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Best popcorn makers for the ultimate family film night

Whether it's for a family movie night, the kids are having a sleepover or you’re just making a healthy air-popped snack, a popcorn maker is a fun addition to any home. Here's our pick of the best.

By Mumsnet HQ | Last updated Aug 8, 2022

Popcorn

Getting the family together on a miserable rainy day to snuggle up and watch a film is pretty hard to beat, and nothing makes a more authentic movie night than the addition of a warm bowl of popcorn.

Of course, you can buy popcorn that’s ready-made but it’s often covered in an excessive amount of sugar and salt and, quite simply, it's not as fun as making your own. Making it yourself means you have control over what’s added to it whilst filling your home with that lovely, comforting popcorn smell.

A popcorn maker is simple and quick to use and with the theatre of watching the popcorn pop, it’s bound to be a hit at parties and sleepovers.

Popcorn makers come in all different shapes and sizes and employ various ways of cooking the corn, so we’ve selected a number of machines to cover all preferences, budgets and occasions.

Here are the best popcorn makers to buy in 2022.

1. Best overall popcorn maker: American Originals Popcorn Maker

American Originals popcorn maker

Price: £19 | Buy now from Argos

“I have an air popper I got from Argos a few years ago for about £20. It’s great.” (Retailer recommended by Mumsnet user TuftyMarmoset)

The American Originals Popcorn Maker is a bestseller and it comes with a number of excellent reviews. Users particularly liked the fact that it was extremely simple to use and only took three minutes to make around 40ml of popcorn. It will also look neat on any kitchen countertop and won’t take up too much space. 

Watching the popcorn fly out of the machine and into a bowl will provide valuable entertainment and, as this machine uses air to pop the kernels, it's a good option if you're wanting a healthier snack, although you can add butter, salt, sugar or flavourings depending on your preference.

Some reviewers did note that there were a few kernels left unpopped which could be a choking hazard, so do check carefully before giving a bowl to children.

Pros

  • Quick to make popcorn
  • Simple to operate
  • Air popper creates healthier popcorn
  • Looks sleek

Cons

  • May leave some kernels unpopped

Key specs

  • Type: Air popper
  • Capacity: Makes up to 40ml of popcorn
  • Power rating: 1100W
  • Dimensions: H30.5, W15, D18cm
  • Warranty: 1 year

2. Best budget popcorn maker: Brensten Collapsible Silicone Microwave Popcorn Popper

Housewares popcorn maker

Price: £11.99 | Buy now from Amazon

The Brensten Popcorn Popper offers a really simple way to make a portion of popcorn very quickly and comes with fantastic consumer reviews 

The popper comes with cool-touch handles and, as it’s for use in the microwave, you don’t run the risk of hot popcorn flying everywhere as it’s popping. This makes it a little safer than some air poppers and a great option for teenagers to use themselves.  

The clever design has a lid which sits inside and rises with the popcorn and the container can collapse to just over two inches in height when not in use, meaning this is an excellent option if you’re short on space.  

There’s also a stylish range of colours available. 

Pros

  • Safe to use
  • Takes up very little space 
  • Good value

Cons

  • Some reviewers said it took a little longer than the recommended three minutes to pop the corn

Key specs

  • Type: Microwave
  • Capacity: Not specified
  • Power rating: N/A
  • Dimensions: 21.1 x 20.6 x 6.9 cm
  • Warranty: 30-day full money back guarantee

3. Best popcorn maker with bowl: Lakeland Electric Popcorn Maker With Bowl

Price: £34.99 | Buy now from Lakeland 

Whilst watching the popcorn whizz out of a machine is a big part of the fun, it can be a bit of a safety hazard with little ones around, not to mention a bit of a chore to clean up if the bowl isn't positioned in the correct place.

We love that the Lakeland Popcorn Maker has a built-in bowl to catch wayward kernels. Do be aware a couple of reviewers said that they still found some of the popcorn escaped from the machine so make sure you don’t overfill it.

