Homemade Popcorn Trio

by Kathy Strahs on May 12, 2009 · 26 comments

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I like to think of myself as someone with some semblance of self-control when it comes to food. I usually know when I’ve eaten enough of something and I tend not to overindulge. That all goes out the window when it comes to kettle corn.

Once I start eating kettle corn I cannot stop.

The sweet, salty, crunchy stuff is positively addictive – whenever we buy one of those huge bags of it at the farmer’s market it rarely lasts till the end of the day. When I read the OMG Kettle Corn post on Chaos in the Kitchen last week and learned that not only was it relatively easy to make at home but there is also a recipe for stovetop popcorn on packages of kernels…well, you can figure out what happened next. Yes, I became the popcorn QUEEN over the weekend! In addition to making kettle corn that rivaled my favorite from the farmer’s market, I also indulged in a batch of caramel corn and a savory combination of sea salt, thyme and olive oil.

It turns out there are a few schools of thought it comes to popping technique. One suggests adding just a few kernels to the oil and waiting for them to pop, signaling the oil is hot enough to add the rest of the kernels. Another says just put it all in at once. Since the latter was recommended by the Jolly Time folks and, quite frankly, it was simpler I went the dump-it-all-in route. It worked just fine. As long as I kept the contents of the pot moving and removed it from the heat when it was all done I didn’t have any burnt kernels. Now, for the kettle corn I did go back to the start-with-a-few-kernels approach as I found that sugar really seems to want to burn! But, like I said, the key to success was to continually shake the pot during the popping.

Popcorn Trio

Basic Stovetop Popcorn
Adapted from the back of the Jolly Time 100% Organic Yellow Pop Corn package


3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1/3 cup popcorn kernels (or enough to cover the bottom of the pan no more than one kernel deep)


Pour cooking oil and popcorn into any heavy, 3 quart or larger pan with a lid. Cover the pan and shake gently (using potholders) over medium-high heat, leaving the lid slightly ajar to allow steam to escape from popping kernels. Remove the pan from the heat when the popping stops and carefully pour the popped kernels into a large bowl. Season to taste.


Sea Salt, Thyme & Olive Oil PopcornSea Salt, Thyme & Olive Oil Popcorn


1 Basic Stovetop Popcorn Recipe (optional: substitute extra virgin olive oil for the canola or vegetable oil)
Extra virgin olive oil to taste
Sea salt to taste (either coarse or fine)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme


In a large bowl, drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the popped popcorn and toss to coat. Sprinkle with sea salt and thyme and toss again.

Caramel Corn (adapted from AllRecipes)

Caramel Corn

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Basic Stovetop Popcorn recipe (or 2 1/2 quarts popped popcorn)


Preheat the oven to 250° F. Place popcorn in a very large bowl.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil without stirring 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla. Pour in a thin stream over popcorn, stirring to coat.

Place in a large shallow baking dish and bake in preheated oven, stirring every 15 minutes, for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven, spread caramel corn onto waxed paper and let cool completely before breaking into pieces.

Kettle CornKettle Corn (adapted slightly from Chaos in the Kitchen)


1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1/4 cup sugar
Salt to taste


In a large pot with a lid, add oil and three kernels of popcorn. Turn on the heat and cover the pot. Listen carefully – when the third kernel pops your oil is ready.

Add the rest of the popcorn and the sugar. Give it a quick stir to combine and fully coat. Cover the pan and shake gently (using potholders) over medium-high heat, leaving the lid slightly ajar to allow steam to escape from popping kernels. Remove the pan from the heat when the popping stops and carefully pour the popped kernels into a large bowl. Season with salt to taste (about 1-2 teaspoons).

See the Recipe Index for all the recipes on Cooking On the Side.

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The Duo Dishes May 12, 2009 at 2:01 PM

OOOOOH, not that thyme popcorn!!! Yes! Love that!

The Duo Dishes’s last blog post..Good Morning to You


dawn May 12, 2009 at 2:03 PM

I eat a LOT, I mean a lot of popcorn. Whole Foods has some of the best selection, but it comes expensive.
I love that first photo!

dawn’s last blog post..tropical chicken salad


Joy May 12, 2009 at 2:12 PM

I did a double-take when I arrived here, thinking…wait…this is not PaniniKathy! Haha.

