Makes up to 24 cups
Fun to watch
Popcorn tastes good
Few unpopped kernels
Easy to burn popcorn
Butter melter isn’t great
Bulky to store
Butter cap doesn’t stay on bowl
Hard to clean
If you’re in the market for a popcorn maker, the West Bend Stir Crazy Deluxe Popcorn Popper may have come up in your research. The product seems perfect—it has a stirring rod to ensure all the kernels pop, as well as a built-in butter melter! What more could you ask for?
To see the if the West Bend popcorn popper was as good as it seemed, we put it to the test, using it to whip up snacks for several movie nights and on random afternoons when we were hungry. Read on to discover the good and bad of this electric popcorn maker.
Design: Bulky but fun
Our first thought upon taking the West Bend popcorn machine out of the box was, “Oh no, where are we going to store this thing?!” The popcorn maker is quite bulky, measuring 14 inches from handle-to-handle and standing 10 inches tall with its dome in place. To store it, you can place the base inside the plastic dome, but that doesn’t make it any less cumbersome, in our opinion.
Our first thought upon taking the West Bend popcorn machine out of the box was, “Oh no, where are we going to store this thing?!”
Once we got past the inital size shock, we couldn’t help but admit the gadget is pretty fun. The popcorn maker includes four pieces: the base (with the power cord and heating element), a removable heating plate with a stirring rod, a plastic dome, and a dome cap. The plastic dome is supposed to double as a serving bowl, but we found that the cap doesn’t stay on reliably when inverted. We passed on using it as a serving dish as we weren’t going to risk getting butter stains all over the couch.
We will also say that if you don’t have a dishwasher, this machine is a pain to clean. In particular, the plastic dome is frustrating to hand wash, as it’s usually covered in butter or oil and has a series of tiny vent holes at the top. Luckily, it can go on the top rack of the dishwasher, but it takes up a whole lot of room. The heating plate, on the other hand, has a non-stick finish that makes it easy to wipe down and you’re feeling lazy, you can also pop it in the dishwasher.
Performance: Beware burnt popcorn
The West Bend deluxe popcorn popper definitely isn’t the easiest appliance to use. For one, it takes a few minutes to set up. First, we had to put oil and kernels on the heating plate; the instruction manual tells you the proper oil-to-kernel ratio, so luckily there’s not much guess work there. For maximum snacking, you can use up to ¾ cup of kernels to make a whopping 6 quarts (or 24 cups) of popped popcorn. There’s no kernel measuring cup included, which isn’t a big deal as long has you own regular measuring cups, but we think it’s worth noting since a scoop is pretty standard among other machines.
Next, since we wanted butter on our snack, we had to cut 1 tablespoon into small, equal pieces and line them up around the edge of the butter well. Once that was done, we were able to plug the machine in and turn it on. It actually took quite a bit longer than other popcorn makers to start popping, as the heating element needed to warm up. However, it was fun to watch the kernels turn darker as they were spun around the heating plate.
The good news is that the popcorn is delicious, especially if you like it cooked with oil.
Once the kernels started popping, it took an additional minute for the popcorn to be ready. The instructions say to turn the machine off when there’s one to two seconds between pops, put the lid on, then remove the heating plate and dome. However, we found that these steps take a minute or so to complete, in which time the stagnant popcorn tends to get a little crispy. We got better at it with practice, but even on our fourth time using the machine we had a few burnt pieces of popcorn because we didn’t get the plate off fast enough.
The good news is that the popcorn is delicious—especially if you like it cooked with oil. We were able to pick out the few burnt pieces, then we seasoned the popcorn to our liking and went to town. We were also impressed that there were virtually no unpopped kernels remaining.
Features: Butter melter is a bust
There are two main selling points that set the West Bend popper apart from other popcorn makers. First, there’s the stirring rod, which is designed keep popcorn from getting stuck to the heating plate. In our testing, we found that it does its job well, agitating the kernels as they heat up and keeping them moving throughout the popping cycle.
Bottom line? Don’t buy this machine for its butter-melting feature; it’s not worth it.
Then, there’s the butter melter, which seems nice in theory but is pretty much a flop. You’re supposed to cut the butter into six equal-sized pieces and place them over the vents in the butter well. When the popcorn is getting all hot and steamy, the hot air will melt the butter (in theory, anyway) and it will drip down over your popcorn.
We found that even when we cut the butter into more than six pieces, it still didn’t completely melt. The instructions say if this happens, you should use a pastry brush to push the butter through the holes, but again, if you take too much time before inverting the bowl, your popcorn will burn. So we usually ended up simply putting the cover on and flipping the bowl, leaving the majority of the butter laying useless in the well. It’s much easier to melt butter in the microwave and pour it over your popcorn after the fact. Bottom line? Don’t buy this machine for its butter-melting feature; it’s not worth it.
Price: Too steep
The West Bend deluxe popcorn popper retails for $60, and considering the number of problems we had with it, we think this price is quite steep. There are other popcorn makers that work better and cost less than half the price.
Competition: There are better options out there
Original Salbree Microwave Popcorn Popper: This $16 collapsible silicone popcorn maker is ideal for apartment living, as it folds up into an easy-to-store form. Plus, it quickly and efficiently makes a bowl full of oil-free popcorn.
Presto Orville Redenbacher's Hot Air Popper: This hot air popper is significantly easier to use than the West Bend Stir Crazy Deluxe. Its butter melter has similar issues, but the machine itself is more compact, fast, straightforward to use, and easier to clean. At just $30, it’s also half the price of the West Bend.
Save your money.
We wanted to love the West Bend popper, but the steep price, bulky design, and high probability of burnt popcorn made it hard. It’s definitely fun to use and might be a good addition to a home theater, but there are better options available.
- Product Name Stir Crazy Deluxe Popcorn Popper
- Product Brand West Bend
- MPN 8231
- Price $59.99
- Weight 2 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 13.5 x 13.5 x 8 in.
- Material Plastic
- Output 6 qt.
- Warranty 1-year limited