Kettle Corn vs Popcorn: What The Heck Is The Difference?

difference between kettle corn and popcorn

Learn the difference between kettle corn and popcorn by reading this post. Scroll down!

difference between kettle corn and popcorn

What Is Kettle Corn and Popcorn?

Kettle corn is a sweetened popcorn made from a regular corn seasoned with sugar, salt, and oil during cooking. As the name implies, it is traditionally cooked in a cast iron kettle. After the kernels pop, more kernels are added together with sugar and other ingredients. However, in modern times, Kettle corn is made using other types of pans and pots.

Meanwhile, popcorn is tumbled with butter or salt to bring out its distinct flavor. It is made of hard kernels heated to swell up and burst open with a pop. Basically, popcorn has a neutral flavor.

Both of these corn can be seen and purchased in  movie theaters, snack bars, vendor shows, fairs, carnivals, and even in grocery stores. 

Kettle corn and popcorn are indeed two famous snacks. Who could have thought that these are two different food. You heard it right! They are definitely different in so many ways that are not known to most people.

These noticeable differences are not only limited to flavor and taste, but also on how these two are prepared, their nutritional value, and most especially, its individual memoir. 

Difference Between Kettle Corn And Popcorn

The actual difference between kettle corn and popcorn is the sugar content on the popped kernel. A kettle corn is a sweet treat while a traditional popcorn is a salty snack.

Both kettle corn and popcorn are famous snacks which are made from whole grains of kernel corn. Kettle corn contains sugar while regular popcorn is lightly seasoned and has less to no sugar added.

But little did we know, there are still other differences kettle corn and popcorn have aside from sugar and fat content these most popular snacks have. Let us become familiar with these differences.

difference between kettle corn and popcorn

Preparation Methods

Kettle corn is usually cooked to high heat . This involves adding sugar, salt, corn kernels, and cooking oil in a large iron kettle. When the sugar melted, it will coat the popping kernels that will result in a salty and sweet flavor.

The main ingredients of making kettle corn are corn kernels, cooking oil or coconut oil, sugar, and salt.  Cook these ingredients altogether in a cast iron kettle, a microwave, or a Dutch oven.  

Constant stirring of the ingredients is required so that the sugar will not burn, and to achieve a noticeable sweet crust on the kettle popcorn. Basically, the flavor profile of this savory snack changes depending on the ingredients and toppings added after cooking the kettle corn.

To make the kettle corn a perfect snack, constantly stirred the kernels when cooking.

Meanwhile, making popcorn can be done in different ways. Most popcorn comes prepackaged, which means it can be prepared directly in a microwave oven. Alternatively, popcorn can also be made in a portable popcorn maker. Thus, this healthy snack can be prepared in two different methods.

Air popped corn is made with the use of hot air, without added fat. While oil popped popcorn is prepared on a stovetop and added with a small amount of oil.  Same with the kettle corn, the popcorn’s flavor profile also changes when adding toppings or other ingredients when cooking. Depending on your preferred method, you can add butter, cinnamon, or cheese on your popcorn for a savory taste and a unique flavor.

Nutritional Value

The nutritional value of the kettle corn and popcorn actually depends on how they are prepared, the ingredients used, and the toppings added.

The kettle corn is made of whole grain popcorn with a bit of fiber. And when you talk about a food having fiber content, you’ll always think it is indeed healthy. Basically, kettle corn is a healthy snack. But with all the ingredients added when preparing the kettle corn, these made this snack less healthy compared to the regular popcorn. Plus, pre-packed kettle corn is actually processed food with higher sugar content and saturated fat.

A traditional kettle corn is usually blended with white and brown sugar, vegetable oil, and salt. With the added sugar and a processed ingredient in most pre-packed kettle corn, this will result in high calories and omega-6 fats which can develop inflammation when eaten regularly. High blood pressure and heart disease risk may also develop when the amount of salt added when cooking the kettle corn is more than what is needed. 

Same goes with popcorn. Its nutritional value also depends on how it is prepared and the ingredients added. For air popped popcorn, it will only require you to add a very small amount of salt. Basically, you’ll end up eating a snack with low sodium, low calories and sugar, but a lot of fiber and antioxidants. 

On the other hand, oil popped popcorn contains saturated fat. And they are mostly available in a movie theater with butter or margarine, and with a high sodium content. So, depending on the preparation  method used when cooking your popcorn, this snack can be less healthy or the other way around. 

difference between kettle corn and popcorn


Corn is an ancient grain native to Mexico. It was discovered  in 3600 BC and became the main ingredient in Cracker Jack around the 19th century. Right after the popcorn machine was invented, its popularity went up.  Popcorn then became the staple snack for most during the Great Depression throughout WWII. Up to present, popcorn remains the most known snack in the US.

The kettle corn, on the other hand, was also discovered in the 18th century. Prepared in Pennsylvania by Dutch settlers. it became more popular in the early 21st century. Kettle corn was sold in flea markets, craft shows, and other fairs.

As to date, both snacks are still in demand not only in America, but in different countries all over the world. Popcorn and kettle corn are usually sold in every major event, movie theaters, grocery stores, and even bake sales. 

More Facts About Popcorn and Kettle Corn

Both popcorn and kettle corn come in different flavors. Cheese, chili, cinnamon, chives, butter, salt and vinegar are the popular flavors for popcorn, while kettle corn has chocolate, caramel, and toffee.

Aside from the above-mentioned differences, kettle corn and popcorn also differ in shape and texture. Kettle corn is mostly spherical while popcorn has irregular shapes. The latter is also soft and fluffy once the corn kernels popped while kettle corn is chewy and tender when cooked.

For the nutritional value of the popcorn and kettle corn, I should say it would still depend on the ingredients being used. Popcorn can be a very healthy snack without oil and less salty ingredients. While kettle corn can still be a healthy snack if made with less or without sugar.

So that’s all about kettle corn and popcorn kernels. I hope that this article has helped you one way or another. Please show us you support by sharing this post. Thank you for reading!

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