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best popcorn makers

The Best Popcorn Makers in 2021

Author: Joanna Davis

Home & Kitchen Expert

Popcorn is a must on a movie night. With a popcorn machine, the snack is guaranteed to succeed. Our team worked its way through numerous tests on the Internet to present a list of the best that includes preparation systems, services, processing and much more.

Ecolution Original Microwave Micro-Pop Popcorn Popper

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West Bend Hot Oil Theater Style Popcorn Popper Machine

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Mueller Ultra Pop, Hot Air Popcorn Popper

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Original Salbree Microwave Popcorn Popper, Silicone Popcorn Maker

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Cuisinart CTG-00-MPM, Microwave Popcorn Maker

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6092 Great Northern Popcorn Black Antique Style Popcorn Popper Machine

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Great Northern Popcorn Original Stainless Steel Stove

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West Bend 82505 Stir Crazy Electric Hot Oil Popcorn Popper Machine

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Original Salbree Microwave Popcorn Popper, Silicone Popcorn Maker

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Frequently Asked Questions: Popcorn Makers

What is a popcorn maker?

A popcorn machine is an electrical household appliance that specializes exclusively in the preparation of fresh popcorn. It is about the largest possible quantities in the shortest possible time. Popcorn machines are used commercially and privately and delight children and adults alike.

Popcorn is actually popcorn, the kernels of which are heated until they burst. This “popped” corn is – depending on taste – sugared or salted and then served as an aromatic snack, often still warm. In principle, popcorn can also be prepared with conventional kitchen utensils, but it is easier and faster with a special popcorn machine.

How does a popcorn maker work?

With most models, it is sufficient to simply put the popcorn in the machine and press the start switch. The popcorn machine takes over the heating with a built-in heating plate and ensures a constant temperature (this is very important!) In order to heat the grains as evenly as possible, they are automatically mixed and, depending on the model, even seasoned ready to eat.

If the grains have burst due to the constant exposure to heat and have turned into popcorn, the finished snack must be removed immediately, at least with small machines. So if you prefer your popcorn warm, you have to eat it “from the machine to your mouth”, so to speak. Many larger models, on the other hand, can keep the finished popcorn warm and fresh for hours. A special warming lamp takes care of this.

What are the advantages & use cases of a popcorn maker?

The first thing that popcorn thinks of most people is going to the movies. For many years, popcorn has been the indispensable snack for unadulterated film enjoyment. With the increasing spread of DVD and Blu-ray players, home cinema, the cozy movie evening at home, has developed into real competition for going to the cinema. You don’t have to do without your beloved popcorn, and it tastes just as warm, fresh and delicious as in the cinema – at least when a popcorn machine is used.

Popcorn makers are a great purchase for private users

The use of a popcorn maker for commercial purposes makes sense, but isn’t an entire machine oversized for a single, perhaps rare purpose in private households? Not at all, because there is more than one good reason to operate a popcorn machine in your own four walls. Small models for private use hardly take up space, and once you’ve tasted fresh, warm popcorn, you won’t be able to get away from it anytime soon.

The popcorn always comes out great

Popcorn machines have many advantages, one of which stands out in particular: the popcorn is practically always successful. Gone are the days when a shriveled, charred, or muddy grain mush had to be scraped from an overheated pot. This is mainly due to the fact that the popcorn machine can constantly maintain the required temperature.

Little effort, big result

Another advantage of popcorn machines is the relatively little effort involved in operating them. The ingredients for fresh popcorn are always affordable, popcorn machines do their work largely independently, and the preparation time is manageable.

If a spontaneous snack is needed with the family or dear guests, the popcorn machine can quickly provide enough delicacies without having to spend hours in the kitchen and a lot of dirty dishes.

What types of popcorn makers are available?

Not all popcorn machines are the same, but do not worry: the differences are not too huge, there are essentially two different systems that can be used to achieve a similarly good result. Which of the two options you choose depends largely on your own preferences.