Amazing looking popcorn right there! I’m still afraid to try popping on the stovetop, but you know…I’m getting there. 😀

Joy’s last blog post..Pork and Peppers with Wine Tomato Sauce


Kathy May 12, 2009 at 2:14 PM

Baby steps, Joy…baby steps! 🙂


Cyndi May 12, 2009 at 2:44 PM

I tried making kettle corn, and after 3 burned batches, I gave up. I see now it was because I started with the sugar in the mix – you’ve added it later, and that must do the trick. Maybe I’ll give it a try again!

Cyndi’s last blog post..Take-Along Breakfasts for Work Days


Kathy May 13, 2009 at 7:20 AM

Yeah, the sugar definitely makes it a little tricky. I burned several batches too before I realized that it really can’t sit in the same place for too long without burning. Once I gave the pot a continual shake I got much better results.


Annita May 31, 2009 at 6:29 PM

The old-time stove-top poppers work really well as they allow stirring of the kernels while popping.They aren’t terribly expensive, ours has lasted a very long time. Nary a burnt kernel will you have..


Esi May 12, 2009 at 3:55 PM

These are waaaaaay better than the trio in that big can that you normally get at Christmas. lol. I am not a huge kettle corn fan, but I am DYING over that sea salt and thyme version.

Esi’s last blog post..Green Beans with Lemon and Oil


Risa May 12, 2009 at 4:15 PM

Wow, each and every one of these choices looks incredible! I can’t wait to give them a try.

Risa’s last blog post..Orange Yogurt Cake


Mindy May 13, 2009 at 3:03 AM

In Germany, all they serve at the movie theatres is kettle corn! Now I’m addicted, so I’ll have to make this for the family when we get home!


Jean May 13, 2009 at 7:13 PM

Thanks for sharing the receipes. They look really yummy!

Jean’s last blog post..Nothing is what it seems


jo May 14, 2009 at 6:28 AM

This is way, way fantastic and great for a home movie gathering.

jo’s last blog post..Lemon Macarons with White Chocolate Buttercream


Dragon May 18, 2009 at 6:23 PM

The Sea Salt, Thyme & Olive Oil Popcorn is calling my name. Yum!


MaryBe May 23, 2009 at 12:21 PM

That kettle corn is crazy good! Thanks to your excellent directions, I managed to NOT burn it!
Love your site!

MaryBe’s last blog post..Cottage Season!!


maris May 25, 2009 at 8:32 PM

I love Kettle corn! Not a huge popcorn fan but that little bit of sweetness is always just right!

maris’s last blog post..Worknight Dinners: Feta-Stuffed Turkey Burgers


Dani June 7, 2009 at 5:54 AM

that caramel corn has my name allllllll over it 🙂

Dani’s last blog post..#62) Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies


Kevin June 19, 2009 at 11:31 AM

Now I have a serious craving for popcorn!


Lauren July 15, 2009 at 8:10 PM

I just made the kettle corn! It is SO GOOD.
.-= Lauren´s last blog ..molls:“If my mom can’t take them, give them to Diana… =-.


Susan October 6, 2009 at 6:45 AM

I’ve never tried making Kettle Corn at home – good time of year for discovering this recipe! Thanks, Kathy!
.-= Susan´s last blog ..Fleur de Sel Caramel Apples =-.


Mary October 9, 2009 at 7:11 PM

Loved the pics and the trio. Started with the Kettle Corn tonight. Doubled the batch and shook, shook, shook. Great results. Next time I’ll turn the heat up a tad and vent the steam a bit more. Thanks for sharing how to make this yummy treat… my kids are so happy because it’s expensive at the street so we don’t buy it often.


Kathy October 9, 2009 at 10:14 PM

Thanks a lot, Mary – I’m so glad you and your kids enjoyed it!


Mary October 10, 2009 at 9:27 PM

The Sea Salt, Thyme & Olive Oil Popcorn was the treat for tonight. Was a great hit with both the kids and adults. So yummy and so healthy. It will be awhile before we have a weekend in with movies and popcorn but when we do, we’ll give the caramel corn a go. Next visit will be fore the veggies. Aren’t blogs wonderful. You never know what you’ll find. Thanks for sharing.


Kathy October 10, 2009 at 10:54 PM

That’s terrific! Very nice to hear 🙂 Thanks, Mary!


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