Buying Guide to Popcorn Makers

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7 Things to Know Before You Buy

Movie night just isn't complete without a big bowl of buttery popcorn. While microwave brands may take less time to satiate your snack attack, the taste just doesn't compare to popcorn made in a popper. Before you pick a machine, get the facts.

Fact #1: Style

One style doesn't fit all. We break down the most popular kinds of poppers, so you can pick which one is right for you.

  • Theater-Style: This unit typically makes large batches of popcorn and uses hot oil to get things cooking.
  • Hot Air: This popper uses hot air instead of oil to produce a lighter, healthier snack.
  • Stove-Top: A stove top popper can -- you guessed it -- be placed on the stove. Like a theater-style popper, the version uses hot oil, rather than air to cook up a quick delicious treat.
  • Outdoor: Outdoor poppers typically have an extra-long handle so you can hold them over an open fire without getting burned. When the weather's too nasty for outdoor popping, you can use this piece to make a tasty snack in the fireplace.

Fact #2: Calorie Conscience?

If you want to avoid the extra calories of buttered popcorn, opt for an air popper or one that only requires a tiny bit of oil for cooking as a lower calorie alternative snack.

Fact #3: Space

Like any other appliance in your house, a popcorn popper is going to take up precious space. But unlike your microwave or blender, this is one appliance you're probably not going to use on a daily basis. Pick one that is easy to store.

On the flip side, if you're going for the home theater look, feel free to indulge in a full-size popper with a little nostalgic flair.

Fact #4: Cup Size

If you're used to snacking solo, it's best to pick out a popper that puts out only a few cups. For those who entertain on the regular, you'll want a machine that can churn out several quarts or even a full gallon at one time.

Fact #5: Stirring System

Nobody wants to eat blackened, half-popped kernels. Look for a popper that has an internal stirring system. It'll keep the popcorn moving so that you end up with an evenly cooked batch.

Fact #6: Easy-to-Clean

The movie is over. It's way past your bed time. The last thing you want to do is spend the next half hour scrubbing your popper clean. Save yourself some time and invest in a popper that disassembles with ease and can be cleaned in the dishwasher.

Fact #7: Awesome Extras

Many poppers double as serving bowls or include little extras like measuring cups and butter melters.