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Homemade Kettle Corn

Homemade kettle corn is popped and ready to eat in under 10 minutes which makes this the quickest and easiest way to everyone’s favorite sweet and salty snack!

kettle corn in glass bowl
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Stovetop Kettle Corn

Settle in for movie night with a sweet and salty popped kettle corn popcorn you can easily make at home with just 4 ingredients! It’s a sweetened version of stovetop popcorn that doesn’t quite cross into caramel corn territory giving it the perfect balance of opposing flavors. The added sugar delivers the sweetness turning it into an irresistible treat much the same way that M&M popcorn does!

If you’ve never used coconut oil to make popcorn, you may never go back to anything else after this. When you combine high fiber popcorn and healthy coconut oil, you’ve got a powerhouse guilt-free, gluten-free and dairy-free snack fit for anything from kids school lunches and afterschool snacks to movie nights and birthday parties!

What is Kettle Corn?

Kettle corn vs. popcorn is a distinction worth noting. If you’ve ever been to a summer fair you’ve probably had, smelled, or drooled over some kettle corn. The difference between the two is that sugar is added to the oil when making classic kettle corn so that it cooks along with the popcorn, coating each kernel with sweet and salty flavor! Traditional plain popcorn doesn’t have sugar.

kettle corn in big pot

How to Make Kettle Corn

  1. Heat: Start by heating the oil in a large pot (this recipe makes about 12-14 cups of popcorn). Add 3 kernels of popcorn and wait for them to pop before adding the remaining kernels in an even layer.
  2. Season: Immediately remove the pot from the heat and count to 15 seconds out loud (trust me!). Then, sprinkle the kernels with salt and sugar. You want to make sure your oil is hot and ready to pop the popcorn before you even think about adding the sugar. If you add the sugar too soon before the oil gets hot, it’ll have more of a chance to burn.
  3. Pop: Return the pot to medium heat and shake the pot every 5 seconds until the kernels start popping.
  4. Remove from heat: Tip the lid slightly to allow steam to escape and wait for the kernels to finish popping. This will help you get crunchy crispy popcorn rather than soft and chewy popcorn. When it gets to a point where there are a few seconds in between pop, immediately remove from heat.
  5. Cool: Transfer popcorn to a large bowl or a parchment-lined baking sheet and allow it to cool slightly. The bottom portion of the popcorn can easily burn, no matter how fast you move (sugar, am I right?) so transfer it out of the pot as quickly as you can.
  6. Discard: Discard any unpopped remaining popcorn kernels before serving. Unlike regular stovetop popcorn, you may not find all the kernels at the bottom. Due to the sugar, you may find the kernels stuck to the popcorn, so take a good look!

Don’t Stop Shaking!

You want each kernel to have a good amount of both sugar and salt, so keep shaking the pan often to make sure they’re all evenly coated.

Helpful Tips

  • This will not work with microwave popcorn! Use popcorn kernels meant for the stovetop.
  • A great way to avoid any burnt popcorn is to turn off the heat even before you notice a few seconds in between pops. Once most of your popcorn has popped, turn off the heat but leave the pot where it is. Then, once you notice a few seconds in between each one, remove it from the heat completely.
  • Easily leave out the sugar for a delicious salty snack.
  • Adjust the amount of sugar as needed. Start with 1/4 cup sugar and work your way up if you like super sweet popcorn. Taste it as you go.
  • I say count out loud for 15 seconds so you don’t lose track of time!

Storing Suggestions

Popcorn tends to get soft after a while. To maintain its freshness for as long as possible, keep leftovers in a brown paper bag for up to 1 week.

kettle corn in glass bowl

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kettle corn in glass bowl

Homemade Kettle Corn

5 from 2 votes
↑ Click stars to rate now!
Author: Jamielyn Nye
Homemade kettle corn is popped and ready to eat in under 10 minutes, which makes this the quickest and easiest way to everyone's favorite sweet and salty snack!
Prep Time: 2 mins
Cook Time: 4 mins
Total Time: 6 mins
Servings: 6


  • ¼ cup coconut oil , or cooking oil of choice
  • ½ cup popcorn kernels
  • ¼ cup (50 grams) granulated sugar , more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt , or to taste


  • Heat the oil in a large heavy bottom pan with lid over medium heat. Place 3 kernels into the oil. Allow them to heat up and wait for them to pop before adding the remaining kernels.
    pot with coconut oil
  • Once the kernels have popped, add the rest of the kernels in an even layer. Remove from the heat. Count to 15 seconds (out loud so you don't forget), and sprinkle the sugar and salt over the top.
    popcorn kernels in pot
  • Return the pot to medium heat. Using hot pads, gently shake the pan every 5 seconds. As it starts popping, tip the lid slightly to allow some steam to escape.
    pot on the stove
  • Continue to cook (and shake the pot) until you hear it slow down (several seconds in between pops) and immediately remove from the heat.
    kettle corn cooking in pot
  • Pour into a large bowl or on to a piece of parchment paper. Allow to cool a few minutes (sugar will be hot). Pick out any kernels and serve.
    kettle corn in glass bowl


Storage: Store leftover popcorn in a brown paper bag so it does not become too soft. 
This recipe makes about 12 to 14 cups of popcorn. 


Serving: 2cups | Calories: 168kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 195mg | Potassium: 38mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 10g | Calcium: 1mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.

Course: Snack
Cuisine: American

Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!

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