The Best Popcorn Poppers Of 2016

popper

fa-pop Popcorn is the most awesome snack ever invented because it’s so versatile.  You can make it sweet.  You can make it light and healthy. Or, you can squirt butter and salt all over it and indulge.

fa-pop If you run a little street food stand and you want to rake in a little more money, investing in a commercial popcorn popper is a smart idea. Popcorn never goes out of style.  Plus, the smell attracts customers – and makes their stomachs rumble with hunger.

fa-pop If you’re just looking for a new way to make popcorn at home, you have a lot of options.  But whatever you do, stop buying those microwavable popcorn packs and check out our list of the best popcorn poppers.

Prepackaged Microwavable Popcorn
Packs Might Be Dangerous

If you keep up with health trends, you may sometimes find yourself wondering:
is there any type of snack food doesn’t slowly kill you?  

Prepackaged popcorn was a big thing in the 90s and the early 2000s. But then a study came out in 2007 that suggested that fumes produced by artificial butter could be dangerous.  Factory workers that spend lots of time around artificial butter fumes develop lung problems.

Luckily, There’s a Ton of Other
Ways to Pop Corn

Some foods require a lot of finesse, but not popcorn.  Pretty much all you have to do is get the kernel hot enough to explode into fluffy white stuff.  If you aim a hot air gun at a pile of kernels, they’ll eventually start popping all over the place.  

But unless you want your popcorn to fly everywhere when it pops, you should buy some kind of a popcorn cooker to control the cooking process.  Let’s take a look at four of the most popular types of popcorn popper machines on the market today.

Best Popcorn Poppers Comparison Table 2016

Popcorn PopperFeaturesTypeOur RatingPrice

Whirley Pop Stovetop Popcorn Popper
Backed by a 25 year warranty
Stainless steel pan and detachable lid
Makes 6 quarts of popcorn
Patented stirring mechanism
Stovetop4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)$49.95

Back to Basics PC 17551
Makes up to 6 quarts
Even-heating aluminum pan and clip-on lid
Steam vents in lid
Measures approximately 10 by 17 by 8 inches
Stovetop4 Stars (4 / 5)$39.99

Nordic Ware Microwave Popcorn Popper
Makes light, fluffy microwave popcorn without using oil
Microwave safe
Dishwasher safe
Made in the USA
Microwave4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)$7.99

Wabash Valley Farms Whirley-Pop Stovetop Popper
All Inclusive Real Theater Popping Kit
Makes 6 quarts of theater style popcorn in just three minutes
Patented stirring mechanism
Easy Clean Up
Stovetop4 Stars (4 / 5)$24.99

Nostalgia Electrics SP660SS Popcorn Maker
Pops up to 24-cups of popcorn per batch
Vents allow moisture to escape
Easy-to-clean non-stick cook plate with cool-touch handles
Flip popcorn maker over, the lid becomes a bowl
Electric - Stainless Steel4 Stars (4 / 5)$29.99

Presto PopLite Hot Air Popper
Product Built to North American Electrical Standards
Pops without oil for up to 42-percent fewer calorie
Uses regular or gourmet popcorn for a savings of up to 70-percent
Hot Air4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)$21.00

air-popcorn-poppers

Biggest Advantage:

The healthiest way to make popcorn is with an air popper.

Biggest Disadvantage:

Some people don’t like air popped popcorn because they think it’s too dry and flavorless.

Air Popcorn Poppers

When air poppers first came out in the mid-80s, they created a sensation.  Making popcorn with these cookers was a whole lot of fun.

If you were a kid in the 80s, you probably remember the first time you saw one of these popcorn poppers in action.  First, the kernels rattle around .  Then, they explode out of the plastic chute and into the bowl.  The popcorn comes out slow at first.  You had to act fast to snatch up the initial pieces before your siblings ate them up.

Unfortunately, the first air poppers had a lot of mechanical problems.  They tended to break after just a few uses.  Then, dieticians in the 90s discovered that obese people tend to eat too many carbs.  Because popcorn is high in carbohydrates, dieters stopped buying the machines.

Today, air machines have made a comeback because they last much longer than the clunky ones we used in the 80s.  They don’t heat up or burn out.  Also, they’re a lot more efficient.  The old poppers didn’t always cook all the kernels, but the new ones do a very good job of producing “old maid” free popcorn.

