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Going to the movie theater is still a little iffy these days, so one of the best ways to get the experience at home is with some serious popcorn. We’re talking beyond the pre-packaged microwave popcorn, of course. Plus, those tend to be packed with salt, additives, fat and other not-so-great ingredients. Not only does homemade popcorn taste better, it’s also much, much healthier. Plus, the best popcorn makers often don’t require much more time or effort than the microwave. When you pop your own, you can add seasonings and toppings to customize it — and it tastes better than what comes in the pre-packaged versions. Another bonus is that over time, making your own popcorn will save you money.
There are three main types of popcorn makers and the difference is how they heat the kernels, whether they require oil to cook them and how much popcorn they can make. An air popper is the healthiest option since it doesn’t require oil or butter. They’re small appliances that work by circulating hot air onto the kernels, which come out through a spigot. Though they tend to be pricier, they’re simple to use and clean. The second type is a microwave popcorn maker, which are glass, plastic or silicone bowls with a vented lid and are simply put in the microwave. Depending on the model, they may need a little oil or none at all. Their perk is they’re super easy to use, fast and dishwasher-safe. Finally, the third option is stovetop popcorn makers, which look like a regular pot but the lid has a special stirring mechanism to keep the kernels moving to prevent them from sticking to the bottom and burning. They heat up quickly, use a little bit of oil and deliver great flavor. They’re typically easy to clean and last a while.
No matter which type you choose, get ready for some delicious popcorn. We’ve narrowed it down to the best popcorn makers, so prepare your salt and toppings. If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, Variety may receive an affiliate commission.
1. Presto PopLite Hot Air Popper
Brighten up your kitchen with a burst of yellow with this Presto Hot Air Popper. Super speedy, it can pop up to 18 cups of popcorn in under two and a half minutes. Whether you use gourmet or regular kernels, practically none will go unpopped. The butter melter does double duty as a measuring cup and the chute drops the popcorn right into your bowl. The hot air popcorn means your snack will be healthy and all natural. $20.38, amazon.com
2. The Original Popco Silicone Microwave Popcorn Popper
It doesn’t get any easier to use than the OG Popco Popper — all you have to do is add kernels to the bowl, toss in some oil, salt or flavorings as you please, and put it in the microwave. That’s what makes it one of the best popcorn makers. The bowl holds up to 15 cups, making plenty for the whole family. The food-grade silicone microwave popcorn popper bowl has built-in handles to make it even more convenient. The bowl is designed to evenly spread heat, so it pops every last kernel. Best of all, the bowl collapses to just 2.3 inches so it won’t take up much space in storage, plus it’s dishwasher safe. $13.20, amazon.com
3. West Bend Stir Crazy Electric Hot Oil Popcorn Popper Machine
The vented lid turns into a bowl, so it doesn’t get more convenient! This popper makes up to six quarts of popcorn. The motorized stir rod makes for excellent popping and the non-stick coated plate provides easy cleanup. $24.99, amazon.com
4. Original Salbree Microwave Popcorn Popper
If you’re tight on cabinet space, then this is the best popcorn maker for you, since the collapsible design allows it to fit into a small drawer. It comes in a range of 18 colors, giving you plenty to pick from. Since it’s made from silicone, it’ll last forever. That also means it’s dishwasher-safe as well as BPA-free. Easy to use, it even has built-in handles to make it safe to take out of the microwave. $15.90, amazon.com
5. Ecolution Original Microwave Micro-Pop Popcorn Popper
Just use the silicone lid to measure popcorn kernels, pour them into the Micro-Pop, put it in the microwave for three minutes and you’ll have a bowl full of popcorn to enjoy! Made from strong and temperature-safe borosilicate glass, the popper is designed to spread heat evenly to catch every kernel. No butter or oil is required, making this one of the best popcorn makers for your health. But if you want to add a little butter, the 3-in-1 lid (which also works as a cover and measure) has a melting feature that works while the popcorn is popping. The popper is dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning. $12.99, amazon.com
6. KORCCI Original Microwaveable Silicone Popcorn Popper
The best popcorn maker if you’re on a budget, this popper proves you can make great popcorn without breaking the bank. The simple microwavable silicone popcorn popper cooks delicious, healthy popcorn in minutes. A great space saver, it’s collapsible and can be stored anywhere. It has two handles on the popper to save you from burning your hands when you take it out of the microwave. Built to last, it’s durable and easy to clean. $8.99, amazon.com
7. DASH Hot Air Popcorn Popper Maker
The only thing needed to make 16 cups of fresh popcorn is air and kernels, making this a very healthy option and easy, too! All you have to do is touch the start button. It comes with a measuring cup that doubles as a butter melting tray to make movie theater-style popcorn, as well as a recipe book and recipe database access. $19.99, amazon.com
8. West Bend Hot Theater Style Popper Machine
In addition to making yummy popcorn, this popper also looks charming on your countertop. The four-ounce kettle makes five to six servings of popcorn in minutes, with a Stir Crazy rod to get all those kernels. The non-stick popping kettle is removable for easy cleanup. $58.99, amazon.com
9. Great Northern Popcorn Original Spinner Stovetop 6 1/2 Quart Popcorn Popper
This is one of the best stovetop popcorn makers out there thanks to its clever spinning stirrer mechanism that prevents burning and makes five quarts of scrumptious popcorn in minutes. It features real wood handles and knobs and is easy to clean. $27.32, amazon.com
10. Nostalgia CCP510BK Vintage Professional Popcorn Cart
The ultimate statement piece, this wins best popcorn maker for nostalgia. The stainless steel kettle has a built-in kernel stirring system that makes 32 cups of popcorn, enough to feed your own mini movie theater. The kettle is removable for cleaning and the tempered glass windows are break-, scratch- and heat-resistant for safety. A tilt-out serving door is an extra fun touch. The cart has a convenient storage compartment in the base where you can stash kernels, oils, seasonings and everything else you need. $179.99, amazon.com