What We Like
No butter or oil needed
Built-in measuring lines
Inexpensive and compact
Easy to clean
What We Don't Like
Has to cool down between batches
Popcorn often spills out
Large number of unpopped kernels
Water stains from dishwasher
There are a lot of reasons you may be looking at a popcorn maker like the Salbree Microwave Popcorn Popper. Maybe you need plain popcorn for a Pinterest recipe, or perhaps you just want to enjoy a delicious, freshly popped snack without all the added butter or oil. The Salbree popcorn popper gets mixed reviews—some people say it’s amazing, while others end up with a pile of charred popcorn. To see what the real deal was, we put this product to the test, using it over the course of a week to evaluate its usability, performance, and overall design. Read on to see what we found.
Design: Simple, yet effective
We won’t lie—the Salbree Popcorn Popper looks pretty underwhelming upon arrival. It comes flattened in a plastic bag, and when we first held it, we thought it was too flimsy to stand up. The blue silicone material also looked a little dusty? Needless to say, it certainly wasn’t love at first sight.
Once we washed it up with a sponge and soapy water and popped it up to its full height, though, the popper looked a lot more like its product photos. In retrospect, the fact that it can be flattened down into a compact shape is great for storage, as many other popcorn makers are quite bulky. There are also two measurement lines right inside the bowl—¼ cup and ½ cup—which streamlines the process and saves you from dirtying your measuring cups.
The fact that it can be flattened down into a relatively compact shape is great for storage, as many other popcorn makers are quite bulky.
The instructions say you can wash the Salbree Microwave Popper in the dishwasher, but they also warn that silicone is prone to water spots. For the sake of our readers, we tested this out, and they weren’t lying—both the bowl and cover came out covered in tons of water spots that didn’t want to come off.
The silicone material is super easy to wash by hand, so we suggest skipping the dishwasher altogether. Just be sure not to put any type of seasoning in the popper. If you want butter, oil, salt, or cheese, pop it plain and transfer it to another bowl for seasoning. Otherwise, it will be much harder to clean, as these toppings tend to stick to the silicone.
Performance: Not perfect, but it gets the job done
It just so happened to be the week of Independence Day when we were testing this product, and since we were attending a big party for the holiday, we decided to use the Salbree to make some dessert popcorn for everyone to eat during the fireworks.
The instructions say to put ¼ cup of kernels in the popper, but we admit that we overfilled the cup the first time—we were making snacks in bulk, and why was there a ½-cup measurement if you couldn’t use it? So we filled it up, put the lid in place (it falls down into the bowl, but don’t worry, it rises as the kernels pop) and selected the 3-ounce popcorn setting on the microwave. This started a 2-minute timer that ended up being perfect. By the end of the two minutes, the bowl was literally overflowing onto the microwave turntable. That’s probably why they recommend only using ¼ cup of kernels, but you live and and you learn.
The instructions say to use pot holders to remove the popper from the microwave and lift the lid, as the surfaces may be hot, but we found that we could comfortably do it with our hands. However, you may want to air on the side of caution and use pot holders, just in case.
As we examined our initial batch, we found that there were no burnt pieces of popcorn, but there were a large number of unpopped kernels. The instructions say 10 to 15 percent of the kernels will typically remain unpopped, and we found that to be accurate. Still, it’s a bummer to waste so many (potential) pieces of popcorn.
As we examined our initial batch, we found that there were no burnt pieces of popcorn, but there were a large number of unpopped kernels.
Since we were cooking for a crowd, we ended up making around five batches of popcorn in the Salbree Popper, and one thing we noticed was that you have to let the bowl cool down between batches. If it’s still warm, there are even more unpopped kernels at the end. The instructions say this is common, but it’s definitely inconvenient if you need to make more than one batch.
If you read other online reviews, you’ll see burnt popcorn is a common complaint. We want to mention that we never had any issue with popcorn, kernels, or the popper itself burning. Still, you probably don’t want to chance it, so we’d recommend following the instructions carefully, monitoring your popcorn as it cooks, and starting at a shorter time and working your way up as needed.
The Salbree Microwave Popcorn Popper retails for roughly $15, which is certainly on the low end as far a popcorn maskers go. While it is simply a piece of silicone, it works as intended and will last a long time if taken care of properly. For those reasons, we think it’s worth the price.
Salbree Microwave Popcorn Popper vs. Presto Orville Redenbacher's Hot Air Popper
This hot air popper from Presto is similar to the Salbree Popper in that it makes “naked” popcorn, free of butter and oil. It’s $10 more expensive, which isn’t too bad, and it does a much better job popping the vast majority of the kernels. However, it takes a little while longer to pop your corn and some hot kernels may come flying during the process. Since it’s a plug-in model and not a microwave bowl, you also have to consider where you’ll store it.
An unbeatable, budget-friendly option.
If you’re looking for an easy way to make healthy, “naked” popcorn, the Salbree Microwave Popcorn Popper is pretty much as good as it gets. It’s simple, effective, and easy to clean and store. It may not be perfect, but we think the low price makes it a worthwhile purchase for most households.
- Product Name Microwave Popcorn Popper
- Product Brand Salbree
- Price $15.90
- Weight 9 oz.
- Product Dimensions 7.8 x 7.7 x 2.2 in.
- Color Black, white, blue, red, green, yellow, orange, pink, gray, lime, purple, turquoise, aqua, coral, magenta
- Material BPA-free silicone
- Warranty 30-day money-back guarantee