Makeover Kettle Corn Into "Can Do" Corn

January 12, 2011   34 Comments

Kettle corn has that perfect combination of crunchy, salty, and sweet that keeps you eating it long after you should stop.

Homemade Kettle Corn Recipe

I received an e-mail from a reader about kettle corn.

From Stacia:

I really like kettle corn microwave popcorn. It's just not the same adding the flavoring after the corn is popped, as you have to add more and it's not as evenly distributed. Anyone have ideas about how to make homemade kettle corn in the microwave without a lot of mess?

Thanks, Stacia! I had been thinking of making my own kettle corn because I saw a PRETTY scary bucket of microwave kettle corn in the aisle at BlockBuster.

This brand, which shall remain nameless (Jolly Time), had 4 grams of Trans Fat stated in its Nutrition Facts. Ummm, did you get the memo?

Also, it included sucralose AND sugar. Why not just add enough sugar to make it sweet? I guess they were trying to keep the calories low.

So, I didn't come up with a way to make it completely in the microwave, but I did come up with a tasty version which is sweet, made with natural ingredients (no sucralose here!) and only 80 calories per serving.

I added Which Peanut Butter is Healthiest? and Maple Syrup to the freshly popped Homemade Microwave Popcorn AFTER it was popped. The result is dreamy and my kids went bezerk.

It is a bit messy (you have to mix it with your hands), but the result is worth the work. You can get it evenly distributed if you melt the maple syrup and peanut butter together - trust me.

I used a microwave popcorn bowl that a reader suggested (see below). You just dump 1/4 cup of unpopped corn in the bowl, turn the microwave on for 2.5 minutes, and you have freshly popped popcorn without using any oil.

This is a bit easier than using the paper bags that I suggest in Homemade Microwave Popcorn.

Homemade kettle corn is a great party snack, watching football snack, or after school snack.

Give it a try and tell me how it goes!

Do you have any ideas for homemade kettle corn?


Homemade Kettle Corn Recipe

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(3 servings)

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1/4 cup unpopped popcorn
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon chunky peanut butter (can substitute smooth)
dash of salt


Pop popcorn in microwave, air popper or stove top (see Homemade Microwave Popcorn). In a small bowl in the microwave, heat peanut butter and maple syrup for 30 seconds. Pour over freshly popped popcorn, add a dash of salt, and mix with your hands. Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts

80 calories, 3.0 g fat, 11.8 g carbohydrates, 2.3 g protein, 1.6 g fiber, 78 mg sodium, 2 Points+

Points values are calculated by Snack Girl and are provided for information only. See all Snack Girl Recipes

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I am a popcorn fanatic, especially kettle corn. Using peanut butter and syrup sounds interesting. I'll have to try this!

Do you think you could use honey instead of maple syrup? I love kettle corn, but I don't have any maple syrup in the house right now.

@Matt - I think it honey will work. Let me know how it turns out.

This sounds delicious and easy...and all things in the cupboard. I am going to make some now for my boys snacks tonight. Thanks for all of the value that you provide!

Oooh that sounds good. Man I love popcorn.

My air-popper is really small (smaller even than a blender) and it works fantastic. I adore it. I'm usually a salt-and-butter popcorn type of girl, but adding PB and maple syrup would be really yummy... and more nutrients from PB than I'd get from just plain butter, too!

Holy cow that sounds AMAZING! Yum!

I bet this would also be amazing with agave nectar substituted for syrup!!

Wow this would be good with maple syrup, agave OR honey--and PB2! I love powdered peanut butter (and it has less fat than regular peanut butter). Alternatively, you can use peanut flour from Trader Joe's and a little salt and sugar to make your own equivalent of PB2.

I love homemade popcorn as a healthy snack. I bought a popper (which is very bulky and hard to store if you don't have much room but it beats unhealthy bagged popcorn. I spray Pam and sprinkle spices or cheddar seasoning for a great post workout or afternoon snack

My husband is obsessed with Kettle Corn (OK, so am I). A new Netflix envelope just arrived yesterday so maybe we'll make it a movie & kettle corn night! I love the sound of this...thank you for sharing!

This recipe is so good! We've made it twice already. Thank you for sharing!

BIG hit with my kids! I have a microwave air popper. I think I used it once. I actually prefer the old paper bag method!

Is the nutrition information for the WHOLE recipe, or is it per serving? If it's per serving, what is the serving size please?

