The 5 Best Popcorn Makers of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

The Presto Poplite Hot Air Popper is our top choice

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Popcorn Makers

The Spruce Eats / Phoebe Jeong

Tested & Approved

The Presto Poplite Hot Air Popper takes our top spot: We loved how easy it was to set up and use, and it made 18 cups of air-popped corn in under three minutes, creating the crispiest popcorn out of all models tested. For those who prefer using the microwave, a great option is the Hotpop Original Silicone Microwave Popcorn Popper, as it scored high marks for taste, ease of use, and cleanup. 

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. We took 10 of the most popular popcorn makers and tested them side-by-side, rated their ease of use, crispiness, flavor, and ease of cleaning, and listed the winners below.

Best Overall

Presto Poplite Hot Air Popper

4.9
Presto PopLite Hot Air Popper

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Crispiness
    5/5
  • Flavor
    5/5
  • Ease of Use
    4.8/5
  • Ease of Cleaning
    5/5
  • Size
    4.8/5
What We Like
  • Easy setup

  • Pops up to 18 cups

  • Built-in butter melting tray

What We Don't Like
  • Needs to cool down between batches

The Presto Poplite, an oil-free and easy-to-use popcorn maker, is an upright appliance that can air pop up to 18 cups in under three minutes. It includes a built-in butter melting tray that doubles as a measuring cup. This machine made the crispiest popcorn out of all the popcorn makers we tested.

For each batch, we followed the included instructions and didn't overfill the measuring cup line with kernels. However, a few rogue unpopped kernels sprung out of the chute onto the countertop as the machine began to heat up. That wasn't a dealbreaker because the chute directed the popped corn straight into our bowl once the vigorous popping began. If you're popping back-to-back batches, we found that the machine needed some cooling time in between.

For the duration of testing, we paid close attention to how easy each popcorn maker was to set up, and we were happy to discover that the Poplite was a breeze. While an on/off switch would make the appliance easier to control, plugging it in to start was still simple enough. When it was time to clean up, the oil-free model kept its interior and exterior relatively clean: We gave it a wipe-down and washed the butter cup in warm, soapy water. While the machine is larger than collapsible microwave models, it's still compact enough to store in any small cabinet. You can also wrap the cord around the built-in knob to put away for next time.

Price at time of publish: $40

tester pouring corn kernals into presto poplite popcorn maker

The Spruce Eats / Phoebe Cheong

Power Rating: 1,475 watts | Capacity: 18 cups | Dimensions: 5.81 x 9.25 x 13.12 inches | Warranty: 1 year

Testing Takeaway

"There's no way the popcorn can oversteam with this maker, which was reflected in the popcorn's impressive flavor and texture: crispy, not chewy, and perfectly toasted."

Best Splurge

Cuisinart EasyPop Hot Air Popcorn Maker CPM-100

4.9
Cuisinart EasyPop Hot Air Popcorn Maker

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Crispiness
    5/5
  • Flavor
    5/5
  • Ease of Use
    4.8/5
  • Ease of Cleaning
    5/5
  • Size
    4.8/5
What We Like
  • Easy to use

  • Consistent results

  • Pops all types of kernels

  • Makes up to 15 cups

  • Not much to clean

What We Don't Like
  • Chute can be tricky to set up

  • Butter doesn't always melt fully

This electric countertop model is simple to set up. In our tests, it produced a bowl of perfectly popped corn (up to 15 cups) in less than three minutes, and there wasn't a single burnt piece in sight. Similar to the Presto Poplite, the popcorn falls away from the heat source as it pops, so we found consistency through all of our tests, no matter the batch size.

This popcorn maker also includes a butter-warming tray that doubles as a measuring cup for the kernels. (The versatility of the measuring cup was a bonus.) The popper makes batches swiftly, but the butter was slow to melt. Users should turn off the EasyPop once each batch is complete and let the butter continue melting before serving.

The EasyPop is more expensive than the Poplite, but with that, you get easy cleanup because every removable part on the appliance is dishwasher-safe. When it came down to one final taste test, the Poplite's popcorn won with better overall flavor, while both makers rated equally in crispiness. EasyPop's stay-cool housing is kid-friendly, and all of the materials that come in contact with food are BPA-free.

Price at time of publish: $47

testers tasting popcorn made in the Cuisinart EasyPop Hot Air Popcorn Maker

The Spruce Eats / Phoebe Cheong

Power Rating: 1,500 watts | Capacity: 15 cups | Dimensions: 7.87 x 5.51 x 12.83 inches | Warranty: 3 years

Testing Takeaway

"The EasyPop made popcorn fast, and I love that I don't need oil to use the machine. Plus, with no butter or oil inside, it was easy to wipe clean during testing."

