This old fashioned kettle corn recipe is sweet, salty and reminiscent of the good old days.
Dusty air swirls around you as vendors call out from red and white striped tents. The sound of children laughing mingles with braying livestock, and wafts of fried food tantalize your nostrils as the hot sun marinates a festive crowd.
Ah, a good old fashioned fair.
Is it just me, or do you long for the simple summer days of childhood where you wandered aimlessly with friends through a jostling, happy fairground, seeking out the best treats and delights?
Let this old fashioned sweet and salty kettle corn recipe take you back to the good old days.
With the perfect amount of salt and sugar and just a few ingredients, you can whip up this recipe in less than 10 minutes. Time traveling never got easier!
What Gives Kettle Corn It’s Flavor?
Kettle Corn gets it’s unique popcorn flavor from the sugar! The heated sugar slightly caramelizes when cooking and sweetens up the popcorn. Then, the added salt accentuates the sugary sweetness.
It’s a family favorite around here… and a treat we’ve often eaten at the Oregon State fair and fall pumpkin patches.
But the absolute best way to eat kettle corn is snuggled up together on the couch, at home. That’s where this amazing recipe comes into play.
Four Ingredient Kettle Corn (Sweet + Salty Version)
Recipes with only a few ingredients win the blue ribbon in my book. And this gourmet tasting popcorn treat has just 4 ingredients. You’ll need these easy ingredients for this sweet and salty kettle corn:
- Refined Coconut Oil – I always have coconut oil on hand because of it’s versatility. But feel free to use other oils (like canola), just make sure they can withstand the heat. (Do not use unrefined coconut oil).
- Popcorn Kernels – Popcorn is the star of the show in this recipe! Always make sure to buy kernels that have not been genetically modified, see below for my recommendations.
- Sugar – The sugar in this recipe is what takes the humble popcorn kernel and sweetens it up into a truly delightful treat.
- Salt – Accenting the sweetness, the salt scattered over this sweet treat is truly essential. That sweet and salty combo makes this recipe absolutely irresistible ( which is why I don’t make it unless I’m going to share). If you really love salt, add more!
Quick Ingredient Notes:
- Refined Coconut Oil can also be subbed with vegetable oil or other oil with high smoke point. Do not use unrefined coconut oil, as it has a lower smoke point and will also render a coconut flavor!
- I use Non GMO popcorn and typically pick up a big container of Orville’s from the store. You can also purchase it right here.
- This is an old fashioned kettle corn recipe, and you’ll find it does NOT skimp on the sugar. You can, however, easily reduce the sugar in this recipe if desired. Your kettle corn will just be less sweet!
- This recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon of salt. You may like a little more or less depending on your tastes. I enjoy using flaky sea salt on ours!
My 3 year old, Malachi, absolutely loves to cook! He found this recipe in an old Gooseberry cookbook and asked to make it. We modified and perfected it together!
Let your kids explore new recipes with you… if they can’t help with the more technical aspects, have them help gather ingredients and add the salt! Getting in the kitchen at a young age is invaluable.
Why Non GMO Popcorn Kernels?
What does Non GMO even mean? Non GMO means that the popcorn seeds (or kernels) have not been genetically engineered. These foods are 100% natural, and free from chemicals, antibiotics, and growth hormones.
Non GMO foods are always a healthier option, and homemade popcorn is an easy and inexpensive way to use this healthier ingredient!
Feeding A Crowd?
In order to reduce the chance of burning the sugar, I do not recommend doubling this recipe. Instead, when feeding a crowd, whip up multiple batches of this popcorn.
Kettle corn is so quick and easy to make that you can prep this kettle corn in advance and store in air tight containers prior to your party. You will want to wash your pot in between uses. Take care not to burn the sugar by shaking as the popcorn pops (see below) and your pot will wash quickly after each use.
Enjoy this popcorn on a rainy afternoon with this delicious, healthy hot chocolate.
Why You’ll Love This Old Fashioned Popcorn Recipe:
You’ll love this old fashioned kettle corn recipe for many reasons:
- It’s easy and quick to make
- Kettle corn is an inexpensive at home treat
- It tastes gourmet and makes a wonderful gift
- You can make large amounts of kettle corn inexpensively for a party
- It’s low mess, using just one pot!
- Once they’ve tasted this sweet and salty crunch, your kids will love you forever and you’ll be the most popular mom on the block 😉
While most of the recipes on my blog are healthy, you will find me featuring delicious but not so healthy treats once in a while. We’ll blame it on my lovely (and hungry) munchkins!