The machine makes 60g of popcorn in just two and a half minutes so is a great option if your children have got friends over for a sleepover or party.

Pros

  • Makes a lot of popcorn quickly
  • A built-in bowl means popcorn is less likely to escape
  • Three-year guarantee

Cons

  • Takes up a little more space than some models

Key specs

  • Type: Air popper
  • Capacity: 60g
  • Power rating: 1200W
  • Dimensions: 28.5 x 29 x 30.5cm 
  • Warranty: 3-year guarantee

4. Best microwave popcorn maker: Lékué Popcorn Maker

Lekue popcorn maker

Price: £20.90 | Buy now from Amazon

“We have this microwave one - it works well, is easy to clean, and takes up no room!” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user PetitsGateaux)

Microwave popcorn makers are usually a great option for families, as they are easy to store and use, plus they don't have the premium price tag that some of the larger cinema-style models have.

The Lékué is simple and safe to use and collapses right down, making it an excellent option if you’re short on space. It can also be popped in the dishwasher after use, so it's ideal for busy families. 

The Lékué Popcorn Maker comes in three different sizes too; one of them being a mini option for just under £10 that is great for small portions for one, helping to reduce excess waste. 

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Takes up very little space
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Small sizes available

Cons 

  • Some reviewers felt it took longer than the recommended time for the corn to pop

Key specs

  • Type: Microwave
  • Capacity: Not specified
  • Power rating: N/A
  • Dimensions: 14.5 x 20 x 20 cm
  • Warranty: Not specified

5. Best cinema-style popcorn maker: VonShef Retro Popcorn Maker

Price: £36.99 | Buy now from Amazon 

If you’re wanting an authentic family movie night or your children are having a sleepover, this model is bound to delight. Reviewers loved that it made warm and fluffy popcorn and was quick and easy to use. 

We love the retro design of the machine and the traditional cinema-style boxes which come with it are a lovely added touch.

Pros

  • Lovely retro design
  • Comes with vintage-style popcorn boxes 

Cons

  • Some reviewers felt the machine was prone to overheating if used a lot 

Key specs

  • Type: Air popper
  • Capacity: Not specified
  • Power rating: 1200W
  • Dimensions: 18.5 x 15 x 29.5 cm
  • Warranty: 2 years

6. Best small popcorn maker: Sensio Home Gourmet Popcorn Machine

Sensio popcorn maker

Price: £27.95 | Buy now from Amazon

Despite its compact size, this popcorn maker can still serve up a batch of popcorn in around three to five minutes.  It comes with a handy measuring jug too and has a one-touch operation, making it simple to use. 

The Sensio is a lot smaller than some of our other featured air popcorn makers so it won’t take up a great deal of space on kitchen worktops or in cupboards.

Whilst it had a wealth of five-star reviews, some did report that the Sensio was prone to overheating and didn’t always pop all of the kernels.

Pros

  • Smaller in size so a great option if you’re short on storage
  • Retro design
  • Super easy to operate

Cons

  • May overheat before all kernels are popped

Key specs

  • Type: Air popper
  • Capacity: Not specified
  • Power rating: 1200W
  • Dimensions: 24.9 x 24 x 14.3 cm
  • Warranty: Not specified

7. Best retro-style popcorn maker: Newthinking Hot Air Popcorn Maker

Price: £32.99 | Buy now from Amazon

The charming vintage design of the Newthinking Popcorn Maker is bound to delight children and adults alike. It doesn’t take up too much space either so you can keep it permanently on display.

Whilst many reviewers bought it for its aesthetic appeal they were keen to praise how well it worked, taking just two or three minutes to make a batch of popcorn with an easy one-touch operation. 

The manufacturers state that the machine must be switched off after 40 minutes of use to prevent overheating, however, so it's maybe not be the best option if you’re making a lot of popcorn in one go.  

