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Can you make popcorn in an air popper?

Yes, you can absolutely make popcorn in an air popper! Air poppers are small electric appliances specifically designed to make popcorn by circulating hot air over popcorn kernels. This allows the kernels to pop without the need for oil, making air popped popcorn a healthier snacking option compared to other preparation methods.

Air poppers provide a convenient and easy way to make fresh popcorn at home. All you need are the popcorn kernels and the popper does the rest of the work for you. In just minutes you can have a big bowl of crunchy, fluffy popcorn to enjoy.

How Do Air Poppers Work?

Air poppers work by using a heating element and fan to circulate hot air over the popcorn kernels. Here is a quick overview of the air popping process:

  • Popcorn kernels are placed into the popping chamber of the air popper.
  • As the popper is turned on, the heating element heats up the air inside to temperatures around 400°F.
  • The fan circulates this hot air over and around the popcorn kernels.
  • The hot air causes moisture inside the kernels to turn into steam.
  • The pressure from the steam builds up until it breaks through the hull of the kernel with a “pop”.
  • The puffed up popcorn floats up out of the popping chamber and fills the bowl.

The constant stream of hot air keeps the kernels moving and agitating as they pop. This allows the popcorn to cook evenly and prevents burning.

Types of Air Poppers

There are a few different styles of electric air poppers available:

Standard Air Poppers

This is the most common and affordable type of air popper. It has the popcorn chamber on top with a chute that dispenses popped popcorn into a bowl placed underneath. Some models have an on/off switch while others start operating automatically when you place the lid down.

Rotating Air Poppers

These air poppers have a spinning chamber that continuously tumbles the kernels as hot air circulates around them. The constant movement helps ensure even cooking. They produce popcorn slightly faster than standard air poppers.

Slide-Out Drawer Air Poppers

This style has a sliding drawer that you fill with kernels and then slide back into the popper. Once popped, the drawer slides back out for easy access to the fresh popcorn. Models with slide-out drawers prevent unpopped kernels and hot steam from escaping through the chute.

Large/Commercial Air Poppers

If you need to make large batches of popcorn frequently, there are heavy-duty stainless steel air poppers designed for commercial use. These large poppers have higher wattages and bigger chambers that can hold cups of kernels at a time.

Benefits of Using an Air Popper

Here are some of the biggest advantages of using an air popper:

Makes Healthy Popcorn

Since no oil or butter is used, the popcorn popped in an air popper is low in fat and calories. Air popped popcorn is considered a whole grain and provides more fiber than traditional popcorn made in oil.

Quick & Easy

In just 2-4 minutes, you can enjoy a fresh bowl of popcorn. No need to stand over a pot or constantly monitor the popcorn as it pops. Simply measure out the kernels, turn on the popper, and let the machine do the work.

Minimal Clean-Up

There’s no hot oil splatter or messy pots and pans to wash with an air popper. Once the popcorn is made, just wipe out any unpopped kernels and the popper is ready to store. Its compact size makes storage easy.

Consistent Results

The hot air circulation ensures the popcorn pops evenly every time. No more dealing with burned kernels or unpopped duds at the bottom of the pot.

Cost Effective

Air poppers are very affordable to buy. Plus you’ll save money in the long run by not having to buy expensive popcorn oils and microwave popcorn bags. You can buy inexpensive kernels in bulk.

Choosing the Right Air Popper

With different sizes and features available among air popper models, here are some things to consider when selecting one:


How much popcorn do you need to make at one time? Standard air poppers can hold around 3-4 tablespoons of kernels which produces approximately 3-6 cups of popped popcorn. Larger models with bigger chambers and chutes can hold up to 1/2 cup of kernels for popping 10+ cups.

Settings & Features

Most air poppers just have an on/off function that starts the popping process once the lid is down. Some models have adjustable hot air flow/temp settings and options like a built-in butter melter. Decide if you want any additional features.


Air poppers need between 1100-1800 watts to generate enough heat for popping. Higher wattage means faster heat up time and popcorn popping speed. Larger capacity poppers usually have higher watts.

Quality of Construction

Look for air poppers made of sturdy plastic that feel solidly constructed. They should have metal heating coils and vents placed for optimal hot air circulation. Rubber feet help keep the popper stable.

How to Make Popcorn in an Air Popper

Using an air popper to make fresh popcorn is quick, easy, and neat. Follow these simple steps:

Step 1: Measure out popcorn kernels

Refer to your popper’s manual for the recommended amount of kernels to use. Typically you’ll use somewhere between 3-6 tablespoons of popcorn kernels per batch. Measure this into the popping chamber of the air popper.

