The 10 Best Popcorn Poppers

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This wiki has been updated 24 times since it was first published in April of 2015. 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 appliances on this list make delicious, fluffy kernels, and some allow you to heat up butter or caramel as well, just like at the cinema. Now you can start charging your friends admission. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best popcorn popper on Amazon.

10. Great Northern Little Bambino

9. Hamilton Beach Party

8. Ecolution Micro-Pop

7. Presto 04821

6. Great Northern PopHeaven

5. Wabash Valley Farms Whirley-Pop 26007DS

4. Paramount Machine & Cart

3. Waring Pro

2. HotPop Original

1. Great Northern Roosevelt

Editor's Notes

May 22, 2019:

Ditching the sticky microwavable popcorn bags helps you avoid all the chemicals and preservatives that come with them. However, there are a lot of different ways to do that, because there is a pretty great variety of popcorn poppers, and they use diverse mechanisms to give you that perfect movie night snack. If showmanship is just as important as the finished product, the Paramount Machine & Cart can't really be beat. With its cart and large graphics, it looks just like those that may have been used at carnivals and concession stands in the 1950s and 1960s, and is perfect for a retro-themed party. If you want something just as charming in design but a bit more compact, the Great Northern Little Bambino and the Great Northern Roosevelt will also bring the theater experience home. As for those times you just want an easy and healthy way to make popcorn for friends and family, the Presto 04821 is ideal. It uses hot air and no oil to pop kernels, making it one of the healthiest choices. Meanwhile, the Wabash Valley Farms Whirley-Pop 26007DS is a fun option that children will love. This classic stovetop model turns from red to yellow as your popcorn pops, acting not only as an easy device to know when your food is ready, but also an entertaining spectacle while you wait. If you're the only one in your home who really likes popcorn, or you often find yourself snacking solo and don't want to make so much popcorn that most will go stale, the Ecolution Micro-Pop and the HotPop Original are convenient. They're also microwavable models, so if you don't want to fuss with too many mechanisms and prefer just pressing that "popcorn" button, you can.

Keep It Popping

Domestic poppers fall into three major categories that include countertop, air poppers, and round stirring poppers.

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.

These are also lower in price and often easier to clean than some of their tabletop counterparts.

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.

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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Brett Dvoretz
Last updated on May 30, 2019 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as in front of a laptop screen, Brett can either be found hacking away furiously at the keyboard or, perhaps, enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He has been a professional chef, a dog trainer, and a travel correspondent for a well-known Southeast Asian guidebook. He also holds a business degree and has spent more time than he cares to admit in boring office jobs. He has an odd obsession for playing with the latest gadgets and working on motorcycles and old Jeeps. His expertise, honed over years of experience, is in the areas of computers, electronics, travel gear, pet products, and kitchen, office and automotive equipment.


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