Kettle Corn

How to make sweet and salty kettle corn, just like you get at the county fair!

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What could be better than a heaping bag full of kettle corn? Crunchy, salty, and just sweet enough to be almost candy, these are the ultimate snack food that you can easily make at home.

For more great popcorn recipes, why not make this Five Minute Christmas Popcorn? Or some Buggy Caramel Popcorn instead?

kettle corn in a brown paper bag

Farmer’s Market Kettle Corn

Anyone that has ever visited a county fair or a farmer’s market has definitely had a big bag filled with kettle corn.

A uniquely borderline savory and sweet treat, kettle corn is basically popcorn on steroids and has a bit of a reputation as being something almost impossible to easily replicate at home.

However, thanks to this easy-to-follow recipe, you should be able to get that beautifully glassy, thin sweet coating on every kernel possible and enjoy kettle corn at home whenever you like.    

ingredients for kettle corn

Kettle Corn Ingredients

Make sure you look at the recipe card at the very bottom for the exact amounts so that you know exactly what to buy for this recipe.

• Vegetable oil

• White sugar

• Salt

• Un-popped popcorn kernels

How To Make Kettle Corn

• Place the oil and 3 individual popcorn kernels into a large pot

• Turn the stove to medium heat and cover

• Once 3 popcorn kernels have popped, the oil is hot enough

• Add the sugar in and stir well

• With the sugar mixed in, add the remaining kernels to the pot and cover

• Give the pot a shake for 3 seconds and then let it sit for 3 seconds

• Repeat this continuously until the popping begins to slow down

• Once it is almost done popping, remove the lid and shake the salt over the popcorn

• Give it another shake to mix it in, and then remove from the heat and uncover

kettle corn in a brown paper bag

How To Stop The Popcorn Burning In The Pot

The biggest enemy of any home cook when making popcorn is the eternal threat of it burning.

Because the secret of good popcorn is hot oil and a closed environment to pop the kernels in, it is so easy to accidentally burn loads of the corn kernels.

Thanks to the fact that you cannot just remove the lid to check on the popcorn (unless you want 50 popcorn kernels exploding in your face), the only way to avoid scorching the kernels is to shake the pan vigorously as it cooks.

As long as you haven’t over-filled the pan with too many kernels, by shaking the pan constantly, you keep the corn kernels moving around, swapping out the ones that are sitting in the hottest part of the pan and keeping everything rotated.

If you do it right, it should feel like your wrist is almost falling off from shaking the pan so much, and the pan should be basically non-stop moving the entire time the corn is cooking.

If done properly, you can expect basically no burnt kernels at the end.

However, don’t try and get every single one of the kernels to pop completely when cooking – while it is tempting to try and avoid any waste whatsoever, you simply cannot get all of the kernels to pop. If you tried to keep cooking until all of the kernels popped, the whole batch would get burnt and totally ruined.

Just consider the leftover kernels as an offering to the county fairs that inspired kettle corn and let them remain unpopped.

kettle corn in a white bowl

How To Spice The Kettle Corn To Your Personal Preference

 This recipe for kettle corn makes basic kettle corn, flavored only in the regular way that you would expect. Each kernel will be crispy, crunchy, and just a little sweet, with the main flavor being sweet nostalgia and a hint of saltiness.

However, if you are looking for a little bit more interesting flavors, why not spice it up a bit?

A common spice blend used in Mexico with this type of corn is to sprinkle in a good amount of chili powder and a little bit of lime powder as well. A lot of Mexican stores sell a premixed blend of lime and spices called Tajin, which would be really amazing sprinkled on some kettle corn.

You could even use some more Indian-themed spices instead, such as ground coriander, garam masala, and a little bit of turmeric.

Whatever you do, be careful about not burning the spices, as it is really easy to accidentally char them without realizing it.

Looking for more delicious Snack recipes? Try these out:

Fresh Fruit Platter with Dips

Rolo Pretzel Bites

Old Fashioned Candied Pecans





How to make sweet and salty kettle corn, just like you get at the county fair!

Kettle Corn

How to make sweet and salty kettle corn, just like you get at the county fair!
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time
4 minutes
Cook Time
5 minutes
Karlynn Johnston


  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup un-popped popcorn kernels
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  • Place the oil and 3 individual popcorn kernels in a large pot. Turn stove to medium heat and cover.
  • Once the 3 popcorn kernels have popped, the oil is hot enough. It’s time to add in the sugar and stir well.
  • When the sugar has been mixed in completely, add the remaining kernels to the pot and cover.
  • Give the pot a shake for 3-4 seconds, (holding it to keep the lid on!) then let sit for 3-4 seconds, repeat this continuously until the popping begins to slow down. Once it's almost done popping, remove the lid and shake the salt over the popcorn. Give it another shake to mix it in then remove from heat and uncover.
  • Remove and place in a bowl or paper bags and serve!

Recipe Notes

  • shake the pot a lot while you are making it so it doesn’t burn!

Nutrition Information

Calories: 125kcal, Carbohydrates: 28g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 147mg, Potassium: 56mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 13g, Calcium: 1mg, Iron: 1mg

All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.

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Karlynn Johnston

I’m a busy mom of two, wife & cookbook author who loves creating fast, fresh meals for my little family on the Canadian prairies. Karlynn Facts: I'm allergic to broccoli. I've never met a cocktail that I didn't like. I would rather burn down my house than clean it. Most of all, I love helping YOU get dinner ready because there's nothing more important than connecting with our loved ones around the dinner table!

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