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It's easy enough to toss a pack of store-bought popcorn in the microwave for a quick snack, but those pre-packaged popcorn bags are often full of salt, fat, and chemicals. Fortunately, with popcorn makers, it's just as quick and easy to pop a batch of fresh kernels—no extra ingredients required—so you can enjoy a healthy snack (fun fact: popcorn is a good source of fill-you-up fiber).
From silicone microwave models and air poppers to stovetop and electric units, there are a variety of popcorn makers on the market. Most are easy to clean, convenient to store, and–most importantly–they all make great-tasting popcorn in a matter of minutes.
Whether you’re looking for a popper to make large batches for popcorn balls to gift for holidays or a space-saving popcorn maker for movie night snacks, here are the best popcorn poppers available today.
Best Overall: Cuisinart EasyPop Hot Air Popcorn Maker CPM-100
Easy to use and clean
Makes up to 15 cups
Popcorn chute can be tricky to set up
Butter melter doesn’t always melt everything
Of all the popcorn makers we tested, this was our favorite. An air popper works exactly the way it sounds; it doesn’t require the use of any oil or butter. Simply pour the kernels into the popping chamber, switch the unit on, and the hot air will take care of the rest.
Our tester, resident small appliance expert Sharon Lehman, found this electric countertop model simple to set up. The only slight snag was clicking the chute, which directs the popped corn into a serving bowl, into place, but even that was resolved quickly. In our tests, this popper produced a bowl of perfectly popped corn (up to 15 cups, to be exact) in less than 3 minutes—and there wasn't a single burnt piece in sight.
That's because the popcorn falls away from the heat source as it pops, meaning our reviewer got near-perfect results every time, no matter the batch size. This popcorn maker also includes a butter warming tray that doubles as a measuring cup for the kernels. Our tester wasn't as wowed by this feature (it can only fully melt about 1 tablespoon in the time it takes the corn to finish popping), but she appreciated its versatility.
The stay-cool housing is kid-friendly, and all of the materials that come in contact with food are BPA-free. It's just as easy to clean as it is to set up and use. The chute and the butter warming tray are both removable and can be placed in the dishwasher for a quick cleanup, but our reviewer found a simple hand wash and rinse to be sufficient.
Other than this one, Cuisinart offers two other electric popcorn makers: a Classic-Style popper that makes up to 10 cups and a 16-Cup model. Both use oil and have a larger footprint than our pick, which is unrealistic for most consumers to store. But ultimately, the reason we prefer the EasyPop is because of its clever design that virtually perfects the popping process.
Power Rating: 1500 watts | Capacity: 15 cups | Dimensions: 7.87 x 5.51 x 12.83 inches | Warranty: 3 years
"The EasyPop made popcorn faster, never burned the popcorn, and consistently popped the majority of kernels." — Sharon Lehman, Product Tester
Best Microwave Popper: Cuisinart Pop and Serve Popcorn Maker CTG-00-MPM
Easy to use, clean, and store (collapsible)
No oil required
Versatile and affordable
Can't rely on microwave popcorn setting
Bowl gets hot to the touch
For those who prefer making popcorn in the microwave, this pop-and-serve model earned rave reviews from our product tester for its compact size and ease of use. Simply pour the popcorn kernels in the collapsible silicone bowl with the included lid and stick it in the microwave—no oil necessary.
The cooking time for this popcorn maker ranges from 3 to 4 minutes depending on the size of the batch. Our reviewer found that it was tricky to hit the sweet spot between popping all the kernels and avoiding burnt pieces. This is a common issue with the microwave method of popcorn-making, though, and, as our tester noted, results may vary depending on your microwave wattage. Finding the right cook time for the power of your microwave is the key to success.
This popper can make up to 10 cups, which is plenty for the whole family, and the best part is that you won't need to dirty another bowl: Just season and serve directly in the silicone popper. When you're finished, the bowl is dishwasher safe, while the lid should be washed by hand (but our tester said it was easy enough to wash both pieces in the sink). Finally, the popper's ability to collapse makes it super easy to store. To fold it down, just grab ahold of the handles and push downwards on the bowl so it’s nice and flat.
Capacity: 10 cups | Dimensions: 8.75 x 9.50 x 2.00 inches | Warranty: Lifetime
"If you have limited storage space and trust your microwave to turn out perfectly popped corn, you can’t beat the compact folding design or the low price point." — Sharon Lehman, Product Tester
Runner Up, Best Microwave: Salbree Original Microwave Popcorn Popper
No butter or oil needed
Easy to clean
Has to cool down between batches
Large number of unpopped kernels
Here's another popcorn maker we love that collapses down (to 2.25 inches tall, in fact), convenient for when traveling or storing in small spaces. It includes a lid and a bowl made of indestructible, BPA-free silicone with built-in handles that make it easy to remove from the microwave.
