How to Make Homemade Kettle Corn

Did you ever wonder how to make your own kettle corn or caramel popcorn? You don't have to wait for the next state fair or hometown festival to enjoy them. Make the sweet treat at home with these kettle corn and caramel corn pointers. 

Did you ever wonder how to make your own kettle corn? Look no further! Try it at home, then eat it as-is or toss into a snack mix.

If you can make stove-top popcorn (and we know you can), homemade old-fashioned kettle corn is a cinch: Just a bit of sugar and rest time, and you'll be munching on this popular snack.

How to Make Kettle Corn Step-By-Step

Learning how to make kettle popcorn is easier than you might think. Like any homemade popcorn, it can be dressed up however you like it while it's cooking or topped off with extra goodies when it's done. The first step to making kettle corn is getting the oil ready and popping the popcorn kernels on the stove:

  • Line a large baking sheet or tray with foil; set aside. 
  • In a 4- to 5-quart Dutch oven heat 3 tablespoons vegetable oil over medium-high, adding 2 to 3 popcorn kernels to the oil. These are your test popcorn kernels. 
  • When the test kernels pop, add an additional 1/2 cup popcorn kernels plus 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon kosher salt; stir well. 
  • Cover and let cook, stirring a few times until popcorn begins to pop. Lift from heat and shake pan, holding with hot pads if necessary; return to heat. Repeat until popping slows. Remove from heat; let stand for a few seconds until popping stops. 

Stove-Top Popcorn Math: 1/2 cup popcorn kernels will make about 10 cups of popped popcorn.

  • Pour popcorn onto prepared baking sheet; cool slightly. (We know waiting for food to cool is torture when you can smell the salty-sweet popcorn recipe wafting through the air, but it's for your own safety. Hot sugar is sticky and can burn. Play it safe and let your kettle corn rest a few minutes.)

Popcorn Tips

  • Whether you are popping corn on the stove or in the microwave, be sure to watch it closely to prevent burning.
  • When making stove-top popcorn like in this recipe, add only enough kernels to cover the bottom of the pan so they all get coated in oil.
  • For perfectly popped kernels, popcorn needs 13.5 to 14 percent moisture in the kernel, otherwise it won't pop. Store popcorn kernels in an airtight container in a cool place, such as a cupboard. Do not store in the refrigerator because it can dry out the kernels. 

How to Make Caramel Popcorn

Caramel popcorn is another classic popcorn dress-up. Here's how to make caramel popcorn so you can enjoy this sweet and salty snack whenever you want!

  • Preheat oven to 300˚F. Remove all unpopped kernels from 14 cups of popped popcorn. Place popcorn and, if desired, 2 cups whole almonds into a 17x12-inch jelly-roll pan. Keep popcorn warm in the oven while making the caramel mixture.
  • Butter a large piece of foil and set aside. For caramel, in a medium saucepan combine 1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar, 3/4 cup butter, and 1/3 cup light-color corn syrup. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils. Continue boiling at a moderate, steady rate, without stirring, 5 minutes.
  • Remove saucepan from heat. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Pour caramel over popcorn; stir gently to coat. Bake 15 minutes. Stir mixture; bake 5 minutes more. Spread caramel corn onto prepared foil; cool.

Try our Caramel Popcorn recipe

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