When you decide to buy a new popcorn popper you need consider quality, speed of delivery and the technology. There are four main poppers which include: microwave poppers, stovetop poppers, hot air poppers and hot oil poppers.
One of the simplest methods for a quick popcorn snack is to use a dedicated microwave. Their best advantages include the capacity. You can easily prepare popcorn for your whole family, your friends or even a party. They are also very easy to clean which is great for people who need a solution which doesn`t require much maintenance and time investment.
Microwave poppers are also known for the uniform cooking which will ensure you will get less burnt pieces. Due to the technology, the microwave spreads the heat evenly through the popcorn and can even spread the seasonings better than other machines. In terms of energy, these machine don`t require much to run. They are powered by electricity and can come with various features which save energy. Most high-end poppers also have the ability to keep the popcorn warm with the lid, which is great if you plan an evening in advance and need a few servings available your guests at any time.
So how does a microwave popper look like? It typically comes in a shape of a bowl with a lid which pops one the popcorn is ready. This simple system allows your popcorn to be healthier as it doesn`t come with all the added additives which may come with some bagged popcorn. A typical preparation require from 2 to 4 minutes. Some models require no effort and they come specially designed for butter topping. There are models which allow you to place a piece of butter on the top of the lid which will melt and cover the popcorn. This simple method ensure you don`t need to mix the butter or even use a spoon, just place it on top of the lid and let it melt.
All of the microwave poppers are microwave safe and can be made from different, resistant, materials. Some poppers are made from laboratory glass which can resist to high temperatures and can even be washed in a dishwasher. On good feature to consider is a handle. Even if it gets warm it will not get heated beyond the point where you can`t handle it with your hands. This is great if you need to transfer the popcorn into a bowl or cups. The material of the handle can be similar to the material of the lid and may involve silicone which maintains good properties when heated.
One of the best features to look for with a microwave popper is to control the level of butter which goes in the popcorn. You want to ensure you stay on the healthy side by not adding too much butter into your popcorn. This is why systems which allow you to add the butter to your liking are the future of microwave poppers.
Another good reason to use a microwave popper is to save money. Because you won`t be using any bags and will be reusing the popper you can save money on the long term. If you want to make popcorn every weekend this can add up in time. Coupled with less burnt or un-popped kernels you will be saving more than compared to most other alternatives.
Stovetop poppers might resemble old-school methods but they still have their own fans. They go directly onto the stove which can be electric or gas powered and come in various sizes which can cater from one to multiple persons. You can prepare popcorn for your whole family on the movie night by using the simple stovetop technique which is how popcorn was made for years.
One of the best benefits of using a traditional stovetop poppers is that you`ll have less unpopped kernels. They are also made using a heating method which is safer and healthier for you than a microwaved option.
Another big advantage of a stovetop popper is that you can control the spices which go into your popcorn. When you buy a bag for microwaving you don`t know exactly what you eat unless you read the ingredients list. Often times, this is a long list which will make you wonder what types of foods you eat in the first place. With a stovetop popper you can buy plain kernels yourself and add whichever ingredients you prefer.
Another reason to buy a stovetop popper is the extended warranties which you get with most products. It is not unusual to see a popper with 25 years of warranty. This is due to the simple design which doesn`t require any electric. It`s also due to the high quality, resistant, materials which manufacturers use.
A stovetop popper is also quite fast. You can expect to make popcorn for the whole family in less than 5 minutes which is great for a quick solution on nights spent at home. It is also very easy to clean. Due to the high quality materials you can wash it by hand or in a dishwasher without having to worry about the lifetime of the product.
The best feature to look for in a stovetop popper is a good handle which doesn`t get heated. This can be made from wood and you need to ensure the wood has the capacity to last as long as the metal container and lid.
But wooden handles are not the best in every situation. If you are out camping and want to make some popcorn on a campfire you need to ensure the design of the poppers allows you to safely do this. Because of safety precautions you also need to ensure the popper doesn`t easily tip over. One of the downsides of a stovetop popper is that you need to watch it all the time, especially if you have kids around. With a microwave you have the safety of the timer and of the outside of the machine which is safe to touch. With a stovetop popper you need to ensure you let it cool before you touch anything besides the handle or before you start cleaning it.
