Let's face it: popcorn is the ideal snack. It's quick, easy, and healthy, rivalling only pillow forts in making movie nights more magical. The best popcorn maker one-ups the microwave on flavour or health factor by ensuring kernels are evenly-heated for the perfect pop. We spent hours researching Australia's top popcorn makers, so you can spend less time shopping and more time watching Simpsons episodes back-to-back.
How we picked
Popcorn makers occupy an unusual space in the world of gadgets. There are broadly 3 kinds to choose from - electric air poppers, stovetop poppers, and microwave poppers. Because they span more than one category, we started out by doing some good old-fashioned virtual window shopping. After checking in with major kitchenware and appliance retailers, we added some of the best-reviewed popcorn makers to our list.
Next, we looked at ProductReview.com.au to cross-check our findings. Only 2 electric popcorn makers had been reviewed by a handful of Aussies, so we took these reviews into account. We'd usually look at CHOICE, Australia's biggest consumer advocacy group, too, but they haven't reviewed popcorn makers. Lastly, we compared our findings side-by-side, weighing up reviews, cost, quality, and ease of use. This is how we ended up with our list of Australia's best popcorn makers.
Types of popcorn makers
There are a few different kinds of popcorn maker out there, from microwave to stovetop, with electric air poppers being the most popular.
Electric air poppers are big with Aussies because they're cheap and easy to use without creating too many extra dishes. Most retail at under $50, and require you to pour a small amount of kernels into a chamber. Hot air is blown into the chamber, which prevents the popcorn from burning while heating kernels to popping temperature. The cons of electric machines are that they can sometimes take a little while to heat up, and will often leave some kernels unpopped at the end.
Microwave popcorn makers let you make microwave popcorn without as much oil or packaging as ready-to-microwave bags. You also have more control over the flavour of the popcorn, as you can add just the right amount of butter or seasoning, or use a different kind of oil in your popcorn maker. The downside is that these makers can be bulky, and often require a little bit of oil to prevent burning or sticking.
Stovetop popcorn makers are the original popcorn machines. Popcorn was invented by Indigenous peoples across the Americas thousands of years ago, and clay pots have been found in Inca ruins with popcorn kernels still inside. Many people still use a pot on the stove to make popcorn, but stovetop popcorn makers are purpose-designed with a special hand-crank to keep kernels moving as they heat. These popcorn makers are usually made of aluminium.
What's the healthiest popcorn maker?
In short - an air popper or an electric popcorn maker are the healthiest popcorn makers. This is because they don't require oil to pop your popcorn, resulting in a snack lower in saturated fat. Electric popcorn makers and air poppers have a heating element inside, and require you to pour the popcorn kernels down into the chamber. Hot air circulates around the kernels, until they're hot enough to pop. This usually forces the popcorn up and out of the machine down a chute, into a waiting bowl for you to eat.
Are popcorn makers worth it?
It may seem silly to invest in a popcorn maker if you already have a microwave, but there are many good reasons to buy a popcorn maker. It's quicker and faster to make popcorn in an electric air popper compared to the stovetop. Electric popcorn makers also make clean-up a breeze, as you just wash the bowl the popcorn was in. They're also relatively cheap, often retailing at under $50.
You also have much more control over the flavour of your popcorn, as well as the fat or oil content. Popcorn makers are also more eco-friendly than bagged popcorn. If you eat a couple of bags a week, switching to a popcorn maker means you're saving on most of that packaging. In short, popcorn makers may be an easier, faster, tidier, and more sustainable way of making popcorn.
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