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The Difference Between Kettle Corn and Popcorn

Popcorn and kettle corn have a lot in common. For one, they are snack food staples and have been America’s favorite for hundreds of years. They also share many core ingredients like salt, oil, and of course popcorn kernels. What makes kettle corn different than popcorn? America’s Favorite Gourmet Popcorn is here to break down for you the key differences in origin, preparation, and flavor between popcorn and kettle corn.


While the exact origin of popcorn is unknown and could date back thousands of years, the popcorn we know and love today got its start in the 1800s. Traditionally popped by hand on a stovetop, popcorn quickly became America’s favorite snack in the early 1900s. By then it was being distributed to movie theaters across the country and sold by street cart vendors.

Believe it or not, kettle corn predates popcorn in America by about 25 years, as it was brought here by Dutch settlers. Probably why it’s commonly cooked in a Dutch oven! Kettle corn was commonly sold at fairs and festivals, and despite falling out of popularity in the 1900s, it has a made a resurgence back into our hearts and our kitchen!


Popcorn nowadays can be made using multiple cooking methods. Aside from your classic microwave popcorn bag, you can either oil-pop or air-pop your popcorn on a stovetop. Oil-popped popcorn involves heating up oil in a stovetop and adding kernels with a lid covering. Air-popped popcorn replaces the oil with a small splash of water, and it is a healthy alternative to oil-popped popcorn.

Now, kettle corn is a little more complex! Kettle corn gets its name from its preferred method of preparation, which is in a cast-iron kettle. Another key difference is kettle corn’s use of sugar. Along with oil and salt, sugar is added to the kettle and requires constant stirring to avoid burning the sugar. A little bit more work for a little sweeter treat!




This is an easy one! Since kettle corn’s recipe involves sugar, it is going to taste sweeter than it will salty. Whereas kettle corn is sweet, traditional popcorn’s salt and oil make it a savory snack.

Here at America’s Favorite Gourmet Popcorn, we break the rules a little by offering sweet AND savory flavors for both popcorn and kettle corn. We truly have something for everyone!

Check out our wide selection of flavors to find the perfect popcorn for your taste buds.

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