Enjoying the taste of theater made popcorn in your home provides the full movie experience for your movie room. When looking to purchase one of the best popcorn machines for home theaters, there are several things to consider. What size of popper will you need? How much popcorn do you want to be able to make at one time? What kind of appearance would you like to have? What kind of features do you want? This popcorn machine buying guide will provide you with a quick overview of popcorn machines in one simple place to help you make your decisions.
Top 10 Best Popcorn Machines for Movie Night
Size and Capacity
One of the most popular questions asked when people are shopping for a popcorn machine is what size to get and how much popcorn it will be able to make at once. Popcorn machines come in many different sizes and shapes. Size does not refer to the actual machine itself, but rather the size of kettle inside the popper. The kettle is the necessary popping mechanism, and they range in sizes that vary by 2 ounce increments. Each 2 ounce increment will increase the popped cups per batch by 5 cups and it will increase the cups per hour popped by 100 cups.
Popcorn machines start at 4 ounces and increase to 16 ounces. Of note, 20 ounce machines can be found, but these are generally for industrial use, and most home owners do not want an industrial machine. To get an idea, a 4 ounce machine will produce 80-1 ounce servings per hour, which is 10 cups of popcorn per batch, and will put out about 200 cups of popcorn an hour. Whereas a 16 ounce machine will produce 320-1 ounce servings an hour, which is 40 cups per batch and will pop about 800 cups an hour. As you can see, the size of the kettle will make all the difference in how much popcorn you can pop in an hour and a major key in the kettle size you desire. A general recommendation for a home movie room is a 4 or 6 ounce kettle.
Wattage is something to consider along with size because the higher the wattage, the faster the cook time. 480 or 640 watts will work fine, and this will have an average wait time for the popcorn to pop. If you want a quicker turn around time, then 860 watts or more is recommended. If you plan for larger parties and want to make several batches of popcorn back to back, then it will require the higher wattage to keep you up with the crowd.
Appearance or Style
For your movie room, you want a popcorn machine that will add to your décor. This is easy to accomplish with the variety of popcorn machines on the market today. There are the antique styles, and these are the ones you may have seen at a State Fair, an amusement park, or carnival when you were a kid. These machines are new but have the appearance and feel of those old machines that will bring back nostalgic memories from childhood. Or you might prefer a more modern metropolitan look with a contemporary popcorn machine. These come in a variety of designs from modern, sleek black and chrome or decorated with colorful popcorn signs.
No matter if you go with a classic antique or modern design, each can be purchased in shapes to fit your needs. There are free-standing popcorn machines, free-standing poppers with back wheels for easy relocation, or the type designed to fit on an open countertop. They all pop the same excellent theater popcorn, so it’s a personal choice to the room and uses you are planning for your popcorn machine. You may also want to consider the height of the person making the popcorn, so they can easily reach the kettle, especially when it is hot, for refills and later for cleaning up.
Popcorn machines come with different features that you may or may not want to have. For example, some have their own lighting, a warming deck to keep the popcorn warm while it sits in the machine, and some have a kernel drop that allows the small kernels to drop into a removable drawer in the bottom for easy cleaning. Other features you will want to consider are the doors allowing you into the popcorn machine. Most have a backdoor to allow the operator into the machine for easy access, and some machines have a side opening. Some feature one or two front door openings to allow your guests easy access to get their own popcorn.
The free-standing machines can have built-in cabinets where you can store your popcorn making supplies, so if you are short on space, this design will be ideal. Other features are anodized non-stick kettles or a push-button pre-measurable oil dispenser. Thank about the features you would like to have to maximize the theater popcorn experience for you and your guests.
Cost and Quality
A popcorn machine is one household item where cost can make a difference. If you are considering purchasing a popcorn machine for your movie room and parties, it’s best to think of it as a household appliance investment like a washing machine or dishwasher. You want a quality popcorn machine that will keep producing amazing popcorn for years to come. While you are shopping around, it’s a good idea to bear in mind that features will increase the cost, but also how much quality can matter.
Take the time to make some online product comparisons and read the product reviews to help you make the best popcorn machine choice for your needs. Considering the type of popcorn machines, features, appearance, machine style design, the kettle size and quality, and the company provided product warranty. Popcorn machine costs vary quite a bit from machine to machine, so it will be time well spent. You want to make your purchase one that is really the machine you desire, need, and will withstand your planned use over time.
Supplies for your popcorn machine are another area you want to take into consideration. For a popcorn machine to run, you will need oil, corn, and seasoning. These can be purchased separately or in convenient pre-measured popcorn portion packs. Many prefer the pre-set packs that can be purchased in the kettle batch size you have because you only need to open and dump them into the kettle. Because you will be making large quantities of popcorn, you will need a larger amount of popcorn making supplies that will need to be stored.
To complete the movie theater experience, you will need something to serve the popcorn in. There are popcorn bags, boxes, buckets, and tubs in different sizes to choose from. It’s also nice to have a popcorn scoop, and these come in a variety of shapes to go along with your serving container choice. If you and your guests enjoy extra butter on the popcorn, then you will likely want a butter warmer with a pump dispenser to go along with your popcorn machine. These are nice to have and cut down on the mess melting butter can cause.
One last thing to consider is cleaning your popcorn machine. In order to keep your machine in excellent working condition and looking pristine, you will need to do a light cleaning after each use. The interior of the machine and the kettle will need to be wiped down after each use. This will keep any oily residue from turning rancid and ruining the smell and taste of your popcorn. There are different cleaning supplies on the market, but you can also use mild soap and water or a degreasing cleaner that does not contain ammonia to remove the oily residue.
For the glass clean-up, you can use an equal part water and vinegar mixture or a glass cleaner that does not have ammonia. For the monthly deep cleaning for the kettle, you may want to purchase a specific cleaner, but again, a degreasing soap and hot water will also work to remove any built-up carbons.
To Sum it All Up
There are many different types of popcorn machines on the market in a variety of styles, wattages, optional features, and kettle popping capacity. It’s important to consider how much and how quickly you would like to make your popcorn, and how much it will be used. Also, consider if you want a floor or counter model and which design will fit into your home décor the best. Don’t forget to consider the amount of storage space you have available for the popcorn supplies, which will help you determine if you will need the machine that comes equipped with storage cabinets.
Some planning and a little research will help you make the right popcorn machine purchase for your home movie theater or parties. You and your guests will love the taste and smell of movie theater style popcorn for many years to come.