Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Day 26: Favorite Recipe
Old Fashioned Kettle Corn

Sweet and salty...the perfect combination, no?

Today, I'm going to share with you one of my favorite
sweet and salty recipes, Old Fashioned Kettle Corn!

This is my own personal recipe.
 I came up with the idea many years ago after tasting some sweet kettle corn
at some sort of fair event.

I set about trying to make my own version at home, 
and well, the rest is history!

This stuff is a staple at our house.
I am seriously not kidding...we make this nearly everyday.
I usually make this in the morning and pack it for my lunch.

I did my best to lay out the ingredients and how to's for you here so that you can make kettle corn at home!
But I have to state the disclaimer, I have this practically down to a science,
and except for the amount of sugar, the rest is done mostly by sight/feel.
So there might be some trial and error involved because amounts aren't exact.

You Will Need:

  •  3/4 c. (about) Olive Oil
  • 3/4 c. (about) popcorn kernels
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • Salt

Tools & Utensils:
*Cast iron skillet with lid
(I use a 10 in. pan- measuring across the bottom)
Large metal bowl
Large spoon
Oven Mitts

  • Yes you HAVE to use olive doesn't taste near as food with canola oil. Not to mention it is really unhealthy for you.
  •  A lid for your pan is a MUST. I just found a kettle lid that fit my skillet and used that.
  • DO NOT use a PLASTIC bowl to dump your popcorn in...the kernels and popcorn are very hot when you finish popping, if you dump them into a plastic bowl they will melt indentations into me, I know.

You will be working with hot oil and popping corn.
I recommend if you have any small children,
keep them away from your working area while making this.
Tiny escaping oil splatters are possible, so be careful.
This is why it is most important that you wear mitts on both hand while

Before you start popping, 
be sure you have all of your ingredients measured out
and your tools set up and handy, this is a fast process,
so you need to be prepared!

Step 1: Heat

Place your skillet on the stove top
and turn the heat to Med-High.
Allow pan to heat up.

Step 2: Add Oil 

Once pan is heated, 
pour in the olive oil.

Depending on the size of your skillet, you may or may not need the entire 3/4 c. of oil.
Usually I don't measure when I do this step- I simply pour in enough so that the bottom is decently covered.

Allow this to warm up as well, about 5 mins.
In all honestly,
I know it is ready when it starts to lightly smoke.

You can test if the oil is hot enough
by placing a single kernel in the oil- if it bubbles around the kernel,
it is hot enough. 
If it doesn't, remove the kernel and allow oil to continue heating.

Step 3: Add Kernels  

Once the oil is heated,
pour your kernels in.

You can measure them out,
or pour enough to get a single layer of kernels, again, I do this by sight. 

Using your metal spoon, spread them around to ensure they are coated in the oil.

Step 4: Add Sugar 

Depending on how brave you are, you have two 
choices at this point.
1. You can add the sugar right after stirring the kernels into the oil
2. Wait until the first kernel pops then add the sugar- this is what I do.

The advantage of adding it after the first pop is that the sugar
doesn't clump up as much because it doesn't sit in the oil as long.
The disadvantage to waiting until the first pop?
You might get splattered with hot oil if another one pops.

Step 5: Stir

Whichever you choose,
add the sugar, stir to coat.

If you waited for the first pop,
cover immediately after stirring in the sugar.

If you didn't, continue stirring lightly
until the first kernel pops then cover the pan.

Step 6: Cover & Shake 

Cover your skillet.
With mitts on both hands,
shake the skillet back and forth over the burner,
occasionally tipping from front to back.
This movement keeps the kernels circulating and avoids burning them.

Like this.
Keep them moving!

Just as with microwave popcorn,
once the popping has slowed down and a large space
occurs between pops, this is a sign your popcorn is ready!

Remove pan from heat and carefully pour popcorn in bowl.
Kernels may still continue to pop because of the heat of the skillet.
 Use the lid as a sort of shield while you are pour the popcorn into the bowl.

You will have unpopped kernels dispersed throughout,
but that is ok.

Step 7: Eat!

Lightly salt the popcorn and stir.

It is still very HOT at this point, so let it cool before eating!