Best Microwave

Hotpop Original Silicone Microwave Popcorn Popper

4.9
Hotpop Original Silicone Microwave Popcorn Popper

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Crispiness
    5/5
  • Flavor
    4.7/5
  • Ease of Use
    5/5
  • Ease of Cleaning
    5/5
  • Size
    5/5
What We Like
  • Crispy results

  • Fast cleanup

  • Impressive flavor

What We Don't Like
  • Some popcorn clumped together

  • Some kernels left unpopped

Popping kernels in the HotPop was a pleasant surprise; this BPA-free silicone popper is as straightforward as it gets. It includes a lid and popcorn bowl with built-in handles, and it pops kernels with just 1 to 2 teaspoons of oil. After making our first batch, we found that the silicone stayed pretty hot, so we didn't eat out of the bowl. When we tasted the resulting popcorn, we were wowed by the crunchiness and neutral flavor. There wasn't even a hint of a scorched kernel or a burned aftertaste.

On the flip side, we did notice some popcorn pieces were clumped together in clusters, and there were a decent number of kernels left unpopped at the bottom. While you might not get as much popped corn in your bowl, we felt the trade-off for taste and crispiness was well worth it. This maker ranked high in every other category, including ease of use and cleanup. Plus, its affordable price tag makes this a great budget selection and a reliable gift choice for any popcorn lover.

Price at time of publish: $17

tester putting HotPop popcorn maker into the microwave

The Spruce Eats / Phoebe Cheong

Capacity: 15 cups | Dimensions: 9.6 x 5.7 inches

Testing Takeaway

"The popcorn results from this maker are as delicious and fluffy in texture as models that cost double."

Best Microwave, Runner-Up

Salbree Original Microwave Popcorn Popper

4.6
Salbree Original Microwave Popcorn Popper

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Crispiness
    4.3/5
  • Flavor
    4.5/5
  • Ease of Use
    5/5
  • Ease of Cleaning
    5/5
  • Size
    5/5
What We Like
  • Works quickly

  • No butter or oil needed

  • Easy to clean

What We Don't Like
  • Has to cool down between batches

  • Large number of unpopped kernels

This is another popcorn maker we love that collapses down to 2.25 inches tall, which is convenient for storing in small kitchens. It includes a lid and bowl made of BPA-free silicone with built-in handles that make it easy to remove from the microwave.

We loved how easy this popcorn maker was to use. Simply add the popcorn kernels, place the lid on top, and put it in the microwave. We gave this popcorn popper high marks because it doesn't require any oil and can make up to 12 cups of popcorn in just three to four minutes. The Salbree is easy to clean, too, since it's dishwasher-safe.

There were a noticeable number of unpopped kernels left over after popping, which comes with the territory of microwave poppers. However, the Salbree had far fewer unpopped kernels than many other microwave models we tested. While the Salbree's popcorn was a little bit chewier than HotPop, it still was crispy enough to rank right behind it.

Price at time of publish: $16

Salbree Popcorn Maker with popcorn in it in the microwave

The Spruce Eats / Camryn Rabideau

Capacity: 12 cups | Dimensions: 7.8 x 7.7 x 2.2 inches | Warranty: 30 day money back guarantee

Testing Takeaway

"As I examined my initial batch, I found that there were no burnt pieces of popcorn, but there were a number of unpopped kernels."Camryn Rabideau, Product Tester

Best Stovetop

Wabash Valley Farms Stainless Steel Whirley-Pop Popcorn Popper

4.2
stainless-steel-stovetop-set

Courtesy of Bed Bath & Beyond

Our Ratings
  • Crispiness
    3.8/5
  • Flavor
    4.5/5
  • Ease of Use
    3.5/5
  • Ease of Cleaning
    4.9/5
  • Size
    5/5
What We Like
  • Few unpopped kernels

  • Great for making movie theater-style popcorn

  • Easy to clean

What We Don't Like
  • Made of thin, light material

  • Can't add oil or butter until transferred to another bowl

For a more traditional popcorn maker, we found this stovetop model that yields a close equivalent to movie theater popcorn. This popcorn maker can make up to 6 quarts (24 cups) of popcorn in just three minutes.

This maker ranked high for its easy setup. During the popcorn-making process, we had to crank the wooden handle constantly to keep the kernels moving, so it was a very hands-on experience. While we found it difficult to use the hand-crank mechanism at times, there were very few unpopped kernels at the bottom of the popper. It's also pretty easy to clean by hand.