Hot air-based popcorn maker

In this case, nothing but hot air is completely sufficient and absolutely wanted: Hot air popcorn machines do not require any oil, which is very interesting for many calorie-conscious connoisseurs. With this principle, hot air is blown onto the corn kernels with a kind of hairdryer until they pop up. Such hot air popcorn makers work quickly and can easily be used multiple times in a row when larger quantities are needed.

Hot air popcorn machines are mostly small models and primarily intended for private use. A particular advantage is the undemanding maintenance – because only hot air is used and no oil or other additives are used, the cleaning effort is kept within manageable limits. To do this, however, the finished popcorn has to be salted or sugared after removal.

Popcorn maker with heating system

The good old days trigger cozy, warm feelings for many nostalgic people. So-called heating systems have a lot of this nostalgic charm. They owe this above all to their cute retro design, which is wonderfully reminiscent of old cinema heydays or happy hours in the amusement park. Large viewing windows allow a good view of the popping grain. Popcorn makers based on a heating system are available in different versions, all of which are designed for the production of larger quantities. The necessary ingredients – corn, oil, spices – are simply added to the machine and mixed directly with one another. Popcorn from heating systems tastes more substantial than its hot air counterpart, but it also has significantly more calories.

Heating systems are particularly widespread in the commercial sector, almost every cinema, every amusement park and many cafés or restaurants use such a popcorn machine, which is often used for decorative purposes and is set up in a prominent place with colorful decorations. Popcorn machines are a popular attraction for young and old at public and private parties of all kinds. The heating systems have one small catch: The maintenance effort is significantly higher than that of the frugal hot air popcorn maker, because oil, fat, sugar and salt naturally leave traces in the machine. The great taste experience should be worth the effort.

How are popcorn makers tested?

Reliable tests do not roll out their results, but are based on incorruptible criteria that apply equally to all tested models. Clear rules also apply to our popcorn machine test, which we would like to briefly outline below.

  • Operation: Popcorn is a snack, a small treat for in between, so preparation should be quick and easy. A popcorn machine must therefore be easy to use and intuitive.
  • Build Quality: A high-quality workmanship is crucial for a long service life of the popcorn machine, after all, the device sometimes has to withstand several runs in a row. This aspect is particularly important for commercially used models.
  • Cleaning: An important point, especially for heating systems that work with sugar and fat: Can the popcorn machine be cleaned easily and without much effort after use?
  • Design: The eye pops with: What does the popcorn machine look like? Charming retro design, timeless, modern elegance or inconspicuous gray mouse?
  • Safety: Many a design of a popcorn machine has its pitfalls: construction flaws such as sharp-edged covers harbor an unattractive risk of injury and inevitably lead to a point deduction in our popcorn machine test comparison.
  • Volume: Especially in private households, people are grateful when the popcorn machine does not work at the volume level of a compressed air machine.
  • Taste: The question of all questions: How does the finished popcorn taste? Are salt and sugar well distributed? Is the consistency correct? In the end, all the trump cards of a popcorn machine are worthless if you cannot score in this discipline.
  • Prep Time: How long does a round of popcorn take to fill the bowl? Lightning service for the impatient or more leisurely quality work?

What should I look out for when buying a popcorn maker?

Personal preferences and intended uses should be outlined before each purchase. For commercial use, only a complete heating system can be considered; depending on the location, even a mobile model can be worthwhile. For many private users, however, a smaller device should do the trick.

Of course, the price always plays a role, often enough the decisive one, but it shouldn’t be the sole purchase criterion – there are other things to consider.