Pros

  • Lovely design
  • Simple to use 

Cons

  • Can overheat if used for a long period of time 

Key specs

  • Type: Air popper
  • Capacity: 50g
  • Power rating: 1200W
  • Dimensions 16.6 x 23.6 x 36.7cm
  • Warranty: Not specified

8. Best electric popcorn maker for large families: Yabano Popcorn Maker

Price: £39.99 | Buy now from Amazon 

If your little one has got an army of friends over for a party or sleepover, the Yabano Popcorn Maker is just the thing you need – it takes just three minutes to cook an impressive five litres of popcorn (around 24 cups). 

It comes with a number of design features which make it safe and easy to use too. Firstly, it’s more enclosed than some other models so is less likely to fire popcorn around the room. It also comes with a flip design so once it’s done the dome can be turned upside down to create a large bowl for your popcorn - this design feature also means it will take up less space as the base plate can sit inside the bowl when stored away. The bowl is dishwasher safe too so cleaning up afterwards is much less of a task. 

The Yabano comes with a motorised stirring rod which helps to heat the popcorn more evenly ensuring fewer uncooked kernels. The manufacturers do recommend that you add a little butter or oil for the best results, however.

Pros

  • Makes a large amount of popcorn in a short space of time
  • Clever design touches make it easy to use, clean and store 

Cons

  • A little pricier than some models 
  • You’ll need to add butter or oil for the best results

Key specs

  • Type: Air popper with rotation blades
  • Capacity: 5 litres
  • Power rating: 800W
  • Dimensions: 35.6 x 30 x 24.9 cm
  • Warranty: Not specified 

9. Best stovetop popcorn maker: Great Northern Popcorn Company Stainless Steel Stove Top Popcorn Maker

Price: £74 | Buy now from Amazon

This stovetop model may be pricey, but it can make over 4 litres of popcorn in just a few minutes. Many people consider stovetop popcorn to have the best texture too, so if you're serious about your popcorn making, it's a great buy.

It features a wooden handle which remains cool throughout use, allowing you to keep the popcorn moving to ensure even cooking and fewer unpopped kernels. The pan is made from non-stick stainless steel, making it super easy to clean too.

While it can be placed directly on the hob, do be aware that this is not suitable for induction ranges.

Pros

  • Makes a lot of popcorn in a short space of time
  • Easy to clean
  • Great texture

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Takes more effort than other types of popcorn maker

Key specs

  • Type: Stovetop popcorn machine
  • Capacity: Around 4.73 litres
  • Power rating: N/A
  • Dimensions: 43.2 x 25.4 x 20.3 cm
  • Warranty: Not specified

How do popcorn makers work?

Popcorn makers heat the kernels of corn until the husk expands and pops. The starch in the kernel then turns into the fluffy pieces we recognise as popcorn.

An air popper will circulate hot air until the kernels have popped and then fire the cooked popcorn out of a small chute. A microwave model works in much the same way but will use a vented bowl to cook the popcorn.

An alternative way to make popcorn is by using a stovetop popcorn maker. This is a pan with the addition of a rotation device. It is placed directly on the hob and, as the popcorn is heating, you turn the handle to operate the rotation device which keeps the popcorn moving so it cooks evenly. 

What to look for in a popcorn maker 

  • Cost: If you just plan on using the popcorn machine on the odd occasion there's no need to spend a lot of money and a cheaper option will do the job. If you’re going to be using it more often then you may need to pay a little more. A good start are the microwave versions as they tend to be cheaper than the air popper machines.
  • Entertainment value: If your main reason for buying one is for healthier snacking, a microwave popcorn maker is probably the best option. However, if it’s going to be used to add a bit of fun to movie nights or when your children have friends over, the joy of a popcorn maker comes from watching the corn explode and fly out of the chute so you’ll probably want to purchase one of the air poppers.
  • Storage: Our selected popcorn makers vary significantly with regards to the amount of space they take up. Many of the microwavable options fold down to take up little space and some smaller streamlined models still produce a good amount of popcorn in a short space of time.

