This homemade kettle corn recipe will take you back to a local fair or carnival, where there was always a booth that sold that sweet and salty kettle corn that was so good! Little did you know that it's so easy to make your own kettle corn right on the stove top!
This 5-ingredient kettle corn recipe is full of buttery, sweet and salty flavors PLUS the warmth of cinnamon! It's so delicious, it's vegan and gluten-free, and you can whip it up in just a few minutes! Also, it's a pantry-friendly snack -- everything in this recipe is non-perishable and shelf-stable, so no need to contend with the supermarket to make this stove top kettle corn recipe. It's the ideal snack for the family!
The ingredients list for this homemade kettle corn is so short -- here's what you'll need:
- butter-flavored shortening - you can also make this recipe with coconut oil or another vegetable oil, but I find that shortening allows the kettle corn to pop up fluffier and lighter. And the butter flavor just adds a little extra deliciousness!
- popping corn - this is usually found in the snack aisle of your grocery store, near the microwave popcorn! I like to get a big container of it and have it on hand so I can always have a quick batch of kettle corn whenever I want! I use Pop Secret Jumbo Popping Corn.
- white sugar & brown sugar - this kettle corn recipe is mostly sweetened with white granulated sugar, but I added in a bit of brown sugar to add a slightly deeper flavor.
- ground cinnamon - my favorite part! I wanted a touch of autumn in this classic kettle corn recipe. It worked perfectly!
- coarse sea salt - this is a crucial step -- I like to just add the sea salt at the end immediately after removing the popcorn from the pan. The salt is what gives this kettle corn that sweet and salty flavor that is so addictive!
The main tool you'll need to make this sweet and salty kettle corn recipe is a 3-quart saucepan. It should be a slightly heavy pan -- I use a Cuisinart stainless steel saucepan -- and it should have a lid. Even better if the lid is glass so that you can see your kettle corn cooking without removing the lid!
Step by Step
- First, you'll need to make sure your sugars and cinnamon are well mixed. When you put everything in the pan you'll have to move very quickly, so it helps to mix them together well beforehand.
- Then, heat your oil or shortening and throw a couple of kernels into the oil and put the lid back on. Once you hear them both pop, your oil is hot enough.
- Immediately toss in your popcorn and sugar-cinnamon mixture, and whisk well. You have to work fast at this point so that the sugar doesn't start to caramelize and so that the popcorn doesn't begin popping while the lid is removed.
- Cover it and let your popcorn pop -- make sure to shake it every few seconds to keep it from burning!
- You'll know it's done when popping slows down significantly, or when the popcorn reaches the top of the pan. If you have a glass lid, you'll see this happening without having to open the lid. But if not, you can just sneak a peek once you hear the popping slowing down. Just be careful and only open the lid a crack -- the popcorn inside is very hot and the sugar can cause burns! Once it's all popped, pour it out onto your parchment paper and sprinkle with sea salt! And you're ready to eat!
If you like this easy, no-bake kettle corn recipe, you'll love another one of my favorite no-bake treats: Brown Butter White Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats! They're so easy and SO decadent!
You should also try my 5-Ingredient No-Churn Cinnamon Peach Sorbet for another easy treat! This no-churn sorbet requires NO ice cream maker, contains NO refined sugars, and is also vegan and gluten-free! Plus it's got the rich spiced and vanilla peach flavor of your favorite peach cobbler, in a healthy dairy-free fruit sorbet! You've gotta try it!
Equipment you may need
- 3-quart saucepan with lid
- wooden spoon or spatula
- ¼ cup butter-flavored vegetable shortening - or vegetable oil of your choice
- ½ cup popcorn kernels - I use Pop Secret Jumbo Popping Corn
- 3 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- coarse sea salt - optional
- In a small bowl, whisk together sugars and cinnamon until well combined. Lay parchment paper on counter or work surface.
- Melt shortening in a 3-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Add three popcorn kernels and cover.
- Wait for all three kernels to pop, then add popcorn and shake to coat with oil. Immediately add sugar/cinnamon mixture and quickly stir to mix well.
- Cover and let cook, leaving lid slightly ajar to allow steam to release. Shake the pot every few seconds, lifting from heat and holding lid in place, to prevent the sugar from burning. Continue until popped popcorn has filled the pan, about 5-8 minutes.
- Immediately remove from heat, pour onto parchment paper, and sprinkle with sea salt, if desired.
- Cool 2-3 minutes and serve warm.
Last Updated on November 8, 2022 by Chenée Lewis
This recipe converted me! I've never been a fan of kettle corn until I tasted your recipe. It was spiced beautifully and not overwhelmingly sweet.
Thank you!! I'm so glad you enjoyed 🙂
wow the flavors were so good and never before used shortening for popcorn. This is such a great snack when I am working at the computer
Thanks!! I'm so glad you liked it! I have also been known to enjoy it while working at my computer!! 🙂
Kettle corn has always been a favorite of ours, but the addition of cinnamon took this one all the way over the top! It was the perfect after dinner snack for the kiddos, and they keep asking for it again!
I'm so glad your family enjoyed this kettle corn!! It's definitely a kid-friendly snack! 🙂
Ugh, is there anything you can't do? This popcorn was so dang addictive, me and my husband almost got into a fight about who was going to get the last of it. Guess that means we have to make more.
Thank you so much Adri! And yes, you'll have to make some more!! Luckily it just takes a few minutes!! 🙂
Great Recipe. I used my Whirly Pop popcorn maker and it was very simple. Thanks for a great recipe.
Wonderful! So glad you liked it.
Popcorn (let alone kettle corn) is something I never think to make at home! I’m so glad I found this recipe! It was delicious and so easy to make!
Yeah it's so much easier than it seems! I'm glad you liked it!!
Sweet and salty flavors are my love language! I made this for movie night and WOW it did not disappoint! This was not only easy to make but the perfect snack. We devoured it all and then made an additional batch because it was SO good! Thanks for this recipe!!
I'm so glad you liked it! It's perfect for repeat batches because it's SO easy! 🙂
Movie night would not have been the same without this sweet cinnamon popcorn. It was delicious!
Thank you! I had some myself for movie night not too long ago! 🙂
Yes! I love the idea of adding a little seasoning to jazz up your popcorn. This was really yummy, and we'll be doing it again next time we make popcorn!
Thanks! So glad you liked it! 🙂
I looooooove a good salty and sweet combination and this popcorn hit the spot! So good and so easy to make! Way better than store-bought!
Sweet and salty is so perfect! I'm glad you enjoyed it!
My daughter LOVES popcorn and this was the perfect treat! I love sweet and salty combos so this was the perfect mix of flavors for my tastebuds. Will for sure make this again!
I'm so glad this was a great snack for both of you! 🙂
Can this be made in an electric popper?
Hi! I haven't tried it in an electric popper, so unfortunately I'm not sure if it would work. If you try it, let me know how it works out for you!
Literally my favorite anytime snack. Easy recipe for an easy afternoon!!
Absolutely! So easy and low-key!
As a popcorn fanatic I'm excited to try this recipe. Can you place the popcorn directly into a bowl or is it too sticky to do that?
I hope you enjoy it! I think it'd be ok to put it directly into the bowl -- some of the hot sugar might stick to the bowl, but otherwise it would be fine. I like to spread it out onto parchment so that I can sprinkle the salt evenly. 🙂