Microwave popcorn is often more convenient and often quicker than traditional popcorn poppers, but it doesn’t have the same taste. There are several different models and types to choose from that offer the best control over your popcorn experience and let you perfect your batch. It gives you fluffy and seasoned popcorn instead of the soggy and buttery microwavable kind. You will need to know how to properly use it to create a perfect batch, however.
Types of Popcorn Machines / Makers
There are a few styles of popcorn makers, and even commercial-styled machines come with home sized models. This includes theater-styled popcorn machines with a door and a popcorn chamber for all the popped kernels. The popcorn popping element comes from the machine which is typically hanging from the top. The popcorn then falls out into the chamber as it pops to be collected.
The designs more geared towards at-home use are the stirring popcorn and hot air popcorn machines. These are both simple devices that you can use on your kitchen counter easily. Both types require little of your time and usually function by filling it and letting it run. They function slightly differently, but ultimately give you a relatively simple result.
These machines aren’t difficult to use and this guide will give you the basic information for all types to see what’s best for you.
How to Use Your Hot Air Popcorn Popper
Step 1: Set Up Your Machine
To set up your hot air popcorn popper for use, you simply need to plug it in and place a bowl or cup under to collect the popcorn. Make sure it’s placed in a way that will allow the popcorn to be caught when it comes out of the hot air popper.
Step 2: Fill the Machine
Measure the kernels that you’d like to pop in your popcorn popper. This is a personal preference but placing between a half cup and three-quarters of a cup is normally a good amount. Pour them into the top of the machine in the maker.
Step 3: Prepare to Pop
Place the plastic guard on the top of the popcorn maker to ensure your kernels do not pop out of the machine before they have correctly popped. The top piece can sometimes also be a measuring tool before you use the machine. Some machines that offer this function will melt butter in the measuring cup simultaneously while the popcorn pops.
Measure how much butter you would like to be on your popcorn and place it on top of the machine in the measuring cup. As your machine pops the kernels, it will also heat up the butter. Once your popcorn is done popping into the bowl, you can then just pour the butter on top. If your machine does not have one of these features you can melt butter in the microwave for about 30 seconds before pouring it over the popcorn.
Step 4: POP!
Turn your popcorn popper on and let it run until the kernels finish popping and your bowl is filled. You can turn the machine off once you’re done popping and your bowl is filled.
Step 5: Season and Eat
If you melted butter, pour it on and add any additional flavoring. If you just want to eat your popcorn plain, you are ready to eat.
If you’d like to top your popcorn off with seasoning, there are many seasonings besides salt that you can add for your snack. Then you are all set.
How to Use Your Stirring Popcorn Popper
Step 1: Seal the Popper
Most stirring popcorn machines have a top cover that doubles as a bowl to serve your popcorn in. These lids usually fasten and lock around the bottom portion of the machine. Flip the bowl upside down and connect it to the bottom piece of the stirring popcorn machine. Make sure you lock it down so that it is tight and sealed correctly.
Step 2: Add Your Ingredients
Once your machine is sealed, it should be ready to pop as soon as you completely close the top. Some people think only kernels go into the machine, and while they are the most important, you will also need to add in some additional oil to cook in a stirring machine. The portions will make the ratios different. You can look at other suggestions by online, with the specific company directions, or try it out yourself.
Almost all stirring style popcorn machines will have removable lids so you can quickly and easily add your ingredients. Place your kernels and oil in there and you should be ready to turn your machine on.
Step 3: Melt and Pop
Most modern stirring popcorn machines will have a specific area for the kernels on the top. Like air popcorn poppers, the removable lid will often work as a place to heat and melt your popcorn. Some of these models even have a hole or holes that allow butter throughout the bowl and evenly on the popcorn.
Step 4: Start the Popper
Turn the machine on once you have everything the way you want it and wait for your popcorn to pop. If it’s operating properly, it should stir the popcorn with its mechanical arms and the popcorn will pop up to ensure that it is being cooked and the toppings are spread evenly.
Some stirring popcorn machines will have timers, and it can be tricky to properly gauge the popcorn. You don’t want to leave them in too long and burn them and it’s a good idea to listen for when the kernels once they stop popping regularly. As the popping starts to slow down you can turn off the machine.
Step 5: Season and Dig In!
You can get creative and personal with your seasoning. Season your popcorn the way you like by adding salt or any other toppings you have available. Many people will suggest seasoning it after you’ve got the popcorn in the bowl so that you cut down on your clean-up responsibilities.
Using Your Theater Popcorn Machine
Step 1: Add Kernels and Oil
Old theater styled popcorn poppers similar to ones that you’d find when you go to the movies work much the same as the stirring popcorn machines that you’d use at home. They both have stirring arms that keep kernels popping and are seasoned evenly. They usually have doors on the side and you won’t need to load from the top.
Add the kernels with the oil to the popping mechanism in the machine so that you can get your popcorn popping. Usually this hangs from the top and gives you a place to put the main ingredients. The popcorn will flow out over this popping area as it pops and falls into the machine where it can be gathered and distributed.
Step 2: Start the Machine
These will mostly come equipped with switches rather than electrical plug switches. Once you have the right ingredients you’ll be good to turn the machine on. Once you no longer hear popping, turn the machine off from preventing burning or malfunction.
Step 3: Scoop to Serve
These machines will often be cooking serving sizes for large quantities of people. You’ll want to scoop the popcorn out of the machine once it’s completed into a serving container large enough for your portions. Some popcorn machines of this quality come with holes at the bottom of the chamber where kernels that do not get properly popped will go.
Step 4: Add Toppings and Eat
Whether you like your popcorn as is or with some toppings, your popcorn is ready to serve.
Popcorn poppers have been around for decades and were available before the microwave.
Although microwavable bags are much easier and more convenient to make, popping popcorn with a traditional popcorn popper will offer a significant quality improvement and a product that is light, fluffy, and airy instead of soggy or oily. You also have the freedom to add as much toppings as you would like rather than be stuck with what is offered in the bag. This lets you either load your popcorn with butter and salt or modify to make healthier.