Kettle corn is a sweetened, salted, and oiled popcorn. It’s extremely popular at events such as concerts or carnivals, but can also be purchased from the grocery store.
In this article, we’ll cover the vegan status of kettle corn, vegan kettle corn brands, and give you an easy kettle corn recipe so you can make your own at home.
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Is Kettle Corn Vegan?
ANSWER: Yes! Kettle corn is typically not buttered like standard popcorn and most of the brands we found were 100% vegan. Even big name brands which normally put butter in their regular popcorn, didn’t seem to have it in their kettle corn. This is not to say that a non-vegan kettle corn cannot exist, so always double check the label. The most likely offending ingredient would be butter. If you’re at an event where kettle corn is being served, it’s always best to ask if real butter was used.
See also: Is Popcorn Vegan & Vegan Popcorn Brands
Vegan Kettle Corn Brands
Although there are most likely more out there, we’ve found the following brands to have vegan ingredient statements. Please note that ingredients and nutrition labels do change and you’ll always want to double check before buying!
As usual, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are healthy as they still have added fat and sugar. If you’re looking for a healthier snack, you’re better off with plain popcorn.
1. Angie's Boom Chicka Pop
Angie’s Boom Chicka Pop had the following ingredient statement:
"Popcorn, Sunflower Oil, Cane Sugar, and Sea Salt."
They even went as far as to put Vegan on their packaging which we thought was awesome! This brand has 70 calories per cup with 8g of sugar.
2. Rocky Mountain Popcorn Kettle Corn
Rocky Mountain Popcorn’s version of kettle corn had the following animal-free ingredients:
"Popcorn, Sugar, Dextrose, Salt, Soy Lecithin"
Their calorie counts and sugar content was similar as Angie’s Boom Chicka Pop with 55 calories and 8g of sugar per cup of popcorn.
3. Pop Secret Sweet and Crunchy Kettle Corn
While it’s not the cleanest ingredient statement, Pop Secret’s Sweet and Crunchy Kettle Corn doesn’t have any blatantly labeled animal products in it.
The ingredient statement reads as:
"Whole Grain Popcorn Kernels, Palm Oil with TBHQ, Isomalt, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Salt, Soy Lecithin (An emulsifier), Sucralose"
It just goes to show that there are plenty of accidentally vegan products out there in places you might no expect.
Making Your Own at Home: Recipe & Materials
When buying kettle corn from the store, you have little or no control of the ingredients that go into it. Making your own at home is actually cheaper in the long run and also gives you more control. It lets you fully customize how much or how little sugar and oil you want to add to your popcorn.
Helpful Item to Have
If you’re going to be making your own, we highly recommend that you get a microwave popcorn popper. Yes, you can make your own on the stove without one, but if you really like popcorn, you aren’t going to want to go through that process every time.
The Nordic Ware Microwave Popcorn Popper (pictured above) is a great one to start with. You can buy the kernels separately in bulk and have kettle corn on demand in just a few minutes.
Vegan Kettle Corn Recipe
Because kettle corn is nothing more than sweetened, salted, and oiled popcorn, we’re going to give you a base recipe to start out with.
Keep in mind that if you’re looking to make it a bit healthier, you can experiment with cutting out the coconut oil and using something like a sugar and stevia mix to lower the calories in your kettle corn.
- 1/2 cup unpopped popcorn kernels (plain)
- 1-2 tsp coconut or sunflower oil
- 2 tbsp sugar of choice (can also use stevia or sugar stevia blend)
- 1 tbsp maple syrup (can also use agave nectar or other vegan sweet syrup)
- 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
- 2 tsp nutritional yeast (optional bonus ingredient for extra umami)
Add the oil and your un-popped popcorn kernels to your microwave popper and place into the microwave for 3-4 minutes or until fully popped. The ideal time will depend on the power of your microwave.
You can also pop your popcorn on the stove or get an unseasoned bagged popcorn.
Remove the popcorn from the microwave and transfer to a bigger bowl if needed to mix (will depend on size of your popper).
Pour the syrup over the popcorn and do your best to evenly distribute it. This is critical as the syrup will help the sugar and salt stick to the popcorn.
Add the salt, sugar, and yeast (optional), then proceed to mix with your hands. Be sure the popcorn isn’t too hot to the touch.
Mix thoroughly until all ingredients are distributed.
As stated earlier, there’s no right and wrong way to eat kettle corn. Experiment with removing or adding ingredients if you want to have your final product be healthier or more decadent.
These instructions are written for using a microwave popcorn popper, but you can also pop the popcorn on your stove. If you’re going to use the stove method, we recommend watching this video for easy to follow instructions.