Gift Edit 2023

I’m a Former Movie Theater Employee and Tested 5 Home Popcorn Makers — This One Is By Far My Favorite (It’s on Sale!)

updated Dec 6, 2023
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popcorn in pot
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

This feature is part of The Kitchn’s Gift Edit, our editor-curated collection of gift ideas. Need more inspiration? Check out all our guides here.

I’d like to think I’m something of a popcorn connoisseur. My first part-time job in high school was at a movie theater, after all. I not only made dozens and dozens of batches every shift, but I also ate a bunch of it (maybe even too much). You’d think that after years of constantly smelling movie theater popcorn, I would swear off of it by now, but you would be wrong. I love popcorn — especially the kind at the theater — just as much as the day I completed my first concession shift. In fact, it’s my go-to snack.

That’s why, when our sister site Apartment Therapy’s senior commerce editor Alicia approached me about trying to replicate movie theater-quality popcorn at home, I jumped at the chance. Once we gathered our essential ingredients (canola oil, kernels, and most importantly, Flavacol salt), we put air, stovetop, and microwave poppers to the test — but one stood out above all the others. The Dash Smartstore Stirring Popcorn Maker is probably the easiest, fastest, and most budget-friendly way to get a perfect batch out of your own kitchen. And good news: It’s on sale just in time for holiday gifting!

What is the Dash Smartstore Stirring Popcorn Maker?

As I wrote in my rundown of our popcorn-testing experience, this machine was our saving grace. After all of the other variations produced poor results (to say the least) and had us losing hope, Dash’s spinning popcorn maker restored our spirits. After adding kernels, a spoonful of oil, and a bit of salt, all you have to do is flip a switch and it’ll make up to six quarts. The base of the machine has a stirring bar to ensure everything is mixed together, and once the popping has slowed, you can flip it over, and the popcorn ready to go.

Credit: Morgan Pryor

Why I Love the Dash Smartstore Stirring Popcorn Maker

I really can’t stress enough how effortless this gadget makes whipping up a serving size of popcorn — and since we put it to the test initially, I took it home and have used it at least 10 more times. Instead of having to pull out a measuring cup, you can just pour the kernels into the lid for the right amount, whether that be 8, 16, or 24 cups. Then, after the stirring bar rotates and the machine heats up for a few minutes, you’ll have a perfectly fluffy, well-salted batch of popcorn in hardly any time at all. The best part is that once it’s ready, all you have to do is flip the machine over, and the plastic lid becomes a serving bowl, saving you tons of cleaning time.

This ingenious device has become my most-used kitchen gadget over the past several weeks, and as long as I have it in my arsenal, I doubt I’ll ever go back to microwaved popcorn again. If that isn’t enough to convince you: I’ve even convinced my mom and grandma to get one for themselves, and I think they might even love it more than I do. At only $40, it’s an absolute steal for any popcorn lover (and, not to mention, the perfect gift for the popcorn lover in your life)!

Buy: Dash Smartstore Stirring Popcorn Maker, $39.99 (normally $49.99)