Small Popcorn Machine Buyer’s Guide 2021 (Updated)

  • Author: Sue
  • Published: August 11, 2021
  • Time to read: 8 min.

Everyone loves popcorn! It is a delicious, light, and fluffy snack, and it is easy to make.

Microwave popcorn is easy, but it isn’t fresh and it contains preservatives and additives. When you have a popcorn machine, you can buy gourmet popcorn kernels and make a batch of popcorn in just a few minutes. A healthy snack and it can make movie night a lot of fun and kids love them!

Popcorn machines come in many different sizes and styles, and they range in cost from around $25 up. Most of them have surfaces that are non-stick, and they use a metal kettle and a stirring mechanism to pop as many kernels as possible. Continue reading to find the best small popcorn machine.

At a Glance – Best Small Popcorn Machines

West Bend Hot Oil Theater Style Popcorn Popper Machine with Nonstick Kettle Includes Measuring Tool and Serving Scoop, 4-Ounce, Red, 1 Count
Nostalgia OFP-501 Old Fashioned Popcorn Machine, 1040 W, 120 V, 12 Cup, Red
Pop Pup Countertop Popcorn Machine – Tabletop Popper Makes 1 Gallon – 2.5-Ounce Kettle, Catch Tray Warming Light & Scoop by Great Northern Popcorn
Elite Electric Tabletop Popcorn Kettle Maker, Retro Carnival, Warming Light (2.5Oz, Red)
Dash SmartStore™ Deluxe Stirring Popcorn Maker, Hot Oil Electric Popcorn Machine with Large Lid for Serving Bowl and Convenient Storage, 24 Cups – Aqua
EGOFINE Popcorn Poppers Machine, Home Electric Popcorn Maker Hot Air 1200W with Measuring Cup, ETL Certified, BPA Free, No Oil, Red
Product
West Bend Popcorn Machine
Nostalgia Old Fashioned Popcorn Machine
Pop Pup Countertop Popcorn Machine
Maxi-Matic Tabletop Popcorn Machine
Dash Deluxe Electric Popcorn Machine
Dash Hot Air Popcorn Maker
Size
10.27 x 10.87 x 17.72 inches
10.5 x 7.5 x 16.5 inches
9.75 x 11 x 18.75 inches
10 x 11.25 x 18.75 inches
13 x 13 x 10 inches
10.43 x 10.28 x 5.94 inches
Kettle Size
4 oz
1.92 oz
2.5 oz
2.5 oz
5.5 oz
0.5 oz
$55.99
$35.99
$69.89
$74.99
$39.99
$23.99
West Bend Hot Oil Theater Style Popcorn Popper Machine with Nonstick Kettle Includes Measuring Tool and Serving Scoop, 4-Ounce, Red, 1 Count
Product
West Bend Popcorn Machine
Size
10.27 x 10.87 x 17.72 inches
Kettle Size
4 oz
$55.99
Nostalgia OFP-501 Old Fashioned Popcorn Machine, 1040 W, 120 V, 12 Cup, Red
Product
Nostalgia Old Fashioned Popcorn Machine
Size
10.5 x 7.5 x 16.5 inches
Kettle Size
1.92 oz
$35.99
Pop Pup Countertop Popcorn Machine – Tabletop Popper Makes 1 Gallon – 2.5-Ounce Kettle, Catch Tray Warming Light & Scoop by Great Northern Popcorn
Product
Pop Pup Countertop Popcorn Machine
Size
9.75 x 11 x 18.75 inches
Kettle Size
2.5 oz
$69.89
Elite Electric Tabletop Popcorn Kettle Maker, Retro Carnival, Warming Light (2.5Oz, Red)
Product
Maxi-Matic Tabletop Popcorn Machine
Size
10 x 11.25 x 18.75 inches
Kettle Size
2.5 oz
$74.99
Dash SmartStore™ Deluxe Stirring Popcorn Maker, Hot Oil Electric Popcorn Machine with Large Lid for Serving Bowl and Convenient Storage, 24 Cups – Aqua
Product
Dash Deluxe Electric Popcorn Machine
Size
13 x 13 x 10 inches
Kettle Size
5.5 oz
$39.99
EGOFINE Popcorn Poppers Machine, Home Electric Popcorn Maker Hot Air 1200W with Measuring Cup, ETL Certified, BPA Free, No Oil, Red
Product
Dash Hot Air Popcorn Maker
Size
10.43 x 10.28 x 5.94 inches
Kettle Size
0.5 oz
$23.99

How Do Popcorn Machines Pop Popcorn?