Our product reviewer loved how simple this popcorn maker was to use. Simply add the popcorn kernels, place the lid on top, and put it in the microwave. She also gave this popcorn popper high marks because it does not require any oil and can make up to 12 cups of popcorn in just 3 to 4 minutes. This popcorn maker is easy to clean, too, since it's dishwasher-safe. And, available in 18 bright, fun colors, this popper will suit most kitchen decor.
Our tester's one qualm is the large number of unpopped kernels left over after popping, but again, this is a common occurrence with this method of making popcorn.
Capacity: 12 cups | Dimensions: 7.8 x 7.7 x 2.2 inches | Warranty: 30 day money back guarantee
"As I examined my initial batch, I found that there were no burnt pieces of popcorn, but there were a large number of unpopped kernels." — Camryn Rabideau, Product Tester
Best Stovetop: Wabash Valley Farms Whirley Pop Stovetop Popcorn Popper
Few unpopped kernels
Great for making movie theater-style popcorn
Easy to clean
Made of thin, light material
For a more traditional popcorn maker, many reviewers claim that this stovetop model yields a close equivalent to movie theater popcorn. Customers say that it works great for making kettle corn, too. This popcorn maker can make up to 6 quarts (24 cups) of popcorn in just 3 minutes.
It looks somewhat like a stovetop pot that’s made of durable aluminum. It has an attached lid and a wooden handle, which must be stirring during the popcorn-making process to keep the kernels moving.
There is an option for die-cast metal gears or nylon gears, depending on what kind of popcorn you intend to make (if you often make caramel or kettle corn, the metal gears are recommended). Unlike some of the other models on this list, this unit requires one teaspoon of oil.
To clean this popcorn maker, simply wipe all of the components with a paper towel. If necessary, you can hand-wash the unit with warm, soapy water, but it is not dishwasher-safe.
Capacity: 24 cups | Dimensions: 16.5 x 8 x 9.5 inches | Warranty: 25 years
"Popcorn is a whole grain, which offers more in the way of nutrition than other crunchy snacks. It's a good source of fiber and protein. It also contains B vitamins and several minerals, including magnesium, iron, and zinc. Eating plain, air-popped corn is the most nutritious. Cooking popcorn in oil and topping it with butter adds more flavor and increases the fat content." — Sharon Lehman, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Best Splurge: Great Northern Little Bambino Table Top Retro Popcorn Popper 2.5oz
Easy to set up and use
Makes up to 1 gallon of popcorn
Fun for kids to watch the popping process
If you want to go all out on a popcorn machine, look no further than Great Northern’s retro-style popcorn maker. It’s one of the larger popcorn poppers on this list, measuring 9.75 x 11 x 18.54 inches and weighing 10 pounds, but it’s worth it in exchange for a mini version of a machine you’d see at a movie theater.
Reviewers say that the popcorn tastes great, and kids love to watch the kernels pop. This popcorn machine makes up to 1 gallon or 16 cups of popcorn per batch. It includes two popping kettle hangers, a popcorn tray, a measuring spoon, and a measuring cup.
The unit is made up of stainless steel and tempered glass, resistant to scratching. The popcorn tray is removable and dishwasher-safe, which makes for easier cleanup, and the kettle must be wiped down with a paper towel.
Great Northern offers a variety of other retro countertop poppers, but most are quite a bit larger and pricier than the one on this list.
Power Rating: 330 watts | Capacity: 1 gallon | Dimensions: 9.75 x 11 x 18.75 inches | Warranty: 90 days
Best Outdoor: Wabash Valley Farms Open Fire Pop Popcorn Popper
Extra-long, removable handle
Easy to clean
25 year warranty
Handle can be tough to attach/detach
This popper comes with a detachable, telescoping 2-foot handle so it can be safely used to make popcorn over an open fire. Whether you're popping corn on a campfire or in the backyard over a fire pit, grill, or outdoor fireplace, the extra-long handle stays cool and helps keep your hands away from the flames. The pot is lightweight, so your arms shouldn't get too tired holding it over your fire, and the handle has a rubber grip for comfort and non-slip grip. When not in use, the handle detaches for compact storage.
The pot can pop up to 4-quarts of popcorn per batch and each batch should only take 4 to 5 minutes to cook. The pot is also easy to clean—just wipe the interior with a paper towel to remove any excess cooking oil. It comes bundled with pre-portioned popcorn kernels and seasoning kits.
