The Best Popcorn Popper

Presto PopLite Hot Air Popper

Our Top Pick for 2016: Presto PopLite Hot Air Popper
Read our full review.

See it on Amazon for $18.78*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
Too expensive? See our budget pick.

We sure do love our popcorn. The average American is said to consume 200 cups annually, but it’s not just popular in America; around the world, popcorn is a staple snack at the theaters and at home. Strangely, the theater popcorn always seems to have a better quality and taste than your typical homemade popcorn. However, those days are gone, because popcorn poppers have now improved the quality of homemade popcorn. Now, cinema-grade popcorn can be enjoyed from the comfort of your living room. The smell and taste of freshly popped popcorn will see you watching more movies at home. With so many options available on the market, it may be difficult to figure out which one is best for you. So, we have simplified the process and selected the top poppers available. These selections will ensure that popcorn’s lovely goodness is never too far from reach. So, without further ado, here are the best popcorn poppers.

Table of contents

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Motorized Stirring Rod
Pops Faster Than A Microwave
6 Quarts Of Theater Style Popcorn
6 Quarts In About 5 Minutes
18 Cups Of Gourmet Corn In Less Than 2 1/2 Minutes
Real Theater Popping Kit
Built-in Butter Well
Regular Or Gourmet Popcorn
Stirring Mechanism Prevents Sticking
Nonstick-coated Popping Surface
Pops Without Oil
Clip-on Lid With A Stay-cool Wooden Handle
Heat-resistant Handles And Base
1 Year Limited Warranty
25 Year Warranty On All Moving Parts

*Price at time of publishing and may not reflect current pricing.

#1 Gold pick (Winner): Presto PopLite Hot Air Popper

Presto PopLite Hot Air Popper Gold Pick

View it on Amazon for $18.78*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-gold-winnerThis popcorn popper is indeed the best ever both in the hot air popper category and overall. It is a best seller in most outlets and not for nothing. It pops popcorn quite fast, beating all of its competitors. It making about 18 cups of popcorn in just two short minutes! There is no need to worry what kind of popcorn you are using, all kernels of both gourmet and regular varieties make great snacks with this awesome product.

This machine requires no oil, which makes it healthier than using the microwaveable bags. This ensures you don’t get any artificial flavors, preservatives, or extra salt. This is because it uses hot air instead of oil. This means lower calories for you resulting in a healthier snack. Due to popping without oil, popcorn made in this machine has been recorded to have up to 42% fewer calories than what’s found in a microwaveable bag. Hot air blows directly on the kernels to cook them; a process ensures the kernels don’t get burnt at all while constant motion makes them cook evenly.

However, say you like your popcorn with a little bit of butter just because that’s how you have always had it. No problem! The Presto PopLite Hot Air Popper has a measuring cup on the top of the popper. It is half a cup size and its primary function is to melt butter. Once you put the amount of butter you want in, it is melted by the heat made from the popping kernels. Once the kernels have popped, gently pour the butter over the popcorn, sprinkle some salt if need be. Always have a large bowl ready since the popcorn will come out hot and fast.

To prevent the popcorn from flying out all over the room, a clear plastic cover that also serves as a cup needs to be on at all times. This is the only part that gets dirty during the popping process, and after popping is done, just remove it and clean it using warm, soapy water. The machine’s chute is handy for directing the popcorn into a bowl when it is done.

Be aware that once it’s done with popping, some popcorn may remain in the chamber. If this happens unplug the machine immediately, but be advised that some kernels may still continue to pop even after unplugging. To get rid of this ‘stuck’ popcorn: remove the cover carefully, pour out any popcorn left in a bowl, and immediately return the cover back to the machine.

A control feature is added to it that prevents the Presto Hot Air Popper from overheating or becoming overfilled. However, if it feels to hot, unplug it, remove the cover and empty out all the popcorn, popped or not. Let it cool for around 15 minutes. To prevent the threat of overheating, after you have used it for some time, turn it off and let it cool down.

