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6 Different Types of Popcorn Makers Explained

Cute popcorn maker surrounded by cones of popcorn.

I know that hot dogs have long been associated with the beloved pastime of baseball, but I really think that the actual favorite pastime snack is popcorn. Think about it; you cannot watch a movie without it. You cannot sit down for an extended period of time to binge-watch your favorite television show without a bowl of popcorn.

When you have people over your house, popcorn is one of the snacks you are going to grab. I am not talking about the greasy, buttery, fatty popcorn you find in movie theaters. Although, there are many that love that kind of popcorn.

I am talking about its healthier and more affordable cousin, popcorn that you make with actual popcorn kernels and not a bag you just throw in the microwave. Now that I have you hooked keep on reading to find out more about all the different types of popcorn makers.

How To Choose a Popcorn Maker

It is important to understand what you need to look for in your popcorn maker. Consider these features before you make your next popcorn maker purchase.

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Machine Type

There are basically two types of popcorn poppers. One is standalone, and the other needs a heat source from outside of the machine. A typical outside source of heat is the microwave or stovetop. If you do not like using the microwave, then the stovetop is the way to go for you. You can also use a countertop popcorn popper that can plugin.

There are two types of countertop popcorn poppers. One is a hot-air popcorn popper, and the other is a more traditional type. The traditional one uses butter or oil. An air popper allows you to make a healthier version of your popcorn because you do not have to use butter or oil. The high heat and fan create popcorn that is fat-free.


It is vital to know how much popcorn you would like to pop at one time. Knowing how much you want to pop can drive the size of the machine you need. An expensive commercial popper does the same thing as one that is a smaller version that can be stored in the kitchen.

If you get an occasional visitor, it might not be a huge deal to make multiple batches of popcorn. If you will always have a lot of people that want popcorn, you might want to consider investing in a larger machine. An air popper, microwave popper, and stovetop popper are all going to be in a smaller size, which makes them easier to store.

It also means they may cook less popcorn at one time. A countertop popper will take up more room but will also allow you to cook more popcorn at one time in the same batch. The commercial popping machines are the largest; they take up the most room but give you the most popcorn in one batch.

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Amount of Popcorn

Popcorn maker filling up a large bowl with popcorn.

The size of the machine is going to indicate how much popcorn you can make. As stated above, the larger the machine means the more popcorn you can pop at one time. There are some popcorn poppers that are small enough to be specifically for an individual but will not work for a larger family.

Stainless Steel

When you are looking for a popcorn popper, you want one that is going to be durable and long-lasting. No one wants to waste their money by purchasing a popper that is not going to last. Stainless steel is a great option for a durable popcorn popper. If you are looking for a microwave one, silicone is a durable option.


Let’s face it; no one wants to spend a lot of time cleaning anything. When something is difficult to clean, you are going to be less likely to use it. When a machine is hard to clean, you feel like you are wasting your time, and then the machine just sits there and becomes a waste of money.

A popcorn popper that can be washed in the dishwasher is a great investment. You may want to look for one that has pieces that are removable. Removeable pieces may make it easier to clean them.


The way the popcorn popper looks is important also. If it is a machine that is going to sit out all the time, you want it to work well with your decor. If you have a more modern look to your home, you probably do not want an antique-looking machine. While looking good is important, you also want to make sure that it works well.

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Popcorn Kernels

Multi-colored Popcorn Kernels

I would be remiss if I jumped right into the popcorn makers without touching on the items you put in the maker. Believe it or not, there is more than one type of corn kernel. Listed below are the four main types of corn kernels you might use.

Yellow Popcorn Kernels

Yellow Popcorn Kernels

The yellow popcorn kernel is the most common and widely known type of kernel. Yellow popcorn kernels are the most affordable of all the kernels. It has a bit of a nutty flavor to it.

Red Popcorn Kernels

Red corn beside a plate of popcorn.

When the red popcorn kernel pops, it appears white. This kernel is smaller than most of the other types of kernels. It is flaky and light, with a slightly nutty flavor.

