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Better Homes and Gardens / Kevin Liang Almost Famous Popcorn
Making popcorn for your family movie night sounds like a simple task, but there are actually many different ways to prepare this tasty snack. If you choose to forego the pre-bagged and pre-popped kernels to instead try cooking popcorn at home, then you must find the best popcorn maker that won’t burn your kernels, make a mess, or leave unpopped popcorn behind.
The best popcorn makers on the market can vary widely—including free-standing popcorn machines, microwave-friendly devices, stove-top poppers, and air-popping machines. With them, you’ll be able to try a wide variety of recipes, add fun toppings, and offer an unexpected dish at your next potluck or party. The best popcorn makers for your home will depend on more than just your preferred taste and desired ambiance, though. You’ll also need to consider the prep time needed, amount of popcorn made, how easy the device is to clean, and how much space it takes up in your home.
Whether a portable microwave popcorn maker or a theater-style classic, we’ve researched various options and selected nine of the best popcorn makers on the market today. The DASH Hot Air Popcorn Popper Maker tops our list as the best popcorn maker because of its budget-friendly price, effortless operation, and sleek design that won’t be an eyesore on your countertop.
Why You Should Get It: With a single touch push-to-start button, this popcorn maker is super easy for kids and adults alike to use.
Keep in mind: It only makes 16 cups of popcorn, so it’s not big enough for large events.
When choosing among the best popcorn makers, you’ll need to think through a variety of factors. What makes the Dash Hot Air Popcorn Popper Maker our top choice is its budget-friendly price, compact design, and easy-to-use operation.
This countertop appliance fits neatly in your kitchen and can be easily tucked away on shelves and cabinets when not in use. It’s designed to leave little to no kernels behind, so you won’t end up wasting unpopped kernels or have to make a double batch. To use, simply add kernels to the base and press the start button—no butter or oil required (though you can add some if you choose). We also like that the popcorn maker comes with a recipe book with tons of topping suggestions and fun twists on classic theater-style popcorn.
Whether you’re snacking on your own or feeding a crowd, the Dash Hot Air Popcorn Popper can also make a range of portion sizes, so it’s great for single servings and larger groups alike. For this style of popcorn maker, you will need a bowl to catch the popcorn as it comes out of the spout. This makes it easy to enjoy fresh kernels with fewer dishes to clean up. And although the taste is the most important, this popcorn maker’s style doesn’t hurt, either. Its sleek retro look includes red, white, and aqua green options for a fun pop of color on your kitchen counter.
Keep in mind that this popcorn maker only makes 16 cups at a time, which is a smaller capacity than some of the other poppers on our list. If you’re frequently serving a crowd, you may want to purchase a more heavy-duty popcorn maker.
Price at time of publish: $25
Product Details: Type: Air popper | Dimensions: 5 x 13.5 inches | Capacity: 16 cups | Cook Time: 2 to 4 minutes
Why You Should Get It: This silicone popcorn maker comes in 21 different colors.
Keep in Mind: It tends to leave behind some unpopped kernels.
This compact, easy-to-clean, and reusable popcorn popper reduces waste by eliminating the need for single-use popcorn bags. It works inside your microwave in the same way that a discardable popcorn bag does and evenly pops kernels without any butter or oil. Simply open the bowl to its full size, add the desired amount of kernels, cover tightly with the included lid, and microwave for up to 4 minutes.
This is our top budget pick because of how easy it is to use and clean. You can also use the popper as a bowl to enjoy your freshly popped snack, meaning fewer dirty dishes to clean afterward. The BPA-free silicone is also very durable and dishwasher safe.
With 24 colors to choose from, you can easily match your favorite popper with the aesthetic of your kitchen. Purchase different colors so each member of the family has their own for movie night. This popcorn maker doesn’t need any oil or butter to pop kernels to perfection, and we like the convenience of temperature-safe handles that make it easy to remove from the microwave immediately after popping.
Some users reported that this budget-friendly popcorn bowl left behind several unpopped kernels. Plan for a 2 to 4 minute cook time, listening for a 3-second pause between pops to ensure you pop as many kernels as possible without burning anything.