Features

  • Size and weight: Its overall size is 11.875 x 7.125 x 9.875 inches and weighs 2.1 pounds
  • Capacity: 12-15 quarts
  • Wattage: 1440 watts
  • UL certified: Yes
  • Wattage
  • Type: Hot air
  • Dimensions: 11.6 x 10 x 7
  • Average pop time: 2-4 minutes
  • Warranty: 1-year limited warranty
  • 4 colors; black, white, red and yellow to suit your kitchen or style

How to use

  • Remove its cover and the cup for melting butter.
  • Use the melting butter cup for measuring, pour the popcorn until it is level.
  • Pour the popcorn in the machine’s chamber.
  • Cover it by placing the cover on top and pushing it lightly until it is properly covered.
  • Place the butter melter on the cover, and ensure that its tab faces the back of the popper. Add some butter if you wish. Remember whether you are using butter or not, the butter melting cup must always be in its position when the unit is in use.
  • Put a heatproof bowl under the popping chute to collect the popcorn.
  • Plug the unit in a 120-volt electric outlet.

How to clean

  • Let the unit cool before you start cleaning.
  • Dip the cover and butter melting cup in warm soapy water and clean them. Rinse and dry them completely.
  • Wipe the unit’s base and popping chamber using a dry soft cloth.
  • Remember, do not wash it in a dishwasher and don’t immerse the base in water or any liquid. Also don’t use any abrasive cleaners, such as steel wool on it.

Drawbacks

This unit surprisingly does not have an on / off switch. This means you have to unplug it from the electrical outlet when you are done using it.

#2 Silver pick (Runner-up): West Bend Stir Crazy 6-Quart Electric Popper

West Bend Stir Crazy 6-Quart Electric Popper

View it on Amazon for $27.48*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-silver-winnerThis electric popper is made by West Bend, a leading company in kitchen appliances that has been making appliances since the early 20th century. This popper is a high-quality product making it one of the best electric poppers on the market.

It has a cover that doubles up as a serving bowl, and includes a stirring rod that is motorized for an efficient way to pop. Its heating plate is removable and coated with non-stick surface that is also dishwasher safe. It has a butter well built-in with its base and handles that are heat-resistant. The West Bend Stir Crazy Electric Popper’s base is also heat-resistant, which protects your countertops from any damage. It is built to be easy to maintain and convenient to use. The popper comes in a 6-quart capacity that makes it large enough for a huge bowl of popcorn. However, remember to always monitor it to ensure no kernel gets stuck under the stirring rod, which it will cause it to burn and may spoil other batches of popcorn.

The stirring rod may at times grind at the non-stick surface of the heating plate. To correct this, loosen the knob to prevent it from scraping the surface. This popper is built to last and can endure daily use for many years. Its lid is transparent, which is cool for monitoring the corn as it pops. Its light weight makes it easy to carry around and use. As an addition you can roast your own coffee using this popper, its consistent heat makes it ideal for this, and using the stirring rod prevent the beans from burning.

Features

  • Size and weight: Its dimensions are 12 x 8.5 x 10 inches and weighs 4.5 pounds
  • Capacity: 24 quarts
  • Cooked Popcorn Capacity: 144 Ounces
  • Wattage: 1000 watts
  • UL certified: Yes
  • Type: Electric
  • On / Off switch: Yes
  • Average pop time: 4 – 6 minutes
  • Warranty: 1-year warranty.

How to use

  • Place the unit on a flat, dry surface. You can place it on a table thanks to its heat-resistant base.
  • Add vegetable oil and corn into the unit and spread it evenly on the popping chamber.
  • Cover the units base and make sure the handles of the cover and the base fit into each other.
  • If you need butter in your popcorn, place the butter in the butter well after the kernels begin to pop. As the popcorn pops, it gets buttered.
  • Plug the unit into a 120-volt electric outlet.
  • Do not shake the unit when it’s working. When done, unplug the cord from the electrical outlet. Remove the cord from the popper base using a hot pad. Remember to unplug immediately after the last kernel has popped and turn the popcorn over onto the lid. Failure to do so will cause your popcorn to get burnt or scorched.
  • Secure the butter cap onto the butter well and using both cover and base handles, turn the unit upside down away from you.
  • Remove the popper’s base from the cover taking care you don’t get burnt by the escaping steam.
  • Your popcorn is now ready, sprinkle salt if you wish.

How to clean

  • Allow the unit to cool before you commence cleaning.
  • Unscrew the stir rod knob to remove it from the base.
  • Wash the cover, butter cap, and stir rod in warm, soapy water. Rinse and dry it properly.
  • For the non-stick surface, clean it with a damp, soapy cloth. Wipe it with a damp cloth to rinse off the soap and dry it. Discoloration on the non-stick surface may occur due to consistent usage. To remove this discoloration apply some vinegar or lemon juice on the cloth and rub the surface. Wipe it off with a damp cloth and then dry.
  • Remember, apart from the non-stick heating plate, do not place any other parts of the unit in a dishwasher.

