Stir Crazy Popcorn Popper

I’d like to take a moment to talk about a slightly controversial subject: popcorn. Chips are ok, pretzels get boring fast, and chex mix is downright peculiar. Popcorn, however, is the most divine snack food in the land, and is well liked by almost everyone. I refuse on principal to talk to those who don’t like popcorn. It’s not right.

The problem we face is that most methods of making popcorn aren’t great. Movie theater popcorn tastes great, but is expensive and makes you feel sick after a while. Microwave popcorn is usually pretty gross (plus, I refuse to use a microwave.) Air poppers make the popcorn taste like air. My previous favorite method was to cook the popcorn over the stove in a big pot. This results in absolutely delicious popcorn, but it’s difficult to pop all the kernels without burning some, and it’s not too fun cleaning up the big pot afterwards.

Two weeks ago I was idly browsing a deal site when I came across the subject of this review : the Stir Crazy Popcorn Popper. It was on sale for $25 through Amazon (and still is). People seemed to love it, so I ordered it without hesitation.

When the package arrived, I couldn’t wait to try it. We had an ice storm here in Austin, TX, but I braved it and made it to the supermarket to buy some popcorn. All they had was crappy store brand popcorn, so I still haven’t tried it with anything better than that.

The popper is very simple. It’s a non stick metal base with two stirring rods and a plastic bowl that covers the metal base so that popcorn doesn’t go flying everywhere. Operation is simple – I put three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (they recommend vegetable, but it’s not good for you so I don’t use it) and almost one cup of popcorn. The first time I put just over one cup, and it was too much. Then I plug in the machine and put the bowl on top of the base.

Watching the popcorn pop is really fun. It looks like a cereal civil war or something, and I insist on watching the popping every time. After about five minutes the popcorn is fully popped and all I have to do is unplug the machine and flip it over so that the bowl is on the bottom. I remove the base and viola! A bowl of perfect popcorn.

The machine manages to leave almost no kernels unpopped. I get a few half popped ones, but I suspect that that has to do with the low quality popcorn I’m using right now. I used to eat popcorn once a week when I had people over to watch a movie, but now I eat it every day. Cleanup is extremely easy – I just wipe down the whole thing with paper towels and put it back into action.

If you like popcorn, then you should go buy this at Amazon. If you don’t like popcorn, then you have no business being here.

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37 comments

  1. Tynan,
    Thanks for your tip on the Stir Crazy Popcorn Popper. We have been looking for a popper that could pop “perfect” popcorn.

    My company has been selling popcorn popping oils to the theatre industry for over 40 years. We recently introduced a ‘theatre style popcorn kit’ which has become very popular. Our customers have been asking for an inexpensive home popcorn popper and I think the Stir Crazy Popper is a great solution for them.

    Arthur

  2. I’m interested in this popping solution, though I dare to interject another cheap alternative.

    http://www.amazon.com/Presto-04830-PowerPop-Microwave-Multi-Popper/dp/B00005IBXK/sr=8-2/qid=1169795508/ref=pd_bbs_sr_2/105-4993335-2675633?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden

    The Powerpop is a Microwave device. The only downside is that it requires these little inserts that you’re supposed to replace every few uses. But you just ass 1-2 tbsp of vegetable/olive oil, and exactly 1/3 cup of popcorn. If you have a high powered microwave the popping only takes about 1 minute and 40 seconds and rarely leaves much unpopped. The popcorn is delicious.

    The Stir Crazy popper cooks a whole cup of popcorn per batch? Is that just for you or often for others as well? My popper uses 1/3 cup of popcorn and it is a good amount for myself.

  3. Addison,

    That thing does look pretty cool. I personally don’t ever use microwaves and I’d rather have the capacity to pop more if necessary (although maybe yours could pop more in the same amount of time if you did several batches).

    I can eat about half to two thirds of a cup of popcorn. A full cup is just about perfect for two people.

    Thanks for reading and sharing your popcorn popper,

    Tynan

  4. Seeing this post brought back some memories of going to my grandparents house when I was younger and eating popcorn there. I’ve always wanted a popper like this ever since I first saw my grandparents, thanks for this discovery Tynan. I think I may actually buy one tomorrow.