Hot air poppers
Hot air poppers are a good alternative for a healthy snack. Since you won`t be using any oils cooking the popcorn you can reduce the calories to 93 for 3 cups of popcorn. This makes it one of the healthiest options for cooking popcorn for the whole family.
A hot air popper can also be faster than a microwave. This is possible due to the smaller heating surface which is compact and concentrates air heat better. If you decide to buy an air popper you need to be able to place it in the kitchen next to a plug. The good news is that most poppers are small in size and don`t require much effort to maneuver.
Because you will get a smaller machine which need to heat a smaller surface you will also save on your energy bills. Coupled with the 40% reduced calories due to the lack of oil for cooking you will be saving money each time you prepare popcorn.
Some models come with useful design which can direct the popped kernels into a bowl or container of your choice. This way you will be able to serve popcorn in cups or a bigger container straight from the popper without having to get your hands dirty.
One of the downsides of an air popper is the reduced warranty when compared against a stovetop popper. This is due to the technology and electrical components which could break down after a few years. If you decide to buy an air popper, make sure you look for a model which comes with at least 2-3 years of warranty.
Another downside of using an air popper is the use of salt. As you don`t use any oil to cook, salt will not stick to the popcorn. But it`s not all bad news as you can buy an oil spray and top the popcorn with salt to your liking. You can also spray the top and bottom part of the air popper with oil and add salt to your popcorn. This way, when the kernels pop, they will cover in salt.
A major advantage of an air popper is the ability to prepare other foods also. As some machines prove to be versatile enough, you can even roast coffee beans for a fresh cup of coffee. Or you could even roast nuts as a snack or to make a delicious desert.
Some high-end models also come with a stirring rod. This is a simple mechanism which will ensure all your kernels will pop and not get burnt. It will also make for a good salt coating if you decide to use salt. Some air poppers also come with a small container for the butter which melts as the kernels pop and get stirred for an even distribution if the device comes with a stirring rod.
Hot oil poppers
Hot oil poppers use similar technology to air poppers. The only difference is that you need to add oil and wait for the kernels to pop. You can also add your desired butter and salt levels and plug the popper to have popcorn done in minutes.
There are a few reasons why a hot oil popper might be a cheaper option to the alternatives. First, you don`t need to buy any premade bags. This saves you money on each purchase as you can buy your own kernels and cook them in bigger quantities for your family or friends. Then you can add all you preferred ingredients which will make your popcorn healthier. You can avoid all the preservatives which might go into a traditional bag of popcorn. You can add pure salt or even butter and other topping for a quick snack on movie night.
Top features to look for in a popper
Regardless of your final option, there are some features which apply across the range for all models. Here are the most popular features:
Capacity is important if you decide to prepare popcorn for other people also. It may even be a good idea to buy a larger popper in case you have friends coming over in the future. This will save you time.
If you go for a stovetop option you will get an extended warranty and the product may even last a lifetime. If however you decide to buy an electrical option you need to ensure you get at least 2 years of warranty which should cover a wide range of situations.
A stirring system
Stirring mechanism don`t come as standard with most poppers. But having this feature will ensure you get better popcorn, with less un-popped kernels and with better butter and salt distribution.
A cool handle
A handle which stays cool is very important, especially with stovetop options as you need to ensure you can easily move the popper without getting burnt. Some of the best poppers come with cool-touch handles while the stovetop poppers can come with wooden handles which makes handling easier.
Adding seasoning should be an easy option. Most electric poppers now come with storage for seasoning which makes them easier to use. Make sure you get the best options with the largest seasoning containers as you may need more seasoning when you prepare popcorn for your entire family.
Regardless on which option you go for, you need to ensure you limit your caloric intake. It can be easy to indulge on popcorn during the whole movie time. If you have any cholesterol problems make sure to talk to your doctor on the allowed quantities. Or you could choose a stovetop popper which doesn`t need any oil and gives you the ability to control all the ingredients which go on the popcorn. You can even limit the salt seasoning as salt can retain body water.