At about the size of a cake pan when collapsed upon itself, the Lekue Microwave Popcorn Popper is the most compact option in our guide, which makes it ideal for apartment dwellers.
It also works quite simply: Fill the bowl to the line with popcorn kernels, drizzle a little oil (or no oil at all), add seasoning of your choice, put the lid on, and pop the bowl in the microwave for two to three minutes.
The bowl is made of BPA-free platinum silicone, which is known for its nonstick properties that allow for easy cleanup. The popper comes with a variety of recipes that were developed by the Alicia Foundation and inspired by various film genres.
The Lekue Microwave Popcorn Popper is the top popcorn maker according to Your Best Digs. The reviewer found that after popping 4 ounces of unpopped kernels for 2.5 minutes, there were only 10 unpopped kernels left. He also appreciated the simple setup and cleanup. However, he didn't like how small the batches were. The reviewer at Cookistry recommends this popper because it produces nice, fluffy popcorn with its simple venting.
More than 1,000 Amazon buyers have left five-star reviews of the Lekue Microwave Popcorn Popper. People report that they were able to produce batches in under two minutes using higher-watt microwaves. Whether using the dishwasher or just swirling around some hot water and soap, several buyers report that cleanup is effortless. There are also many reports that this popper leaves few unpopped kernels.
One buyer appreciates that the bowl collapses to 2.25 inches high, but she warns that you need to stop the microwave as soon as the popping slows to prevent burning.
Pros: Easy to use, compact storage, effortless cleanup, minimal unpopped kernels, cost-effective
Cons: Small, potential for burnt popcorn
The Whirley Pop Stainless Steel Stovetop Popcorn Popper is unique in that it uses a combination of your stove and physical cranking to produce excellent popcorn.
You simply add oil and kernels to the pot and turn the crank to agitate the unpopped kernels. Once it becomes too hard to turn to the crank, you know the popcorn is ready. This kit comes with kernels, buttery salt, and popping oil. Wabash Valley Farms backs the popper up with a 25-year warranty.
New York Magazine recommends the Whirley Pop Stainless Steel Stovetop Popcorn Popper because it produces fluffy, light, "fully-realized" popcorn. The reviewer also noted that it is easy to clean by wiping it down with a paper towel after each use. Serious Eats recommends purchasing the aluminum version over the stainless steel because the thinner, more-conductive pan will pop the popcorn faster and reduce the chance of burnt popcorn.
The Whirley Pop Stainless Steel Stovetop Popcorn Popper has more than 4,400 positive reviews on Amazon. The most helpful reviewer is a serious popcorn lover who had tried just about every home-use popper and one commercial brand. He found this stainless-steel popper worked great on his induction cooktop and produced perfect popcorn while cleaning up easily.
This seems to be the consensus among other self-described "popcorn lovers." The biggest complaint is that the gears may start to catch over time.
Pros: Produces high-quality popcorn, doesn't require electricity, durable construction, 25-year warranty
Cons: Requires a stove and cranking, reports of the gears catching, pricey
New York Magazine recommends the Whirley Pop Stainless Steel Stovetop Popcorn Popper because it produces fluffy, light, fully-realized popcorn. The reviewer also noted that it is easy to clean by wiping it down with a paper towel after each use. Serious Eats recommends purchasing the aluminum version over the stainless steel because the thinner, more-conductive pan will pop the popcorn faster and reduce the chance of burnt popcorn.
This seems to be the consensus among other self-described popcorn lovers. The biggest complaint is that the gears may start to catch over time.
The West Bend Stir Crazy Electric Hot Oil Popcorn Popper Machine is different from the poppers in the previous slides because it doesn't require another appliance, like a microwave or stove, to use. You just plug it into your wall outlet and let it do the rest.
The Stir Crazy stirs the unpopped kernels with an agitator in the base to keep the popcorn from burning. Also, it produces up to 27 cups of popcorn at a time. When it's done popping, you flip the unit over and use the top as a bowl. The base also fits in the top for easy storage.
