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Best Popcorn Makers: Oil and Hot Air Popcorn Machines

We spent 80 hours testing all manner of popcorn makers, from the hot-air only variety to the stir-stick on the bottom models, and came up with nine of the best for your household. Our favorite was the Cuisinart CPM-700 EasyPop Popcorn Maker that creates 14-16 cups of great-tasting popcorn in just six minutes. This easy-to-use popcorn maker employs a stirring arm on the bottom of the popper to move the kernels around on the hot surface. The plastic dome overhead contains the kernels as they pop and can be flipped over later so you can use it as a serving bowl.

Best Overall Popcorn Maker

Cuisinart CPM-700 EasyPop Popcorn Maker

Cuisinart CPM-700 EasyPop Popcorn Maker

It can make 14 cups of popcorn.
It rarely leaves unpopped kernels.
The machine has a built-in cord storage area.
The cord is very short.
You must always use oil to make popcorn.
You have to follow manufacturer timing carefully.

For an exceptional, all-around popcorn maker, the Cuisinart CPM-700 EasyPop Popcorn Maker is tough to beat. This well-designed popper lets you whip up 14 to16 cups of fresh, tasty popcorn in only six minutes.

Our tests showed it left behind no unpopped or burned kernels – if you follow the manufacturer’s instruction carefully. This cheery red popper works with a heated plate at the bottom with a stirring rod that moves in a circular fashion. Add the recommended amount of oil and popcorn, push the button and start.
This device is covered by a clear plastic dome with vents to release moisture. It also keeps popcorn from spewing all over the place during the popping process, and you can flip it over later to use as a serving bowl.

This popper comes with a measuring cup so you can determine how much popcorn you want to make, and both the instructional manual and Cuisinart’s website offer fun recipes for such things as curry popcorn (curry powder, turmeric and cayenne pepper) or buffalo popcorn (hot sauce and cider vinegar).

The Cuisinart popper is easy to clean, stays in place with rubber feet, and provides a three-year warranty and solid customer support, including a how-to demo video on its website. It comes with a 27-inch cord, which is fairly short for popcorn makers, and that could be a drawback if you have only a few outlets in your kitchen. That said, the Cuisinart’s features, performance and extras make this a first-rate popcorn maker.

Best Value Popcorn Maker

West Bend 82505 Stir Crazy Popcorn Popper

West Bend 82505 Stir Crazy Popcorn Popper

It makes 24 to 28 cups of popcorn.
A batch takes about four to five minutes.
The flip-over top works as serving bowl.
The base and stirring rod cannot go in the dishwasher.
You need to detatch the stirring rod to clean it well.
Adding butter through the top can be messy.

This economical popcorn maker is a good, basic model that can prepare 24 to 28 cups of great popcorn with virtually no burnt kernels in about four or five minutes. This popcorn maker uses a non-stick heating plate on the bottom with a stirring rod, and you must add some oil to make popcorn.

There are handles on either side of the device that do not get hot during the process, which is a nice safety touch.

It is designed with an on/off switch, so you won't have to reach past a warm appliance to pull an electrical cord out of the socket to stop the popping. This model is easy to clean. The removable cover can be washed on the top rack of the dishwasher, and the base can be washed with soap and water. You can detatch the stirring rod to wash and dry it by hand and then reattach it. This model comes with a 29.5-inch electrical cord, which is long enough to be practical, but not so long that it droops over the edge of the counter. You also can store the cord on the device's base.

West Bend also helps you jazz up your popcorn snacks with some fun and somewhat unusual recipes in the user manual (there’s a backup version online in case you misplace the printed one). You can make such things as lime fiesta popcorn or herb-infusion popcorn, and West Bend also offers suggestions for flavoring your popcorn in interesting, fun ways like adding celery flakes, crushed red pepper or melted almond bark, or dusting it with cocoa powder.

Best Hot Air Popcorn Maker

Cuisinart EasyPop Hot Air CPM-100

Cuisinart EasyPop Hot Air CPM-100

The resulting popcorn is light and tasty.
It takes only three minutes.
You can make 10 to 15 cups of popcorn.
There will be some wasted kernels.
The cord is a bit long.
Some stray kernels don’t land in your bowl.

