microwave.

With an air popper, you also don’t have to figure out the heat setting. The machine does that for you, using hot air at the right temperature to make popcorn. And although it puffs up those corn kernels without using fat — which is great if you are watching your calories — there is still a way to get warm, delicious butter or margarine into the mix. A handy scoop sits on the top of the popcorn maker that you can use to measure the kernels before they go into the popper. You can also put butter into it that will melt by the time the corn is popped, so you can pour it over and mix it in.

The popcorn maker has a chute to direct the popped corn into a bowl and leaves very few unpopped kernels. You can use regular or gourmet popcorn but note that the machine does get hot, so you need to wait until it cools down before making a second batch. The machine also moves a bit when in operation so it’s best not to leave it alone. There is no on/off switch; it runs once it’s plugged in, and turns off when it’s unplugged.

3. Best Stovetop Popcorn Maker: Wabash Valley Farms Stovetop Popcorn Popper

ProsCons
  • Pops corn in three minutes
  • Hand-crank system pops most of the kernels
  • Does not work on induction stovetops
  • Learning curve to find ideal heat level

Key Specs

Product Dimensions: 25.4 x 25.4 x 25.4 cm
Capacity: 8 cups
Material: Aluminum
Item Weight: 907 g

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This crank-style stovetop popcorn maker leaves almost no kernels unpopped. For a true popcorn aficionado, the history of Wabash Valley Farms is at least one good reason to consider the Whirley-Pop stovetop popcorn maker.

This American farm began producing gourmet popcorn 30 years ago for movie theatres and ballparks, and then moved into selling directly to consumers. Soon after, they developed the Whirley-Pop — a stovetop popcorn maker that produces consistency fluffy popcorn.

The hand-crank style popcorn maker pops up to six quarts of popcorn in three minutes and consists of an aluminum pot and a lid with an attachment that you turn as the corn is popping. The metal gears inside the lid are ideal for making kettle and caramel corn recipes, too, so you can spread your popcorn wings a bit.

The popper is easy to use. Just add one or two teaspoons of oil, pour in the popcorn, turn on the heat and start stirring. Because the constant stirring action keeps the kernels moving and the heat evenly distributed, almost all of the kernels will pop: you can expect very few widows in your bowl! And when you’re done, the pot wipes clean easily for the next time.

You can use any brand of popcorn in the Whirley-Pop, but take note that this popcorn maker does not work on induction stovetops. Similar to all stovetop models, there is a bit of a learning curve to figure out the best level of heat to use based on your specific stove. But once you’ve got that down, the rest is easy.

4. Best High-End Popcorn Maker: Great Northern Movie Theater Style Antique Popcorn Machine

ProsCons
  • Makes large batches
  • Performs like a movie theatre popcorn maker
  • Not ideal for small quantities
  • Significantly more expensive than other popcorn makers

Key Specs

Product Dimensions: 34.54 x 36.58 x 57.91 cm; 13.83 Kilograms
Capacity: 3 to 4 gallons
Material: Steel
Item Weight: 13.8 kg

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You can really set the scene with this movie-theatre style popcorn maker. Perfect for people with larger homes, this is a great character addition to any home theatre or living room/dining room space.

Why get up to go all the way to the kitchen for another bowl of popcorn when you could have your own machine? If you’re looking for a popcorn maker that can produce large quantities of delicious, fluffy hot popcorn that will make all of your guests feel like they’re really at the movies, consider this model from Great Northern Popcorn.

This commercial quality popcorn maker features stainless steel food-zones, an easy cleaning stainless steel kettle, an old-maid drawer for unpopped kernels, tempered glass panels/doors and an eight-ounce kettle that holds lots and lots of hot popcorn — between two and three gallons per batch.

The three-position switch controls the internal spotlight warmer, the stirrer and the pot heater. Just add your popcorn and turn it on and the corn pops out light and fluffy into the glass container. To keep it really authentic, the popcorn maker comes with 50 bags, measuring cups and a popcorn and an oil scoop. When the movie is over and the popcorn is gone, the unit cleans easily with water.

5. Best Microwave Popcorn Maker: Brensten Popcorn Popper Bowl

ProsCons
  • Affordable
  • Collapsible for easy storage
  • Only works in the microwave

Key Specs

Product Dimensions: 21.11 x 20.6 x 6.91 cm; 299.37 g
Capacity: 5 to 6 cups
Material: Food-grade silicone
Item Weight: 299 g

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With this collapsible silicone hot air popcorn maker, all you need to do is pour in some fresh kernels, pop on the lid, and in a few minutes, the puffiness of the popped corn moves the lid to the top of the bowl when it's ready.

The popcorn maker is made of food-grade, BPA and PVC-free, silicone. The handles on each side of the bowl make it easy to grasp and remove from the microwave and ensure your fingers don’t get burned from the hot bowl.

Eat from the popcorn maker or transfer to another bowl to enjoy your snack. The popcorn maker is easy to wash with soap and water, or you can put it in the dishwasher. And since it collapses to a height of around 2.5 inches, it stores away neatly in a drawer until the next time. Available in six colours, it makes between five and six cups of popcorn.

What to look for in a Good Popcorn Maker

Type: There are different popcorn makers available on the market and how you like your popcorn — to be made with oil or without — will be one determining factor in the model you choose.

Stovetop: To make popcorn with this type of popcorn maker, you need to have access to a stovetop — electric, gas or propane. They are reminiscent of when popcorn was made in any old pot with a lid that was shaken back and forth over a flame until the corn was popped. While this was a good method, if you burned the popcorn, you likely burned the bottom of the pot and it was ruined. With a popcorn maker that is specially designed for the stovetop, it has a lid with a hand crank so that the kernels are constantly being moved around, which means there is less of a chance that the popcorn, or the pot, will burn.

These popcorn makers do need oil to work; you put a small amount in the bottom of the pan, wait until it heats up, pour in the rest of the kernels, put on the lid and shake and stir. The advantage of this type of popcorn maker is that it pops up corn quickly and is easy to clean. The downside is that it takes practice to find the right level of heat to use on your particular stovetop to make perfect popcorn, but once that is determined, you’re on your way to really good popped corn.

Air-popped: These popcorn makers use hot air to pop corn — no oil needed. They are ideal for anyone who wants a low-calorie, no-fat snack. There are different styles of this type of popcorn maker. Some with chutes that shoot out the popped corn and others that holds the kernels in a container and stir them around as the hot air circulates. With these, the popcorn stays in the container, whereas with the chute models, you need another bowl to catch the popped corn.

The advantage of an air-popper, aside from not having to use oil, is that you don’t have to fiddle around to find the right temperature; the machine does it for you. Some people, however, say that popcorn from an air popper doesn’t taste the same as popcorn made in a more traditional way with oil.

Microwave: Making popcorn in a microwave is really easy and using a popcorn maker specifically designed for a microwave means you can add the ingredients you like, as opposed to using a pre-packed microwave popcorn pouch.

There are many varieties of microwave popcorn makers and they are usually made from food-grade silicone or from plastic, although you can find some made of tempered glass. Make sure that the product you choose is toxin and BPA-free.

Some models need a bit of oil, while others don’t. If an oil-free product is important to you, choose a model to suit your needs. One disadvantage of using a microwave popcorn maker is that these ovens have different power levels so it may take a few tries to figure out the right power to use with your machine.

Which one of these popcorn makers is your go-to for movie night? Did we miss your favourite? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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