White Popcorn Kernels

White corn kernel spilling out of a small jar and into a wooden surface.

The white popcorn kernel is the one that has the purest popcorn taste and flavor. It is a neutral flavor and is ideal for adding seasonings and other flavors.

Blue Popcorn Kernels

Blue popcorn kernels

The blue popcorn kernel also pops white. It is similar to the red popcorn kernel and is flaky and light. It does have a unique taste to it.

Popcorn Oil

The smoke point of the oil you choose to pop your popcorn is critical. The smoke point is the temperature when the oil breaks down, and it no longer provides any value. When the oil breaks down, it means that they are not effective in your popcorn maker and will burn. Burning the oil could change the nutritional value of your popcorn. There are some oils that will not impact the natural taste of the popcorn, while others enhance the flavor making it richer.

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Coconut Oil

A small bottle and bowl of coconut oil beside coconuts and a bowl of coconut cubes on a wooden surface.

Coconut oil is the most common and popular oil found in movie theater popcorn. Refine coconut oil has a smoke point between 350 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. It has a flavor and odor that is neutral. This oil is high in saturated fat, which can help burn fat while reducing the risk of heart disease. If too much-refined coconut oil is used, it can impact the flavor of any seasoning put on the popcorn.

Canola Oil

A bottle of canola oil poured on a small bowl beside canola flowers.

Canola oil is an affordable oil. It has a clean and mild odor and flavor. It has a high smoke point between 400 to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. It is high in monounsaturated fat as compared to its saturated fate. It may have GMO ingredients.

Sunflower Oil

Sunflower oil on a small jar and bowl beside a bowl of sunflower seeds and sunflowers on a rustic background.

Sunflower oil has a mid-range smoke point of 450 degrees Fahrenheit. It has a neutral odor and flavor. It contains vitamins including A, D, K, and E.

Avocado Oil

A small jar of avocado oil beside sliced avocados on a gray cloth.

Avocado oil has an incredibly high smoke point of 520 degrees Fahrenheit. Avocado oil does tend to be a more expensive oil to use. Refined avocado oil has a clean neutral odor and flavor. Avocado oil that is not refined has a mild buttery and slightly nutty flavor. It is high in healthy fat and antioxidants.

Types of Popcorn Makers

Microwave Popcorn Maker

Microwave Popcorn Maker

A microwave popcorn maker is obviously one that is used in the microwave. The ability to put it in the microwave gives you an incredible amount of convenience. You can pop up fluffy and healthy popcorn in just a few minutes. Using a microwave popcorn maker does not contain any of the harmful ingredients you will find in the prepackaged microwave popcorn bag.

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A typical microwave popcorn maker is constructed of a borosilicate glass that is temperature safe. You can also find them made from plastic or silicone. If you opt for a plastic version, be sure to check that it is BPA-free.

Plastic is still allowed to contain BPA, and you do not want that in your popcorn. The popcorn popper lid is usually silicone. It can be used to measure your kernels and to melt butter. You can easily add some butter inside the top, and as it heats, the butter melts and mix into your popcorn.

A microwave popcorn popper cooks your popcorn quickly, in about two to four minutes. You can expect that with 12 cups of popcorn. If your popper holds more or less, it will vary the popping time. Many poppers will hold about 15 cups of kernels.

These machines are easy to use. You measure the appropriate amount of kernels and oil. Then you set the temperature on your microwave. Many of them have popcorn buttons. Wait a few minutes, and just like that, you have delicious popcorn.

If you enjoy healthy, fresh popcorn quickly, this is a great choice. You can find a microwave popcorn maker in a variety of colors and styles. Most microwave poppers are easy to clean by simply wiping them with a soapy and damp sponge. Many are also dishwasher safe. Using a microwave popcorn maker is fast, easy, and inexpensive.


  • You do not have to use oil.
  • It has a fast average cooking time.
  • An affordable option.
  • Easy to clean.
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  • You need a pair of oven mitts.
  • They get incredibly hot.
  • Some bowls that are plastic or silicone may stain.

