There’s nothing better than kicking back, getting comfortable and putting on a great movie. The only thing that could make the experience better is enjoying a tasty snack while you’re watching the film; and what goes better with a movie than a bowl of popcorn? Sure, you could buy a bag of already popped popcorn, or you could make microwave popcorn, but those two options just never seem to taste as good as the freshly popped popcorn you get at the movie theater.
If you really want to add to your home movie watching experience and enjoy some great tasting popcorn, you are going to want to get popcorn maker. With this handy appliance, you can pop fresh popcorn whenever you want it to enjoy it. With so many popcorn makers on the market, though, finding the best one to suit your needs can be a bit of a challenge. To help you find the best option, we’ve assembled this handy popcorn maker buyer’s guide.
Types of Popcorn Makers
There are three main types of popcorn poppers:
- Stovetop popcorn poppers
- Air popcorn poppers
- Microwave popcorn poppers
Stovetop Popcorn Poppers
A stovetop popcorn popper consists of a heat resistant vessel, which holds popcorn kernels and a lid. Popcorn kernels and oil are placed in the popcorn popper and the lid is placed on top, this popcorn maker is placed on top of a stovetop burner. Once the burner is turned on and heats up, the heat from the burner pops the kernels, turning them into popcorn. The main advantage of this type of popcorn popper is that you can use it directly on your stovetop or on a campfire, which is great if you want to enjoy this tasty treat while you are camping with friends. Setting up this popcorn popper is also very easy. However, the downside is that the heat doesn’t always distribute evenly through the popper, which can means that you could end up having a lot of unpopped kernels that get burned and stuck onto the bottom of the vessel.
Air Popcorn Poppers
If you want to enjoy a lighter, healthier snack, an air popcorn popper may be a good option for you. Instead of using oil to pop the corn kernels, an air popcorn popper pops corn kernels with air. The air is heated, which in turn heats up the corn kernels and pops them, turning them into popcorn. The result is popcorn that is free of oil, which is lower in calories and a healthier alternative. The downside of an air popcorn popper is that they tend to be the most expensive popcorn makers.
Microwave Popcorn Makers
As the name suggests, a microwave popcorn popper makes popcorn right in the microwave. The corn kernels are added into the popcorn maker, a lid is placed on top and the heat created by the microwave pops the kernels. Some microwave popcorn makers require the use of oil, while others do not. Microwave popcorn makers also tend to be very affordable. On the downside, this popcorn maker may not evenly distribute heat, which means you could end up having a lot of unpopped kernels, or even burnt kernels.
Popcorn Maker Considerations
Like any product you purchase, there are certain factors that you are going to want to take into consideration before you buy a popcorn maker. By considering these factors, you will be able to choose the best popcorn maker to meet your specific needs and provide you with the best tasting snack.
The first and most important factor that you should take into consideration before you purchase a popcorn maker is how you want to prepare your snack. Do you want to prepare it on the stovetop, in the microwave, or do you want to have a separate machine that is dedicated to making popcorn? How you plan on preparing it will allow you to choose the type of popcorn maker that will accommodate your preference.
Another important factor to consider is the amount of storage space you have. The size and the type of the popcorn maker will directly impact how you can store this kitchen gadget. If you plan on buying an air popper, do you have enough room on your countertop to accommodate it? If you are purchasing any of the three types of popcorn makers, you definitely want to make sure that you have enough space so that you can stow it away when it isn’t in use.
When choosing a popcorn maker, you want to make sure that it is able to make enough popcorn for your specific needs. When determining what type of capacity you need, consider how many people you will be serving when you use the machine. If you are purchasing it for your own use, or for you and one other person, a popcorn maker that has a smaller capacity should suffice; however, if you are going to be making popcorn for larger crowds, a machine that has a larger capacity will be much more convenient because you won’t have to continuously make batches of popcorn to meet the demand of the crowd. However, do note that larger popcorn machines will cost more, so if you aren’t going to be making popcorn for large crowds on a regular basis and you want to watch your budget, a larger machine may not be a good fit for you.
Ease of Use
How easy is it to use the popcorn maker? You want a machine that is easy to set up, but one that is also easy to clean. The best popcorn makers are easy to assemble and set up, and they are also easy to disassemble for cleaning.
The higher the wattage, the quicker the more power the machine will have, and the quicker it will make your popcorn. If you want to have your popcorn prepared quickly, look for one that offers a high wattage. However, higher wattage means more power consumption, which may be an important factor to you.
You also want to take your budget into consideration when you are shopping for a popcorn maker. How much are you willing to spend on this non-essential appliance? Popcorn makers vary in price, ranging from around $10 to upwards of $100 or more. The cost is directly related to the type of popcorn maker you choose. A small stovetop or microwave popcorn maker will certainly cost less than a larger air pop popcorn maker.
Popcorn Maker Features
Popcorn makers can boast an array of features, from warming lights to butter pourers. These features are designed to help you get the most enjoyment out of your popcorn popper; however, the more features that the device has, the more expensive it will be. With that said, if certain features aren’t going to benefit you, you may want to avoid purchasing a machine that offers them, as you will end up spending more money than you need to.
If you are going to be making large batches of popcorn for parties or other social gatherings, a warming light is a feature that may interest you. A warming light will keep the popcorn that has already been popped and is being held in the machine warm and tasting fresh. A warming light warms the popcorn from above, keeping it toasty and crisp.
Like warming lights, a warming tray is a great feature to have if you are going to be making large batches of popcorn and serving large crowds. These trays warm the popcorn from underneath. If you purchase a popcorn machine that features both a warming tray and a warming light, your already popped popcorn will stay nice and toasty.
If you like to have buttery popcorn, look for a machine that features a butter dispenser. With this features, you can add as much butter as you like after the popcorn has finished popping. Another added bonus: You won’t have to wait for the butter to melt or making a mess while you are trying to melt the butter, because it will already be melted for you.
Having a warranty on your popcorn maker can provide you with added peace of mind. Should something happen to the popcorn maker or should you be unhappy with it during the span of the warranty, you could have it replaced or your money could be refunded, depending on the specifications of the warranty.
Best Popcorn Maker Brands
To help you find the best popcorn makers, we acquired a collection of makers from various manufacturers and put the products to the test ourselves. We also compared our results with user reviews. After conducting our research, we found that the following brands are the best of the best when it comes to popcorn makers.
Cuisinart has been producing appliances for the kitchen for generations. This company is constantly developing new innovations and stays on the cutting edge of technology, and that can truly be seen in their products. We like their popcorn makers because they offered so many different types with so many different features. We also liked that they were easy to use and had a varied price range.
West Bend is a company that makes specialty kitchen appliances, such as popcorn makers. We enjoyed how many options that they offered and the truly tasty and high quality popcorn that their popcorn makers produced. The popcorn the West Bend popcorn makers produced was so light and airy.
Great Northern Popcorn
Great Northern Popcorn makes novelty popcorn machines. Their popcorn makers feature antique designs, but they are manufactured with the latest technologies. This blend of modern technology with antique designs makes Great Northern Popcorn makers a real delight to use.