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Best Popcorn Popper

We tried different models
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By Lawrence Bonk, GadgetReview.com

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To help you find the best popcorn popper for snack time with your family and friends, we have tried out a large variety of top models, testing them for efficiency, preferring products that complete large batches of popcorn in just a few minutes, and those that do not leave too many unpopped kernels upon completion. We also liked items with added functionalities, such as built-in butter melters.

Our top product was easily the iconic Presto 04821 Orville Redenbacher's Hot Air Popcorn Popper, which can prepare up to 18 cups of popcorn in just around three minutes, with a design that uses heated and circulated air, instead of oil, and a built-in butter melter that can double as a measuring cup. We also found this item to be both easy to use and to clean. Keep reading to learn more about the Presto 04821 Orville Redenbacher's Hot Air Popcorn Popper and the other models on this list.

#1 Presto 04821 Orville Redenbacher's Hot Air Popcorn Popper - Top Pick

WHY WE LIKE IT: Fantastic design that uses heated circulated air, instead of oil, that can prepare up to 18 cups of popcorn in 3 minutes or less, with a built-in butter melter that doubles as a measuring cup. 

Pros

  • 18 cup capacity
  • Air popping design does not use oil 
  • Included butter melter doubles as measuring cup

Cons

  • Does not include a popcorn bowl, which our number two pick does 
  • No on/off switch, though sensors stop automatically
  • Not certified to be BPA-free 

The Presto 04821 Orville Redenbacher's Hot Air Popcorn Popper can prepare 18 cups of popcorn in under three minutes, which is enough to fill two large sized bowls. The design circulates heated air in order to pop the kernels, eliminating the need for unhealthy oils, and includes a built-in butter melter, which doubles as a measuring cup. We also found this product to be extremely easy to use and fairly simple to clean.

This item does not include an on/off switch, using sensors to automatically power down when the chamber is empty, which could be an issue for consumers who actually enjoy some unpopped or semi-popped kernels. Additionally, the chamber cannot double as a bowl for the popcorn, a feature included with our number two pick.

#2 West Bend 82505 Stir Crazy Electric Hot Oil Popcorn Popper - Honorable Mention

WHY WE LIKE IT: Features a cooking chamber covered in nonstick coating, making for easy cleanup, and a large 6 quart capacity, with a cover that also doubles as a serving bowl.

Pros

  • Nonstick coating makes for easy cleanup
  • 6 quart capacity (24 cups)
  • Cover doubles as serving bowl 

Cons

  • Uses oil to function, unlike top pick
  • Rather loud while in use
  • Takes slightly longer than top pick, as it needs to preheat

The West Bend 82505 Stir Crazy Electric Hot Oil Popcorn Popper excels at making movie theater quality popcorn, with a built-in butter well, a cover that doubles as a serving bowl and a large six quart cooking chamber, which is enough to hold 24 cups of popcorn. We also loved that the chamber is covered in nonstick coating, which makes for a quick and effortless cleanup.

This popper does need oil or butter, or a combination thereof, to function, so the end product is not quite as healthy as our top pick, though delicious. Also, this item takes a few minutes longer to finish than our top pick, as it needs to preheat before popping.

#3 Ecolution Original Microwave Micro-Pop Popcorn Popper  - Best on a Budget

WHY WE LIKE IT: Budget-friendly item that excels with popping corn in the microwave, with a design that does not need butter or oil to function and manufactured with durable materials, such as borosilicate glass, making it dishwasher safe.

Pros

  • Best microwave popper
  • No oil or butter required
  • Dishwasher safe

Cons

  • Sizes max out at 3 quarts
  • No warranty beyond what comes with Amazon purchase
  • Takes some trial and error at first

The Ecolution Original Microwave Micro-Pop Popcorn Popper is a budget-friendly product that can pop standard kernels in a top rated microwave, taking three minutes or less, and is made from durable materials, such as borosilicate glass, that ensure that each particular kernel is heated through. It does not require oil or butter to function and the whole thing is safe to throw in the dishwasher after being used, easily making this the best microwave popcorn popper that we tried.

The size options here max out at three quarts, which is half the size of our number two pick and may not be adequate for a large family. Additionally, we found that it took a few test batches to get a pleasing end result, as each microwave varies.

#4 Great Northern Popcorn Company Original Spinner Stovetop Popcorn Popper - Best Warranty

WHY WE LIKE IT: Ships with a 5 year warranty, the longest on this list, and is manufactured from durable aluminum and wood, among other materials, with a chamber that makes 5 quarts of popcorn in one go.

Pros

  • Best stovetop popper
  • Made from high quality wood and aluminum
  • Makes 5 quarts (20 cups) of popcorn

Cons 

  • Requires someone to manually spin device as it operates
  • Not dishwasher safe
  • Needs oil or butter to function

The Great Northern Popcorn Company Original Spinner Stovetop Popcorn Popper is a high quality product, made entirely from wood and food-grade aluminum and intended to be used on a conventional stove top burner. The design works effortlessly, popping up to five quarts of popcorn in around three minutes, making this the best stovetop popcorn popper that we tried. The warranty is also top notch, lasting an astounding five years.

This is not a "set it and forget it" product, however, requiring manual operation of the stirring wheel until it has completed popping the kernels. Also, it is not dishwasher safe and can be somewhat frustrating to clean, especially if any of the corn kernels became burnt during the cooking process.