  5. I have had this stir crazy popcorn popper but the one thing I didn’t like about it was that the pop corn wasn’t as fluffy but a lot harder and often times more of that kernel flake stuff that gets stuck in the gums. I personally use the Air popper because it doesn’t require much counter space and if I ever need a hair dryer or run out of hand towels I have a nice alternative.

    A nice popcorn topping is A mixture of Brewers Yeast (nutritional yeast full of B vitamins) and butter or butter alternative. Make a this paste and pour over your popcorn! Amazing and delicious!

  6. Ah this looks great – air poppers are probably pretty similar, but the thing that stands out to me is that there is a huge half sphere transparent cap. All the ones I’ve seen up until now were more like vertical devices, where the popcorn was released into an external bowl after they get fired up into the air.

    I mostly use microwave popcorn, simply for the fact that it’s easy to get an even distribution of flavour on the popped corn, whereas with the air popper, pouring something over after it’s popped can be real uneven.

    You say you pour some olive oil into the machine prior to popping, how do you prevent olive oil from getting into the hot air vents and damaging the machine (say, when you’re wiping out the inside of it after popping – I imagine be easy to slowly wipe small amounts of oil into the vents until there is internal damage after a few weeks)

  7. The popcorn popper mentioned here does not use air. It is a heated plate with a spinning metal arm that moves the kernels around until they pop.

    Putting any kind of oil or anything other than popcorn seeds in an Air popper is most likely a bad idea and could ruin your machine.

  8. We have been using the Stir Crazy popcorn popper for around 20 years. Ours finally quit working and we got another one. Everyone loves the popcorn we pop. We have tried air poppers but only because they were the in thing at one time but there is no comparison if you are a true popcorn lover when it comes to taste. If you like butter on yours there is a place at the top that you can put butter in and it will slowly drip onto the popcorn as it pops.

    PS-Margaret- popcorn is a wonderful fiber food. As long as you do not have anything like diverticulitis you will be fine. I also eat popcorn almost everynight.

  9. I have had a Stir Crazy popcorn popper for over 20 years as well and mine is finally on the blink. I’ve asked my kids to get me a new one for my birthday.

    A few pointers:

    – you can make a batch of popcorn as small as you’d like. To get the correct proportions of oil and popcorn seeds, I select a dry measuring cup, 1/4 – 3/4 size, fill it with popcorn seeds, and then pour the cooking oil over the top of the seeds just until I can see it begin to surface, and then pour the seeds and oil in the popcorn popper.

    – if you like butter on your popcorn, the butter well works fairly well, and works best if the butter is soft (room temp) to begin with to ensure it completely melts by the time the popcorn has finished popping. Surprisingly, it’s not messy.

    – if your popcorn seems too coarse after it’s popped, consider trying a different popcorn. Yellow popcorn pops larger and softer but has many more hulls than white popcorn. Personally, I prefer Black Jewel popcorn (black seeds that pop white) and Crimson Jewel popcorn (red seeds that pop white), which seem to have more flavor than white popcorn, but still lack the hulls that yellow popcorn has.

    – if you like a crisper popcorn, remove the lid from the butter well while it is popping to allow the steam to escape. Of course, if you are melting butter, be sure to secure the butter well lid before turning it over after popping has completed.

    I’ve never tried olive oil instead of cooking oil, but I’m going to. It works well for frying potatoes, so I’m sure it will be good for popcorn, too.

    Little kids love to watch the popcorn pop, just be sure they don’t get burned by touching a hot popper.

    The bowl is large and somewhat clumsy to clean, and the base is a bit difficult to keep from oil eventually building up (after 20 years) but it’s worth it.

    I have kept very few small kitchen appliances as well, but if you enjoy good popcorn, this is one you’ll find a place for!

    It sure beats microwave popcorn, which is not good for you.

  10. I can’t stand popcorn at the movie theaters anymore (they don’t even pop it themselves, they ship most of it in pre-popped and only pop some so you THINK it is freshly made) and it tasts like styrofoam. I have never liked butter on my popcorn. Microwave popcorn stinks and states like plastic.

    Growing up this was the kind of popcorn popper we had and we used to make it all the time (my parents still do). I am going to buy one of these b/c I miss GOOD popcorn. Popcorn popped in a Stir Crazy is the only kind I like.

