Air Popper vs Microwave

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Updated August 19, 2022

You’re settling in for movie night and you’re faced with a choice: air popper vs microwave. These two kitchen appliances offer different functions to pop fluffy popcorn, including the heating method and rate of popping. Many choose the versatile microwave oven if they do not have an air popper because most homes feature a microwave of some kind. The best microwaves have additional functions as well. However, an air popper remains a great and effective tool for popping kernels. In some cases, consider using a microwave oven vs an OTG.


  • Air poppers provide a quick and efficient method for popping kernels without oil.
  • Microwaves offer additional uses compared to the air popper that only pops homemade popcorn.
  • Air-popped popcorn remains healthier than other types of popcorn makers because of the reduction of fats and sodium from oil usage.

Differences Between an Air Popper and a Microwave Oven

Both microwave ovens and air poppers provide methods for making gourmet popcorn quickly and efficiently since both methods make large amounts of oil-free popcorn in minutes. However, the two approaches differ in many ways. The most significant differences between air poppers and microwaves stem from what they heat and how they heat it. Their energy usage vs toaster microwave ovens varies.

They also vary greatly in effectiveness and speed. Additionally, the microwave and air popper popcorn provide different fat content due to the use of or lack of tablespoons of oil with neither olive oil nor canola oil being used. You may also be interested in a baker’s rack vs a microwave cart.

Insider Tip

If you want a healthy way to make your movie snack, an air popper may be the way to go.

Heating Popcorn Kernels

Many brands sell bagged popcorn kernels for microwaving with varying butter and salt contents. When placed in the microwave and heated, the bag expands as the corn kernels explode. The process uses microscopic radio wave radiation to agitate the water molecules in each kernel, and steam becomes trapped inside the bag speeding the process further.

On the other hand, an air popper places unpopped kernels in heated air that circulates through the popcorn maker. Unlike other devices, air poppers only use hot air instead of using a combination of heat and oil.

Effective Popping

You probably know the feeling of pulling a microwaved bag of popcorn out to eat and accidentally biting into an unpopped kernel. Unfortunately, these bags often have a small percentage of unpopped kernels, as do the results of other types of popcorn machines. Air poppers provide a more effective method for heating popcorn, resulting in fewer unpopped kernels. This difference stems from the ability of the popper to expose each kernel to hot air, ensuring most of them pop.

Appliance Functions

If you want a designated device for popping popcorn, you should consider an air popper. However, these products only pop the popcorn, and they cannot provide additional functions, though some also offer butter melting in the measuring cup on top. Meanwhile, microwaves provide ways to defrost, heat, and reheat food, expanding the appliance’s uses.

Because of this aspect, microwaves remain more versatile in use, which explains why more people have a microwave than an air popper. Since their introduction, microwaves became popular based on their ability to quickly and efficiently prepare meals compared to conventional ovens.

Healthy Popcorn Poppers

You may think of delicious popcorn as a healthy snack alternative, and you would be right if you didn’t add too much butter or seasoning. However, the preparation of the popcorn affects its healthiness as well. If you consume popcorn popped in oil, like movie theater popcorn, you also ingest additional fat from this oil, though not all oils affect the intake the same. Air poppers use hot air instead of oil to cook popcorn, reducing the intake from the oil, and making the product better for your health.


Air poppers do not offer the ability to heat anything other than popcorn kernels and butter, so you will need a microwave to cook different foods.


How do you clean popcorn makers?

Most popcorn makers clean easily, with stovetop poppers washed by hand or in the dishwasher if it is designed to do so. However, microwaves and air popper remain easier to clean because they can just be wiped down during cleanup. Air poppers also sometimes feature a collapsible design for easy cleaning and storage.

How do you make air-popped popcorn without an air popper?

You may be able to make air-popped popcorn using the microwave and a paper bag. First, add the cups of popcorn kernels to the bag before folding the top to trap steam. Then, run the microwave and enjoy your bowl of popcorn.

How does microwave popcorn bags differ from stovetop popcorn?

The type of popcorn being used differs between the two to suit the desired popping method. Additionally, stovetop popcorn is made using oil while bags of microwave popcorn are not.

STAT: Hot air poppers ensure all kernels are popped and not a single kernel burnt. (source)

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