Yes, this durable aluminum popcorn maker and a basic stovetop pot have a very similar mechanism for making popcorn, but we did love the final popcorn's slightly toasted flavor and the popper's ability to leave no unpopped kernels behind. For an interactive, old-school experience, this is a good choice.

Price at time of publish: $43

tester inspects popcorn in Wabash Farms Whirley Pop on the stove

The Spruce Eats / Phoebe Cheong

Capacity: 24 cups | Dimensions: 16.5 x 8 x 9.5 inches | Warranty: 25 years

Testing Takeaway

"You can't put any type of fat in the pot, even after cooking, which means more dirty dishes when transferring it into another pan or bowl with butter or oil."

Compare

Overall Rating Crispiness Flavor Ease of Use Ease of Cleaning Size
Presto PopLite Hot Air Popper
Best Overall:
Presto Poplite Hot Air Popper
4.9
5 5 4.8 5 4.8
Cuisinart EasyPop Hot Air Popcorn Maker
Best Splurge:
Cuisinart EasyPop Hot Air Popcorn Maker
4.9
5 5 4.8 5 4.8
Hotpop Original Silicone Microwave Popcorn Popper
Best Microwave:
Hotpop Original Silicone Microwave Popcorn Popper
4.9
5 4.7 5 5 5
Salbree Original Microwave Popcorn Popper
Best Microwave, Runner-Up:
Salbree Original Microwave Popcorn Popper
4.6
4.3 4.5 5 5 5
stainless-steel-stovetop-set
Best Stovetop:
Wabash Valley Farms Stainless Steel Whirley-Pop Popcorn Popper
4.2
3.8 4.5 3.5 4.9 5
Final Verdict

Our favorite electric model is the Presto Poplite, which can make up to 18 cups of air-popped corn in under three minutes; it earned five stars for its consistent and delicious results. If you prefer cooking popcorn in the microwave, try the HotPop, which consists of a collapsible silicone bowl that's easy to store.

How We Tested

Our editors spent weeks researching popcorn makers, developing a standardized methodology against which to test them, and putting them through their paces in our Lab. We then collected the data—as well as insights from our home testers—and used it to determine ratings and placement on this list.

Popcorn bowl comparison lab test, showing three overturned bowls with popped and unpopped kernels and the labels for which makers they belong to

The Spruce Eats / Phoebe Cheong

We made several rounds of popcorn in each machine, judging each batch of popped kernels on crispiness and flavor (taking note of soggy, chewy popcorn and plastic-tasting or burnt-tasting popcorn). As we popped each batch, we counted the number of unpopped kernels that were left over and how long each batch took to pop. For machines that had butter melters, we tested those, as well (if the butter dripped through and burned, or if the butter could actually melt completely). Across the board, we accounted for ease of use and ease of cleaning (taking note of interface and setup, if the appliance is dishwasher-safe, or has hard-to-reach corners).

Other Options We Tested

  • West Bend Stir Crazy Deluxe Popcorn Popper: An earlier version of this list included an oil popper featuring a stirring rod meant to make all the kernels pop. While the machine does its job once you get the hang of it, we found the bulky design and 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.
  • Hamilton Beach Electric Popcorn Maker: This popcorn maker had several things going for it, including its easy setup and great-tasting popcorn, though its texture could have been crispier. The dealbreaker was that the butter melter drips butter right into the piping hot machine, thus quickly burning the butter. That said, it ranked pretty well in flavor, ease of use, and ease of cleaning, so this could still be a good option to go with.
  • Cuisinart Pop and Serve: Our former best microwave pick earned top ratings for its ease of use and compact size. During testing, however, more than half of the kernels were left unpopped at the bottom of the silicone bowl. While finding the right cook time for the power of your microwave can be important to success, after several attempts, it didn't make the cut against its microwave competitors, including the Salbree and HotPop.
  • Great Northern Little Bambino Table Top Retro Popcorn Popper:  A previous version of this list included the Great Northern Little Bambino Popper, which initially got a positive review from our home tester. However, while the machine is impressive with its all-out fun design, our Lab testers found its setup process far too long. It was no easy task to latch the popcorn basket properly into position. Plus, it was one of the most difficult machines to clean due to its hard-to-reach corners and general size.
  • Nordic Ware Pro Pop Popper: Nordic Ware’s Pro Pop had a few notable marks against it, the first being that well over half the kernels did not pop. Of the popcorn that did pop, we found it to be a bit soggy and full of oil.
Bowls of popcorn after testing popcorn makers

The Spruce Eats / Phoebe Cheong

What to Look for in a Popcorn Maker

Capacity

When it’s movie night, think about who you'll be serving—if you'll need just enough popcorn for a few friends or a whole hoard of hungry kids. Also, consider whether you want a smaller popper that's easy to reload or a larger popper that can make bigger batches.

