What is Kettle Corn?

Andy Waters
Latest posts by Andy Waters (see all)

So, kettle corn is essentially… well… the clue is in the name! It is popcorn that is made in a heavy kettle. The popcorn is mixed in the kettle with oil, with sugar and also with salt.

For this, it is best to use round mushroom popcorn as this will allow the oil and the sugar and the salt to really stick to the popcorn. In fact, kettle corn is still super popular at funfairs and also farmers markets.

You will often see stalls with this kind of popcorn benign made in kettles or in steel vats.

In fact, it has to be said that making kettle corn is viewed as an art form. Not only that but kettle corn is viewed as a science that takes many years of practice in order to perfect.

When you develop your own favorite flavor and toppings combinations, you should really find that making kettle corn is not all that difficult. Read on to find out everything that you need to know about preparing and also enjoying this timeless snack.

The History of Kettle Corn

We are going to start off with jumping back in time to when kettle corn was first invented. So, kettle corn actually began its rise in popularity during the 1700s and this was made pretty clear by descriptions of this snack in the diaries of the Dutch settlers at the time.

In fact, a whole host of their scribblings refer to kettle corn as being present in county fairs and just other special occasions at the time.

There are more anecdotal accounts of the farmers and the cowboys of the Midwest who would make kettle corn as a celebration right at the end of a successful harvest.

Going back to how kettle corn was traditionally made, it is true that it used to be made in a huge cast-iron kettle, or even a Dutch oven, or generally speaking whatever large pot was available for use.

Additionally, the first ingredients that were used to make popcorn were actually pretty simple too. Lard or tallow was dropped into the heated pot until it was fully melted, and then the kernels were added to the melted fat along with whatever sweetener was available at the time.

In fact, honey or even molasses would be used in the first kettle corn recipes as these were the toppings that were the most widely available. When the last of the kernels had popped then the corn would be lightly salted and so, the snack would be ready to be enjoyed.

How is Kettle Corn Made Today?

Here’s the thing, the cooking methods for kettle popcorn might have changed over the years – although the final product would very much be the same and it also delivers a sweet and mildly salty flavor. Kettle corn is enjoyed at lots of different fairs, or even at carnivals or even at farmer’s markets.

In fact the biggest difference in the way in which kettle corn is made has a lot to do with the way that the cookware and ingredients have advanced. The traditional cast iron kettles and the traditional Dutch ovens have been replaced with huge steel pots.

What Type of Kernel is Used for Kettle Corn?

Here’s the thing, just about any kind of popcorn kernels can be used as a means of making kettle corn. However, naturally there is one type which produces the very best results.

Mushroom popcorn is characterized by a much larger and a much denser kernel than the regular and well-recognized butterfly popcorn.

What Ingredients Do You Need to Make Kettle Corn?

You may be pleased to know that the traditional ingredients that we referred to earlier (the animal fats, the honey, or the molasses) that were used in the past have now been replaced with some more easily accessible and somewhat conventional ingredients.

You can now opt for the conventional vegetable oils, and you can also opt for the refined sugars, and you could even add a pinch of salt to your popcorn.

These ingredients are not just easily sourced, but they can also help you to give your popcorn a stronger taste. Also, these ingredients will give you a lot more control and a lot more precision over your final taste.

Above all, kettle corn is recognized for having a mildly sweet flavor and this is underscored by a salty flavor too. In fact it is the balance of the sugar and the salt, and also the choice of oils and fats which you use in the cooking process.

The final product will be balanced between being sweet and being savory.

Let’s Talk Pre Packaged Kettle Corn

You do not just have to make your own kettle corn, you can purchase pre packaged kettle corn which is available from a wide range of stores. This will allow you to enjoy your favorite snack and it will save you the time of making it in its authentic and traditional form.

If you are not sure what kind of snack you are in the mood for, then kettle corn will give you a sweet and savory snack in one.

Is Kettle Corn Dairy Free?

It is perfectly possible to make kettle corn dairy free, but you will need to read the ingredients from recipes carefully because some recipes can include milk fats, butter or even cheese flavorings which can be made with dairy products.

You will be pleased to know that there are a lot of ways in which you can enjoy kettle corn in a dairy free way.

Is Kettle Corn a Healthy Snack for You to Enjoy?

Overall, we have explored the ins and outs of kettle corn and what exactly it is. One point we want to end on is whether or not kettle corn can serve you as a healthy snack.

If you are trying to stick to a strict diet, then you should bear in mind that refined sugars are not just addictive but they can also add a lot of calories to your daily intake. However, you can adapt kettle corn recipes to make sure that you are picking a healthier snack option.