Capacity: 4 quarts | Warranty: 25 years
Our favorite electric model is the Cuisinart EasyPop, which can make up to 15 cups of air-popped corn in under 3 minutes. It earned five stars for its consistent and delicious results. If you prefer cooking popcorn in the microwave, try the Cuisinart Pop and Serve, which consists of a collapsible silicone bowl that's easy to store.
What to Look for in a Popcorn Maker
When it’s movie night, think about who you'll be serving—if you'll need just enough popcorn for a few friends or for a whole horde of hungry kids. Also, consider if you want a smaller cooker that's easy to reload or a larger cooker that can make bigger batches.
There are pros and cons to every cooking method, whether it be stovetop, microwave, or countertop appliance. If oil-free cooking is your goal, you’ll find poppers that accommodate that. Do you want the butter melted and added automatically? There are ways to do that, too. Do you like the idea of hands-off cooking, or do you take pride in your popping skills? No matter what, there’s a perfect popper for how you prefer to cook.
Making should be a simple task—you want to get back to your movie, after all. When the final credits run, you’ll have a bowl or two to wash, but you’ll also have to clean your popcorn maker, so consider if you'd like yours to be dishwasher-safe.
Are silicone popcorn makers safe?
Yes, silicone popcorn makers are safe. Silicone is considered a non-toxic material that's made from silica or sand. It is heat resistant, naturally BPA-free, and doesn't leach chemicals into the food you're cooking.
Silicone is also easy to clean, since it rinses clean easily and is also dishwasher safe. Be aware that silicone can stain, degrade, and crack with time and heavy use, so these models may not last as long as those made from glass or stainless steel.
How do popcorn makers work?
The exact method of popping depends on the type of popcorn maker you buy. There are electric, stovetop, microwave, and hot air poppers. Electric, stovetop, and movie theatre popcorn makers use hot oil to pop kernels and have a stirring arm that keeps kernels in motion for even heating and to prevent burning. The oil is heated either by turning an electric unit on or heating a stovetop model over a burner.
Microwave and hot-air popcorn makers don't require the use of any oil. Popcorn kernels are placed in the bottom of a microwave bowl with a vented lid. The heat of the microwave pops the corn and the bowl will fill up as it pops. Air poppers contain a heating element and fan that circulates hot air around the popcorn kernels. As the popcorn pops, it moves up and out through a chute and into your serving bowl.
How tall are popcorn makers?
The size of a popcorn maker depends on the type you buy. Some microwave popcorn makers, like the silicone models on our list, measure only an inch or two high when collapsed for storage.
The height of microwave models made from plastic or glass and electric popcorn makers will depend on the size of the bowl. On average, these models measure in around 8 to 12 inches tall.
The tallest popcorn makers are movie theatre style poppers. Countertop models measure about 1-1/2 to 2 feet tall, while cart style poppers typically measure double that height.
How do you clean popcorn makers?
Check the instruction manual for cleaning recommendations for your specific model. Make sure your popcorn maker is turned off, unplugged if applicable, and cool after using before cleaning. Most microwave popcorn makers are dishwasher safe. The popcorn bowl of electric models may also be dishwasher safe, but the electrical components can not be submerged in water.
Stovetop models need to be wiped clean after each use to remove any oil residue. They often can be washed by hand, but may not be dishwasher safe. Hot-air poppers don't get too dirty since no oil is used. They simply need to be wiped with a damp cloth and removable parts, like the feed chute and butter warming dish, can be washed with warm soapy water.
Movie theatre popcorn makers take the most effort to clean. The kettle can be wiped with paper towels between uses to remove oil residue and the interior can be periodically washed with warm, soapy water to remove oil buildup.
Other Options We Tested
An earlier version of this list included the West Bend Stir Crazy Deluxe Popcorn Popper (view at Amazon), an oil popper that features a stirring rod meant to make all the kernels pop. While the machine does its job once you get the hang of it, our product tester found the bulky design and the steep learning curve just weren't worth the price, especially considering the number of burnt pieces we experienced. Ultimately, we decided there are better options on the market.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
The author of this piece, Cheyenne Elwell, tests and reviews a number of home products for The Spruce Eats. She prefers to make popcorn over the stovetop with butter, salt, and lots of parmesan cheese. Her go-to popcorn brand is Black Jewell (grown in the Midwest, from which she hails) because of the taste—it's crispier in texture and tastes slightly more earthy.
This roundup was updated by Sharon Lehman, a home cook who happens to be a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She happily makes space for any gadget that makes cooking faster and easier and specializes in small kitchen appliance testing and reviews for The Spruce Eats. She tested both Cuisinart popcorn makers on this list.