Best Of The Best Popcorn Makers In 2023: Top 5 Kernel Poppers Most Recommended By Experts

Popcorn is a universal treat. Whether you are at the movies or getting ready to binge-watch some of your favorite shows at home, a bowl of popcorn makes the experience even better. The sound of each kernel popping, eagerly awaiting it to be ready to eat is part of the fun. To get the perfectly popped, mouthwatering bowl of popcorn for all your movie watching snackage, we’ve found the best popcorn makers as recommended by experts.

Before we jump into the list, let’s talk popcorn. Trying to get each kernel to pop is no easy task. In fact, a recent study finds the biggest factors that influence popcorn’s quality include kernel moisture, expansion ratios, and popping ratios. The best quality popcorn has kernels which expand more when they pop. This popped corn also has a better texture and softness than others. 

Researchers in Germany have also found another use for popcorn. Scientists at the University of Göttingen have developed a method to turn popcorn into eco-friendly building insulation. The team says these materials could cut down on the use of less sustainable products to keep buildings warm and reduce heating costs.

Nowadays, there are more options for popping this delicious snack whether you’re eating it or trying to build with it. So that got us wondering, what are some of the best popcorn makers? StudyFinds compiled a list of the five best popcorn makers, from ten expert websites, for your next movie night. As always, we’d like to see your own recommendations in the comments below!

The List: Best Popcorn Makers, According To Pro Poppers

1. West Bend Stir Crazy Electric Hot Oil Popcorn Popper 

It’s easy to clean, lightweight, and the cover can double as a popcorn bowl. “Believe it or not, the West Bend Stir Crazy Electric Hot Oil Popcorn Popper makes up to 6 quarts of popcorn at one time—so there’s no need to pause your movie to make more. Plus, there’s a well that melts butter while the popcorn pops,” according to Delish.

“Instead of having to hover over the stove swirling the pot to keep the kernels moving, the machine does the work for you. Simply pour in kernels and oil, cover, turn it on, and the motorized stirring arm keeps kernels moving to ensure even popping,” adds Food & Wine.

Both rate Stir Crazy the best electric popcorn maker. However, something to keep in mind with this machine, “everything except the small handles are hot. We strongly recommend using oven mitts during this process so you don’t burn your hands,” points out Your Best Digs

Snag it for under $50. 

2. Presto Poplite Hot Air Popper

At $30, this popcorn maker is tiny but mighty. It’s also oil-free. Top Ten Reviews calls it “the best compact popcorn maker which will fit into any space” adding, “All you have to do is plug in the PopLite, wait for it to heat up, add your popcorn kernels and in two to three minutes you’ll have a bowl of hot, fresh popcorn to enjoy.”

“Air poppers are great because there’s zero possibility of getting distracted and setting off the smoke alarm,” say experts at Food & Wine. “The Presto is also the fastest popcorn maker we reviewed, making up to 18 cups of popcorn in less than 2 1/2 minutes.”

“The only real drawback to the Presto PopLite is that it does not include a bowl. While some users may not have the right size bowl, this is not a major issue for most,” points out Tech Gear Lab.

3. Wabash Valley Farms Whirley-Pop Stovetop Popcorn Maker

Longing for the traditional feel of stirring popcorn on the stove? Here’s your best bet. “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,” according to The Spruce Eats.

Food & Wine adds: “The thin aluminum of the original Whirley Pop is an advantage due to its high conductivity and rapid heating. The stainless steel version is not only more expensive but also takes longer to heat. We recommend the original.”

“You’ll put a bit more work into cleaning (and making the popcorn), but this popcorn maker is a hit among consumers who want a hand-crank unit,” points out BestReviews.

The cost? About $40. 

4. Salbree Original Microwave Popcorn Popper

If you are looking for a better way to microwave your popcorn, try out the Salbree.  Priced around $17, it won’t break the bank.

“This is our top budget pick because of how easy it is to use and clean. You can also use the popper as a bowl to enjoy your freshly popped snack, meaning fewer dirty dishes to clean afterward,” according to Better Homes & Gardens.

The Spruce Eats writes: “Simply add the popcorn kernels, place the lid on top, and put it in the microwave. Our at-home reviewer gave this popcorn popper high marks because it doesn’t require any oil and can make up to 12 cups of popcorn in just 3 to 4 minutes.”

It’s collapsible and stores easily. “Plus, it’s BPA-free and dishwasher-safe, which is really the only way to get rid of that lingering greasy residue popcorn leaves behind,” adds House Beautiful.

5. Ecolution Micro-Pop Microwave Popcorn Popper

This #1 best seller on Amazon comes in a variety of colors and costs around $20. It’s also very fast, cooking up your kernels in under two minutes.

“It makes up to 3 quarts of popcorn at a time and is constructed from a borosilicate glass that is not only durable, but also temperature safe. The ergonomic handle and butter-melting lid add to the appeal of this model,” notes Don’t Waste Your Money.

However, Tech Gear Lab points out, “this model only cooks relatively small portions at a time. If you’re looking to make lots of snacks for a group, you’re going to need to run several batches.”

To remedy the situation, use this popcorn maker for movie nights alone. House Beautiful names it the best single-serving popcorn maker. “For your next solo movie night, try this snack-sized microwave popper with a handle,” they write in their review.

Honorable Mention: Great Northern Little Bambino Retro Style Popcorn Popper Machine

I couldn’t end this article without mentioning this nostalgic gem. If you want a great conversation piece for your next party, the Little Bambino could be worth the $80 investment. Its retro style will make your home feel like a movie theater.

“It comes with a pull-out tray for easy serving, a warming lamp to keep kernels warm even after cooking, and a stirring system to reduce burnt kernels. You’ll also get a 2.5-ounce stainless steel kettle, a measuring spoon for adding oil, and a cup for scooping or adding toppings,” according to Better Homes & Gardens.

Happy popping!


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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links.

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About the Author

Melissa Kraus

Melissa is a freelance writer, based out of New Jersey. She has over two-decades of writing, editing, and producing experience for Radio, TV, and Digital Media.

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