How to use a popcorn machine

This will depend on the type of machine you buy. Most of the air poppers offer a simple one-touch operation. A microwave popcorn maker comes with a vented bowl to put the uncooked kernels in.  The bowl is then placed directly into the microwave and cooked for the time specified by the manufacturer. If you opt for a stovetop one, it's likely you'll have to turn a handle to rotate the kernels.

Are popcorn makers safe?

You will need to exhibit some caution when it comes to using a popcorn machine. Whilst air poppers are a lot of fun, some machines tended to push out the corn at quite a speed, sending hot popcorn across the room. As long as you make sure little ones stand well back and are fully supervised there’s no reason why they can’t be used safely though. A popcorn maker with a bowl attached or lid over it is a great option as less corn will fly out but children still get to see the kernels popping.

There’s also a good chance that the machine won’t heat every kernel sufficiently, preventing it from popping. Check each portion carefully when serving younger children to avoid the choking hazard of a hard unpopped kernel. Machines with rotary blades tend to mean less unpopped kernels too. 

How do I make healthy popcorn?

Popcorn is naturally high in fibre and the healthiest way to eat it is to have it as it comes, without adding any flavourings. Many of our featured products can cook popcorn without needing to add any oil or butter. If the idea of plain popcorn doesn't appeal though, there are ways of enhancing the flavour without adding too much salt or sugar – see our section on flavouring popcorn below for more information.

Can you use butter or oil in a popcorn machine?

This will largely depend on how your chosen machine heats the corn. An air popper will most likely cook the corn without the addition of either – do check the manufacturer's guidelines, as some of the air poppers may burn the corn if you add fat to it. If you’re using something on the hob or a machine with a rotating blade, you’ll probably need to add oil or butter to prevent the popcorn from sticking.

Where can I buy popcorn for my popcorn machine?

Popcorn kernels are extremely easy to get hold of and are available in just about every supermarket and health food shop, such as Holland & Barrett. Tropical Sun Kernels from ASDA are particularly good value for money and Amazon offers a huge number of options.

What do I flavour popcorn with?

The first decision to make is to decide whether you want to go sweet or savoury. With both options, the best place to start is simply with melted butter, then for a sweet option add little brown sugar or cinnamon mixed with icing sugar. If it's savoury you’re after, add a sprinkle of salt or even some dried herbs.

If you’re feeling a little more adventurous you could add some spices or some toasted almonds and raisins for a more grown-up option.

There’s also a range of ready-made powders available to sprinkle over which serve as a quick and fun way to flavour your popcorn.

How do you clean popcorn makers?

This will depend on your machine, and you should check the instructions for cleaning and care directions.

Any part containing an electrical component can't be submerged in water so you’ll need to wipe it down separately. Often the attached bowls on air poppers or microwave options are dishwasher safe too. 

If you've opted for a stainless steel stovetop model, you’ll simply need to wipe it down with a clean, dry cloth or piece of kitchen roll.

Don’t forget to use a bit of anti-bac spray on buttons and handles too.

How we chose the best popcorn makers 

Recommendations from real Mumsnet users

Nothing will give you a better sense of whether something is worth buying than an honest, unbiased review from a real parent. That’s why our first port of call is always the Mumsnet forums where we trawl the Talk boards to find out recommendations and top tips from the Mumsnet community.

Expert opinions

To help us decide on our shortlisted products, we also took on board the top tips and advice from food industry experts to find out a little more about popcorn makers and which were the safest and most efficient ones to buy.

Authentic customer reviews

Finally, we looked at popcorn makers that were ranking highly on bestseller lists and those that had first-class reviews on retailer sites. We took into account what reviewers were saying regarding value for money, the time it took to make the popcorn and whether they were safe to use.

Why you should trust us 

We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.

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