popcorn maker vs microwave which is better

You can make popcorn in several ways, and two of the most common methods are using a microwave or a popcorn machine.

If you want to move away from plain popcorn in pre-made bags to have an authentic experience, these two approaches are both viable. But the question is: popcorn maker or microwave? Which is better between these methods, and is there even a clear winner? We will check out the pros and cons below and give you our verdict.

Popcorn Maker: Larger Quantities and More Flavour

Popcorn makers are available in two common types — stovetop popcorn makers and hot air poppers.

Stovetop popcorn makers have a metal saucepan with a robust lid that stops the popping popcorn from exploding everywhere. Additionally, there is usually a handle and string mechanism so you can continually mix the corn kernels with your olive oil and butter.

Hot-air popcorn machines blast hot air into a chamber so that the internal pressure of the unpopped kernels builds up, and they eventually go boom. These devices have their advantages and disadvantages, and we have listed them below.


  • Better flavour: When using most popcorn makers, you can manually add oil, butter, and other ingredients. You can whack in as much as you want, so the flavour is usually much better.
  • Larger quantity: Popcorn makers have large chambers, kettles or saucepans that can hold a far greater quantity of popping corn than microwave bags. As a result, these are generally better suited for entertaining large numbers of guests or for that massive bowl of popcorn during your movie night.
  • Fun process: Generally, these devices are quite fun to use too. You can feel like an alchemist adding different ingredients. Also, it’s incredibly satisfying watching the popcorn kernels randomly explode. You can’t recreate that experience with microwave-popped corn.


  • Can be messy: Due to the ingredients and the different compartments, air-popped popcorn and stovetop units can be messy. You can get butter, grease, and oil everywhere, which demands more cleaning and care.
  • Requires more effort: As you will see below, microwave popcorn bags take a few minutes to prepare and pop. In contrast, using an air popper or stovetop maker does need more effort, prep time, and work. Therefore, this is a better option if you have more time to dedicate to the process.

Microwave: Quicker and Cleaner Process

a bowl of snack

Microwave ovens can be used to make popcorn. Many manufacturers produce microwave popcorn bags containing popcorn kernels that are coated in ingredients — butter, for example.

When you turn the microwave on, heat and steam are generated inside the bag. The moisture and heat cannot escape, and the pressure increases, causing the reaction. You still get some flavour due to the coating inside the bags.


  • Much quicker: There is no denying that microwave popcorn is a quicker and more convenient option. All you have to do is read the instructions, stick it in the microwave, and set the timer. Typically, these bags take 2-4 minutes to cook, and there you have it — delicious results with hardly any effort.
  • Virtually no cleaning: Once you have done with the bag, throw it away. You only really have to clean the bowl if you use one. Other than that, microwave popcorn is essentially cleaning and maintenance-free.


  • Smaller quantities: Despite the ease of use and quickness, the bag sizes can be small. Compared to an air popper or stovetop model, you get much less. As a result, you may need to pop multiple bags for a party or family TV night.
  • Flavour can be inconsistent: In most instances, the bag’s interior is coated with flavour and ingredients. However, this may not always produce consistent taste. If the popped corn doesn’t make contact with the sides, it won’t get the flavour.

The Verdict – Popcorn Machines Win for Authenticity

Using a microwave oven is certainly a viable option for creating popcorn. The results are fantastic. If you want a quicker and more convenient method, we would recommend microwave popcorn.

However, you can’t beat a popcorn machine for the best flavour and movie theatre popcorn quality. These appliances allow you to produce authentic popcorn and add ingredients like butter and oil for extra flavour and texture.

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