The 7 Best Popcorn Makers for Theater-Level Popcorn at Home
Making fresh, buttery bites is easier than ever with these top-rated machines.
If there’s one snack that will never go out of style, it’s popcorn. Equally appetizing for children and adults alike, popcorn is a go-to for movie nights, game nights, and general snacking in between meals.
Whether you prefer the classic combination of butter and salt or like to experiment with sweet concoctions, all bowls of popcorn need a fresh base of kernels to start with. That’s where a popcorn maker comes in. True popcorn aficionados know that while throwing a bag of popcorn in the microwave is undeniably convenient, the best popcorn is prepared in a popcorn maker. By making popcorn yourself, you forgo the additives that come with pre-packaged bags of popcorn, and can top the popcorn with your own ingredients. Not only is this a healthy alternative but it allows you to customize your bowl of popcorn with the flavors you love.
Best popcorn makers at a glance
What to look for in a popcorn maker
There are a few ways to cook popcorn, so the best popcorn maker for you depends on your preferred setup. The classic, old school way to cook popcorn is over the stovetop. This takes a little more time as it usually requires holding the device over the stove, waiting for the kernels to heat up, and even shaking it from time to time to prevent burning. But the resulting movie theater-quality popcorn will more than make up for the effort put in. Plus, the more involved process can be a fun activity with kids or for a date night.
If you prefer a quick way to make popcorn at home without sacrificing freshness, electric popcorn makers are the way to go. Simply plug them in, pour in the kernels, and fluffy popcorn will shoot out of the machine in no time.
Lastly, if you just can’t shake the convenience of a microwave, there are microwavable popcorn makers that are still a step above the prepackaged bags. The straightforward tools combine the speed and ease of using a microwave with the customization of DIY popping.
Where to buy the best popcorn maker
You don’t need to go to the movies to enjoy theater-level popcorn. The best popcorn makers can provide high-quality popcorn in the comfort of your own home. To find the best popcorn makers, we browsed thousands of online reviews and listened to what real customers had to say. Whether you’re looking for a classic stovetop popcorn maker, an electric air popper, or even a vintage theater-style popcorn machine to take your movie night to the next level, there’s a wide variety of tools available to shop online. These seven top-rated popcorn makers have been praised for their ease of use, convenient features, and ability to cook fresh and flavorful popcorn.
Now, here are our picks.
Best Rated Popcorn Maker: Presto PopLite Hot Air Popper
Thousands of popcorn lovers have relied on the PopLite Hot Air Popper to prepare a bowl of fluffy popcorn, and it’s easy to see why. The hot air popper doesn’t require any oil to cook the kernels; simply pour in the kernels, plug in the machine, and let the hot air produce a big bowl of popcorn. In just under three minutes, the little machine prepares up to 18 cups of gourmet popcorn. Reviewers particularly love the machine’s measuring cup that doubles as a butter melter. After putting butter in the measuring cup, place it on top of the PopLite and watch the butter slowly melt as the corn pops. One reviewer praised the bonus feature saying, “The butter melter doesn't drip onto the corn as it's popping or coming down the chute. I like this because it means less cleanup.”
To buy: $20 (originally $30); amazon.com
Best Quality Popcorn Maker: Cuisinart’s EasyPop Hot Air Popcorn Maker
As sleek as it is on the exterior, this oil-free popcorn maker doesn’t forgo on quality either. Cuisinart’s EasyPop Hot Air Popcorn Maker uses hot air to cook up to 15 cups of popcorn at rapid speed. In just under three minutes, you can have a big bowl of fresh popcorn ready and waiting for you. Its removable chute is also dishwasher-safe for no-fuss cleaning. And, unlike other popcorn makers, this maker comes with an on/off switch. Reviewers say it’s a small, yet game-changing, feature that cuts down on mess. Another reviewer also praised this popcorn maker for working “quickly with very few unpopped kernels.”
To buy: $50; macys.com
Best Stovetop Popcorn Maker: Great Northern Spinner Stovetop Popper
A stovetop popcorn maker is a worthy purchase for nostalgia purposes alone, but this classic gadget is also loved for its ability to produce theater-quality popcorn. With an aluminum pot, real wood handles, and a hand crank, the mechanism may be old fashioned but the popcorn is guaranteed to be fresher than a microwave bag. Its innovative design allows moisture to escape during the popping process so your popcorn will be hot, crispy, and delicious. “This has seriously taken our popcorn popping to the next level,” one reviewer said. “The first day we popped popcorn, we ended up making a second batch because the popcorn was so fluffy and good.” Reviewers also love this stovetop cooker for being lightweight and comfortable to hold.
To buy: $26; amazon.com
Best Microwaveable Popcorn Maker: Ecolution Microwave Micro-Pop Popcorn Popper
If you prefer the convenience of microwave popcorn but don’t want to sacrifice on flavor or freshness, then a microwaveable popcorn maker is the best alternative. Reviewers praise this microwaveable popcorn maker for its functional (not to mention, fun) design. The 3-in-1 lid acts as a cover for the popper as well as a measuring cup and a butter melter. Plus, the handle makes it easy to transfer to and from the microwave. One reviewer mentioned enjoying the handle because it “stays cool” and added, “I can easily take the popper out of the microwave without burning [my] hands from hot glass or steam.” And best of all? The entire maker goes into the dishwasher for easy cleanup after use.
To buy: $11 (originally $13); amazon.com
Best Electric Popcorn Maker: West Bend 6-Quart Stir Crazy Popcorn Popper
All of the qualities you know and love about a stovetop popcorn maker are amplified and made even easier with this electric popcorn maker. With a built-in butter well and a motorized stirring rod, this gadget does all of the work while you wait patiently for the freshly popped kernels to take shape. Once the popcorn is ready, simply take the lid off, flip it upside down, and it acts as a serving bowl. This popcorn maker is also easy to store with one reviewer noting that “the ingenious way it stacks when not in use is fabulous.”
To buy: $25; amazon.com
Best Compact Popcorn Maker: Original Salbree Microwave Popcorn Popper
Thousands of shoppers have reviewed this top-rated popcorn maker and the results are clear: Not only is it compact, but it leads the way in convenience and ease. Its silicone body works surprisingly well, according to reviewers, and is the reason this device is so compact. After making and enjoying your popcorn—the maker also acts as a serving bowl—the silicone structure can be easily wiped clean, collapsed, and stored for the next time you have a craving for the fluffy, salty snack. One reviewer praised the convenience of the Salbree Microwave Popcorn Popper because it “doesn't require anything additional to make great popcorn.”
To buy: $16; amazon.com
Best Large Popcorn Maker: Great Northern Red Antique-Style Popcorn Popper Machine
If you want to splurge on a large popcorn maker, then you might as well go all out and get a traditional movie theater style popcorn machine. The perfect addition to any home movie theater or backyard party, this classic popcorn machine will transport you back to carnival days or nights spent at the movie theater. The antique-style machine is ideal for serving large quantities of popcorn as it can make up to three gallons per batch. Included with the machine are popcorn bags, a serving scoop, and measuring cups. One reviewer said this large popcorn machine has been an essential part of family movie nights, writing, “It just adds that extra something to make it an ‘event.’”
To buy: $150 (originally $180); amazon.com