  11. We have used Stir Crazy’s for many years. We’ve gone through a bunch of them because we use them so much. We pop the corn in Land O’ Lakes margarine instead of oil & leave the lid off the butter well. That is the only brand I’ve found that doesn’t burn. That way we don’t have to butter the popped corn so it doesn’t get soggy. Orville Redenbacker’s corn pops much larger and fluffier than regular and is very tasty. It costs more, but for real pop corn lovers, it’s worth the extra cost.

  12. I used to always make my popcorn on top the stove until I discovered the Stir Crazy. But occasionaly I have a problem with only about 1/3 or the kernals popping. Does anyone else have that problem? I use 2-3 T of olive oil (healthier) and about 3/4 C popcorn and remove the plastic cover so steam escapes. I agree that Orville Redenbacker is the best. But about every 6-7 batches I have the problem of a poor pop. This is my 2nd popper & I had the same problem with the other popper. In fact, that’s why I replaced it. I’ve had this problem since it was new.

  13. Popcorn must have a small amount of moisture in it in order to pop. If your popcorn is old it may have dried out and then won’t pop consistently. It will also dry out pretty quickly if it’s not in an airtight container (ie: plastic or glass with a rubber seal). I had half a bag of popcorn that sat for a while (3-4 months) in my cubboard and when I used it again only half of the kernels popped (bags are questionable when it comes to being airtight). Long story short, it’s not your popper that’s the problem (in fact the first one was probably just fine) it’s your popcorn.

  14. I like the stir crazy but the last three times the kernals start to burn before they pop. Is the pop corn old or is the popper pooped out. I have used it maybe 15 times at the most.

  15. Hi Margaret Moreno.I,too,love popcorn.Please use a stir crazy popcorn maker as microwaves are unhealthy for us all. They change the molecular structure of our food. I hope you are doing well.God bless all.

  16. I’m planning on getting a Stir Crazy, but want to make kettle corn in it, will this work? Seems like it would since it uses a hot plate to cook the corn.

  17. I forgot to add, My husbands family. years ago, grew popcorn and sold it nationaly. The rule of fresh popcorn was an air tight container and store in the frig!

