The top performers in our review are the Cuisinart CPM-700 EasyPop, the Gold Award winner; the West Bend Stir Crazy 82505, the Silver Award winner; and the Presto Stirring Popper 05200, the Bronze Award winner. Here's more on choosing a popcorn maker that meets your needs.
Having your own popcorn popper at home gives the family a treat during a movie and helps build a memorable tradition. Why pay exorbitant prices for what often turns out to be flavorless – or even worse, stale – theater popcorn? With great-quality home popcorn makers, you can whip up terrific popcorn in your own kitchen, plop down on your own couch and just chill with your loved ones while you immerse yourself in a wonderful movie. All you need is the best popcorn maker you can find.
For ideas about other quick and yummy treats for those times when you want to kick back and enjoy a show, take a look at our sites for Fondue Pots, Donut Makers and Wine Coolers. For more information about popcorn makers, check articles in our learning center.
Popcorn by itself is an easy treat to make for large crowds and is quite light when it comes to calories – unless you love to pour on the melted butter. However, even with plenty of finger-licking butter, popcorn is still a high-fiber snack and certainly won't hurt your overall meal planning if you eat healthfully at other times. The popcorn you make yourself often has a better texture than the microwaved variety, and you can control how much butter, salt and seasoning goes on.
Without a doubt, the first thing and most important quality you want in a great popcorn maker is superb performance.
When we tested popcorn makers for our review, we used premium popcorn, which tends to produce slightly less popcorn in the end, but tastes best as well as real butter (no margarine or substitutes) and salt for flavoring.
We precisely measured uncooked corn kernels, timed how long it took to make a full batch and then carefully gathered and measured both the unpopped kernels as well as those that burned.
Another performance factor we examined were how easy it was to clean each popcorn maker. Of course, the hot-air popcorn poppers, which use no oil in the cooking process, turned out to be easier to clean. However, countertop models that are oil-using popcorn poppers did take more elbow grease and plenty of soap and water to clean, but they also produced more popcorn.
Each type of popcorn maker has its own appealing qualities and the choice is yours depending on your palate, your diet, the kinds of flavorings you want to add and other factors unique to you and your family.
What Else is Important in Choosing a Popcorn Maker?
When you buy any kitchen appliance, it is always helpful to get exactly what you want. Some consumers want absolute simplicity and don't mind that an appliance zooms into action as soon as it is plugged into the wall. However, others enjoy additional features for convenience or safety.
One helpful feature is an on-off switch. Although it seems a little thing, it is safer to push a button in front to turn the machine on and off than to reach past it to plug and unplug the electrical cord from the wall. This is especially important once the popcorn is done and the appliance is hot – you don't want to be reaching past a hot popcorn maker to unplug it to get it to stop.
A short cord is also helpful for safety, because it avoids the risks of lengthy cords that loop down over kitchen counters and tempt small children into yanking on them, though long cords offer more flexibility as to where you can pop the corn. It also is convenient if some or all of the device's removable parts are dishwasher safe. That makes less mess for you to clean after you are finished making popcorn.
Some popcorn makers come with additional items or features that are pleasant additions to the appliance's overall functionality. Many of the best popcorn makers come with a measuring cup, which sometimes double as the lid cover, and this comes in handy. Other poppers provide recipes and serving suggestions in user manuals or on their company websites.
You can also find popcorn makers made of plastic containing no bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical that sometimes seeps into food. Some researchers contend it can be harmful to human health, although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has stated it is safe to ingest in the small amounts that are found in food.
Warranty & Support
You probably won't need to use the warranty with the best popcorn makers in our lineup. However, if heating elements in a popper begin to fail, the result is unevenly cooked and frequently burnt popcorn. A lengthy warranty offers some helpful protection against defects. The industry standard is one year, though the best popcorn makers have warranties up to three years.
There should also be options for contacting the manufacturer with any questions or problems you have with the machine, such as a company website that includes an email address and phone number.
Top Ten Reviews seeks, whenever possible, to evaluate all products and services in hands-on tests that simulate as closely as possible the experiences of a typical consumer. We obtained the units in our comparison from the companies. The companies manufacturers had no input or influence over our test methodology, nor was the methodology provided to any of them in more detail than is available through reading our reviews. Results of our evaluations were not provided to the companies in advance of publication.
Our top-ranked popper, the Cuisinart CPM-700 EasyPop, is a delight to use and its clear, sturdy plastic top can be flipped over to function as a serving bowl. This makes 14–16 cups of popcorn in six minutes, produced virtually no wasted or burnt kernels in our testing, has dishwasher safe parts and is BPA-free.
The West Bend Stir Crazy 82505, our second-ranked product, makes a bountiful 24–28 cups of popcorn, in only four to five minutes, and you can clean removable parts of this popcorn maker in the dishwasher.
The Presto Stirring Popper 05200 is our third-placed popcorn maker. It creates a generous 20–24 cups of popcorn in three to five minutes, did not show any burnt or wasted kernels in our testing and offers a non-stick cooking surface.
If you are on a diet, the Cuisinart EasyPop Hot Air CPM-100 can whip up 10–15 cups of oil- and butter-free popcorn in a mere three minutes to soothe those hunger pangs.
Popcorn poppers create a relatively healthy treat, because they require less oil and preservatives than prepackaged popcorn. Investing in the best popcorn maker for your household can also save you money and be better for you long term than prepackaged or concession-stand popcorn. It is sure to be a popular attraction among your family and friends during parties, movie nights or other fun gatherings.