Stovetop Popcorn Maker

Franklin's Original Whirley Pop Stovetop Popcorn Machine Popper. Delicious & Healthy Movie Theater Popcorn Maker. FREE Organic Popcorn Kit. Makes Popcorn Just Like the Movies.

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A stovetop popcorn maker is ideal for making a large amount of popcorn without sacrificing the quality of your popcorn. Many feel that popcorn made in a stovetop popcorn maker closely mimics the taste of popcorn in a movie theater.

A stovetop popcorn popper is typically made of aluminum or stainless steel. They are an affordable and durable option. This popcorn makes it simple to use on top of the stove.

A popcorn maker looks similar to a pot with a lid that you would typically put on the stove. The one exception is the cover has a crank that acts as a mechanism to stir the kernels inside. The crank keeps the kernels moving and prevents them from burning and sticking to the bottom of the pot.

You have to control the heat for yourself so that the popcorn does not burn. When the spinner is harder to turn, and the popping has slowed down, those are indicators that your popcorn is done and ready to enjoy.

Stovetop popcorn makers heat quickly and do not need much oil to pop the best tasting and healthiest popcorn. While the kernels are popping, you are able to add any type of seasoning you would like to the popcorn. You do have to be mindful while the popcorn is popping. You must control the heat because if the kernels get too hot, they will burn. Stovetop popcorn makers are easy to clean by wiping with a dry towel.

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  • Makes a large volume of popcorn.
  • An inexpensive option.
  • Easy to clean.
  • Simple process to use.


  • Requires manual labor to turn the crank.
  • You must control the amount of heat.
  • You have to pay attention while the popcorn is popping.

Electric Popcorn Maker

Hamilton Beach Electric Hot Oil Popcorn Popper, Healthy Snack Maker, 24 Cups, Red (73302)

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An electric popcorn maker plugs into an electrical outlet with a cord. The cord can be wrapped under or in some way around the machine when it is not being used. Wrapping the cord helps to make it more compact for storage when not in use. The electric popcorn maker is a simple to use machine, but it is essential to make sure the lid is securely attached. Otherwise, you may have hot kernels flying at you.

The electric popcorn maker has a lid on it that acts as a serving bowl when the popcorn is finished popping. The bowl is easy to clean. All you have to do is throw it in the dishwasher. The rest of the machine just needs a wipe down with a damp cloth. If you do not like a stovetop popper, an electric popper may be the right one for you.


  • Easy to use.
  • Simple to clean.


  • May cook unevenly.
  • Your popcorn may burn.
  • It may spit kernels out of the machine.

Hot Air Popcorn Maker

Hot Air Popcorn Maker beside a bowl of popcorn.

Hot air popcorn makers are also referred to as air poppers. They are small appliances that fit in your kitchen. Their sole purpose is to circulate hot air around popcorn kernels to make them ‘pop.’ These machines have a spigot on the front of them that shoots popcorn out of it into your bowl. This machine utilizes a fan that is built into the popper. It is usually hidden and built into the main compartment of the popcorn maker.

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The hot air popper does not require butter or oil. After you turn on the popper, it takes a few minutes to heat up, and then it starts sending popcorn out of the front. The hot air popper produces light and fluffy popcorn. There is no oily feel with this type of popcorn.

The air popper often comes with a measuring cup on top of the popper, which allows you to measure your kernel. It acts as a butter melter. You can put your butter in the measuring cup, and the butter melts as the popcorn pops.

Once your popcorn is finished, you can pour your melted butter on it. You can create buttery popcorn just the way you like it. Just that fast you have homemade popcorn. The air popper tends to be incredibly durable and stays cleaner. There is no oil build-up in the popper, helping it stay clean.


  • Come in many styles and colors.
  • Easy to clean.
  • Easy to use.
  • Consistently freshly popped popcorn.
  • A healthy way to cook popcorn.


  • They are an expensive option.

