Kettle Corn at Home

Kettle Corn At Home

Kettle Corn at Home.
Divvy up and serve in a bowl or use paper bags to catch loose salt and blot off any excess grease (some of you still dribbled butter on top!)

Recipe shared by Rachael, Ancesister @ Ancestreats.

Recently, my kids asked me for something crunchy to snack on. I flipped through the cupboard. What I had was an abundance of un-popped corn kernels in a large mason jar.  For our recent Saturday night viewings of the Sochi Winter Olympic games, I freshened the pantry supply. We were on for a batch of sweet and salty kettle corn, a tasty old-fashioned treat. Recipe follows below the memories.

When I was growing up, the smell and sound of popcorn popping in the kitchen was a signal of one thing: a TV-38 commercial break for my dad who was tuned to a Boston Bruins hockey game. He taught me how to make our popcorn on the stove top using vegetable oil; never butter and never salted. We used my mom’s blue enameled Dansk dutch oven. To this day, I still wonder why anyone would buy little bags of microwave popcorn and not make the puffed stuff on the stove.

Once I married my husband and moved to Western New York we had a delightful spring time ritual. In the second week of May, we would walk to the city’s Lilac Festival in Highland Park. There we enjoyed free outdoor concerts, people watching and lilac bush sniffing.  Hundreds of lilac bushes; thousands upon thousands of bloomed lilac flowers.   Somewhere in the middle of the sniffing, we would get a hankering and find our way to the Kettle Corn vendor.  There was always a queue 30 people deep.  The air whirling around our noses smelled both of nuttiness and cotton candy.  We bought a fat sleeve of the addictive snack food and crunched away joyously. Salty and sweet is a dangerously tasty combination.

If you think popcorn is just for movie watching, think again! Over the recent weekend,  I whipped up a batch of this recipe for both my boys’ post-soccer game snacks (one ounce individual servings in zip-styled sandwich baggies). The kids, and parents, loved it!

So much better than a bag of potato chips. Popcorn provides about 4 grams of dietary fiber for every 4 cups of popped corn.

Yes, adding sugar reduces the healthfulness of the snack.  But really, people, ONCE- in- a-while kettle style is A-OK. Ordinarily, I sprinkle my popped corn lightly with salt and/or nutritional yeast flakes (Uncle Lenny’s tip from way back in 1976).

It occurred to me this recipe was ripe for sharing after speaking with my friend Gavita, a parent of a player on one of the soccer teams.  She is a transplant from India who asked me, “What is this kettle corn?” Now she knows.


1/4 cup canola oil

1/2 cup popcorn kernels

scant 1/3 cup sugar

scant 3/4 teaspoon small grained salt (it distributes easiest)


1. Use any old banged up, high-sided pot with a lid. I use an old pressure cooker. You could also use a wok. Have a large bowl on hand into which you will transfer the popped corn.  Measure out the ingredients in advance. Once the popping is done, things roll fast.

2.Pour the oil into the large pot and turn heat to medium high. Add the sugar. Give it a quick stir and add 3 kernels of corn. Cover with lid.  Listen for the popped corn.  After they pop, add the remaining corn and cover with lid. Immediately give the pot a horizontal shake to distribute the oil and do this every 3 seconds until you don’t hear any more popping. It can take anywhere from 2-4 minutes.

3. Remove the pot from heat and immediately pour the popped corn into your large bowl. Sprinkle in the salt and use a large spoon to distribute that salt on the sugar-coated corn. Do it briskly and pronto!

4. Also rapidly, and carefully, add a few cups of water from the tap into your cook pan to avoid scorching the sugar on the bottom. Put the cook pot on the stove to boil off the remaining sugar. Takes a minute or two. Rinse out in sink.

5.  Makes 5-6 individual baggies of corn. I used my food scale to get the snacks exactly even. You can make subsequent batches after you wash out the sugar-water rinse. Just let that pot heat up on the cook top until the water evaporates before you add the next round of oil.

COOK TIP:  Freshen up left over plain popped corn that gets stale –NOT THAT ANY IS EVER REMAINING AS LEFTOVERS IN OUR HOUSE.  Spread it out on a foil covered cookie sheet. Place in a preheated oven at the lowest setting for 8-10 minutes. It crisps back up again! Magic.

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