#5 Original Salbree Microwave Popcorn Popper - Best Color Options

WHY WE LIKE IT: Microwave popper that features a collapsible design, for easy storage, and availability in 18 color options, the most on this list, in addition to being dishwasher safe and free from BPA.

Pros

  • Collapsible design saves space
  • Dishwasher safe
  • BPA free

Cons

  • Can burn if you exceed ¼ cup of unpopped kernels
  • Maxes out at around 9 cups of popcorn
  • Requires several trial runs to get microwave times right

This Original Salbree Microwave Popcorn Popper is a fantastic choice for those in dorm rooms or RVs, thanks to a design that is intended to be used in the microwave and a collapsible form factor that is easy to stow away when not in use. This item is easy to clean manually or by placing it in the dishwasher and all of the components are certified to be free of BPA. We also liked the multiple color choices on offer, 18, which is sure to suit the aesthetics of any kitchen.

Like most poppers intended for use in the microwave, this will take a few trial runs before you figure out the right wattage and cooking time, as each microwave is different. Additionally, we'd recommend only using around ¼ cup of unpopped kernels, as the popcorn can burn if overfilled.

#6 Olde Midway Bar Style Popcorn Popper - Largest Capacity

WHY WE LIKE IT: Retro design that can prepare up to 2 gallons of popcorn in one go, with durable stainless steel components and shipping with a suite of additional accessories, including a scooper, salt shaker and more.

Pros

  • Aesthetically pleasing stainless steel design
  • Comes with multiple useful accessories
  • Excels with kettle corn and other recipes

Cons

  • Takes up a lot of space
  • Requires oil to function 
  • Can be frustrating to clean 

The Olde Midway Bar Style Popcorn Popper holds up to two full gallons of prepared popcorn, by far the largest metric on this list, and features an aesthetically pleasing retro design. We also loved how durable this item is, being made from high quality stainless steel, glass and related components. The countertop design excels with all manner of popcorn recipes, including kettle corn, and it ships with a bevy of useful accessories, including a scooper, salt shaker and a measuring cup, among others.

This is a heavy duty tabletop design, however, and takes up a lot of space, as it measures nearly two feet by two feet and weighs almost 30 pounds. Also, it can be somewhat difficult to clean, as it features a lot of parts that each come in contact with corn kernels and oil, not to mention butter, salt, sugar and other chosen ingredients.

How We Decided

To help narrow down to the above list, we tested each product to ensure that the end result was delicious, rivaling movie theater popcorn in some cases. We also made sure each model on the above list can function with any store bought popcorn, so you won't have to worry about buying the wrong kind.

We populated the list with a nice mix of items that feature different cooking methods. We have all-in-one designs, such as our top pick, that do not need an additional heating source. There are also models intended for use in the microwave, such as our number three pick, and one popper that uses a conventional stove top. No matter how you like your popcorn, we've got you covered.

We also wanted to ensure we included a variety of different products to suit the health conscious, as several of the above items do not need oil or butter in order to function. Finally, many of the above products feature long-lasting warranties, as long as five years, and boast cooking chambers large enough to feed an entire family. 

Popcorn Popper Buying Guide

The Most Important Features to Consider

Preparation

There are several ways to prepare popcorn, each with their own unique pros and cons. Microwave enabled poppers are, obviously, convenient and fast, but can easily burn kernels if left unattended. Air poppers create a healthy end result, but may lack some of the decadent flavor that movie theater popcorn is known for. Stovetop products create delicious popcorn but typically require someone to man the oven, making sure the cooking process goes smoothly. All types of popcorn poppers can work with any store bought kernel to create a delicious end result.

Butter and Oil

As previously stated, air poppers, such as our top pick, do not require butter or oil in order to function, creating a delicious and healthy end product. You can easily, however, add butter or oil after the corn has finished popping and many of the above items have some sort of built-in functionality to simplify that process. Our top pick features a butter melter that allows for instantaneous pouring, for instance.

Additional Features and Accessories

Many of the above items come with additional accessories to simplify the cooking process. These accessories include butter trays, for the melting of butter, measuring cups, serving bowls and more. Several of our picks can also be placed in the dishwasher for effortless cleaning and others feature nonstick coatings, which can also help to speed up the cleaning process.

Popcorn Popper FAQs

1. Who makes the best hot air popcorn popper?

As far as hot air popping, we’d have to go with our top pick, the Presto 04821 Orville Redenbacher's Hot Air Popcorn Popper. It boasts a fairly large 18 cup capacity and features a butter melter that doubles as a measuring cup. Check out more fun popcorn history here.

2. What is the best stovetop popcorn popper?

As far as stovetop designs go, the best item we tried was easily the Great Northern Popcorn Company Original Spinner Stovetop Popcorn Popper, which is made from durable and high quality components and comes with a five year warranty.

3. What are the best popcorn popper brands and products?

We are partial to brands such as Presto and West Bend, each of which manufacture products that appear on the above list. Other popular items include the Cuisinart Pop and Serve Popcorn Maker and the Cuisinart CPM-100MR EasyPop Hot Air Popcorn Maker.

4. Can you use oil in a Salbree popcorn popper?

The Original Salbree Microwave Popcorn Popper does not require any oil to function, though you can add oil and butter after the kernels have been popped.

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