Although microwavable popcorn is fast and convenient, it doesn’t taste like traditional popcorn from a popcorn popper. Whether it’s an at home hot air, stirring, or theater popcorn machine, these offer the best control over your popcorn experience and let you perfect your batch. They give you fluffy, delicious popcorn seasoned just the way you like rather than soggy, over-buttered popcorn. In order to do this though, you’ll need to know how to use your popcorn popper.
We’re here to help!
Types of Popcorn Machines / Makers
There are a few different types of popcorn makers, and even the commercial-style machines come in at home sized models. This even includes theater-styled popcorn machines, that feature a door and a popcorn chamber for all the popped popcorn. The popcorn popping element is in the machine, typically hanging from the top of the machine, and the popcorn falls out into the chamber as it pops to be collected.
The designs more geared towards at-home use are the hot air popcorn popper and the stirring popcorn machines. These both are simple devices that you can use on your counter very easily. Both types require little more than filling the machine with your ingredients and letting it run. They function slightly differently, but ultimately give you a very similar result: delicious popcorn.
These machines aren’t difficult to use. To help you along the way, we’ve created this useful guide.
How to Use Your Hot Air Popcorn Popper
Step 1: Set Up Your Hot Air Popper
To set up your hot air popcorn popper for use, you just need to plug the machine in and place the bowl under the popcorn maker’s spout. Make sure it’s placed in a way that will allow the popcorn that pops out to be caught when it comes out of the hot air popper.
Step 2: Fill the Machine
Measure the kernels that you’d like to pop in your popcorn popper. This is really up to you and what you’d like, but between a half cup and three-quarters of a cup is typically a good amount. Pour them into the maker at the top of the machine.
Step 3: Prepare to Pop
Place the plastic guard on the top of the popcorn maker where you insert the kernels back on top of the popcorn popper. This will ensure your kernels do not pop out of the machine before they have popped.
For some popcorn poppers, this top piece also serves as a measuring cup. This can be used to measure out kernels before you use the machine. Most machines that offer this function will actually work to melt butter in the measuring cup while the popcorn pops.
Simply place the amount of butter you’d like in the measuring cup, and leave it in the cup when you place it on the top of the popcorn popper. As your machine pops the kernels, it will heat up enough to melt the butter. Once your popcorn is done popping into the bowl, you can then add the melted butter quickly and conveniently. If your machine does not have one of these, you can also melt butter in the microwave in about 30 seconds.
Step 4: POP!
Turn your popcorn popper on and let it run until the kernels stop popping and the bowl you’ve placed in front of it has been filled. Once the kernels have stopped popping, you can turn the machine off.
Step 5: Season and Eat
Take your melted butter and pour in onto the popcorn. If you don’t want to season your popcorn with anything but butter, you’re all set. Dig in and enjoy!
If you’d like to top your popcorn off with seasoning, you can add salt or other flavored seasonings to it as well. Once you’ve added the final touches, you’re all set!
How to Use Your Stirring Popcorn Popper
Step 1: Seal the Popper
Almost all stirring popcorn machines use a top cover that also opens and works as a bowl to serve your popcorn in. These lids typically fasten and lock down around the bottom portion of the machine. Flip the bowl upside down and connect it to the bottom portion of the stirring popcorn machine. Make sure you lock it down so that it is fully sealed.
Step 2: Add Your Ingredients
Once your machine is sealed, it should be ready to go. The next step is to add your ingredients. The most important are kernels, but you will also need to add oil to cook in a stirring machine. Depending on the portions, the ratio will be different. You can look at other suggestions by wikiHow or The Canada Popcorn Company online, or you can try yourself until you get it right.
Almost all stirring style popcorn machines will have a removable lid at the top that will allow you to quickly and easily add your ingredients. Place your kernels and oil in here and you should be ready to get your machine started.
Step 3: Melt and Pop
Many modern stirring popcorn machines come with an area meant for popcorn on the top of the machine. Like air popcorn poppers, the removable lid will often double as a place to heat and melt your popcorn. Some of these models even have a hole or holes that allow butter to drip evenly onto your popcorn as it cooks.
Step 4: Start the Popper
Once you’ve set everything up exactly how you want it, you just need to turn the machine on. Then you can sit back, kick your feet up, and wait for your popcorn to pop. If it’s operating properly, it should stir the popcorn with its mechanical arms while the popcorn pops to ensure that the popcorn is cooked and the toppings are spread evenly.
Some stirring popcorn machines will have timers, but it is sometimes hard to gauge the proper time to take it out. You don’t want to leave them in too long and burn them. We suggest listening for when the kernels stop popping regularly. As the popping ceases you can turn the machine off. You’re almost there!
Step 5: Season and Dig In!
Now’s for the creative part; either customize your popcorn the way you like or go with the classic. Season your popcorn the way you like by adding salt or any other toppings you’d like. If you want and have a model that enables this, you can use the lid as your bowl. If you don’t have a model with this functionality or would rather use a bowl, you can pour your popcorn out. We suggest seasoning it after you’ve got the popcorn in the bowl so that you cut down on your clean-up responsibilities.
Using Your Theater Popcorn Machine
Step 1: Add Kernels and Oil
Theater popcorn machines that you’d find when you go to the movies work much the same as the stirring popcorn machines that you’d use at home. They both have stirring arms that try to ensure kernels pop and are seasoned evenly. They usually won’t have a lid or load from the top, as many have doors that allow you to add your ingredients from the side.
To get started, this is your first step! Add the kernels and oil to the popping mechanism in the machine so that you can get your popcorn popping. Usually, this is hanging from the top and gives you a place to put the two main ingredients. The popcorn will cascade over this popping area as it pops and falls into the machine where it can be gathered and given out!
Step 2: Start the Machine
Almost all popcorn machines of this style will have an on switch rather than turning on when plugged in. Once you have the ingredients in, you should be ready. Just turn the machine on. Let the machine do its work and pop your kernels. Once the machine is done popping and you stop hearing kernels pop, you can turn the machine off. It is important to turn the machine off when you are done using it.
Step 3: Scoop to Serve
Typically, these machines will be cooking serving sizes for more than one person. You’ll want to scoop the popcorn out of the machine once it’s completed into a serving container. You can use a bowl or try to recreate the traditional movie experience by using popcorn bags. Some popcorn machines of this quality come with holes at the bottom of the chamber where the popcorn collects so that unpopped kernels are not scooped into the bag.
Step 4: Add Toppings and Eat
You’ve now got perfectly popped popcorn, and you can get eating if you like your popcorn naked. This is also your chance to add any toppings before the popcorn gets eaten. Add butter, salt, or any other seasonings that you want. Whether you’re at home or the theater, you’re ready to serve!
Popcorn poppers have been around for a long time and were the first to offer popcorn in your home prior to microwavable options. Why revert back to a popcorn popper now?
Although microwavable bags are much easier and more convenient to make, popping popcorn with your popcorn popper will offer a greater quality product that is light, fluffy, and airy instead of soggy or oily. You also have the freedom to add as much butter or salt as you’d like, rather than be stuck with what is offered. This lets you either load your popcorn with butter and salt or use a small amount to make your snack more healthy.