How to Use a Popcorn Machine of Any Type at Home

Last updated on February 4, 2024

Have a popcorn maker at home but don’t know how to use it. It’s really simple. Here’s how.

In a nutshell:

You should heat the kettle for 7-9 minutes. After that, pour some oil into the kettle and test a few kernels. When the popcorn is ready, add more kernels and put them on the lid. When all of the kernels are popped, take off your lid and dump out your kettle. Enjoy!

And here are some more considerations if you care to make your homemade popcorn even better.

What's Inside

Types of Popcorn Machines

popcorn maker

Check Out the Top 10 Best Popcorn Machines for Home

There are these main types of popcorn machines:

  • Stirring popcorn maker.
  • Hot air popper.
  • Commercial popcorn machine.
  • Theater-style popcorn machine (usually a stirring maker).

Making Popcorn with a Stirring Popcorn Maker

Put the bowl upside down and connect it to the base of the machine. Add popcorn kernels and oil to your device. Open a detachable part in the lid to easily add your ingredients. To use a stirring popcorn maker, you must first attach the bowl upside down and lock it into place securely so that there is no spillage. Next, add the kernels and oil into your device.

For best results, use good quality oil. Add oil to be the popcorn while it pops (put it in the oil reservoir if your unit has one) or melt some butter in a microwave-safe dish. Cover with a lid, plug into an outlet and turn on.

Some brands have an on-switch if they don’t start automatically. It turns on the kettle motor and the arms stir kernels as it cooks, ensuring that the popcorn pops evenly and doesn’t burn. There’s no sure way to tell the time you have to cook it. Once they start popping, mainly listen for them to start popping and taking about a few minutes to do so. When they stop (and there no pop in about 3 seconds), turn off your machine.

Optional: season to taste or add in other things like butter or peanut butter before serving it out/eating it

Making Popcorn with a Hot Air Popper

Making popcorn in a hot air popper gives it a more fluffy texture and does not produce an oily coating. You can also choose to add less butter and salt, making the popcorn healthier but may taste spicier or lack flavor. The first thing to do is gather up your ingredients. Unplug the hot air popper, put it on a surface that the heat won’t harm, and plug it back in so that it is warmed up before you start cooking.

It is important to pour out the popcorn into a bowl before it pops so that you can easily carry it. Measure the number of dry kernels and when you replace the plastic guard on top, cut some butter to melt it to add it to the popcorn later. Place your bowl to catch the popping corn.

The popping will start to slow down, and you need to tilt the popper for the remaining popcorn kernel to fall into your waiting bowl. When you hear no more popping sounds in about 3 seconds, change the machine’s cycle and unplug it.

Season with salt or other seasonings such as caramel, or cinnamon sugar. Enjoy!

Making Popcorn with a Commercial Popcorn Machine

Put three tablespoons of oil into the machine and turn it on. Place a single kernel of popcorn in the hot oil, and wait for it to pop. When it does, the oil should be at a good temperature. Add the rest of the popcorn, and wait for a few minutes for everything to heat up before taking out your fluffy, perfectly cooked corn snack! Heat three tablespoons of oil in your machine, then put one kernel into the heated oil. Wait until that kernel pops to

When using a Popcorn Machine:

  • Pour around half of a cup of popcorn kernels into the hopper and close it.
  • Close the doors as well.
  • You should hear the popping slowing down after two or three minutes and start spilling out of the hopper.
  • Eat when popped.

Using a Theater-Style Popcorn Maker

To use a popcorn maker of the theater-style kind, you need to add popcorn and oil ingredients. The design of a movie theater-style popcorn maker is very similar to that of an at-home stirrer-style popcorn maker. However, electric models may have various heat sources: for instance, variations on stovetops or oven units that come with microwaves and convection heating hobs. We think these are interesting developments in the industrial field.

Begin by adding oil and the kernels. In most theater-style popcorn machines, the kettle is a metal container with a glass case handle. Usually, when making popcorn using the right appliance, one would lift one of the metal flaps on top to open it to add ingredients inside. Add your main ingredient — kernels. Please place them in an even layer and cover them.

The personal theater-style popcorn maker has kernels packaged together with oil within a single packet, and for other types of popcorn, the two are kept separate. The machine is turned off when the pops slow to about one every few seconds. As the kernel cooks, you should notice popped kernels appearing in the glass case below. The personal theatre-style popcorn maker pops kernels that have been combined with oil all at once.

After it is done, melt some butter in drizzle it over the top of your popcorn with a spoon for the “movie theater” taste.


making popcorn

These are the ingredients you will usually need to make your popcorn:

  • Popcorn kernels (popping corn)
  • Oil (usually coconut oil), unless it’s a hot air popper.
  • Butter and flavors to add after it’s popped.

Type of Oil for the Popcorn Machine?

Different people prefer different kinds of oils when cooking in their kitchen, but coconut usually seems preferred in most cases because it provides a taste that people like. Canola is also used by some who do not want too much fat or cholesterol in their diet, although there are pros and cons when comparing both kinds of oil products together. In any case, it all depends on personal preference, whether you want a low-calorie sear like canola or something that tastes better, like coconut’s more saturated fat content profile.

Note that if you’re using a hot air popcorn maker, you do not need to add any oil.

Plain vs. Flavored Popcorn

Some people prefer flavored popcorn, such as butter and salt, or a savory flavor, but plain popcorn is the healthiest option. There are also recipes for savory flavorings and recipes for adding sweet flavors.

What Do You Serve Popcorn in?

Plastic Red & White Striped Popcorn Container

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If you have a specific theme in mind, you can easily make your own cups. All you need is some brown-paper lunch bags and stickers or some cute paper and washi tape. Otherwise, get classic-style popcorn containers that are always a hit. There are reusable options as well.

Popcorn Machine Serving Sizes

For each person, you need approximately two tablespoons or one oz of kernels. That will make about three or four cups of popcorn.


How much oil do you use in a popcorn machine?

How much oil you need to use depends on the size of the kettle. For an 8 oz machine you’ll need about 1/3 cup of oil.

Do you need to put oil in a popcorn machine?

Yes. Popcorn machines use oil to prevent the kernels from burning. The exception is the hot air popper which doesn’t need oil to make popcorn.

What kind of oil do you use for a popcorn machine?

Coconut oil or canola oil are the top choices to use for a popcorn machine. You can mix them too.

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