Drawbacks

Although you can use both regular and premium popcorn with the West Bend Stir Crazy Electric Popper, premium and gourmet popcorn don’t produce good results like the regular popcorn. Gourmet and premium popcorn usually leave behind a lot of unpopped kernels. The non-stick coating may also come off after using it for some years.

#3 Bronze pick (3rd place): Wabash Valley Farms Whirley-Pop Stovetop Popcorn Popper

Wabash Valley Farms Whirley-Pop Stovetop Popcorn Popper

View it on Amazon for $18.90*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-bronze-awardThis is a stove top popcorn popper that is an aluminum pan made with a crank on the handle for stirring. It can be placed on top of any kind of stove and even works on glass cooktops and camp fires as well. Its aluminum base helps it heat fast, so that you can enjoy your popcorn sooner.

The stirring mechanism stirs every kernel until they pop preventing sticking and burning. It also ensures the heat and oil are evenly distributed. For a cover, it has a clip on stainless steel lid that fits snugly onto the pan, and it also has a wooden handle. The lid features steam vents to let steam out and keep the popcorn dry and crispy.

If the stir wires become uneven, gently bend them back to their original shape to ensure an even stir. When stirring, it doesn’t matter how fast or slow you stir, however, it is advisable to stir slowly as the popper heats and a bit faster as it begins to pop. The stir wires are designed for clockwise cranking, but you can also crank it counter clockwise and it will still work. Kids will enjoy helping out by turning the crank.

The Wabash Valley Farms Popper is not oven safe, don’t store it in the oven to prevent accidental damage if the oven is turned on. It pops popcorn in about 3 minutes only, and you can even use it to roast coffee beans. However, make sure that you do not place an empty unit on a heated stove and do not leave the unit unattended while it’s popping.

Features

  • Size and weight: Its dimensions are 7 x 18 x 10 inches and weighs 5 pounds
  • Capacity: 24 quarts
  • Cooked Popcorn Capacity: 192 Ounces
  • Type: Stove top
  • Average pop time: 2 – 3 minutes
  • Warranty: 25-year limited warranty

How to use(For the first time use only)

  • Wash and season the pan.
  • Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil and tilt to coat the bottom and sides.
  • Heat for about 20 seconds for the oil to get hot.
  • Remove it from the heat source and let it cool.
  • Wipe it with a napkin and you are now ready for your first batch.

Subsequent uses

  • Add the popcorn and oil into the unit. Measure ½ cup of popcorn and 1-3 tablespoons of oil. Do not add any ingredients when the popper is on a heat source. Do not preheat the unit and oil.
  • Place the unit with the popcorn and oil on gas or electric stove. It is best to use medium heat.
  • Stir the popcorn slowly while adjusting the heat if necessary.
  • Stir throughout the entire process until the handle feels hard to turn or the popping sound stops. Don’t try and force the handle, any force will reduce its lifespan.
  • Popping completes in around 3 minutes.
  • Remove the unit from the heat and uncover it. To remove the lid, hold the unit down by its handles, release the half-moon clip by holding both clamp like triggers on either side and squeezing them upwards.
  • Put the popcorn in a serving bowl and add seasoning as you wish.

How to clean

After cooking gourmet popcorn or kettle corn clean after use with warm soapy water. If you are making regular popcorn, simply wipe it with a paper towel after use. It is normal to wipe after about five uses. Use warm soapy water if you so wish. Do not place it in a dishwasher since the aluminum it’s made of is not dishwasher safe.

Drawbacks

The base is made out of a light material, aluminum, this makes it highly prone to denting. The gears that connect the crankshaft to the stir rod are made out of plastic, which may wear over time. They are also simply fixed on and can come off during use. However, a stainless steel version with metal parts is available. It also has a 25-year warranty on all the moving parts, which is impressive.

#4 Budget pick (Best cheap): Nordic Ware Microwave Popcorn Popper

Nordic Ware Microwave Popcorn Popper

View it on Amazon for $7.44*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-cheap-budget-pickThis popper is microwave based and is the best in its category. Since it is used in a microwave, it cooks fast but requires time to master the best technique for cooking. The unit is made of gemstone and is covered by a plastic lid, but it is both microwave and dishwasher safe. It works efficiently without oil, this makes it produce the same results as a hot-air popper without the use of any additional appliances. It gives the convenience of cooking using a microwave without contending with oil and other artificial flavoring found in bagged popcorn. Of course, you can add butter or any flavoring you wish after the popcorn has popped.