Price at time of publish: $17
Product Details: Type: Microwave | Dimensions: 7.8 x 7.7 x 2.2 inches | Capacity: 16 cups | Cook Time: 2 to 4 minutes
Why You Should Get It: This cute and compact appliance looks like a traditional movie theater maker.
Keep in Mind: This appliance is not kid-friendly because the component parts get very hot. It also requires some disassembly to clean thoroughly.
If you need a practical way to quell nostalgia, look no further than the Great Northern Little Bambino Popcorn Popper, which is among the best popcorn makers on the market. Not only does it earn its spot because of its retro design in red and black color options but also because of its thoughtful features and effective cooking capabilities.
It comes with a pull-out tray for easy serving, a warming lamp to keep kernels warm even after cooking, and a stirring system to reduce burnt kernels. You’ll also get a 2.5-ounce stainless steel kettle, a measuring spoon for adding oil, and a cup for scooping or adding toppings.
Great for large groups, this popcorn maker can produce up to 1 gallon of popcorn per batch. It’s best handled by an adult since it can get quite hot when cooking and poses a burn risk to children.
Despite having a dishwasher-safe tray, this machine requires a bit of effort to clean—there’s not much space between the metal popper and the sides, so it can be difficult to wipe it down after use. However, if you have any initial difficulties with the machine, Great Northern Popcorn Company does offer a limited one-year warranty on its products.
Price at time of publish: $80
Product Details: Type: Electric | Dimensions: 9.75 x 11 x 18.75 inches | Capacity: 1 gallon | Cook Time: 5 minutes
Why You Should Get It: This popcorn maker works quicker than a microwave and only needs 2.5 minutes to pop up to 18 cups.
Keep in Mind: There’s no on/off switch.
With so many air poppers to choose from, Presto’s Pop Lite Hot Air Popper stands out when compared to similar products. First, the manual is simple to follow and easy to access online, so you won’t need to keep track of a paper instruction booklet any time you want to make a bowl of popcorn. The appliance also doesn’t require any oil or butter, making it quick and effortless to use. For a quick and effective pop, Presto’s machine also has a chute that directs all the popcorn into your bowl, and it comes with a measuring cup that doubles as a butter tray.
If you’re low on inspiration, the manufacturer has a list of delicious recipes for seasoning salts and flavored varieties like caramel, chai spice, and cheesy popcorn. We also love that the popcorn maker leaves very few kernels unpopped—maximizing the amount of popcorn you get every time—and makes flavorful, perfectly cooked kernels.
One reason the Presto Pop Lite Hot Air Popper made our list of the best popcorn makers is because of its space-conscious features. Available in yellow or red, this machine is compact at just 12.31 inches tall, so it won’t take up tons of counter or cupboard space. The cord can also be wrapped around the device in a neat storage design, so it won’t get tangled.
Keep in mind that this machine doesn’t have an on/off switch, so to turn it off, you’ll need to remember to unplug the device from your outlet.
Price at time of publish: $30
Product Details: Type: Air popper | Dimensions: 6.62 x 9.5 x 12.31 inches | Capacity: Up to 18 cups | Cook Time: 2.5 minutes
Why You Should Get It: It comes with a suction lid that prevents popcorn from spilling all over your microwave.
Keep in Mind: The serving size may be too small for multiple people.
When it comes to ease of use and cleaning, nothing beats that of a microwave popcorn maker. Our favorite is the Lekue Microwave Popcorn Popper, which is designed as a durable and collapsible bowl that can go into the microwave for just 3 few minutes on high to create a delicious snack for the whole family. We love that it's easy to clean and dishwasher safe.
Although this brand also has an individual-size mini popcorn maker available as well, the full-size popcorn maker is our favorite because it has reference lines for 50 grams or 100 grams of popcorn kernels, making it easy to measure out the right serving sizes for your needs. Smaller bowls are less ideal for serving multiple people or larger quantities since you’d need to make multiple trips to the microwave.
Made with BPA-free platinum silicone, this non-stick popcorn maker is easy to toss in the dishwasher after every use for effortless cleaning, and you can enjoy your snack can also straight from the bowl. According to the manufacturer, it will pop more than 90% of the kernels inside, leaving behind very little to food waste. The suction lid prevents any popcorn overflow or spillage into the microwave. It also comes with a neat lid that will keep your popcorn warm after you’ve cooked it and allows you to toss or shake the bowl to distribute butter, seasonings, or toppings.