If you want to make fluffy, light, low-calorie popcorn, check out a few modern versions of these popcorn-making machines.  Most modern models are not expensive at all and they work quite well.

stovetop-popcorn-cookers

Biggest Advantage:

Manufacturers have had plenty of time to master stovetop popcorn cookers. Low quality stovetop cookers exist, but most work very well.

Biggest Disadvantage:

Popcorn made over the stove isn’t exactly bad for you, but it isn’t super healthy either.

Stovetop Popcorn Cookers

Product tester Wayne Schmidt recently asked the question: which type of kernel tastes the best?  In order to reach an answer, he tried 20 different types of popcorn kernels.  At the end of the test, he decided that all the popcorn kernels he tested tasted pretty much the same. Though his results were a little disappointing, he did reach one interesting conclusion.  According to Schmidt, the best way to make popcorn is a stovetop model.

These poppers are somewhat old-fashioned, but they work quite well.  Before the microwave, stovetop popcorn poppers were the default way to cook popcorn at home.  You can get very delicious popcorn out of a traditional stovetop style popcorn cooker.

In order to make popcorn this way, though, you do need to use a small amount of oil.  The oil adds calories, but if tastiness is your priority you may want to experiment with cooking popcorn the stovetop way.

glass-popcorn-machines

Biggest Advantage:

Glass popcorn poppers don’t having any moving parts that can wear out or break.

Biggest Disadvantage:

If you drop your glass popcorn popper on the floor, it’ll shatter into lots of tiny pieces.

Glass Popcorn Machines

If you like using your microwave to quickly heat up your kernels but you’re sick of paying extra for prepackaged microwavable bags, you may want to buy yourself a glass popcorn cooker. Since 2007, the sales of these models have been picking up.  If you’re used to eating microwave popcorn but you’re worried about the health risks, switching to a glass version could be the easiest way to change your popcorn eating habits.

The glass popper is a simple device.  It doesn’t have any moving parts, so it’ll never stop working as long as you take care of it.  Also, glass is perfectly safe for microwave cooking.  Glass will never leach chemicals into your popcorn.  Another thing that’s great about glass popcorn poppers is that they are pretty easy to clean.  If you cook popcorn in a stovetop pan, it could burn or stick to the pan if you don’t stir it around every once in awhile.  But with a glass microwavable cooker, you’ll never have that problem.

The biggest issue with these poppers is that they’re delicate.  If you stick it in in the dishwasher, it could chip.  And if you drop it on a hard surface, it’ll break

commercial-popcorn-machines

Biggest Advantage:

Commercial popcorn machines allow you to make money at carnivals, fairs and other public events.

Biggest Disadvantage:

Popcorn made in a traditional commercial popcorn machine tastes so good, but it’s also very unhealthy.

Commercial Popcorn Machines

If you like attending public events like fairs and carnivals, why not try your hand at selling popcorn to the public?  Investing in a commercial cooker is a smart way to make a little bit of extra cash on the side.  Commercial popcorn poppers are not as expensive as you might think.  You can easily make your money back and start pulling in profits.  Who knows– if you’re super successful, you may be able to grow your small popcorn stand into a mighty popcorn empire.

But you don’t have to have entrepreneurial goals to benefit from owning one of these large machines.  These poppers are great for organizations like churches and small businesses.  If you’re tired of serving donuts to your congregation every Sunday after the service is over, you could try offering professional quality popcorn instead.

People have been buying popcorn from vendors since the late 1800s.  Popcorn made the traditional way in a commercial kettle tastes amazing.  Of course oily, salty popcorn is very unhealthy.  But when you’re selling popcorn at a fair, that’s the type of popcorn that people want to eat.

tabletop-popcorn-machines

Biggest Advantage:

Tabletop popcorn poppers look cool.

Biggest Disadvantage:

You have to clean all the surfaces off after you’re done popping corn.

Tabletop Popcorn Machines

Now that big screen HD televisions are cheap enough for the average person to afford, everyone’s got one.  So how can you impress your friends when you invite them over to watch the game?  One way to make your home movie theatre even cooler is to buy a tabletop popper to go with it.

There are two main types of tabletop cookers: commercial and consumer grade poppers.  High-end commercial models are built out of steel and other tough materials.  Tabletop poppers designed for home use are usually made out of reinforced plastic, aluminum, and other low-cost metals.

Unless you have a few hundred bucks to spend and you really want to show off, it makes more sense to go with a consumer grade machine for your home.  Home theatre poppers aren’t as indestructible as the kinds of models you find in a movie theatre, but most of them are pretty sturdy.

