Microwave poppers offer the convenience of using the microwave to make popcorn without the additives found in microwavable bags. This type of popcorn maker is typically a plastic bowl with a vented lid that pops corn in your microwave within a few minutes. But even these poppers need to be closely monitored.
Two microwave popcorn poppers stand out: the Lékué Microwave Popcorn Popper (Est. $20) and the Nordic Ware Microwave Popcorn Popper (Est. $10) are lauded for the great-tasting, fluffy popcorn that they make. The Lékué Microwave Popcorn Popper earns a rating of 4.7 stars out of 5 in more than 550 owner-written reviews at Amazon.com, and it's the top pick at YourBestDigs.com, where editors pit it against four other popcorn makers in head-to-head testing. Editors praise its simple and innovative design as well as its quality, durable materials and versatility – all at an affordable price.
The 10-cup Lékué Microwave Popcorn Popper earns major points for convenience from owners, as well, who appreciate its collapsible, space-saving design for easy storage. It's dishwasher-safe for easy cleanup, and owners say it makes great-tasting popcorn with or without oil. It measures eight inches in diameter by five inches tall. When collapsed, though, the Lékué is only about two inches tall, so it fits easily in a kitchen drawer when not in use. It has a suction lid to prevent popcorn from overflowing from the bowl, and it produces a full batch of delicious popcorn in just three minutes.
Finally, measurements are marked directly on the bowl itself, so there's no need to dirty a measuring cup or spoon to measure oil or unpopped kernels during preparation. Editors at YourBestDigs.com say this popcorn popper popped all but 10 kernels in just under two and a half minutes, about the same amount of time as the Presto PopLite Hot Air Corn Popper 04820 (Est. $25) profiled in our discussion of electric popcorn poppers. The Lékué is backed by a 10-year warranty.
If you're looking for a microwave popcorn popper with a larger capacity, the 3-quart (12-cup) Nordic Ware Microwave Popcorn Popper also receives positive reviews, although it takes a bit longer (about four minutes compared to the two- to three-minute cook time for the Lékué) to make a batch of popcorn. More than 3,300 owners review this microwave popper at Amazon.com, where it earns a rating of 4.5 stars out of 5. Owners of the Nordic Ware Microwave Popcorn Popper admit that there is a high rate of unpopped kernels in every batch, but it's a price they are willing to pay for great-tasting popcorn. While Nordic Ware instructs owners not to cook with oil, several owners do so in order to get a better tasting snack. Owners also warn that the bowl is extremely hot out of the microwave and should be handled carefully.
Editors of Cook's Illustrated magazine give good marks to the Nordic Ware Microwave Popcorn Popper. Editors praise the simplicity of the Nordic Ware's design, requiring only three simple steps (add plain corn kernels, put the lid on, and place it in the microwave) for a bowl full of great-tasting popcorn. They do note that while it's dishwasher-safe, hand-washing is recommended, but with two easy-to-clean parts, it's not a big deal to wash it by hand. Some owners warn that it may crack or discolor after frequent use, and the lid may warp over time.
It's also an excellent value. Editors at Heavy.com name the Nordic Ware one of the top five popcorn poppers, noting that it's uncommon to find a gadget that performs so well at such a low price point. The Nordic Ware Microwave Popcorn Popper is backed by a five-year warranty.
If you want to make even more popcorn, the Colonel Popper Healthy Popcorn Maker (Est. $20) has a 14-cup capacity and comes in a choice of bright blue or green. Like the Lékué Microwave Popcorn Popper, it collapses to about two inches tall for easy storage. With built-in, stay-cool handles, it's easy to grab this popcorn maker from the microwave and shake it gently to distribute seasonings.
More than 100 owners review the Colonel Popper Healthy Popcorn Maker on Amazon.com, where it earns a rating of 4.7 stars out of 5. Owners say it's easy to use and makes delicious popcorn with the versatility to add whatever ingredients you prefer to create just the right flavor. They also appreciate the fact that this popcorn maker is dishwasher-safe, although several owners say they hand-wash it anyway. This silicone bowl produces a bowl freshly popped corn in two to four minutes and is backed by a lifetime warranty.