The base and lid won’t melt, burn or warp even if the kernels get burnt accidentally. Cooking time depends on your microwave but averages between three and five minutes. Its base is oven proof and therefore, can be used for cooking or serving other snacks as well.

The Nordic Ware Microwave Popcorn Popper is made simply with a bowl and lid. The lid has vents to let out steam ensuring that the popcorn doesn’t get mushy. The bowl is made out of sturdy material and is chip-proof. Although it gets quite hot when in use, immediately after it is taken out of the microwave, it cools very quickly.

Features

  • Type: Microwave
  • Capacity: 12 quarts
  • Requires oil: No
  • Average pop time. 2 – 4 minutes
  • Dimensions: 9.75 x 9.75 x 5 inches
  • Warranty: 5-year limited warranty

How to use

  • Place half a cup of kernels into the bowl.
  • Close firmly with the lid.
  • Monitor it as it begins to pop, if you don’t hear any popping sounds for 3 seconds, it’s ready. Turn the microwave off.
  • Use oven mitts to remove the bowl since it gets quite hot and place on a heat resistant surface.
  • Serve directly from the bowl and dig in.

How to clean

Since the design is basically a bowl and lid, it is simple to wash. This unit is dishwasher safe, place it on the top rack of the dishwasher to clean. If you didn’t use any oil, simply rinse it.

Drawbacks

Using this method causes popcorn to overcook and burn pretty fast. It takes a couple of tries before you are able to get the popping right without burning. Always monitor the popcorn as it cooks.


Pre-purchase considerations

Wattage

As a general rule, the higher the wattage the better. This is because it reduces the time needed to cook the popcorn. If you don’t think you will use the unit regularly, a lower wattage model is good enough. This will just reduce the size of popcorn batches. Try models with around 640 watts and above for an average model.

Capacity

The larger the capacity, the more popcorn the unit will produce per batch. Depending on your household needs you need to obtain one that is suitable for you. Most units can produce a certain number of quarts of fully popped corn per hour. A medium sized unit is around 6 ounces which is perfect for an average sized family. Remember, due to the speed at which most of these units make popcorn there is always time to make more. Note that you can always cook less than the unit can handle but never overload it or it may malfunction.

Material

The material the unit is made of is important because it largely determines how long it will last. Materials the unit is made of should be of a high-quality, since it will be subjected to high temperatures. Though some may have plastic parts, these too should be of high quality and not melt or warp. For the glass parts: they should be tempered and scratch resistant. Durability is key for all appliances in the house and for poppers too. Check if the unit has sharp edges that can cause harm or injury.

Cost

Price always plays a role when purchasing any equipment. The cost of popcorn machines has fallen significantly. You can now get a quality unit at a good price. As with our list above, you can get the best unit if it is within your budget or if you are looking for a cheaper model our budget product will suffice. If you need a larger size popcorn popper like those seen at a concession stand, these are commercial based units that have many features and designed for businesses. They are more expensive and make popcorn really fast. To get the most out of your money, check for manufacturers that have an extensive warranty.

Conclusion (Wrapping it up)

To get the best results from any of these units, use fresh popcorn. This will ensure that it pops well since it has enough moisture content in it. Storage of the popcorn should be in airtight containers and stored in a cool, dry place. These popcorn poppers are the best on the market and are easy to use with few instructions. They produce finger-licking popcorn that sees you craving for more. They don’t require complex assembly, and will see you eating more popcorn than usual.

Discussion and comments

We want to know what you think. Do you own any of the products we discussed? Which did you buy and how did it work out for you?

Do you know of an even better product?

Comment below and help your fellow consumers make the right choice. Over to you!

Resources

  1. http://www.consumersearch.com/popcorn-poppers/presto-poplite-hot-air-corn-popper
  2. http://www.wayfair.com/Presto-144-oz-PopLite-Hot-Air-Popcorn-Popper-04820-PTO1006.html
  3. http://heavy.com/tech/2015/03/best-popcorn-makers-presto-west-bend-wabash-valley-farms-waring-pro-nordic-ware/
  4. http://www.foodnetworkstore.com/nordicware-microwave-popcorn-popper/detail.php?p=559656
  5. http://www.consumersearch.com/popcorn-poppers/nordic-ware-microwave-popcorn-popper
  6. http://popcorn-maker-review.toptenreviews.com/

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