Tabletop popcorn poppers look very cool.  Most of these machines sport nifty retro designs.  Almost all of these poppers have interior heat lamps that keep the popcorn warm after it cooks.  When you turn the lights out, it really feels like your living room is a movie theatre.

The main problem with tabletop models is that they are high maintenance.  Some are difficult to clean.  Also, if you’re used to making popcorn in the microwave, you might need some time to adjust to the fact that these ones don’t produce popcorn right away.

A FEW QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER BEFORE YOU DECIDE ON YOUR BEST POPCORN POPPER

Already know you what type of popcorn machine you want?  If so, the questions listed below will help you narrow your list down even further.

Does it pop all the kernels?

Biting down on an uncooked kernel isn’t a fun experience.  The best poppers pop every single kernel you drop in.

 

How durable is it?

Most popcorn machines aren’t so expensive.  However, pricey poppers do exist.  Large commercial poppers with many features aren’t cheap at all.  If you’re making a big investment, be sure that your popcorn machine comes with a bulletproof warranty.  For large purchases, it’s better to buy from established popcorn machines that have been around for decades.  Fly-by-night imitators often miss the mark.

 

Can I get a better price on it if I shop somewhere else?

Use the internet to shop around a bit before you buy.  Often you’ll have to pay more to order directly from the manufacturer.  On sites like Amazon and eBay, you can find great discounts on new poppers and lots of used popcorn poppers for sale.

 

THE 5 BEST POPCORN MAKERS ON THE MARKET TODAY

Now that you’re a popcorn popper expert, let’s take a look at some specific products.
With the knowledge that we’ve equipped you with, you’ll be able to make a smart, well-informed decision when it’s time to buy.

Read on to discover the 5 best popcorn machines of 2016.

The Best Hot Air Popper: the PopLite by Presto

poplite-by-presto
The Numbers:

  • Pops 18 cups of popcorn in less than 3 minutes
  • 120 volts, 60 hertz
  • It’s 14 inches tall, 9 inches wide
  • 1 year limited warranty

Presto’s PopLite Popper is the best popper of its kind.  It’s quick, efficient and quiet.  That’s why technology writer Torie Bosch of slate.com rated it as the best home popper around.  Another great thing about this popper is the price.  It’s inexpensive than most other air poppers, even though it outperforms them with ease.

If light, healthy popcorn is what you’re after, you won’t go wrong with this machine.  The popcorn that comes rushing out of the PopLite is crispy and delicious.  You can always add salt and butter if you feel that the texture of your popcorn is too dry. For our complete review of this machine, follow this link.

Best suited for:

Healthy eaters who are crazy about the benefits of fiber will love this machine.  Fiber is good for your digestion, plus it helps curb food cravings.  One way to get a lot of fiber is to eat lots of popcorn.  If you’re not a fan of other forms of fiber but you love popcorn, this machine could be the answer.  But if you hate the way popped popcorn tastes and you think it’s way too dry, you may want to go with a different kind of popcorn machine.

PROS
  • Very quick
  • Pops all the kernels
  • Inexpensive
  • Small and compact
CONS
  • It looks a little ugly

The Best Commercial Popper: 1911 Original Popcorn Machine by Paragon

1911-original-popcorn-machine-by-paragon
The Numbers:

  • 3 year warranty
  • Available in 3 different sizes: 4 oz, 6 oz and 8 oz
  • The 4 oz version produces 92 bags of popcorn per hour
  • Modeled after popcorn machines built 100 years ago
  • The poppers weighs 40-46 pounds, but it weighs more with the cart

If you’ve ever dreamed of being your own boss, you can start with this machine if you have a few hundred dollars to spare.  The 1911 Original Popper will instantly attract a large crowd at fairs, carnivals, and other public events.  All you have to do is stand there and stir the kettle.  The smell of fresh, hot, buttery popcorn sells itself.

Paragon is one of the most respected names in the popcorn business.  That’s because they always produce high-quality equipment.  This commercial popper is heavier than the other ones we looked at.  However, it’s practically indestructible.

Best suited for:

From our review of this model we know that if you’re serious about becoming a popcorn vendor, this is the popcorn maker you should buy.  The 1911 Original Popcorn Machine has retro good looks, plus it is reasonably priced and it’ll last forever.  If you’re just looking for a cheap popcorn maker to use every once in awhile, there are less expensive options out there.  But if you invest in this beast of a popcorn machine, you probably won’t be sorry that you did.

