Best popcorn machine


When making popcorn in a machine, it is important to follow the directions to get the proper kernel to oil ratio. Using too much oil can lead to roasting the kernels instead of popping them, and using too little oil can lead to burnt popcorn.

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Which popcorn machines are best?

Popcorn is right up there with hotdogs and apple pie when it comes to American favorites. It is easy to make, has nutritional benefits and you get to eat it with your hands. However, to make it just the way you like it, you need a popcorn machine.

The best popcorn machine will be sized for your needs and have an aesthetic that makes it visually pleasing. Great Northern’s Antique Red Popcorn Machine with Cart is a top choice because it can turn your home into a movie theater with its nostalgic design and large, 8-ounce kettle.

What to know before you buy a popcorn machine

Why does popcorn pop?

Popcorn kernels have a hard and mostly nonporous shell. When the kernel is heated, the steam inside has no place to go. Once the temperature reaches about 355 degrees, the internal pressure becomes too great, and the kernel pops

How does a popcorn machine work?

Popcorn machines are very easy to operate.

  1. Turn on the popcorn machine. Let it preheat for about five minutes.
  2. Add oil and unpopped kernels to the kettle.
  3. After a few minutes, the kernels will begin popping. Once the popping slows down significantly, tilt the kettle to empty it into the bottom of the machine.
  4. If you want to make more popcorn, add more oil and kernels. If not, shut the machine off.

Freestanding vs. countertop popcorn machines

There are two basic types of popcorn machines: freestanding and countertop. A freestanding machine features a popcorn machine stand or a popcorn machine cart, so it can be positioned anywhere. While this type of vintage popcorn machine has an appealing nostalgic flair that makes it an eye-catching conversation piece, it can be difficult to store for individuals who do not have much space. A countertop model, on the other hand, typically makes a smaller batch, but it can be much easier to store when not in use.

What to look for in a quality popcorn machine


For most families, a 4-ounce popcorn machine will be large enough to meet your needs. If you plan on having a party or if your whole family loves popcorn, it might be advantageous to purchase an 8-ounce popcorn machine. 

Stirring mechanism

To help ensure that the greatest number of kernels get popped, it is best to look for a popcorn machine that has a stirring mechanism. This will keep the kernels moving so all of them are exposed to heat.

Easy to clean

If your popcorn machine is difficult to clean, you may find yourself neglecting to use it. Look for a model that opens wide for easy cleaning and has a nonstick kettle and warming plate.


Different popcorn machines have different extras. Some feature built-in storage for kernels and cups while others have appealing extras such as a shelf or a built-in candy dispenser. If any of these items seem like they would be something you would enjoy, look for a model that includes the extras you desire.

How much you can expect to spend on a popcorn machine

If you just want a tiny, countertop air popper that only makes a small amount of popcorn, you can get one for as low as $20. For a large, movie-theater-style popcorn machine, you will need to spend roughly between $60-$300.

Popcorn machine FAQ

Is popcorn a healthy snack?

A. Popcorn is a whole grain food that contains a great deal of fiber, so it has potential to be a healthy snack. However, how healthy it is depends on a number of factors. The oil that the kernels are popped in as well as the type and amount of ingredients you add for flavoring can quickly make popcorn an unhealthy snack. Also, it is important to remember that it is easy to consume more popcorn than you intended, so portions should be kept within a reasonable range.

Besides fiber, what other nutritional benefits does popcorn offer?

A. Besides heart-healthy fiber, popcorn contains antioxidants that have been linked to better blood circulation and digestive health. Additionally, these antioxidants can help ward off disease. As far as nutritional elements, popcorn contains potassium, iron, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin E and vitamin K.

What’s the best popcorn machine to buy?

Top popcorn machine

Great Northern Antique Red Popcorn Machine with Cart

Great Northern Antique Red Popcorn Machine with Cart

What you need to know: If you are looking for a full movie theater popcorn experience, this is the top choice.

What you’ll love: This movie theater-style popcorn machine has an 8-ounce stainless steel kettle that can make up to 3 gallons of popcorn. It features a heated deck to keep the popcorn warm, and it comes with an easy-to-assemble cart for mobility.

What you should consider: The compact design of this impressive machine can make it difficult to clean.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Top popcorn machine for the money

West Bend Theater Style Popcorn Machine

West Bend Theater Style Popcorn Machine

What you need to know: This is an affordable, space-saving, countertop machine that allows you to make movie theater-style popcorn whenever you want. 

What you’ll love: This small popcorn machine makes popcorn in a matter of minutes. It has a 4-ounce, non-stick coated kettle and features a stirring rod to help pop the maximum amount of kernels. The tilt-open door makes serving popcorn an easy task.

What you should consider: This model works great, but it is not recommended for large gatherings or events.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Nostalgia Ivory Popcorn Machine with Cart and Snack Dispenser

Nostalgia Ivory Popcorn Machine with Cart and Snack Dispenser

What you need to know: This popcorn machine stands out for its clever design features, such as built-in storage and a candy dispenser.

What you’ll love: This freestanding popcorn machine can make up to 32 cups of popcorn. It features three built-in dispensers that can hold candy, kernels and more. The dual-hinged lid makes it easy to empty the kettle, and the tempered glass windows are scratch- and heat-resistant.

What you should consider: The positioning of the power cord can be a little awkward.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Home Depot and Wayfair


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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.


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