3 cups popped popcorn, 1 tablespoon peanut butter, and 1 tablespoon maple syrup =

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 60 g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 239 Calories from Fat 82
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9.1g 14%
Saturated Fat 1.4g 7%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 81mg 3%
Total Carbohydrates 35.6g 12%
Dietary Fiber 4.8g 19%
Sugars 13.5g
Protein 7.0g
Vitamin A 1% • Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 2% • Iron 7%
Nutrition Grade B+
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet

I make my kettlecorn substitute by spraying lightly the popcorn as it leaves the air popper with butter flavored PAM and then sprinkle with salt and 2 packages of splenda. Love the salty sweet flavor and not sticky at all!

Um, YUM.

I just made this with my 3 year old and we LOVED it!! we put the popcorn in a big freezer bag and the poured the toppings in and shook it up. she loved that part!! the best thing about it is, she was eating the PLAIN popcorn before we even adding the toppings. for a little girl who has only ever eaten extra butter (thanks to daddy), this was a huge accomplishment IMO! thank you snack girl, not only for home made kettle corn, but for plain popcorn as well!! :)

I made this with tahini instead of peanut butter and it was delicious.

So let me get this right. A serving size is one cup??? Why not make it awful if that is all you can eat for 2 points? Really now!

I have heard that using the microwave "is a weapon of mass destruction". It alters the food and isn't good for you. What do you think about it?

I just made this for me and family. We all loved it. OMG, I have been craving a sweet and this was perfect!!!!


This is AWESOME. I have made it twice since yesterday, and my sons all love it too! Thanks for the great idea!!!!

I spread my plain popcorn (your choice for method of popping) on a cookie sheet (sprayed with olive oil from a pump sprayer) and then drizzle a couple tablespoons of honey on it and bake for a few minutes. You have to watch it carefully, it can burn quickly. It only takes a few minutes and I have sweet, crunchy, healthy popcorn! I think you'll like it snack girl!

This recipe was a unique topping for popcorn, which I like, however, I only made half of the recipe. So, the PB Maple mixture was too hard to mix and I ended up using twice the amount of PB and Maple for my popcorn. Delicious, though!

AWESOME!! It turned out very good, I did substitute Sugar Free Syrup ~ the Ihop brand works great.

Is there a low or No Fat Peanut Butter that tastes good?

@jackie - have you tried PB2 - it is low fat peanut butter.

Thanks for your question!

I use my air popper and make savory popcorn!

In a coffee mug, place 1 tsp of real (yummy) butter

Zest 1 clove of fresh garlic on top

Melt in micorwave.

Pour a small amount into the bowl you will pop corn into and move the bowl around to cover bottom and sides with butter/garlic mixture.

Pop the corn into it and add remainder.

The garlic flavor is enough for the whole thing and butter only helps - you could use olive oil but the tiny bit of butter is my splurge. Add other things like herbs and a bit of salt if you wish.

You can use a stir crazy popcorn popper. You control the amount of oil, sugar & salt.

Sounds like junk science to me, Ginger.

I can't have peanut butter, and don't have any tahini. Any other ideas for what could be substituted for the PB? I do love butter, do you think that would work?

I use the Nordic Ware bowl. First I put in a tablespoon of oil (I use coconut oil) and about a teaspoon of brown sugar. White sugar will work too. Then I put 1/3 cup of popcorn in the bowl. Pop it in the microwave for 2 minutes and 30 seconds. When it is done popping it comes out with a nice thin glaze. The popcorn kernels are 40 calories per ounce so 200 calories. A tablespoon of oil is 100. The brown sugar is about 20 calories per teaspoon. It makes enough for two though I confess eating the whole bowl. Half a bowl is plenty for 160 calories. Not sure what the points are.

I have tried to enjoy the taste of hot air popped corn but never liked it. I pop my own corn with a little canola oil, and then give a generous shake of grated Parmesan cheese and a touch of garlic salt. Delicious! The oil adds some calories, but I think the flavor is much better and the ingredients are pretty 'clean.'

Instead of mixing your peanut butter and maple syrup with your hands put the mixture on top of the popcorn in the bag and shake it a few times and the liquid mixture will be more evenly distributed on your popcorn

I make homemade kettle corn like this:
1 tablespoon of unpopped kernels
1 package of Splenda

Add fine popcorn salt (about the same amount as the splenda)

In a brown lunch sack, microwave until it stops popping.

No need for oil or fancy containers.

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