The Cuisinart EasyPop Hot Air CPM-100 lets you easily prepare 10 to 15 cups of oil-free, air-popped corn that tastes delicious and weighs in at a mere 30 calories per cup, which is perfect if you’re on a diet. If you still want that butter boost, you can simply put some in the circular warmer on top of the machine.

Although the EasyPop quickly makes some great popcorn, there is some waste – our testing showed a tablespoon of unpopped kernels. It also can be a tad messy when making popcorn since the force of the motor blows some stray pieces of popcorn onto the counter and floor. To keep things neat, it’s wise to use a tall bowl so you capture as much popcorn as possible.

You get an on/off switch with this air popcorn maker, which means you won’t need to risk reaching past a warm machine to pull the plug to turn it off. The cord is rather long at 32 inches, but there is no built-in storage area onboard, which is a feature found on the best popcorn makers.

Clean-up is easy with this popcorn maker since its removable parts can be cleaned in the dishwasher. In addition, it’s compact and lightweight at approximately 3 pounds, so it’s easy to store. This Cuisinart Hot Air popper comes with a measuring cup, which is always helpful. The plastic used in this machine is BPA-free, which will no doubt please many people who might be concerned about the possibility of health problems associated with BPA, although the Environmental Protection Agency has said it is safe at low levels.

Great for Large Quantities

Orville Redenbacher's Stirring Popper 05204

Orville Redenbacher's Stirring Popper 05204

It takes only a few minutes to make an enormous bowl of popcorn.
There is no on or off switch on this model.

The Orville Redenbacher's Stirring Popper 05204 by Presto is one of the best popcorn makers you can buy. In addition to its large 20-24 cup capacity, the lid doubles as a bowl and there are no escape routes for unpopped kernels to litter your counter like they do with a traditional air popper.

Another difference between the 05204 and an air popper is that it uses a heating plate that you put oil and kernels on. When we tested this popcorn maker we were pleased to see that this popper left no unpopped kernels at all, and there was no burnt popcorn either – at least when we followed the instructions precisely.

Unfortunately, the bowl/lid, heating plate and stirring rod are not dishwasher safe, so be prepared to do a little hand wash after you enjoy your large bowl of fresh popcorn.

The Orville Redenbacher's Stirring Popper 05204 is a great popcorn maker and we recommend it if you’re not as concerned with using oil to pop your kernels and want a lot of popcorn in a hurry.

Smaller & Simple Hot Air Popper

PopLite Hot Air Popcorn Popper

PopLite Hot Air Popcorn Popper

This popcorn maker is easy to use and clean.
You end up with quite a lot of unpopped kernels.

The Presto PopLite is a small air popcorn maker without many frills or features. It is very easy to use, especially since you don’t have to use oil, and easy to clean up – which is perfect if you are looking for a quick, tasty low-calorie snack. 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.

When we tested the PopLite we liked how the popped popcorn turned out and tasted, but we were very disappointed in how many unpopped kernels were left behind. It left behind more than any other popper we tested.

Fortunately, for the price, this popcorn maker performs as well as we expected it to and it didn’t spew as much popcorn and kernels all over our kitchen counter like some of the other air poppers we tested did. If you want to make more popcorn at once and don’t mind using a little bit of oil, check out our best overall pick, the Cuisinart CPM-700 EasyPop Popcorn Maker.

Why Trust Us?

We invested 80 hours testing popcorn makers and followed their use manuals to the letter. We used only the best quality ingredients – name-brand popcorn, butter, salt and oil, when called for – so each popcorn popper would be tested and evaluated in the same fashion. In addition, we used the same testing approach for each model by doing such things as timing the popping process carefully, examining it thoroughly by hand, and of course, tasting it.

We checked written materials about popcorn makers in general and carefully read the websites and consumer reviews for each of the poppers we tested. We also examined the fine print of warranties. We documented everything significant that we learned about each popcorn maker, and scored and ranked each accordingly.

We also considered cost when testing and evaluating popcorn makers, and we found models that perform very well at any price. For example, the roughly $20

popper does a fine job making tasty popcorn, even when compared to popcorn makers that cost almost double that sum. The higher priced models tend to yield greater amounts of popcorn, but if you don’t want to spend very much, a good, inexpensive machine might work quite well for your needs.

How We Tested?