See that crystallized, caramelized sugar goodness?!
This stuff is amazing!
Hits the spot every time!

Small warning,
be aware of unpopped kernels stuck to the popcorn by the hardened sugar!
Look before you snack, or you might have a 'hard' awakening.

Don't worry if you slightly (or more than slightly) burn some of the popcorn on your first try.
 You will get the hang of it after a couple runs!

I hope you enjoy this quick, yummy treat!
I know I issued several caution and warning statements,
but don't let that frighten you, this really isn't difficult to make,
so give it a try!

All photo credits go to my amazing personal photographer and brother, Anthony!

I'm linking up at Anchored in Love Divine
for the Blog Everyday in February Challenge!


  1. Expeller pressed coconut oil is even better. Or extra virgin if you don't mind the flavor. I pop my popcorn with the coconut oil in a WhirlyPop. I'm eager to try this recipe!

    1. We have tried popcorn with coconut oil too, but we like the deep flavor of the olive oil better. :) We have a WhirlyPop, and we have made this exact recipe in it (sugar, olive oil) and it still doesn't taste the same. Something about the slower process in the cast iron skillet makes all the difference! I hope you enjoy it!

  2. I'm wondering where you get the idea that canola oil is really unhealthy. Maybe the unfounded internet scare that was going around back in the early 2000's? If you check some credible sources, you'll find it's the second-best source of monounsaturated fat next to olive oil and a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids. But I do agree; the flavor of olive oil is hard to beat if you're not cooking at a very high temperature.

    1. No, actually. My cousin-in-law is an Olympic athlete, and he was the one who warned us about it. On his health regimen he uses avocado, coconut, grape seed and olive oil instead.

      Here is an excerpt from a great article which basically, though not entirely, covers my reasons for not using it.

      "But here’s the main problem with canola oil, and why you should think twice before using it – canola oil is highly refined. Like high fructose corn syrup that is not “corn sugar” once it is extracted and processed, canola oil also has to go through a similar regimen. The oil is removed by a combination of high temperature mechanical pressing and solvent extraction. Traces of the solvent (usually hexane) remain in the oil, even after considerable refining. Canola oil goes through the process of caustic refining, bleaching and degumming – all of which involve high temperatures or chemicals of questionable safety. And because it is high in omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, (11% and 21% respectively) which easily become rancid and foul-smelling when subjected to oxygen and high temperatures, it must be deodorized. The standard deodorization process removes a large portion of the omega-3 fatty acids by turning them into trans fatty acids. The Canadian government lists the trans content of canola at a minimal 0.2 percent, but it is speculated that they are actually much higher due to the processing. This processing is much different from that of olive oil, which most often is first cold pressed to reduce the oxidation of the oil. Harmful chemicals and fatty acid-altering processing means do not occur with olive oil as they do with canola oil."

      You can read the entire article here:

    2. That was actually one of the non-peer-reviewed, unscientific articles I was referring to. I've already read and discredited it. But to each their own. :)

    3. Yeah, in the end something kills us, we just choose our battles. :)

  3. Sarah from PrairieRoseSewingFebruary 26, 2014 at 10:16 PM

    My best friend/"adopted" sister and her husband LOVE kettle corn! I'll have to try making it for them. I don't own a cast iron skillet (YET) but she does. :) And I agree with the health benefits of olive oil!!! (the other comment on coconut oil flavor intrigued me as well). Thanks for a fun idea, Desarae!

    1. Good luck! I hope y'all enjoy it, Sarah! You'll have to let me know what you think! :)

  4. Can you believe I have never had kettle corn? Never heard of adding sugar! I'm not sure I can afford the calories right now ... but perhaps when I lose a few more pounds in my weight loss program, I will keep this in mind to have as a treat. Very good tutorial, by the way. I felt I could make this with no problem.

    1. Good for you for sticking to your guns! I could use a little more self-discipline and a few less pounds, so I applaud you! But when you *can* cheat a little bit, this is sure a good way to do it! Even if you never have it again, you need to try it at least once...although I don't think that will be an issue. :)

      Thank you! I tried to put out a really good post on this, and Anthony was just itching for a photo shoot, so his pictures turned out great!


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