Kettle Corn
Kettle Corn

You’re just four ingredients and five minutes away from a fresh batch of homemade kettle corn! This salty-sweet popcorn recipe is dangerously chewy and quick enough to make on a whim.

In this recipe

  • What is kettle corn?
  • The best popcorn to use
  • The best pot for kettle corn
  • Kettle Corn Swaps and Subs
  • How to store kettle corn
  • Troubleshooting kettle corn
  • Unpopped kernels: A word of caution
  • More sweet snacks

For many, kettle corn is reminiscent of the popped corn flavors that waft through the air at county fairs, where a cacophony of rapid fire from huge kettles promised a feather-light treat at the midway point.

Why wait for the fair? For a quick fix, you can make this kettle corn recipe at home in minutes. It’s a snack and a dessert in one. Those who appreciate bite-to-bite variety will love the occasional, delicate pockets of caramelized sugar and sprinkled sprinkles of salt.

What is kettle corn?

Sweet and salty at the same time, kettle corn is the golden child of regular popcorn and caramel corn. It’s not as sweet or gooey as caramel corn, it only uses a small dose of sugar that melts and slightly coats the kernels as they pop.

No candy making required! And I promise, it’s got a lot more character and a cleaner flavor than an (admittedly convenient) bag of microwave kettle corn can muster.

I noticed that each batch is slightly different. That’s part of its charm. Sometimes the sugar just melts; sometimes it caramelizes.

The best popcorn to use

As long as it hasn’t been sitting in your cupboard for years, most popcorn kernels will work in kettle corn.

However, I recently bought Amish Country popcorn, and I’m a convert. It pops extra fluffy, with real corn flavor.

The best pot for kettle corn

For disaster-free kettle corn, use a pot that isn’t flimsy or bulky. A cheap soup pot? The thin bottom means the sugar will burn. On the other hand, your heirloom Le Creuset Dutch Oven is way too heavy for you to shake fast enough.

Use a saucepan that holds at least 5 liters, has a tight-fitting lid, and has a sturdy bottom.

Gadget lovers and popcorn fans might want to consider investing in a Whirley Pop, a special stovetop popper with a hand crank that moves the popcorn. I’ve had mine for years and adore it, but remember, a decent soup pot makes fabulous kettle corn.

If you want to dive deep into the best popcorn makers, we’ve done the heavy lifting for you. Read on to learn about some of our most popular popcorn makers.

Kettle Corn Swaps and Subs

Play around with flavor combinations to customize your kettle corn.

  • Pick your oil: I love coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, and avocado oil. All of them can withstand the heat. But canola oil or vegetable oil is fine too.
  • Switch up the sugar: Use brown sugar, turbinado sugar, or maple syrup instead of regular white sugar (don’t use honey, which is too sticky and burns easily).
  • Spice it up: Combine 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper with the sugar and salt, or add 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice.
  • Use a different salt: Kosher salt works well here, swapped 1:1 for regular salt.

How to store kettle corn

While it’s great for sudden cravings, kettle corn tastes best — crunchier and sweeter — an hour or two after it’s made. Cool it completely, and once stored in an airtight container, it’ll stay crisp and oh-so-yummy for three to four days.

Troubleshooting kettle corn

Got a pot of burnt sugar or burnt popcorn? Either the heat was too high, you didn’t stir the sugar and salt mixture into the corn properly, your pan has a bottom that’s too thin, or you overcooked the corn.

If you smell burnt or caramelized sugar, remove the pan from the heat, even if you think you need to cook it longer. This stuff goes from ideal to burnt in seconds.

Unpopped kernels: A word of caution

Our tried-and-true perfect popcorn has a popping method that minimizes unpopped kernels. However, kettle corn is a little different.

To reduce the risk of the sugar burning, you’ll need to remove the pot from the heat a little sooner — no hopeful extra seconds of simmering to ensure any laggards pop. It’s better to be safe and deal with a few hard grains than a burnt pot or popcorn.

The melted sugar can cause unpopped kernels to stick to popped ones, so eat corn on the cob with a degree of mindfulness rather than scooping handfuls into your mouth lest you go against a rocky kernel. I don’t want you to destroy a molar or a filling.

More sweet snacks

  • candied walnuts
  • Caramel Corn
  • Homemade granola bars
  • Pecan Chocolates
  • Chocolate Hazelnut Mazo Toffee
  • Spicy caramel popcorn clusters

kettle corn

preparation time
2 minutes

cooking time
3 minutes

total time
5 minutes

up to 6 servings

6 cups

Kettle corn comes together in no time, so make sure you have all your ingredients and equipment ready before you turn on the burner.

With kettle corn, a few unpopped kernels can and will happen. Slow down a bit and chew gently so you don’t damage your dental work.


  • 2 tablespoon sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt

  • 1 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • 1/4 Cup popcorn kernels


  1. Mix salt and sugar, set aside:

    In a small bowl, combine the sugar and salt and mix with your finger. Put aside.

  2. Heat oil, pop test grains:

    Place a medium to large stock pot (at least 5 liters) with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil and 3 to 4 popcorn kernels. Secure the lid.

  3. Add popcorn and spices, stir to coat:

    Once the test kernels begin to pop, add the rest of the popcorn along with the sugar and salt mixture. Stir quickly with a wooden spoon to combine (skip this step and you risk burning the sugar).

  4. Shake the pot:

    Quickly put the lid back on and continue cooking, shaking the pot constantly. It won’t pop at first, but in less than a minute the popcorn will start popping. Remove from heat when you smell hints of caramel or popping slows to 1 second between pops.

  5. Empty the corn cobs into a bowl and let them cool down a bit:

    Quickly flip the popcorn into a serving bowl and let cool for a few minutes.

    If there is any melted or burnt sugar residue in the saucepan, add a few cups of water, bring to the boil and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes to dissolve the sugar. Pour the hot water down the sink and your pot should be in much better shape.

  6. Pick out unpopped kernels, then enjoy:

    Before you get started, sort through the kettle corn and pick out as many unpopped kernels as possible. A few stragglers often get caught on clusters of the popped kernels.

    Serve warm or at room temperature for maximum crunch and flavor. Ball corn will keep for three to four days in a tightly sealed container.

nutritional information (per serving)
58 calories
4g Fat
6g carbohydrates
0g protein
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Hello everybody, Even if you're limited on time and money, I believe you can prepare wonderful food with everyday products. All you have to do is cook cleverly and creatively!