Top Ten Reviews tested the West Bend popper and found that 1.25 teaspoons of unpopped kernels remained after adding a cup of kernels to the machine. That works out to about 2.6% waste. However, the reviewer still recommends this unit because there was not burnt popcorn, and it produced a higher capacity of popcorn than any other model they tested.
More than 1,500 Amazon buyers have left four- or five-star reviews of the West Bend popper. C. G. King, the most helpful reviewer, compares this Stir Crazy model to previous ones and prefers this because it has a smaller footprint and is easier to turn over once finished popping. They also liked that there were few unpopped kernels.
Another buyer noted that you have to make sure you put enough oil in the unit for it to work, but once it does, the flavor is superior to microwave bag popcorn. People recommend using coconut oil or sunflower oil and avoiding vegetable oil.
Pros: High yield, minimal waste, excellent flavor, doesn't require the use of other appliances
Cons: Requires oil
The Nordic Ware Microwave Popcorn Popper works similarly to our top pick but is made of different materials. Nordic Ware notes that the bowl is made of an unbreakable, melamine- and BPA-free proprietary material that is similar to white clay.
The curing process makes the bowl oven safe to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. And, the lid is made of plastic. With or without oil, after 4 minutes in the microwave, the bowl produces 12 cups of popped corn.
The Nordic Ware Microwave Popcorn Popper came out on top in Cook's Illustrated's tests of the best microwave popcorn poppers. The reviewer was impressed with how simple it was to use and clean. However, they did note that the bowl gets hot so it may not be the best serving bowl. Good Housekeeping found that the Nordic Ware performed well in most of their tests, except the bowl stained badly after just a couple uses.
About 85% of the people who reviewed the Nordic Ware Microwave Popcorn Popper on Amazon gave it a positive rating. The most helpful review links to a YouTube tutorial on how to make theater-style popcorn using this popper. The buyer found the tutorial incredibly helpful and noted that the bowl was easy to clean.
Another buyer only gave it four stars because she believed she received a used unit, and it started to show burn marks after just one use. However, this was not a common problem.
Pros: Easy to use and clean, affordable, serves multiple purposes
Cons: Complaints of the bowl staining, only makes 12 cups of popcorn
If you went to a movie theater and the concession stand was using any of the popcorn makers in the previous slides, you'd probably turn around and leave. When going for the movie theater feel in your home theater, you need a popcorn machine like the Great Northern Pop Pup Retro Style Popcorn Machine. This popcorn maker gives you the commercial experience at a relatively affordable price and without taking up a lot of space.
You simply add up to 2.5 ounces of kernels and oil to the kettle (the popper includes a measuring spoon and cup) and plug in the machine. The kettle stirs the kernels until they pop to facilitate the popping process and to keep burning to a minimum. You can eat right out of the slide-out popcorn serving tray. The popcorn maker also has a 10-watt bulb that keeps the popcorn somewhat warm.
Leelalicious recommends the Great Northern Pop Pup Retro Style Popcorn Machine because it has the benefits of a larger commercial popper while fitting on your kitchen countertop. They found it can produce up to 16 cups of popped corn in a single batch, and the warming light did a good job of keeping the popcorn fresh.
The Great Northern Pop Pup Retro Style Popcorn Machine received four or five stars from approximately 70% of the Amazon buyers who reviewed it. A. Comte, the most helpful reviewer, appreciates that the popper fits on her counter, where space is limited. She noted that while the amount of popcorn it makes in a single batch isn't much, it's easy and fun to make second or third batches.
The main complaints are that it can be hard to clean, fitting the kettle into place requires a bit of force, and pouring in the ingredients can be cumbersome.
Pros: Attractive look, easy to use, cooks batches quickly, fits on most countertops
Cons: Expensive, hard to clean