  • Calories: If popcorn is to be enjoyed as the lightest possible snack between meals, only a hot air popcorn maker is an option. Here the popcorn is prepared without any fat, and the amount of sugar can be determined individually for each eater if desired.
  • Taste: If you want the popcorn to drip from butter, sugar or salt, then only a heating system is an option. Here you can experiment with different ingredients according to your mood, the popcorn is very substantial, but tastes incomparably delicious.
  • Effort: If the time and effort are to be as low as possible, the pendulum also beats in favor of a hot air popcorn maker. Puff corn in the container, line up, wait, empty and add sugar or salt to your taste – it couldn’t be easier. Because neither fat nor spices are added here, there is hardly any contamination, which greatly simplifies maintenance and also saves time and effort.
  • Quantity: Larger quantities can only be handled with a heating system. But there are also differences here. If you have to or want to serve a lot of sweet tooth, you should consider a powerful model with over 1000 watts. Of course, this is reflected in the power consumption, but because popcorn is made quickly, the actual costs are still limited. For large quantities, the popcorn machine should also have a heat lamp, which ensures that the snack does not cool down before consumption.
  • Attraction: Even if the use of a heating system means more effort, a purchase can also be worthwhile for private users. The models, which are mostly kept in a cozy retro design, are often quite an eye-catcher and an enrichment for private households. Heating systems can also be the perfect activity for small children: they usually find it quite exciting to watch what is happening behind the large panes of glass with the popping corn.

The aspect of mobility is probably only of interest for commercial use. Large popcorn machines on two-wheeled carts are likely to be beyond the dimensions of most private households. However, operators of restaurants or similar businesses can definitely consider purchasing a “popcorn mobile”. If the machine is to be used more often as an attraction at different locations (e.g. school or community festivals), a mobile stand is highly recommended – large heating systems in particular are often quite heavy.

Popcorn Maker Accessories

The accessories included with a popcorn machine vary depending on the manufacturer and model. However, you can now get a wide range of practical additional materials such as serving dishes or cleaning sets from third-party manufacturers.

Replacement and addition
Nothing works without a popcorn scoop and measuring cup, and this is usually supplied with every machine, but if you need a new scoop or want a more elaborate model, you can get one in well-stocked specialist shops. There are many corresponding offers, especially in the traditionally well-chosen online shops.

For the commercial use of popcorn machines, you can even purchase a suitably designed trolley with which the machine can be easily moved. However, you have to pay close attention to the dimensions so that the accessories really fit the popcorn machine. For spare parts such as defective heat lamps or collecting drawers, it may be useful to contact the manufacturer’s customer service department.

Serve the popcorn in style
As a rule, popcorn is intended for immediate consumption. Of course, you can simply put a large bowl on the table or distribute a couple of deep plates, but the right atmosphere is only created with matching paper cups. Colorfully printed popcorn cups, which look like in the cinema or in the amusement park, add to the fun.

Store popcorn properly
To make popcorn really worthwhile, larger quantities are often produced – more than can be consumed in a cozy evening. So that the leftovers stay fresh, they have to be stored properly. The manufacturers of popcorn machines therefore offer special fresh-keeping boxes with different volumes for sale. In such storage bins, the popcorn supply can be packed airtight and stays fresh for a long time.

Popcorn Maker Alternatives

Even if the manufacturers of popcorn machines like to put it this way: Of course, you don’t necessarily need a machine specially designed for the preparation of fresh popcorn. Every normal household should have enough things to help you roast popcorn with. But the popcorn machine manufacturers are a little right: alternative popping is not quite as safe and convenient as with a popcorn machine.

It can do it too: the good old pot
Even before the invention of the popcorn machine, people liked to eat popcorn – back then they simply used an ordinary pot for preparation. This method has not gone completely out of fashion today, in fact there are even special popcorn pots! Its special feature is a stirring rod with which the popcorn can be mixed in the pot to ensure that the grains are heated evenly. Of course, such a pot has the advantage that it can also be used for other dishes, but it cannot offer the charm and convenience of a real popcorn machine.

Quick and painless: popcorn from the microwave
Even if it is controversial among cooks and medical professionals: the microwave is perfectly suitable for preparing popcorn. Almost every reasonably well-stocked supermarket now has bags of pre-seasoned and microwave-ready popcorn. The ideal solution for all people with little time and a big appetite. The sweet or salty corn mixture from the store is simply poured into a microwave-safe bowl and placed in the microwave for a few minutes – after a few turns most of the grains should have burst and nothing should stand in the way of enjoying the popcorn.

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Last product update on 2022-06-30 | Source: Amazon Affiliate