How to Make Kettle Corn

Do you love Kettle Corn? Have you been to fairs and festivals where you have seen this wonderful snack for sale? I have, and I wanted to make it at home. I think whatever can be done out of the house, can be prepared at home.

basket of homemade kettle corn

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You may not know this, but Kettle Corn was originally made in the 18th century thanks to our Dutch Settlers. Yes, initially this was made in a large kettle over an open flame.

Don’t let the fact you don’t have a large open fire and a big kettle to stop you from making this at home. You can make Kettle Corn from scratch in a pot on the stovetop.

I have made this in a standard pot with a lid and I have recently made this in my Whirley Pop. I love to make popcorn in my Whirley Pop. It has an arm in the pot that your crank a handle on and it keeps the popcorn in motion that is perfect for making Kettle Corn.

It is simply an excellent way to make popcorn, and if you love making popcorn, it will save your everyday pots from heavy cleaning from the oil that can spatter around in your pot.

Recipe Ingredients

  • Popcorn
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Coconut Oil

That’s it! Just 4 simple ingredients.

kettle corn ingredients

For this recipe, you can use most cooking oils. I will either use coconut oil or neutral oil. Someone will ask me if they can use olive oil; I haven’t tried it. I typically use canola oil or corn oil. I love the flavor of coconut oil and the popcorn just tastes better to me when I use it.

Cooking Notes

If you don’t use a Whirley Pop popcorn popper, you may get some sugar that will burn on the bottom of your pan. If you are using a stainless steel pan, you can simply add some water to the pan, and set the pan on the stove, and boil the water for about 10 to 15 minutes and then scrub out the burnt sugar.

Don’t let a little burnt sugar in the bottom of your pan stop you from making Kettle Corn. A potential pan scrubbing is just collateral damage to this fine tasting treat.

a basket filled with homemade kettle corn

When making this popcorn, you will want first to heat the oil first. Then add in the sugar, salt, and popcorn all at once.

Be diligent when popping. You may even want to gently shake the pan over the heat. This may help the popcorn from burning. Ideally, the kettle corn shouldn’t brown too much and the sugar should be invisible over the popcorn.

Love popcorn snacks? Try these favorites

basket of homemade kettle corn

Homemade Kettle Corn

Kettle Corn isn't difficult to make. 
4.56 from 9 votes
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Course: Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Kettle Corn
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 71kcal


  • 1/4 cup coconut oil vegetable oil is ok
  • 1/4 cup popcorn
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  • In a large pot, add oil over high heat.
  • Heat oil for a moment or two, and add popcorn, sugar, and salt. If using a Whirley Pop start to turn the handle.
  • Pop popcorn and remove it from the heat as you hear the popping begin to wind down. If using a standard pot you may want to gently agitate the pot while cooking.
  • Place the popped popcorn into a bowl immediately.



Calories: 71kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 0g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 145mg | Fiber: 0g | Sugar: 2g

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of's Dining Out in the Home, and's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Elida

    5 stars
    Okay. Round 2… came out good. There was just a little bit of sugar left at the bottom of the pan. I’ll leave the salt out until after. It was just in certain spots. I waited until the popcorn just started to pop and then I added the sugar and the salt. I’ll definitely make it again!

  2. Jennifer Palmer

    4 stars
    It’s delicious! I bought a Whirly Pop and love it. No burning at all. Used Magic Mushroom popcorn. Yum!! The salt and sugar is perfect in it. The coconut flavor comes through a bit, but it’s ok. May try corn oil next.

  3. Bill

    5 stars
    Came out great using a Whirley Pop and mushroom popcorn. The only thing I would change next time is to add a little more salt. Still five star.