This air popper doesn’t need oil or butter, but you can add salt, sugar, and other additional flavors or ingredients to increase flavor. This appliance comes in an attractive semi-transparent red. The brand also boasts multiple additional sizes in its collection for those who want even more popcorn. You can't go wrong with this convenient option within the list of best popcorn makers.
Price at time of publish: $22
Product Details: Type: Microwave | Dimensions: 7.87 x 7.87 x 5.7 inches | Capacity: 12 cups | Cook Time: 2 to 3 minutes
Why You Should Get It: This durable popcorn maker has a 25-year limited warranty.
Keep in Mind: The design makes for bulky storage since the hardwood handle does not fold or collapse.
The classic design of the Original Whirley-Pop Popcorn Popper doesn’t rely on plastic to pop excellent popcorn. Designed to perfectly cook popcorn on the stovetop or an open flame, this classic popper is made from durable aluminum to evenly conduct heat and produce delicious kernels. The steam vents allow some moisture to escape to give a fluffier batch of popcorn.
You’ll need a little bit of oil to get going since it’s not an air popper like other models on this list. It has a crank handle to help turn the kernels for more crisp and even cooking. To use this popcorn maker, hold the wooden handle with one hand and slowly turn the crank with the other. Because of this, you won’t be able to multitask while cooking—this popcorn maker requires adult supervision—but it lets you control how crunchy or fluffy your pop will be. Additionally, this stovetop appliance comes with a 25-year warranty, so you can rest assured that it is built to last.
While using this traditional method to cook popcorn has its perks, there are also some drawbacks. Storing this popcorn maker is a bit awkward and you do have to be more hands-on with the manual cranking mechanism. However, using the Original Whirley-Pop Popcorn Popper is an experience in itself, and ideal for anyone who wants better control over the taste and cooking level of their popcorn.
Price at time of publish: $46
Product Details: Type: Stovetop | Dimensions: 16.5 x 8 x 9.5 inches | Capacity: 6 Quarts | Cook Time: 3 minutes
Why You Should Get It: This popper is made of glass, so you can see when the popcorn is done cooking.
Keep in Mind: Because it is made of glass, it is fragile and less durable than all silicone models.
If you’re looking for the best popcorn makers for individual serving sizes, this 1.5-quart option is a great choice that’ll perfectly cook smaller quantities. Available in a variety of colors, the Ecolution Micro-Pop Microwave Popcorn Popper has a wide mouth and stout design that makes the process of popping and pouring into a bowl very streamlined.
After measuring the exact amount of kernels using the perforated lid, you can place butter inside, where it will melt and drip through the holes to saturate the popped popcorn below. Because the Ecolution Micro-Pop Microwave Popper is made of glass, you can watch your kernels pop and know exactly when it is finished.
Simple to clean, this BPA-free popper is dishwasher safe, making it super easy to clean up after you’re done snacking. Keep in mind that, because it’s made of glass, you’ll need to be more cautious when handling it than some of the plastic options on our list. Though the convenient handle stays cool to the touch, be careful not to touch the glass right after it has come from the microwave.
Price at time of publish: $13
Product Details: Type: Microwave | Dimensions: 8.1 x 7.3 x 8 inches | Capacity: 1.5 quarts | Cook Time: 2 to 3 minutes
Why You Should Get It: The nesting lid and chord storage make this electric popcorn maker easy to store when not in use.
Keep in Mind: The heat inside the bowl creates steam, making it more difficult to see your popcorn as it pops to check if it’s done.
Perfect for making large quantities, the West Bend Stir Crazy Popcorn Machine electric popcorn machine is just as easy to clean as it is to use. With a butter tray, a lid that also serves as a serving bowl, and a stirring rod to improve the number of kernels popped, this machine has all the bells and whistles of a large, entertainment-style popper. However, the simple and small design is ideal for normal household use.
The clear lid ensures you check on the popper's progress as it cooks, making sure that nothing gets burned in the process. However, some users found that the device tends to create steam inside the bowl, making it harder to see when your popcorn is done. In just four minutes, it can make up to 6.75 quarts of popcorn—enough for four to six people.