Step 2: Place the popper

Set the air popper on a flat, stable, heat-resistant surface. Have a large bowl ready nearby to catch the popped popcorn.

Step 3: Turn on power

Plug in and turn on the air popper. Some models will automatically activate once you close the lid.

Step 4: Let the popcorn pop

The kernels will begin swirling around and popping within 30-60 seconds. Let the machine run until the popping slows to 2-3 seconds between pops. This ensures most of the kernels have been popped.

Step 5: Transfer to bowl

Carefully remove the hot popper lid once the popping slows. Pour the fresh popcorn into your serving bowl.

Step 6: Season (optional)

At this point you can toss the plain air popped popcorn with salt, olive oil, melted butter, or other seasonings if desired.

Tips for Making Great Popcorn with an Air Popper

Here are some helpful tips and tricks for getting light, fluffy popcorn using an air popper:

  • Use fresh popcorn kernels within their “best by” date for optimal popping performance.
  • Measure out the kernels rather than just filling the chamber. This prevents overflow and unpopped kernels.
  • Let most of the steam escape before opening the popper to prevent soggy popcorn.
  • Try a rotating popper model which tumbles the kernels more evenly as they pop.
  • Season the popcorn right after popping for maximum flavor coating.
  • If desired, spray popped corn lightly with oil before seasoning to help it stick.
  • Store any leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature to keep it crisp.

Following these simple tips will reward you with light, crispy popcorn every time you use your air popper!

Common Air Popper Troubleshooting

While air poppers are generally very reliable, here are some potential issues and solutions:

Problem: Unpopped kernels remain in the popper

  • Solution: Try a shorter popping time. Remove from heat as soon as popping slows to 2-3 seconds between pops.
  • Solution: Measure out the correct amount of kernels based on your popper’s capacity to prevent overfilling.
  • Solution: Check that the popper is hot enough. Older heating coils may need replacing.

Problem: Popcorn is scorched or burned

  • Solution: Reduce air flow/temperature setting if adjustable on your model.
  • Solution: Try a higher quality popcorn kernel brand which is less prone to scorching.
  • Solution: Replace worn out heating coil if air flow is too hot.

Problem: Kernels are not popping

  • Solution: Ensure popper is plugged in and turned on. Check circuit breaker.
  • Solution: Try freshly stored popcorn kernels, not expired ones.
  • Solution: Clean vents and openings so air properly circulates.
  • Solution: Have unit serviced to check if heating coil needs replacement.

Following proper operating instructions for your air popper model and using fresh, high quality popcorn kernels will help minimize any issues.

Best Uses for an Air Popper

Here are some top ways to use an air popper:

Healthy Snack Popcorn

Enjoy popcorn as a nutritious snack any time of day. Kids after school, watching TV, family movie nights, etc.

Party Snack

An air popper makes quick work of popcorn needed in large amounts for parties, gatherings, sporting events, and other occasions.

Toppings & Seasonings

Air popped popcorn is a perfect base for both sweet and savory toppings. Get creative with herbs, spices, cheeses, sugars, candies, and other fun flavors!

Packaged Snacks

You can incorporate popcorn made in an air popper into homemade trail mixes, cereals, granola bars, popcorn balls, etc.


Popcorn strands can be used to make garlands, table decorations, or to fill gift bags and baskets instead of tissue paper.

Comparisons Between Air Popping and Other Popcorn Methods

Here is how air popped popcorn stacks up against other common popcorn preparation methods:

Air Popped vs Microwave Popcorn

Air Popped Microwave Bag
96 calories per 3 cups popped 500-1300 calories per 3 cups popped
No fat 19-55 grams of fat per 3 cups popped
High fiber Lower fiber due to fat content
No artificial flavors/preservatives Often contains additives
Inexpensive More expensive per serving

Air Popped vs Stovetop Popcorn

Air Popped Stovetop
Hands-free popping Needs constant monitoring
No hot oil splatter Risk of burns from hot oil
Fast & consistent Speed and results vary
Measured kernals Hard to gauge ideal kernals
Minimal clean-up Time consuming clean-up


Air poppers provide a fast, convenient, and healthy way to enjoy fresh popcorn anytime. The hot air popping method produces great tasting popcorn without the need for oil or other fat that you find with traditional stovetop or microwave popcorn preparation. Air popped popcorn has high fiber and low calories as an ideal snacking option.

With some basic operating knowledge and quality popcorn kernels, an air popper will reward you with quick, consistent results and minimal clean-up every time. They are inexpensive to buy and economical to use over time. Air poppers are a great kitchen appliance for popcorn lovers!