We made two batches of popcorn in each of our test models, following the manufacturer’s instructions. All popcorn and oil (if needed for a particular model) was carefully measured, and we timed how long each popcorn maker took to complete the job. Then we combed through the popcorn to find any burnt or unpopped kernels, picked them out of each batch, and carefully measured and documented them. We even gathered up unpopped kernels from inside the machine, on the kitchen countertop and on the floor in order to measure those. We scored those criteria based on an average for the three batches.

As far as such things as the length of the electrical cord and the dimensions, we didn’t just take the manufacturer’s word for it, but took our own measurements with a tape measure. We also evaluated how easy or difficult it was to clean and whether you got a recipe booklet or measuring cup with it. We checked to see whether plastic popcorn popper parts were free of the chemical compound BPA (bisphenol A), which some research indicates could be harmful to human health, although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers it safe at low levels.

Additionally, we examined the length of the warranty, as well as reading the fine print, looking at the number of ways you can contact customer support, checking to see if the manufacturer offered a FAQs section on its website and determining whether you get a user manual with the popper – either a paper booklet or online.  We also looked to see which manufacturers offer videos that show how to operate its popcorn popper.

How Much Do Popcorn Poppers cost?

We found that popcorn poppers vary in price with a typical price range going from less than $20 for a simple model to about $60 for a home model. Some people don’t mind splurging on big circus-style popcorn carts that cost hundreds of dollars, but most consumers tend to buy reasonably priced models.

What Is the Best Oil to Use in Popcorn Machines?

While you can potentially use any type of oil in your popcorn machine, you’re most likely going to use coconut oil or canola oil. Coconut oil contains more fat and cholesterol than canola oil but both make excellent popcorn.

For that classic buttery flavor, consider getting a flavored popcorn oil. Likewise, you can use plain coconut oil or canola oil seasoned with a butter-flavored salt such as Flavacol or a kettle corn seasoning for sweet popcorn.

Peanut oil is an excellent alternative to coconut and canola oil because it has a high burning point. You can also experiment with sunflower or soybean oil or try something more exotic such as avocado or walnut oil.

On the other hand, while olive oil is a healthy choice, makes a great vinaigrette for salads and works well for pan cooking, it has a low burning point and tends to be expensive. As such, you might not want to use it with a popcorn maker. However, you can combine it with other oils – for example, you could use peanut oil as the primary oil and add just a touch of olive oil.

It’s best to avoid using flaxseed oil and wheat germ oil since they aren’t supposed to be heated. According to a 2016 article in the Cleveland Clinic’s online publication Healthy Essentials, you won’t get good popcorn with those oils.

If all else fails, check the manufacturer’s recommendations, since the type of oil it suggests will usually yield the best results.

More Specialty Appliance Guides:

ProductPriceOverall RatingPerformanceFeaturesExtrasWarranty & SupportWasted PopcornPopping MethodAmount of Kernels Used (cups)Popping Time (minutes)Popcorn Production (cups)Heat SourceUnpopped Kernels Includes Measuring CupBPA FreeRecipes ProvidedDepth (inches)Width (inches)Weight (pounds)Height (inches)Demo VideoFAQsPhoneUser ManualWarranty EmailBuilt-In Cord StorageCord Length (inches)Power Input (watts)On & Off SwitchDishwasher Safe
Cuisinart CPM-700 EasyPopView Deal5/51010109.10%Oil0.5614-16Heating PlateNone10.19.05612.33 Years27550Removable Parts
West Bend Stir Crazy 82505View Deal4.5/ Plate1.25 Tsp10133.4101 Year29.51000Bowl & Cover
Orville Redenbacher's Stirring Popper 05204View Deal4.5/5108.18.870%Oil0.753-520-24Heating PlateNone7.512.53.9131 Year35.5800
Cuisinart EasyPop Hot Air CPM-100View Deal4.5/56.910109.18.33%Hot Air0.75310Electric Motor1 Tbsp8.35.53.1312.73 Years321500Removable Parts
West Bend Stir Crazy 82306View Deal4/ Plate1 Tbsp9.514.24.211.81 YearRemovable401000Bowl Only
Nostalgia Electrics Retro Mini Hot AirView Deal4/ Air0.52-38-10Electric Motor1.25 Tsp872.51290 Days35.51040
Presto PopLite Hot AirView Deal4/ Air0.52-315-18Electric Motor2 Tsp710.7111.61 Year311440
Great Northern Pop FrenzyView Deal4/5108.84.80%Oil1623-24Heating PlateNone7134.91290 Days34850