Kettle Corn

5 Min Read

How to Make Kettle Corn at Home

My homemade kettle corn recipe makes light as air, perfectly sweet, and slightly salty popcorn that tastes just like what you can buy at your local fair, carnival or Fall festival–only fresher and significantly less expensive.

Similar to my caramel popcorn, this recipe fits right in among my other festival favorites, including my super simple funnel cake, chewy soft pretzels, and flavorful fried pickles. It’s also been a serious pregnancy craving of mine this time around, so I’ve been making it pretty much nonstop here for the past few weeks.

Today, I’ll show you how to make kettle corn in your own kitchen using a simple technique. It does involve a slight arm workout and some careful listening, but don’t worry, I’ve including several tips along the way to help guide you through the cooking process.

If you’re ready for your kitchen to smell just like the carnivals of your childhood, keep scrolling!

What You Need

With only four ingredients, this kettle corn recipe couldn’t be any simpler.

  • Oil. We’re using just a little bit of oil to cook our corn and help the seasoning stick. You can use vegetable, canola, or even coconut oil.
  • Popcorn. Regular popcorn kernels will work just fine for this recipe. If you want to be extra fancy, you can buy mushroom popcorn kernels, which is what most carnival vendors use. These kernels puff up to be extra round to catch all of that sweet and salty flavor, but I can’t always find them at my grocery store.
  • Sugar. As the popcorn cooks, the sugar melts and coats the popcorn, creating that unique flavor that is very different from from regular popcorn. I use plain granulated sugar in this recipe, but you could also use brown sugar for a more caramelized flavor.
  • Sea salt. To counteract the sweetness of the sugar, we add some sea salt (or table salt). While I include a measurement in the recipe, you’ll need to add more at the end and the best way to know how much salt to add is to taste it as you go. If the popcorn tastes bland, you need more salt!

You’ll also need a medium-sized pot with a lid. While it’s important to use a quality pot with a heavy bottom (to keep the kettle corn from burning), you also want to keep in mind that you’ll be picking up this pot and repeatedly shaking it, which can be quite an arm workout! This is not the time to use your heavy cast-iron pot!

Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!

How to Make Kettle Corn

  1. Add oil to a saucepan over medium heat. Drop in a few popcorn kernels before placing the lid on the pot and listen for the first few pops.
  2. Add remaining popcorn, salt, and sugar. Stir, then replace the lid.
  3. Using oven mitts, remove pot from stovetop, holding the lid on tightly. Shake the pot back and forth thoroughly before returning to heat. Do this every 10 seconds or so as the popcorn pops, until there’s only a few seconds pause between pops.
  4. Remove the pan from the stove, take off the lid (away from your face!) and pour the popcorn on your prepared baking sheet. Spread the popcorn over the sheet with a spatula (it might look a little wet–this is normal!), allowing unpopped kernels to fall through and being extra careful to not burn yourself. Let the popcorn cool slightly before sprinkling additional salt to taste. Enjoy while still warm.
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