How to Avoid Burning Your Homemade Kettle Corn

Kettlecorn being man in a metal pan

Cooking popcorn at home can prove challenging for people if they aren’t careful. Looking for recipes for interesting popcorn flavors online can be an adventure; there’s often so many to choose from that it can quickly become overwhelming. However, once you have the recipe you want and have started cooking, you may be struck by just how quickly kettle corn can trigger a fire alarm.

Kettle corn differentiates itself from traditional popcorn because of the inclusion of sugar. This sugar is what gives kettle corn its salty-sweet taste, but it’s also incredibly easy to burn if you don’t take the proper precautions before you try to make it yourself.

Here’s what you can do to keep your kettle corn from burning:

Infographic covering the steps you should take to avoid burning your homemade kettlecorn

Use the Right Kind of Pan

Making popcorn means you can use pretty much any pan with a lid because all you’re doing is getting the kernels to pop. When it comes to kettle corn, though, you have to take a little more care when selecting your pan.

Generally speaking, it’s better to use a wider pan that’s a little on the shallower side and made of thinner material. You want a pan like this for making kettle corn because you want to ensure the sugar gets dispersed evenly as it caramelizes across the whole batch of popcorn. Plus, the thinner the material, the easier it is to maneuver the pan around your kitchen.

Be Mindful of What Oil You Use

While some home cooks might think that any cooking oil would work for cooking kettlecorn, they are in for a rude awakening. Different cooking oils have different smoke points and flavor profiles, lending themselves to different cooking styles. Try using avocado, extra virgin olive oil, canola, or our personal favorite, corn oil the next time you make kettlecorn for the best results. 

Keep an Eye on the Timing

Kettlecorn, and popcorn in general, can prove a fickle snack to cook. It can go from perfectly cooked to burnt to a crisp in the blink of an eye. By keeping a steady eye on the cooking time and smell, you can help reduce the chance of burning. 

Have a Sheet Nearby for the Kettle Corn

Once you have a lightweight, shallow pan that you can use to cook your kettle corn in, you want to be sure to have a baking sheet or similar tool nearby. Having a baking sheet nearby will allow you to remove the kettle corn from the pan quickly once it’s had time to cook.

As you cook, you don’t have a lot of time between the moment you decide the popcorn’s done to the time the sugar in the kettle corn burns; that’s why it’s far easier to dump it out on a heat-safe surface than let it sit in the pan.

Have a Little Self-Compassion

Home cooks can prove their own harshest critics. Comparing your cooking to the kinds you see on TV or the internet can lead you down a road of discouragement and keep you out of the kitchen. You should always give yourself a little latitude to mess up whenever you try a new recipe, and that’s no different with kettle corn. While it may be a great treat to make at home, the chances are still pretty high that the sugar will end up burning at some point — but that’s ok!

To find out more about how to avoid burning your kettle corn, or find out more about corporate popcorn gifts, call the Best Darn Kettlecorn team today!