A Buyer’s Guide to Popcorn Machines

A Buyer’s Guide to Popcorn Machines

In our previous entries, we’ve taken a closer look at the types of common popcorn kernels and oils. Now it’s time to discuss turning those two ingredients into popcorn—or, more specifically, the equipment you’ll need to do so. While a pan on the stovetop may be the most traditional method, it’s far from the safest or most efficient. That honor goes to the myriad of popcorn machines available today. But how do you decide which one meets your needs? 

The first, and probably most important, consideration is the popping capacity of the machine. Most of them will be rated for 4, 6, 8, 12, or 16 ounces, which describes the amount of popcorn the machine can produce in a single popping cycle (which usually takes 3 or 4 minutes to complete). In other words, a 4-ounce machine will make enough popcorn to fill 4 individual 1-ounce bags every 3-4 minutes—up to 80 ounces in an hour. A 6-ounce machine will produce up to 120 ounces per hour, and so on. For small home theaters, a 4-ounce popcorn machine is perfectly adequate. But for those looking to fill the largest theater-style tubs—which each hold 180 ounces of popcorn—a 12-ounce machine is recommended. 

The other consideration when choosing a popcorn machine is its added features, or lack thereof. The most popular are a warming tray, which keeps popped kernels warm while they hold in the machine, and an “old maid” tray, which collects unpopped kernels for disposal or reuse. Very few 4-ounce machines offer either feature, but most machines 6 ounces or larger include both. While the warming tray isn’t necessary for home theaters that pop smaller portions to serve, it’s crucial for anyone filling larger tubs because no machine will pop 90 or 180 ounces at one time. The “old maid” tray, on the other hand, is a quality-of-life improvement that cannot be overstated—it saves unpopped kernels from the waste bin and the bottom of your popcorn container. 

While purchasing a popcorn machine may be slightly more involved than choosing kernels or an oil, it doesn’t have to be complicated. At Home Theater Express, our customer service representatives are available to answer your questions online at ht-express.com and by phone at 1-800-774-0893.