Though a bit bulky, you can place the popper on top of the lid for more compact storage, and a convenient cord wrap keeps it out of the way when not in use. The sturdy handles make it more portable, too.
Its nonstick coating makes it easy to clean, no matter how many sticky or salty seasonings you add. Because the lid also doubles as a popcorn bowl, this device is one of the best popcorn makers on the market when it comes to well-thought-out design and ease of use.
Price at time of publish: $47
Product Details: Type: Electric | Dimensions: 11.5 x 11.7 x 7.5 inches | Capacity: 6 quarts | Cook Time: 4 minutes
We chose the Dash Hot Air Popcorn Maker as the best overall popcorn maker on the market because of its impressive capacity, easy use, and simple clean-up. If you are looking for a quality stovetop popcorn machine, we also recommend considering the Original Whirley Pop Popcorn Maker.
When it comes to popcorn makers, higher prices typically mean more parts, larger sizes, and a more onerous popcorn maker. These have a traditional appeal, but if you prefer simplicity the smaller and less expensive models are likely to be of the most value. Do your research and look at product reviews before making the final decision on the best popcorn maker to deliver your family a delicious snack at movie night with any of these best popcorn makers on the market now.
The best popcorn makers come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, including microwave poppers, stovetop machines, air poppers, and more. Countertop air poppers like the Presto PopLite machine don’t require any oil or butter, but you can always add some for extra flavor. Microwave popcorn makers require little to no oil or butter, and they are often easier to clean and store than air poppers or stovetop models. While it is often up to preferences, price range, and storage capacity, air poppers tend to be slightly more effective in popping and are still easy to use.
If you want a flavorful batch of popcorn cooked to your exact preferences, try a stovetop popcorn maker like The Original Whirley Pop Popcorn Maker, which allows you to stir the kernels as they cook.
The size of the best popcorn makers can vary, but the larger the popcorn machine, the more kernels it can typically handle at a time. Our list includes theater-style popcorn makers and compact, single-serving popcorn makers like the Ecolution Micro-Pop Microwave Popper, which only needs a spot in your drawer. Have an idea of how much storage space you have available in your home before committing to a popcorn machine.
The amount of popcorn a machine can handle—and how many servings at a time you’ll typically need—may help narrow your selection as you seek the best popcorn makers. If you host often and need to cook large quantities, you’ll want to shop for a device that can cook at least 16 cups at a time, since this serves around four to six people. If you’re looking for something quick and easy for a solo late-night snack, consider getting a small popcorn maker that will better pop small quantities of kernels at a time.
The best popcorn makers can cost anywhere from as little as $17 to upwards of hundreds of dollars for a freestanding cart appliance. However, most shoppers likely won’t need such a large device. When it comes to popcorn makers, higher prices typically mean more parts, larger sizes, and a more onerous popcorn maker. These have a traditional appeal, but if you prefer simplicity the smaller and less expensive models are likely to be of the most value.
Knowing your budget and what products are available in your price range is important. All of the appliances on our list fall somewhere between $20 to $100, so you won’t necessarily have to splurge for the best popcorn makers.
The best popcorn makers allow you to cook flavorful popcorn in your own home with minimal dishes and relatively little effort. Instead of using single-use microwaveable bags that cook unevenly or leave tons of unpopped kernels, having your own popcorn maker allows you more control over ingredients, flavor, and cooking level. For those who enjoy oil- and butter-free cooking, an air popcorn maker is a particularly great way to cook the snack at home according to your preferences.
The size of the machine you should choose depends on how much popcorn you’re looking to make, how much money you’re willing to spend, and if you have storage for a large or small appliance. Typically, 16 cups of popcorn is enough for four to six adults.
A bigger machine doesn’t always mean better. Many countertop air poppers are capable of cooking larger quantities of popcorn, too. For instance, the DASH Hot Air Popcorn Popper Maker can make up to 16 cups of popcorn quickly without taking up tons of space in your kitchen. Unless you’d prefer a larger machine, you certainly do not need to purchase a large one to make a lot of popcorn.
Popcorn Tin Delivery Dr. Nafeesah Allen is a multilingual freelance writer who has been writing about homes and decor for Better Homes & Gardens since 2021. To better understand the variety of popcorn makers available, Nafeesah thoroughly researched overall satisfaction with these household appliances and common factors raised in customer reviews.