10 Best Popcorn Poppers | March 2017

We spent 30 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top picks for this wiki. Now you've installed that high-def, large-screen TV and surround sound system, what's missing for your next movie night? A cool popcorn machine, that's what. One of these popcorn makers won't just complete your home theater, it will also let you and your family enjoy a healthier alternative snack to potato chips at any time. Skip to the best popcorn popper on Amazon.
10 Best Popcorn Poppers | March 2017

Overall Rank: 7
Best Mid-Range
Overall Rank: 1
Best High-End
Overall Rank: 2
Best Inexpensive
The Cuisinart CPM-2500 has an attractive look and a quality build that will last for years. Unfortunately, its high price point, coupled with slow popping speed, may turn some buyers on to other options. It's best for making small batches for just one or two people.
The West Bend 82515 features an easy-clean cabinet that is grease and oil resistant, and holds up to 1.5 gallons of popcorn. You can use it either with or without the light, in case you find it disturbing while watching a movie.
Instead of using butter or oil to pop corn, the Cuisinart Easy Pop has a 1,500 watt heating element that sends out a stream of hot air. It is a great choice for those looking to stay fit, but who still want to indulge in their favorite movie treat.
The Oster Professional is a traditional hot oil popper with a hinged-lid, suspended kettle design. It requires less oil than others because of its motorized stirrer, so your popcorn will be healthier, and it manages to pop more kernels than most other models, too.
  • allows the addition of seasonings
  • exterior never gets hot
  • only makes 8 cups per batch
Brand Oster
Weight 14.6 pounds
The Great Northern Tabletop is a compact, retro-style machine that has a dishwasher safe slide-out tray for easy serving and cleaning. It also features a fun slot machine-style handle that lets you pour out cooked popcorn into the container.
  • comes with 2 popping kettle hangers
  • pops very quickly
  • available in red or black
Brand Great Northern Popcorn
Model 6073 GNP Little Bambino
Weight 12.6 pounds
The Hamilton Beach Party Popper is good because it's compact enough to fit in most cabinets, and its top and bottom can nest to save even more space. Despite its small size, it can still make 24-cup batches, which is enough for the whole family.
  • dishwasher safe popping chamber
  • base doubles as a serving bowl
  • lid opens for easy access
Brand Hamilton Beach
Model 73310
Weight 10.6 pounds
The Nostalgia Electrics Vintage has a corn popper that is built onto a rolling cart to make for easy transport. Whether you need it for a birthday party or just want a piece of classic Americana for your home, it makes a great choice.
  • lighted interior to watch corn pop
  • has a convenient storage compartment
  • reminiscent of silent movie houses
Brand Nostalgia
Model CCP399
Weight 37.1 pounds
The Maxi-Matic Elite pops corn directly into a removable serving tray, so you have less stuff to clean, and its 2.5-ounce kettle lets you enjoy up to 1 gallon of popcorn in just five minutes. It also has a warming light, meaning you never have to eat cold popcorn.
  • attractive candy apple red finish
  • plexiglass windows won't break
  • comes with a measuring spoon and cup
Brand Maximatic
Model EPM-250
Weight 11.4 pounds
The Wabash Valley Farms Whirley-Pop is a traditional stovetop model that makes up to 6 quarts of popcorn in less than three minutes. It even includes a package of real theater-style popcorn and an 8-ounce package of M&Ms for your next home movie night.
  • impressive 25-year warranty
  • constant stirring mechanism
  • steam vents to keep popcorn crispy
Brand Wabash Valley Farms
Model 24001
Weight 2.7 pounds
The Funtime Antique is a tabletop popper with a stainless steel flip-lid kettle that looks just like those you see at carnivals and movie theaters. It has a stirring system for even cooking and a built-in heat lamp to keep cooked corn warm.
  • pullout tray for 'old maids'
  • makes a great game room addition
  • sturdy tempered glass sides
Brand Funtime
Model FT825CR
Weight 40 pounds

Keep It Popping

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.

Classic Flavor

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. 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.

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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Last updated: 03/30/2017 | Authorship Information