PROS
  • Made with thick, high quality metal
  • Attractive retro design
  • Produces lots of popcorn very quickly
  • Reasonable price
  • Allows you to make money at fairs and public events
CONS
  • It’s heavy and difficult to lug around

The Best Stovetop Popper: Whirley-Pop Stainless Steel Popper by Whirley-Pop

The Numbers:
whirley-pop-stainless-steel-popper-by-whirley-pop

  • Popcorn is ready to eat in under 3 minutes
  • Whirley-Pop has been at it for over 30 years
  • 25 year warranty
  • 4 steam vents prevent pressure build up
  • Makes 24 cups of popcorn at a time

Whirley-Pop is the undisputed king of stovetop poppers.  We tend to agree that they currently have the best stovetop popper on the market.  It’s not hard to understand why this company knows popcorn.  Whirley-Pop has been making stovetop popcorn poppers for over 30 years.

The first Whirley-Pop poppers were made out of aluminum.  But the latest version comes in thick, durable stainless steel.  Some experts believe that aluminum isn’t safe to cook on.  If you’re concerned about aluminum, you won’t have to worry if you use this popper to make your popcorn.

The only bad thing about this popper is the fact that the metal piece that connects the handle to the pot looks a little fragile.  If you put a lot of force on that weak point, it could break or bend.  The thinness of the connecting piece prevents the handle from heating up though, so in some ways the Whirley-Pop’s only weakness is also a strength.  It’s an all-around awesome kitchen appliance.

For our complete review of this popcorn machine, click this link.

Best suited for:

If you like cooking popcorn the old school way over a burner, the Whirley-Pop won’t let you down.  But if you’re too impatient to stand there for three minutes and turn the crank as your popcorn pops, you may be better off with a different product.

PROS
  • Built to last two-and-a-half decades
  • Made out of stainless steel
  • The most popular stovetop popcorn cooker on the market
  • Hand crank never gets stuck in the popcorn
CONS
  • The thin piece of metal connecting the wooden handle to the pot is the unit’s achilles heel

The Best Tabletop Popper: the Hollywood Hot Oil Popper by Funtime

The Numbers:
hollywood-hot-oil-popper-by-funtime

  • Weighs 11.25 pounds
  • Dimensions: 23.5″ H x 11.8″ W x 10.25″ D
  • Model: HKP-200
  • 30 day satisfaction guarantee
  • Makes 8 cups per batch
  • Comes with 150 letters that you can stick to the marquee

As far as looks go, it’s hard to find a better tabletop popcorn popper than this one.  The Hollywood popper will make your living room to look like a real movie theatre.  It has external lights that look cool in the dark.  You can even customize the marquee.

This popcorn popper isn’t just all flashy Hollywood good looks. Our review of this machine also showed us that it’s a highly efficient popcorn maker.   If you’re not used to waiting more than 3 minutes for your popcorn to cook, you may get a little impatient with it.  But give this popper some time to work its Hollywood magic.  Your delicious, hot, buttery popcorn reward will be well worth the wait.

Just be sure to give this popper some time to cool down before you refill it again.  There’s no way to open the kettle up without touching it with your hands.

Best suited for:

If you want to spice up the look of your home movie theatre with an authentic looking tabletop popper, it’s hard to find a better looking one than this.  This is the only tabletop popper we could find that has a customizable marquee.  But if you’re impatient or clumsy around hot objects, you may want to keep on shopping.  It takes a while for the kettle to warm up.  And once it gets hot, there’s no way to open it up without a stove mitten.

PROS
  • External lights
  • Customizable marquee
  • Retro good looks
  • Great customer service
CONS
  • There’s no way to open the kettle without touching it

Our Final Thoughts on Best Popcorn Poppers

We know how important a good and healthy snack is for families of any size. Being able to get your children excited about eating something that’s high in fiber, while still being enjoyable is a huge benefit of popcorn. From putting your own toppings on to deciding how much butter and salt is too much, the customization of popcorn makes it the best treat for a creative bedtime snack.

Our list of these best popcorn poppers covers every type of machine on the market. We’ve discussed the pros and cons of each model in our popcorn reviews, giving you the information you need to make an informed decision for your family at snack time.

You can find more reviews, blog posts, and general information about popcorn poppers throughout our website. We hope you enjoy your next healthy snack and think of us as those kernels pop into something amazing!

 
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