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Last Updated on September 25, 2020 by Chenée Lewis
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
- 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.
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