Popcorn is the perfect movie snack for a reason.
It’s inexpensive, easy to make, fun to eat, and very delicious. But more than anything, popcorn is versatile. Popcorn absorbs flavors so well that there are dozens of different variations on this simple grain. From a light, salty snack to a sweet, rich dessert, popcorn can be anything you want with a few simple ingredients.
The best example of this is kettle corn, a quick, easy, delicious treat for any home movie night. In this article, we’ll teach you how to make homemade kettle corn
What is Kettle Corn?
On the sweet vs salty spectrum, kettle corn occupies the middle ground. Not quite the salty snack that is regular popcorn, and not quite the super-sweet goodness that is caramel corn, kettle corn strikes the perfect balance between snackability and sweet treat.
Kettle corn is sweet and salty. It’s got more of a crunch than regular popcorn, but doesn’t have that teeth-sticking effect that caramel corn does. Making kettle corn is very similar to making regular stove-top popcorn. Unlike regular popcorn, kettle corn cooks with sugar. When done right, the sugar coating caramelizes slightly, leaving a lovely golden sheen over the popped kernels. The cooking process sometimes clumps kernels together, leading to fun popcorn clusters!
Like regular popcorn, kettle corn is incredibly easy to make at home. It also stores well, meaning a large batch can be a delicious snack throughout the week.
Making it yourself also ensures your sweet snack is free of unwanted additives and flavorings, keeping it pure and delicious.
Easy, Homemade, Stovetop Kettle Corn Recipe
With only 4 ingredients and 2 materials, you’ll be enjoying homemade kettle corn in no time. Here’s what you need to get started:
Ingredients and materials:
- ½ cup popcorn kernels
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- ¼ cup granulated organic cane sugar
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- Non-stick pot with lid
- Long wooden spoon
Step-by-step kettle corn directions:
Step 1: Pour vegetable oil into your pot. Heat over medium heat.
Step 2: Add kernels, sugar, and salt into the pot. Mix with a spoon. Cover the pot. If your pot lid fully seals your pot, leave a gap to allow steam to escape while cooking.
Step 3: To help prevent burnt kernels, shake the pot every ten or so seconds.
Step 4: Set a timer for 4 minutes. After 2 – 3 minutes, the kernels should start to shift in color, and give off a mouthwatering aroma. After 3 – 4 minutes, the kernels should start popping.
Step 5: Once popping begins, remember to keep shaking the pot every ten or so seconds, and listen! If you do not hear a pop for more than 3 or 4 seconds, remove pot from heat.
Step 6: Pour finished popcorn into a large mixing bowl.
Step 7: Let the popcorn cool for a couple of minutes, and enjoy!
Step 8: Clean your pot while your popcorn cools! Any burnt sugars at the bottom of the pot will be much harder to clean once they have cooled off and hardened. Use hot water, soap, and a scrubber sponge to scrub off any sugars still left in your pot as soon as possible. This will save you a potential future headache!
Tip: Do not pour hot popcorn into a plastic bag or another thin plastic storage item. The hot, exposed kernels can melt through plastic.
Tips and Tricks for your Next Kettle Corn Recipe
With every popcorn recipe, you’re going to have some unpopped kernels leftover afterwards. With kettle corn in particular, due to the sugar and clumping, unpopped kernels can sometimes stick on to your tasty kettle corn. Here are a few tips to get rid of unpopped kernels:
Tip #1: Shake It Up
For unpopped kernels stuck to your kettle corn, try covering the serving bowl and giving the bowl a good shake. The jostling can help knock these sticky unpopped kernels off the kettle corn and send them to the bottom of the bowl.
Tip #2: Spoon and Sift
Remove unpopped kernels from the bottom of the bowl with a long spoon. You can also transfer the popped kettle corn into a new bowl, leaving the unpopped kernels at the bottom of the original bowl.
Tip #3: Try Turbinado, or “raw” sugar
Swapping cane sugar for turbinado sugar can give your kettle corn a richer, darker sugar coating. Unlike traditional cane sugar, turbinado sugar comes from the first pressing of sugar cane, and features a more natural, molasses flavor. Cooking with turbinado sugar leads to a deeper golden brown color for your kettle corn.
Tip #4: Brown sugar “caramel” kettle corn
By swapping granulated sugar with organic brown sugar, you can make your homemade kettle corn taste more like caramel corn, without actually having to make caramel corn. Brown sugar has a tendency to burn and stick more than regular sugar, so be sure to clean your pot immediately after cooking.
Tip #5: Fun add-ins
You can easily add fun spices and munchies into your cooked kettle corn. A dusting of organic ground cinnamon is particularly festive and tasty. Nuts like almonds, pecans, and cashews add a delicious nutty crunch to any sugary kettle corn.
Tip #6: Stubborn pot stains
If you have a particularly stubborn pot stain after cooking kettle corn, try leaving your pot soaking in hot water for at least 15 minutes. If that doesn’t disrupt the burnt sugars, try using baking soda, mesh cloth, walnut scouring pad, or steel wool to clean, whichever works best with your pot.
Kettle Corn for All
If you’re in the mood for an easy, homemade, sweet and salty snack, kettle corn is the way to go. With a bowl of homemade kettle corn, you’ll be sure to please any crowd, without giving yourself a headache in the kitchen.
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