  4. Anonymous

    2 stars
    This recipe is great if you have made something with sugar on a pot or pan before. However I have not so the mess I ended up with when I was done was horrible . If you don’t like the idea of burnt sugar on the bottom of your precious pot/pan that you are going to use then I suggest just buying it. Me on the other hand, I have worked almost an entire day just scrubbing off the burnt mess… yes I did leave it to soak and I even boiled the water in the pot I used to make it easier to scrub off. I had to use a metal sponge thingy to get all of it off.

    Then again if you know what your doing and how to do this then go ahead and do it. This is for people like me that don’t like to clean up a big mess when they are done cooking what was supposed to be a 5 minute snack at most.

  5. Shan

    I find that when I dump all ingredients into the hot coconut oil my sugar burned. I removed the burnt sugar and added more sugar when I added the kernels but there was no sweet flavor…

    • Stephanie

      I don’t know exactly what happened, I might guess that it the pot may have been too hot, or you may have needed to stir the popcorn and sugar mixture around in the pot so it doesn’t stay in one spot and burn.

  6. Debbie

    Cute story Steve. Annie really? There is no way I am making this in my kitchen. Too messy. Maybe outside on a chilly fall day!

  7. Steve Thomas

    What you have is a nice snack, Stephanie, but it’s not really kettle corn. I went through bushels of popcorn learning how to make it right, and I found that if I made it for a date, she would suddenly start looking at me like I was an alchemist, and if she had kids, they were instantly on my side. (If you marry for money, you’ll work hard to earn it, but if you get kids, you’re a lucky man.)
    Alton Brown recommends using a wok or a stainless mixing bowl on the range for popcorn, covering it with aluminum foil, like Jiffy Pop You get intense heat in the oil, and when the corn pops, it lands further up, where there is less intense heat. I use a heavy calero from Imusa, but I used to use a heavy dutch oven just fine. “Heavy” is the keyword, because you need to keep shaking the pan. Using a thin stockpot results in burnt corn.
    Add 1 cups of fresh pure white lard, and turn the burner as high as it gets. Wait until the fart not only melts but shimmers. Using most liquid oils results in smoking. Peanut oil o\is OK, but the flavor will be a little off. Once the oil has reached that temperature, pour in a half cup of granulated sugar, and stir until the sugar melts and starts to caramelize.
    Caramelization adds the predominant flavor. The light color of your dessert, Stephanie, means your sugar didn’t carmelize long enough, and you ended up with “sweet popcorn” instead of kettle corn.
    The caramelization process is rapid, so you have to move fast at this point. Dump in about 1/4 cup of popcorn and instead of stirring, shake the pan on top of the burner madly. I prefer to use regular popcorn instead of the Orville Reddenbacher or Pop Warner kind, because the high-volume popcorns have more air, less flavor.
    You should have the first kernels popp9ing in about 10-15 seconds. If you don’t put the top on thet dutch oven at this point, you’ll need to be wearing gloves and a flannel shirt, because some of thew early kernels will hop out of the pan, and they BURN. If you DO cover the pan, youi trap steam and the corn will toughen up.
    Keep shaking the pan until the popping ALMOST stops. If you wait until the popping is done, you’ll get some scortching. Turn out the popped corn onto your counter, on some newspaper. There will be some hot oil, so make sure there are enough layers of newspaper to protect the countertop. Liberally salt the popcorn. Popcorn salt is extra fine, but you can use table salt. Kosher salt is too coarse. Salt needs to be added last because it will make the popcorn tough if added while it is still popping.
    Kettle corn is best when it’s still hot. If you zipper bag it too early, the steam can’t escape, and if you wait too long, it draws moisture from the air, and either way, you end up with soggy chewy corm. In the middle of winter when the air in the house is so dry, it bags nicely after it coos completely.
    Most of the time, though, that’s not a problem. Open maws appear magically to consume every morsel, You’d think that would ruin a date, but I tended to use the no-lid popping methogd “Uhh,” I would say, I’m stocky!” and she would say, “Me, too! Wanna shower together?” A sweet treat followed by another sweet treat is always wonderful!

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