  18. MY FAMILY HAS USED A STIR CRAZY FOR YEARS, WE’RE ON OUR 4th ONE …. NOT THAT THEY’RE PRONE TO STOP WORKING , THEY’RE QUALITY MACHINES !! WE USE OURS AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK — MOVIE NITE !! THIS YEAR , I BOUGHT THE 8 QUART VERSION —- LOTS OF POPCORN FOR LOTS OF PEOPLE ! USES THE SAME AMOUNT OF OIL TOO . THE ONLY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE 6 QT. & THE 8 QT. IS THE SIZE OF THE CLEAR BOWL/LID !! THEY BOTH HAVE THE SAME WATTAGE, etc,etc…. ! WE LIKE THE YIELD OF POPCORN THAT YELLOW CORN OFFERS vs WHITE … WE ALSO HAVE FOUND ” REESE GOURMET POPCORN OIL ” TO OUR LIKING AND OUR MOVIEGOERS . JOLLY TIME POPCORN IS USED. BEST RESULTS FOR STORING POPCORN — A COOL,DRY PLACE — IN A PLASTIC , GLASS { preferred } AIR-TIGHT CONTAINER . OFF – BRANDS OF POPCORN YIELD LESS/MORE OLD MAIDS …. HAS TIME AND AGAIN PROVEN THIS OUT, DESPITE BEING STORED PROPERLY.OK, A NOTE TO THOSE WHO HAVE A STIR-CRAZY THAT DOES NO LONGER HEAT/WORK ….. CHANCES ARE THE HEATING ELEMENT IN THE BASE, HAS A BROKEN WIRE —– THIS WIRE, BEING THIN , IS THE ONLY REAL DOWN-SIDE TO THESE MACHINES. MATTER OF FACT, IF I HAD KNOWN THIS, I PROBABLY WOULD HAVE FIXED OUR ORIGINAL STIR-CRAZY !! ALTHOUGH THE TEFLON COATING DOES WEAR TO AN EXTENT , IT’S THE FAILURE TO HEAT-UP THAT CAUSED ME TO THROW AWAY SAID UNIT[s].THE STIRRING ACTION WORKED JUST FINE !! IF YOU WISH TO REPAIR THIS UNIT YOURSELF , IT’S REALLY VERY EASY IF YOUR ADEPT AND LIKE TO UN-SCREW THINGS …. AND, YOU COULD SAVE SOME MONEY, WHICH IS A GOOD THING,RIGHT?! ANOTHER BONUS IS YOU CAN CLEAN ANY BUILD-UP OF OIL EASILY, ONCE THE UNIT IS TAKEN APART …. OUR STIR-CRAZY NO. 4 STOPPED HEATING ONE NIGHT , AFTER A TWO YEAR RUN . CURIOUS, I TOOK THE UNIT APART THE NEXT DAY — REMEMBERING HOW THINGS WERE IN PLACE, BEFORE DISASSEMBLY. PICTURES TAKEN OF THE PROCESS WOULD HELP YOU, IF SO INCLINED … SO, ONCE ITS APART , AND THAT THIN WIRE IS TELLING YOU I’M THE CULPRIT !! AHAA !! BROKEN HEATING ELEMENT WIRE !! THAT COILED WIRE HAS A BREAK — IN MY CASE, IT WAS BROKEN AT THE POST W/NUT. SIMPLY, UNSREWED THE NUT, REMOVED UNATTACHED WIRE ON POST — GENTLY PULLED WIRE TOWARD POST TO RE-ATTACH , PUT BACK NUT ON POST , TIGHTEN CAREFULLY, CHECK COILED WIRE FOR OTHER BREAKS , PUT UNIT BACK TOGETHER,CAREFULLY RE-ATTACHING ALL WIRES —- DO NOT OVER-TIGHTEN !! ONCE TOGETHER, TEST-UNIT FOR PROPER OPERATION —- PLUG IT IN — CHECK FOR HEAT ….. IT SHOULD HEAT QUICKLY !! VOILA !! A JOB WELL DONE !! NOW YOUR READY TO MAKE A BATCH TO REWARD YOURSELF …. JUST REMEMBER, THE SMELL OF POPCORN WILL INVITE ALL IN THE HOUSE TO SAVOR & ENJOY YOUR SUCCESS TOO !! GO AHEAD —- SHARE !!!! MAY YOUR POPPER CONTINUE TO SERVE YOU WELL …. MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU !!

  19. I love the Stir Crazy. My first one lasted over 15 years. The second one was pretty good, but lasted 5 years. Lately I’ve bought two in a row that didn’t work well. All of them failed in the same way: the heat didn’t work properly. The first one stopped heating altogether, but the others had a problem with the thermostat. If you look inside, there’s a part that is designed to stop heating if it gets too hot. It seems to be stopping the heat too soon – leaving lots of unpopped kernels. Sometimes it does very well, sometimes less than 1/3 of the kernels, all from the same bag of popcorn, so I know it’s not the grade of corn.

  20. My Mom and Dad bought a Stir Crazy popcorn maker when they very first came out on the market. The first one they had worked without fail for 15 or more years. We used it about twice a week. They are on their third popper now (about 30 years later) and even though there are the only ones using it still use it about twice a week or more. This popcorn maker is the best popper out there. I am planning to get my own soon. The only thing that I do not like about this machine is like everyone else the newer machines do not seem to last as long as the original poppers. The heating element seems to die very easily. Because the popcorn produced is wonderful the problems with this machine can be over looked.

  21. I also have been using the stir-crazy for a few years. I use a commercial popcorn oil sold at Gordons for popping then dump the popped corn into a paper grocery sack to add a little more oil and salt ground in a food processor then shake the bag and place in a popcorn tin to give to my grandson to bring home, I fill it each week or so.
    I used to use a air popper(when all our kids were home) and dumped it into a sack and added popall topping and powdered salt and shook the bag, you couldn’t tell it wasn’t commercially popped and hardly any unpopped corn. I may go back to that process as the cleanup was nil.

  22. My folks have used the Stir Crazy for years. Our Sunday night meal normally consisted of popcorn, usually about 5-6 batches in the Stir Crazy. In the last couple years they have started using peanut oil in stead of vegetable or olive oil. The peanut oil is healthier than the vegetable oil and has a much higher smoke point than olive oil. (This is why peanut oil is used if you have a turkey fryer.) I have also heard that coconut oil is good, but it is more expensive than peanut oil. I am finally getting a Stir Crazy for my wife for Christmas! Happy popping!

  23. Hi Amy,
    I’ll bet your popcorn is what failed! I use a minimal amount of Canola Oil and I put in about 1/3 cup of seeds in the thing. Absolutely great all the time. I have used corn from “Farm Fleet”, (20# for less than $8), and I’ve used the other inexpensive brands also. I get huge kernals and incidentally, I eat all the seeds. If there’s one my teeth can’t handle, its very rare. I keep my pop-corn seeds refrigerated. I suggest you do the same. It keeps it dry. I hope I helped! I’m 81 years young and been around the block once or twice. This is a good “popper”. Enjoy!
    george

  24. Here is the proper way to use your new toy.

    Buy a bottle of jalapeno slices.

    Put a thin layer of olive oil across the bottom of the popper.

    Drop in 10-100000 jalapeno slices and allow them to cook until almost completely crisp…might wanna put the windows down because it will make you cough the first couple of test burns (you Austinites are notoriously weak when it comes to handling the heat.)

    Put in about a half cup of decent kernels…(I get the fifty pound bag of Act II kernels from Sams)

    Wait five minutes and enjoy the greatest popcorn in the history of popcorn.

  25. The stircrazy becomes perfect with the use of organic popcorn and organic coconut oil…umm nothing better and no atrazine!

  26. I’m about to add this to the wedding registry, and have to ask a dumb question I can’t find an answer to anywhere. Coming from a hot-air popper user, can you use the stir crazy WITHOUT oil? Thanks guys!

  27. Hi Dave
    I’ve been using the 8 qt. popper since it was put on the market some time ago. I eat the whole 8 by myself every Wednesday evening (movie night). I make a small batch for my wife first. I have a problem. My popper is wearing out and an 8 quart stir crazy is impossible to find,anywhere. Do you have any secret places to find one that you may be willing to share with me.
    Thanks a lot

  28. I love the 8 qt stir crazy. My current one, bought July 2008 is showing signs of needing replacement. I can’t find one either. Amazon says currently unavailable coming soon. I once bought one from JC enny on-line. Still looking.

  29. Why is my popcorn always tough when I use the Stir Crazy? I have tried many types of popcorn and oil. I’ve left the lid on and popped with the lid off. Nothing seems to make a difference. I end up feeding it to the birds.

  30. We’re more or less grain-free in our house now, but I still eat popcorn on rare occasions. I use bacon grease to pop it. Yeah.

  31. Don’t for get to use popcorn salt instead of table salt. Also, we like eating our popcorn out of the stircrazy bowls (because of the salt that sticks to the sides). So when you replace your stir-crazy poppers, be sure to keep the old plastic bowl and lid so that you can use it with your new popper and now you can have two bowls.

  32. These poppers are highly desirable by those who’ve tried them.  They work GREAT and they are minimal care.  The only difficult thing about them is flipping the fully-popped, fully-loaded unit over to drop the popped corn into the bowl/lid.  It does get a little hot, and isn’t light to lift.  We are on our 3rd one because, at some point, one is tired or careless and drops the base from table height onto the floor.  This usually breaks off at least one handle of the base housing.  You can still use it, but it becomes really really difficult to flip, and some folks are afraid of exposed electric heating coils (oil fires?).  DON’T throw away old parts!  All the bases are the same, only the lid size changes, so you can have an extra bowl around, and extra power cords and stirring parts, even if you have to get a new base!  Wish I’d known this before.  When we have friends over, an extra bowl or 2 would have come in handy.

  33. Popcorn rocks! I eat popcorn easily 3-4 nights a week (it’s whole grain, you know).  I bought a Whirly Pop because it reminded me of the enameled one my mom had when I was a kid, and used it til it finally broke. When I went to get another I found the Stir Crazy 6-Qt. at Target. Love watching the stuff pop (I use Orville, of course, cause it always pops up fluffy), then flipping it over and Voila! it’s a serving bowl. Buying another one this week!

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