Updated: June 8, 2015
Popcorn Machine Reviews:Many of us grew up using Jiffy Pop or some other kind of "instant popcorn" that you place over your stove and the pan shaped package slowly heated up and popped the corn inside. These became fire hazards and were slowly taken off the market as microwaves were first introduced into homes. Microwaveable popcorn is not bad and pops pretty fast. Just add a little butter or salt and you have theater quality popcorn right in the comfort of your living room. What if you need to make larger quantities of popcorn? Lots of homeowners have put in home theaters and like the convenience of having a popcorn machine in their house so that they can feed all their guests. We've all seen the commercial sized popcorn makers in the movie theater or at the local fair. You can now buy popcorn machines for your home that resemble and function almost exactly like the professional ones.
Buying Guide - Popcorn makers are pretty simple to operate and buying one is not too difficult. When purchasing a popcorn maker, think about how many people you will be popping popcorn for on average. The popcorn machine kettle size is what will determine your decision. The size of the kettle refers to the approximate # of 1 oz popped popcorn servings it will produce in standard cycle (takes about 3 to 4 minutes). A 6 oz popcorn machine will yield 6 one-ounce popcorn servings each time, a little over what you get from a microwaveable bag of popped popcorn. The smallest popcorn machines are 4 oz kettles and the largest offer over 20 ounces. For personal use in your home or even light industrial use, experts say go with the 4 to 6 oz models so that you guarantee you get enough with each popping. Eight ounce popcorn machines provide enough popcorn for social clubs, large break rooms, restaurants, small bars, waiting rooms, etc. The larger volume 12 and 16 ounce popcorn machines are meant for commercial areas like zoos, amusement parks, stadiums, snack bars and theaters. The higher the wattage of your popcorn machine, the faster the cook time. Reviewers say go with the 860 watt machines or more for best results, although the 480 and 640 watt poppers work fine too (just take a little longer). The controls on a popcorn machine are usually for 1 of 3 things. They control the stirrer, the warming light, and the heating element for the kettle. High end popcorn machines will have all 3 switches but budget models may only have 2. With cheaper popcorn makers you will find that the heating element and stirrer are combined into 1 of the buttons. With the preheat stage taking 5-7 minutes in long end popcorn machines, this means you will have a noisy kettle during this time. Nevertheless, the end result is still good, flavorful popcorn that the whole family can enjoy. Homeowners can purchase premeasured popcorn packs that they pour into the machine and let it go to work. Cleaning these machines is not as hard as you may imagine since the "kernel tray" slides right out with the excess drippings and small pieces. You can get an entry level popper for around $250, while a 6 oz popcorn machine costs between $400-$800 and the 16 oz models are well over $1200. You can browse the up-to-date list of best-selling popcorn machines here.
Best Popcorn Machine (4 oz, 6 oz, 8 oz):We decided to breakdown this category into 3 clear winners since not everyone needs to buy the same size popcorn machine and kettle. We divided the top rated popcorn makers into 4 oz, 6 oz, and 8 oz so pick the one that fits your needs most. You can find most of these popcorn machines and many more on sites like Popcornmachinesdirect.com or Concessionstands.com if Amazon is out of stock.
Movie Time 4 oz. Popcorn Machine ($250) is the Best 4 oz Popper on the market. It's built for home use and makes the perfect addition to any home theater with its authentic look and style. Features all steel construction and tempered plexi-glass, a stainless steel 4 oz kettle with dual hinged lids and a built-in stirring system. Comes with a kernel catcher and warming light. Many owners say it's truly a novelty item that is a great "conversation piece" at parties. The Movie Time popcorn machine does pop corn ok, but several reviewers say it leaves quite a few unpopped kernels at the bottom. We also like the popcorn cart look of the Nostalgia Electrics CCP509 Full-Size Popper, perfect for a home theater setting, it wins rave reviews from customers and, of course, puts out delicious popcorn.
Top 6 Oz Popcorn Maker: The top rated machine at this level is the Paragon Theater Pop 6 oz. Popcorn Machine ($460) with quality and construction similar to commercial popcorn machines for much less. The stainless steel and aluminum materials along with tempered glass panels make this unit easy to clean. The heat warming deck is ideal for keeping your popcorn fresh and warm. The removable clean-out tray and old-maid drawer catch un-popped kernels. The popping cycle is about 3 minutes and yields 113 ounces of popcorn per hour. Other top features include a side-hinged popcorn machine kettle and a hard-coat anodized aluminum popcorn machine kettle.
The Contempo Popcorn Machine ($550) is the perfect choice for 8 ounce popcorn makers (they also make 4 and 6 ounce size machines as well). Their modern smoked glass side panels and streamlined style make any kitchen or theater room come alive. This unit is user friendly, easy to maintain, and saef to use. You get a high output, hard coat anodized aluminum kettle with a side-hinge mechanism, stainless steel foodzone, and a presentation lamp. The countertop model is great in homes as well as bars or clubs.