How to Make Kettle Corn


Kettle corn is a summer staple that is an easy to make food and has low overhead costs. It can be sold in bags to passersby in virtually any concession application. They sell well at festivals and fairs, but they can also be sold outside of baseball stadiums or from vendor kiosks on a walking mall. Kettle corn is relatively mess-free, so parents are likely to buy it for their children. If it is sold in a bag, it can be saved for later consumption.

Tools You’ll Need

  1. Large Kettle
  2. Mixing Paddle
  3. Protective Eyewear
  4. Heavy-Duty Rubber Gloves


  1. Popcorn Kernels
  2. Salt
  3. Sugar
  4. Vegetable/Corn/Olive Oil

Step One: Choose Your Oil

It’s no secret that using different oils will change the flavor of the final product. It is a subtle change, but it is an important decision to make. Vegetable or corn oils are heavier oils and will give your popcorn the heavy, familiar flavor that is associated with popcorn. For a more healthy spin on kettle corn, pop your corn using olive oil. Olive oil is heart healthy oil that will give your kettle corn a lighter taste. It can also be a great selling point when you tell your customers that your kettle corn is actually good for them! The downside of olive oil is that it is more expensive than vegetable or corn oil and it is more likely to burn.

An employee stirs cooking kettle corn in a big drum. Step Two: Fill the Kettle with Oil and Kernels

The kettle should have a thin layer of oil placed in the bottom. It should be just enough to cover the popcorn kernels in their entirety. It is best to heat the oil to the point where it can pop the kernels almost immediately after they are placed in the kettle. It is important that the oil be hot so that the kernels do not sit on the bottle of the kettle and wind up burning.

When you think the oil is hot enough, toss a few kernels into the kettle. If they swell and pop within a few seconds, then the oil is hot enough to begin popping the corn. Once the kernels pop, remove them from the kettle.

Step Three: Add the Popcorn and Sugar

The ratio of popcorn to sugar is two to one. For example, if you are popping a cup of kernels, add a half a cup of sugar. Just before you add the popcorn, quickly mix the sugar with the oil to create a sort of syrup. Add the popcorn so it is just one layer on the bottom of the kettle. If you put too many kernels in the kettle, the heat will not disperse evenly and the kernels will not pop evenly.

Sugar and popcorns are mixed together in a popper.Step Four: Pop the Corn

Once the popcorn starts popping, you will want to make certain that you have donned your protective eyewear to protect yourself from flying kernels. It is a good idea to use heavy-duty rubber gloves as well to protect your arms from hot oil. As the corn pops, move it around the kettle using a large mixing paddle. This will prevent the popped corn from staying in one place for too long and becoming burned. Popped kettle corn is dumped into a giant receptacle.

Step Five: Remove the Popcorn from the Kettle

The process of removing the popcorn from the kettle depends on the type of kettle you are using. If you are using a large kettle for mass producing kettle corn, then it likely has a tilting lever to help you dump the kettle corn into a trough. If you are using a large pot on a range, then remove the pot from the range and let the kettle corn cool in the pot.

Still hungry?  Check out How to Make Funnel Cake and The History of Cotton Candy


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