What Kind Of Pot To Use For Stovetop Popcorn (And Kettle Corn)
The pan or pot you use for your homemade popcorn is very important. You will want to use something light and easy to lift and shake. You will also want to use a glass top so that you can see your popcorn popping.
Use a wide pot or pan that is not too deep for best results, that has a lid. I am using 6 quart stock pot with glass lid for this recipe, which works perfectly. This small stock pot on amazon is similar to the one I’m using here.
Do not use a heavy pot or pan that will be difficult to lift and shake (such as cast iron).
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Shake up this recipe with a few easy variations:
- Make an autumn treat by sprinkling pumpkin pie spice over the finished kettle corn
- Up the gourmet level by melting dark or milk chocolate and drizzling over kettle corn
- Add mix ins with mini chocolate chips and marshmallows
- For Holiday kettle corn add nutmeg and cinnamon
How To Make Old Fashioned Kettle Corn:
- Heat oil over medium high heat in a medium size stock pot with lid
- Add 3 popcorn kernels to oil, place lid on top of pot
- When all 3 popcorn kernels pop, reduce heat to medium low and add popcorn
- Shake kernels slightly to coat with oil
- Add sugar and shake popcorn, oil, and sugar together
- Replace lid on pot
- Shake pot regularly as popcorn begins to pop. Alternate heating and shaking your popcorn every 10 seconds to prevent sugar from burning
- Once popping stops remove pot from heat and immediately transfer popped corn to large bowl
- Sprinkle salt over kettle corn and enjoy!
While making salty and sweet old fashioned kettle corn is pretty simple, it may take a few rounds to get a solid hang of the shake and pop process. But once you get it down, it’s simple and fun!
Because you are shaking a hot pan over a burner, be sure to have an adult make this recipe. As you shake the popcorn use pot holders as needed.
What Gives Kettle Corn It’s Flavor?
The combination of sugar and salt used in Kettle Corn gives it it’s irresistible and delicious flavor!
Is Kettle Corn Healthier Than Popcorn?
Because of the added sugar, kettle corn is definitely NOT a healthier treat than straight up old fashioned popcorn. It is however a wonderfully delicious treat to indulge in from time to time, and easy to make for a party. It is a fun treat that both adults and children adore.
Kettle Corn Versus Popcorn
What is the difference between kettle corn and popcorn? Kettle corn is popped with sugar, resulting in a sweet, gourmet treat.
Traditional popcorn, of course, does not involve sugar, and is generally healthier.
Enjoy this sweet and salty treat with a glass of this homemade lemonade that tastes like a creamsicle.
How Long Can You Store Sweet+ Salty Homemade Kettle Corn?
When stored in an airtight container, you can store kettle corn for several weeks. (If friends and family can resist it for that long!)
If you are using a plastic bag, remove all excess air before sealing.
Troubleshooting Your Homemade Kettle Corn
Homemade kettle corn is simple and easy, but there are still a few steps which can be challenging. Pay careful attention to:
- Check size and weight of your pot or pan. Make sure you are using a lightweight pan that you can shake easily
- Remember to turn your heat down while cooking and shaking your popcorn. Make sure to shake, shake shake! to prevent burning
- Use a generous amount of oil…. don’t skimp! Make sure to use enough oil and give your kernels a good shake to coat when you add them in.
Old Fashioned Sweet and Salty Kettle Corn
- 1 medium size pot
- 1 glass lid for pot
- 1 popcorn bowl
- 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
- 3 single popcorn kernels for testing readiness of heat and oil
- 2 tbsp refined coconut oil
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Heat and melt coconut oil in pan over medium high heat2 tbsp refined coconut oil
- Once heated, add 3 popcorn kernels and cover with lid3 single popcorn kernels
- When the 3 popcorn kernels pop, reduce heat to medium low
- Add 1/2 cup popcorn kernels to pot, shake to coat with oil1/2 cup popcorn kernels
- Add sugar and shake to coat1/4 cup sugar
- Cover pot with lid
- Alternate shaking popcorn and resting on heat for 10 seconds at a time
- Once popcorn has popped, remove from heat immediately
- Immediately pour popcorn in bowl
- Sprinkle with sea salt and enjoy1/2 tsp salt
For more easy and delicious kid friendly recipes visit: