The 10 Best Popcorn Poppers
We spent 42 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top picks for this wiki. You've already got the HD TV and the killer surround-sound system. The only thing missing to replicate the movie theater experience is your very own popcorn machine — but don't worry, we've got you covered. The poppers on this list make delicious, fluffy kernels, and some allow you to heat up your butter or caramel as well. Now you can start charging your friends admission. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best popcorn popper on Amazon.
Keep It Popping
A popcorn popper is a machine dedicated to heating a large quantity of corn kernels quickly for mass consumption.
Countertop machines leverage the use of oil kettles to pop their kernels and they also come in classic designs reminiscent of carnival and movie theater concession stands.
While eating popcorn at both movies and carnivals is part of the whole social excursion experience, there are still many options for consumers to enjoy the same classic flavor from a home popper without leaving the house or overpaying for a tasty snack at the theater.
A popcorn popper is a machine dedicated to heating a large quantity of corn kernels quickly for mass consumption. Most poppers are fully enclosed to retain heat with large storage areas for keeping freshly-popped kernels warm and ready to serve. An individual popcorn kernel has several parts, including a tough outer shell called the pericarp, a germ (seed embryo), and an endosperm, which contains trapped water. The kernel is made up of approximately twelve percent moisture that turns to steam when heated. When the kernel reaches a temperature of approximately 475 degrees Fahrenheit (256.1 degrees Celsius), the expansion of its steam forces its hull to explode outward, hence the popping noise and fluffy texture.
Commercial machines are large and heavy with high wattage for quickly yielding a lot of popcorn, making them ideal for use in public places like movie theaters, carnivals, or in shopping malls where long lines of customers are likely to form. Commercial poppers come in several styles. These include countertop machines, made from industrial-grade metal and glass, and wheeled concession carts offering a full range of mobility.
Domestic poppers fall into three major categories that include countertop, air poppers, and round stirring poppers. Countertop machines leverage the use of oil kettles to pop their kernels and they also come in classic designs reminiscent of carnival and movie theater concession stands. These machines are equipped with many accessories that include warming lights, trays, butter dispensers, measuring cups, and scoops. Many are made from aluminum, stainless steel, plastic, and glass.
Healthy and economical, hot air poppers have a clear directional chute to divert freshly-popped kernels into a serving bowl. These poppers do not use oil, they are taller than conventional tabletop models, and they take up less space in the kitchen.
A stirring popper is typically round with a bowl-shaped base and an automated stirring arm for ensuring that all the kernels are heated consistently. This minimizes the occurrence of unpopped kernels. Once popping is complete, the dome-shaped cover can double as a serving bowl.
One must consider the available kitchen space, desired output, the design of the machine, and the popping method. If you're particularly health-conscious, then an air popper will work nicely to keep fatty oils away. These are also lower in price and often easier to clean than some of their tabletop counterparts. Both air poppers and traditional oil kettle poppers will produce consistently fluffy popcorn. That said, if you consider yourself the creative type and wish to experiment with different seasonings or flavors, an air popper can certainly be a healthy alternative.
By contrast, if you'd like to give your kids that movie theater experience at home, then go for the nostalgic popper.
By contrast, if you'd like to give your kids that movie theater experience at home, then go for the nostalgic popper. These often have sturdy doors or windows made from plexiglass, so they are less likely to shatter. They also have large capacities with pull-out serving trays, which comes in handy if you have several people coming over to visit. Removable parts are often dishwasher safe, which can significantly cut down on your cleanup time.
Some classic tabletop poppers have stainless steel oil kettles with their own integrated stirring arms for the kernels, meaning that you don't have to limit yourself to a dedicated stirring popper, especially if you want something that looks like an antique to impress your party guests. However, this is strictly based on personal choice. There is nothing at all wrong with a dedicated stirring popper. One should also be certain the classic machine has a dependable warming light inside to keep freshly-popped kernels hot.
Origins Of A Popped Secret
Popcorn dates back at least eighty thousand years with the archaeological discovery of corn pollen underneath Mexico City. This pollen was nearly identical to modern popcorn pollen, providing the belief that the ancient cave people of Mexico prepared and heated popcorn using some of the same fundamental principles used today. The oldest ears of popcorn ever found were discovered in the Bat Cave of central New Mexico by anthropologist Herbert Dick and botanist Earle Smith in 1948 and 1950.
Europeans later learned of popcorn from the Native Americans, who prepared it for both eating and decoration.
The pair found tiny cobs of popcorn in which each kernel was enclosed in its own husk. This popcorn was carbon dated to be over five thousand years old and was extremely well preserved. In these times, it was believed that popcorn was prepared using a bowl containing sand and placing it over an open fire. The sand was used to heat the kernels while the prepared popcorn rose to the top from under the sand. Europeans later learned of popcorn from the Native Americans, who prepared it for both eating and decoration.
The very first commercial popcorn machine appeared in the late 19th century and was invented by Illinois candy store owner Charles Cretors who modified the design of a steam-powered roaster to produce oil-popped popcorn with uniform seasonings. Cretors took his invention to the Chicago Columbian Exposition in 1893 where it was introduced to the public.
Fast forward to the 1970s when National Presto Industries introduced one of the first home consumer poppers called the Popcorn Pumper, which leveraged hot air blown up through the kernels without the use of oil. Since that time, many different forms of specialized poppers have emerged on the market with classic styles and integrated stirring blades that allow for both consistent heating and the addition of seasonings to kernels before they pop.
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