Small popcorn machines often resemble movie theater-style popcorn machines, but they can fit on your counter. They don’t pop as much popcorn in each batch, but they work great at home when you don’t need more than a few servings.

They usually have tempered glass walls and a metal bottom and top. There is a heating element inside that heats the kettle. When it’s turned on, it heats the oil up above 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The popcorn is surrounded by oil and as the oil heats the kernel, the moisture inside turns to steam. It expands, which results in the pop.

popcorn popping

What to Look for in a Popcorn Machine

When you are choosing a popcorn machine, there are several factors that you should consider. The design of the machine matters because you will want to enjoy looking at it and it should fit in with your home decor. The size is important because you will need space for it. Small popcorn machines are much easier to place on your counter or a tabletop.

In addition, you should find a popcorn machine that is easy to clean. The kettle should be removable so that you can clean it and put it away. It should also have a stirring device. This helps to prevent the kernels from sticking to the kettle or burning. It will ensure that you get more popped kernels. The kettle and warming plate should also be non-stick to make cleaning easier.

The Best Small Popcorn Machines

When you are choosing the best small popcorn machines, you have a number of options. You should find one that is the ideal size and has the look you want. Take a look at some of the top picks:

West Bend Popcorn Machine

This popcorn machine by West Bend is perfect for anyone wanting a small popcorn machine. It is a four-quart machine with a four-ounce kettle, and it makes five to six servings of popcorn. It uses Stir Crazy stirring rod technology to make sure that the kernels don’t burn or stick to the kettle. The kettle is non-sticking and it tilts to dump the popcorn. It is also easy to remove for cleaning.

The popcorn machine has an old-fashioned look to it, and it is durable and sturdy. It comes with a measuring cup, tray, measuring spoon, and serving scoop, and it has a tilt door that makes it easy to serve. It is also easy to clean. It measures just 10.87”W x 10.27”DX x 17.72”H. It doesn’t require any preheating and people enjoy this popcorn machine.

Pros:

  • Is easy to use and clean
  • Doesn’t require preheating
  • Comes with accessories
  • Makes popcorn quickly

Cons:

  • Has a warm plastic smell the first few times that you use it

Nostalgia Old Fashioned Popcorn Machine

You can get a miniature version of an old-fashioned popcorn machine when you buy this model. Nostalgia resembles the popcorn machines from the theater and the base looks just like a miniature popcorn cart. It makes up to 12 cups of movie theater-style popcorn and you can order popcorn kits from the company.

This popcorn machine uses hot air in place of oil and you can add melted butter once it is finished popping. The popping chamber creates swirling air that helps to ensure that all of the kernels are popped. It is designed to be a replica of the popcorn stands from the early 1900s and it is easy to use, affordable, and the perfect size at 10.5” x 7.5” x 16.5”.

Pros:

  • Mimics old-fashioned popcorn machines with its attractive design
  • Is the perfect size for 12 cups of popcorn
  • Uses hot air so no oil is needed
  • Directs popped popcorn to a bowl for easy serving

Cons:

  • Not as easy to clean as other models

Pop Pup Countertop Popcorn Machine

This is a great small popcorn machine manufactured by the Great Northern Popcorn Company. It has a 2.5 ounce-kettle that makes around a gallon of popcorn in each batch, and it also has a 10W warming bulb at the top of the machine to keep your popcorn fresh and warm. It fits nicely on any countertop and it is a fun design that reminds you of the carnival or the fair.

This machine is built with stainless steel and has polycarbonate sides and a door, and it is durable. It has a two-switch system that operates the kettle heater and stirrer independently from the warming light. It comes with a slide-out serving tray that makes it simple to serve your popcorn once it is ready. It also has a measuring spoon, a measuring cup, popcorn bags, and an instruction manual. It measures 9.75”L x 11”W x 18.75”H.