Campfire Popcorn Maker

6252 Great Northern Popcorn Pit Popper Campfire Firepit Popcorn Popper - Theater Popcorn Outdoors!

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A campfire popcorn maker is one that is used over an open flame. It can be used on a fire or a grill. This type of popcorn maker is usually some type of metal. These are durable, strong, and convenient popcorn makers. Campfire popcorn makers are lightweight and easy to carry anywhere you need to go.

It has a box with a lid and a long metal pole with some type of handle at the end. The handle is usually wood or some material that will not get hot. This way, you do not burn your hands while popping your popcorn. This maker is easy to clean with a quick wipe of a towel.

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  • Easy to use.
  • Convenient to use while camping.


  • Must be used over some type of open flame.
  • May only be able to make a limited amount of popcorn.

Commercial Popcorn Maker

Commercial Popcorn Maker

A commercial popcorn maker is also referred to as a professional popcorn maker. A commercial popcorn maker will be the most expensive option you look at buying. They run from $150 to $400. They provide a significant amount of durability, quality, and convenience.

A commercial popcorn maker is a large machine that will take up a lot of room. It does not store well. If you plan to host a lot of parties or movie nights, this may be the best machine for you. This machine is easy to use and does not require many ingredients. All it needs is standard popcorn, salt, and butter or oil.

These machines offer a variety of features, but you may not need or want them. It is essential to know what a machine offers because you may be paying for something you will not use. One of the features is a holding tray that is metal.

The holding tray is at the top of the machine, and it can not be on when the popcorn machine is on. You fill the holding tray with kernels and add your salt and oil. Then you have to close the top before you can turn on the machine. Before you know it, you have freshly popped popcorn. It is a commitment to purchase a commercial popcorn machine.


  • Incredibly durable.
  • It makes a large amount of popcorn.
  • Simple to use.
  • It offers many features.
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  • This machine is an expensive option.
  • Take up a large amount of room.


What Are the Best Type of Popcorn Makers?

There are many different types of popcorn makers available on the market. If you are looking for a solid overall popcorn maker, you want to consider the Cuisinart Easypop Hot Air Popcorn Popper. If you are looking for the best value for your money, you should consider a different Cuisinart popcorn popper.

You want to consider the Cuisinart Pop and Serve Popcorn Maker. The Nordic Ware Microwave Popcorn Popper is ideal if you are interested in cooking popcorn only in your microwave. If you prefer to cook your popcorn on the stovetop, you should consider the Whirley-Pop Stovetop Popcorn Popper.

Is Popcorn Allowed on the Keto Diet?

The Keto diet tends to be somewhat restrictive, and there are some variations of it that are more restrictive than others. Popcorn when cooked in a healthy manner, means no butter fits well into the limit of 50 grams of net carbs per day. Popcorn has only about 90 calories per serving.

Is a Popcorn Maker Worth the Cost?

Depending on the popcorn maker you select, they can have a wide variety of costs. You can find a durable and consistent popcorn machine for around $25. You should consider looking for one that has a surface that is non-stick. This helps make clean up a snap.

If you have a stirring arm on your popcorn maker, you can reduce the number of unpopped kernels you have mixed in with your popped popcorn. When you get into the more expensive models, they are bigger and pop more popcorn. If you have a home theater in your basement, this might be the style that you want.

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What Popcorn Tastes Most like Movie Theater Popcorn?

If you want your popcorn to taste as much as it can to the popcorn you are going to get from the movie theater, then you want to look for Orville Redenbacher. This popcorn has a smooth and buttery flavor. This flavor is also distributed evenly all over the popcorn, which is an added bonus.

What is a Healthy Amount of Popcorn to Eat?

It is important to ask how much is a healthy amount of popcorn. Popcorn is one of those snacks that are easy to keep snacking. Even when you feel like you do not want anymore, you will continue to eat. Plain popcorn is a healthy snack, but there still needs to be a limited place for it. A proper portion of the popcorn is about 25 grams to 30 grams.

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