Foolproof Kettle Corn Recipe

Kettle corn is one of those snacks that you probably really do think of as a special treat; it's a foodstuff you buy freshly made at the fair or at a country store, lest you settle for bagged kettle corn (albeit knowing it won't be as good). But it's not something you can make at home yourself, right? Well, actually, provided you have a few common kitchen tools, some basic ingredients, and about six minutes of free time, you can. And with this quick and easy recipe care of Susan Olayinka of The Flexible Fridge at your disposal, you should, too!

And that's not just because this stuff is crunchy, tasty, and satisfying on its own, as Olayinka explains. "It can also be paired with other foods and drinks," she says. "Try pairing it with a cup of coffee or tea, or enjoy it as a dessert with some ice cream or whipped cream. It's also delicious in a savory dish like chili or soup. No matter how you enjoy it, kettle corn is sure to be a hit."

Gather your ingredients for kettle corn

All you need to make a great batch of kettle corn is some coconut oil, salt, sugar, and, of course, some popcorn kernels. But once you've tried this "basic" recipe (we add the quotation marks because it's sweet and tasty as is), don't stop there.

"There are a lot of possibilities when it comes to flavoring kettle corn," Olayinka says. "Some other ideas include adding caramel, spice, or even a candy coating to the corn. Just be sure not to add too much, or it will ruin the batch. Experiment and have fun!"

Heat the oil and melt the sugar

To start the kettle corn prep, preheat a large, deep pan on medium heat and add the coconut oil. One the oil is hot, add the salt and sugar to the pan at the same time, and then start stirring. Continue to cook and stir the mixture until the sugar is semi-melted/dissolved, but, as Olayinka warns, don't go too far: "You do not want it to fully melt, or the sugar will burn by the end."

Add the kernels and pop the kettle corn

Once the sugar (and salt) have partially combined into the oil, add the kettle corn kernels to the pan stir them to coat. Soon, the kernels will start popping away. Once the first few do pop, cover the pan and turn the heat under it to low, letting the kettle corn cook for about 4 to 5 minutes. Gently shake the pan during the cooking to prevent the kettle corn from burning.

"When making kettle corn, be sure to watch the temperature of pan as well as the corn," says Olayinka. "If either gets too hot, it will ruin the batch."

After all (or almost all) of the kernels have popped, remove the pan from the heat and let it cool, then transfer the kettle corn to a serving bowl. "Be sure to let the kettle corn cool completely before trying to remove it from the pan so that it doesn't stick and break apart," Olayinka adavises.

Enjoy your kettle corn

When stored in an airtight container, homemade kettle corn will last well for about 2 weeks, and may even retain its crunch for 3 weeks. It gets that crunch thanks to the same ingredient that gives it that sweetness, by the way: the sugar. 

Sugar is the primary ingredient that sets kettle corn apart from regular popcorn which can, after all, also be made in a "kettle." The sugar coats each piece of corn popped in that oiled pan, adding taste and texture and helping any other ingredients bond well with the popped kernels. So if you did add anything, from cinnamon to cayenne to cacao, thank the sugar for tying it all together.

Foolproof Kettle Corn Recipe
5 from 52 ratings
Provided you have a few common kitchen tools, some basic ingredients, and about six minutes of free time, you can make carnival-worthy kettle corn right at home
Prep Time
Cook Time
kettle corn in white bowl
Total time: 6 minutes
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • ½ cup popcorn kernels
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  1. Preheat a large pan on medium heat and add the coconut oil.
  2. Add the salt and sugar. Stir until the sugar is semi-melted (you do not want it to fully melt, otherwise the sugar will burn by the end).
  3. Add the popcorn kernels to the pan.
  4. After a few minutes, the kernels will start popping. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low.
  5. Allow kernels to continue popping for 4 to 5 minutes, gently shaking the pan constantly to avoid it from burning.
  6. After kernels have stopped popping, transfer kettle corn to a serving bowl.
Calories per Serving 139
Total Fat 7.4 g
Saturated Fat 6.0 g
Trans Fat 0.0
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 17.3 g
Dietary Fiber 1.9 g
Total Sugars 6.4 g
Sodium 65.2 mg
Protein 1.6 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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