Pros:

  • Attractively styled small popcorn machine
  • Two-switch operation that is easy to use and efficient
  • Serving tray and accessories
  • One gallon of popcorn per batch

Cons:

  • Some assembly required

Maxi-Matic Tabletop Popcorn Machine

This Maxi-Matic Popcorn machine is a traditional hot oil kettle popcorn maker. It is powered at 300 watts and it makes up to a gallon of popcorn in each batch. It has a 2.5-ounce stainless steel kettle that has a built-in stirring system, and there is a warming light to keep the popcorn hot and fresh.

It comes with a removable popcorn tray and the machine is designed with plexiglass windows and a plexiglass door. It is simple to use. You add kernels and oil to the kettle and turn it on. It comes with a measuring spoon and a measuring cup to make it easy. It is a countertop model that measures 10” x 11.25” x 18.75” and it weighs just 9.2 pounds.

Pros:

  • Small popcorn machine is easy to use
  • It comes with a removable popcorn tray
  • Warming light keeps popcorn fresh
  • Stainless steel kettle has stirring system to prevent kernels from burning or sticking

Cons:

  • Handle is inside the machine, and it gets hot

Dash Deluxe Electric Popcorn Machine

When you use the Dash Deluxe electric popcorn machine, you can enjoy up to 24 cups of movie theater-style popcorn in each batch. It has a stirring bat to make sure that all of the kernels pop without burning or sticking. It is easy to store because the base and the lid nest together. The lid has built-in measuring cups so it is easy to add the amount of popcorn that you want to make.

The popcorn maker includes a built-in butter melting tray that lets you add butter while it is cooking and it also has a steam vent to prevent smoke from building up. The built-in bowl is removed for easy transportation once your popcorn is ready. It is easy to use. You simply add the oil and the popcorn kernels and turn the machine on.

Pros:

  • It is easy to use with just one push button
  • It comes with butter melting tray
  • Lid flips over to become a bowl once it is ready
  • Steam vents prevent smoking

Cons:

  • None to mention. Very few customer complaints.

Dash Hot Air Popcorn Maker

This hot air popcorn maker from Dash is super quick and easy to use. You just add your popcorn kernels to the chamber and push the start button. It makes your hot, fresh popcorn in a few minutes and it is easy for everyone to use, including the kids. It doesn’t use any oil and it makes up to 16 cups of popcorn.

It includes a measuring cup that also works to melt butter while your popcorn pops and you can drizzle it over the popcorn once it is ready. It is compact and easy to store when you aren’t using it. It comes with a one-year warranty and they give you a recipe book so you can create all kinds of popcorn snacks.

Pros:

  • Is compact for easy storage
  • Is easy to use with one-touch start button
  • Has butter melter on top of machine
  • Makes 16 cups of popcorn in each batch

Cons:

  • Watch for kernels coming out while it is popping

Do You Have to Use Oil in Popcorn Machines?

popcorn oil

It is important to look at the instructions from each manufacturer to find out if you need to use oil. If they call for oil, it is important because the oil is what allows the kernels to pop.

In those machines, the oil surrounds the kernel and it is heated by the kettle. This heats the kernel and causes the moisture in the center to become steam and expand, ultimately leading to the pop. If you don’t use oil in these machines, many kernels may not pop at all or they may partially pop.

You can choose from different kinds of oil, so you do not have to use an unhealthy option. Some of the best oils to use for popcorn include the following:

  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Canola oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Peanut oil

Some of these oils have very little flavor and work with other toppings, while others add flavor and keep your popcorn light and healthy. When your machine calls for oil, you can choose any oil for each batch.

Are Popcorn Machines Easy to Clean?

Most companies make popcorn machines that are easy to clean. Look for a machine that has a removable kettle and tray, as this simplifies the cleaning process. You want to have easy access to wipe down the interior of the machine and it is important to clean it after each use. Your popcorn machine will last longer if you take care of it and if you do run into problems with your popcorn machine, often a good clean will sort it out.

Final Words

Having a small popcorn machine allows you to make popcorn any time you want it, but it doesn’t take up a lot of space in your home. Most of these machines can make anywhere from a few servings to a gallon of popcorn, and they are easy to use. You can choose a retro style, a hot air popper, or a bowl design and have fresh popcorn whenever you have a few minutes to prepare this delicious snack.

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