Cooking Method

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.

Cleaning

Making popcorn should be a simple task without too much cleaning required, so consider if you'd like your popcorn maker to be dishwasher-safe. With that in mind, some are really easy to wipe clean or wash by hand with warm, soapy water. Just make sure to check the manufacturer's instructions first to see what's best for your maker.

Ease of Use

Nobody likes struggling with an over-complicated appliance. Ease of use is an important factor to consider when shopping around for a popcorn maker. Are you wanting something for casual movie nights and need something simple? A silicone microwave popper could be ideal, or even an electric popper that funnels popcorn straight into a serving bowl. Wanting to go the extra mile for gourmet popcorn and don't mind some extra steps? A stovetop hand-crank popper can do the trick.

Storage

Space is a precious commodity in the kitchen. If you're wanting a smaller, more manageable popper, then the collapsible silicone models could be just what you need. However, if you've got the extra space and are a die-hard popcorn lover, then there are slightly bulkier models that will require either countertop space or a spot in the cupboards.

tester adding unpopped kernels to the Hamilton Beach Electric Popcorn Maker

The Spruce Eats / Phoebe Cheong

FAQs

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 to heat evenly and 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, though you can add oil or butter to your popcorn once it's popped. 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 height of a popcorn maker depends on the type you buy. Some microwave popcorn makers, like the silicone models on our list, measure only 1 or 2 inches high when collapsed for storage.

The height of microwave models made from plastic or glass will depend on the size of the bowl. On average, these models measure 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 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't 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.

Do popcorn makers need oil?

Most types of popcorn makers don't require the use of oil, so you can either go without it completely or add your oil or butter once after popcorn is popped. Some types of poppers (usually stovetop and microwave models) do require a small amount of oil.

Is homemade popcorn healthier?

Some people steer away from bagged microwave popcorn due to concerns about components of the bag linings, and some people steer away from both bagged microwave popcorn and movie theater popcorn due to concerns about added fat from butter and oil.

Dietitian and therapist Corrie Van Horne, founder of Omni Counseling and Nutrition, says "Each individual has different nutritional needs and desired health outcomes, so whether cooking with low or no added fat is optimal will depend on the individual." Homemade popcorn makers give you the ability to decide what and how much is added, should you prefer butter, oil, or nothing at all. If you prefer certain oils over the hydrogenated oils that are used in some microwave popcorn bags, homemade options let you use those instead, too.

Popcorn makers lab test group shot

The Spruce Eats / Phoebe Cheong

Why Trust The Spruce Eats?

The author of this piece, Collier Sutter, personally tested popcorn makers in our Lab to determine the best picks to recommend, replicating the same recipes and measuring specific data points. She also included insights from our freelance reviewers to get the home cook's perspective.

This roundup was updated by Katya Weiss-Andersson, a writer and editor who has nearly a decade of experience as a professional chef. This piece also contains additional reporting and text by Cheyenne Elwell, who tested several popcorn makers for this roundup at home. While she loves the ease of a popcorn maker, her favorite way of making popcorn is over the stovetop with butter, salt, and lots of parmesan cheese. 

Sharon Lehman, a home cook who happens to be a registered sietitian nutritionist, also contributed to this roundup. 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.

Sources

Corrie Van Horne is a dietician, therapist, and founder of Omni Counseling and Nutrition.

Additional reporting by
Katya Weiss-Andersson,
Katya Weiss-Andersson
Katya Weiss-Andersson is a commerce editor for The Spruce Eats. With eight years of experience as a professional chef cooking in cramped kitchens and developing recipes with limited space and equipment, Katya has become an expert on how to make life easier in the kitchen.
Learn about The Spruce Eats' Editorial Process
Sharon Lehman, RDN,
Sharon Lehman
Sharon Lehman is a freelance writer and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist specializing in food, health, and wellness topics. She is the Small Appliance Expert for The Spruce Eats.
Learn about The Spruce Eats' Editorial Process
and
Allison Wignall
Allison Wignall The Spruce Eats

Allison Wignall is a staff writer for The Spruce Eats who focuses on product reviews. She has also contributed to publications such as Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, and Southern Living.

Learn about The Spruce Eats' Editorial Process
Article Sources
The Spruce Eats uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Food and Drug Administration. Bisphenol A (BPA): Use in food contact application.

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