The BEst Kettle Corn is homemade
If you’ve been to any state fairs or county festivals, you know the scene: a sea of people, both young and old, dot every path leading to carnival rides and mini donuts. Most memorable of all is that sweet buttery aroma wafting through the air, leading to the kettle corn tent.
It’s hard to resist that sweet and salty kettle corn magnificence. I don’t even try to resist; I obediently follow my nose and get myself to that warm, freshly popped kettle corn pronto. Inevitably, everyone (especially the kids) in the group starts grabbing at my bag of kettle corn, which never lasts long. All you mamas know what I’m talking about
This is why it makes absolute sense to make your own homemade kettle corn. Popcorn is the best when it’s freshly popped, with its irresistible crunch and salty-sweet flavor.
Crunchy kettle corn is a winner at every game day party, birthday event, and family movie night. Just grab a big pot and 4 simple ingredients to get the party started.
How to Make the Best Kettle Corn
- Use a heavy, large pot with tight fitting lid. I always use my trusty large All-Clad pot, as it heats evenly throughout.
- Use good quality corn kernels. I’ve used many different brands, and consistently get the best results using name brand kernels vs. generic kernels.
- Use fresh corn kernels. Fresh corn kernels pop up larger and fluffier than old corn kernels.
- Extra light olive oil (not extra virgin) can handle the heat and won’t impart any unwanted flavors to your popcorn. Vegetable or canola oil will work as well.
- Be sure the oil is hot enough before adding all the corn kernels; we use the 3-kernel test, described in recipe.
- To avoid burning and ensure even popping, pick up the pot and shake it vigorously every few seconds. Consider this your arm workout for the day.
Oil, Sugar, and Salt
Did I mention there are only 4 ingredients, including the pinch of salt? Aside from good-quality corn kernels, you’ll need oil, sugar, and table salt. The end.
How do you keep kettle corn crispy and fresh?
- Store your kettle corn popcorn out of direct sunlight. A dark, dry, cool space is best.
- Let kettle corn reach room temperature before storing it. Otherwise, humidity will rise in the container or bag and make your popcorn soggy. Nobody wants that.
- Once kettle corn is completely cool, store it in an airtight container. If stored correctly, kettle corn can stay crisp for a week at room temp.
- Because kettle corn is coated with sugar that crystalizes over the popcorn, kettle corn naturally keeps its crunch for longer than regular buttered popcorn.
Can you freeze popcorn?
You may be as surprised as I was when I first discovered popcorn can be frozen for several weeks when kept in an airtight freezer bag. This little hack prolongs popcorn’s freshness several weeks longer than usual.
You can freeze most kinds of popcorn, including store-bought varieties, and prolong their crispiness for much longer than pantry storage. If I’d known this trick earlier I’d have rescued many half-eaten bags of popcorn from early demise.
Q: Is Kettle Corn a healthy snack?
A: Kettle corn is healthy-ish, as we pop it using olive oil, the least amount of sugar needed to gain great flavor, and just a pinch of salt. Corn is also packed with fiber and keeps you full longer. It’s a deliciously healthier alternative to other processed snacks.
Q: Is Kettle Corn gluten-free?
A: Yes, our kettle corn recipe is naturally gluten-free. Only corn, olive oil, sugar, and salt are used. It’s also dairy-free, since we don’t use butter.
Q: How do I keep my kettle corn from burning?
A: First, be sure to shake the pan vigorously every few seconds to ensure even cooking. Once popping has slowed down, remove pot from heat and keep shaking the pot until popping ceases. Remove popcorn immediately from the pot so it can quickly cool to room temp.
More Party Snacks:
- Easy Caramel Corn Recipe
- Zebra Caramel Popcorn
- Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce (4-Ingredient)
- Gluten Free Ranch Snack Mix Recipe
- Samoa Snack Mix
- 10 Healthy(ish) Snack Recipes
Did you make this?
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How to Make Kettle Corn at Home
- ¼ cup extra light olive oil, not extra virgin
- ½ cup good quality, fresh popcorn kernels
- ¼ cup sugar
- table salt
- Heat oil with 3 test kernels in large, deep, heavy pot with tight fitting lid, over medium-high heat. Once all 3 kernels pop, your oil is hot enough to start popping the rest of the kernels.
- Add popcorn kernels and sugar; stir and cover. Shake pot vigorously every few seconds (yes, every few seconds). I alternate between setting pot down to rest a few seconds and shaking it a few seconds. This is a bit of an arm workout, but it must be done so sugar/popcorn won't burn.
- Once popping has slowed, remove pot from heat and keep shaking until popping ceases. Sprinkle evenly with a pinch or two of salt. Give it another good shake, and immediately pour kettle corn into a large bowl.
- Break up clumps as needed, and let cool enough to eat. Store cooled popcorn in airtight container or zipper bag up to a week at room temp.