Navigating the confusing world of vegan food can be daunting for some.
Many understand that while a type of food may not contain meat or dairy, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s fully ethical – and therefore vegan.
Sometimes it can take doing some research, or just getting into the habit of looking at the back of all food packaging at the store and making sure your restaurant server is fully certain what they are serving you in 100% vegan.
One of the vegan minefields tends to be modern and processed foods. But what about kettle corn? Let’s find out…
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What is Kettle Corn?
Kettle corn is effectively a sweet variety of popcorn that is usually seasoned with refined sugar, salt, and oil. It was traditionally made in cast iron kettles (hence the name), but in the more modern method usually other types of pots and pans are used.
Kettle corn in the United States dates back to around the 18th century and was linked to Dutch settlers, who landed in Pennsylvania. Although it is very similar to popcorn, kettle corn is still often made in traditional methods and sold during live open-air events in the country, such as flea markets, carnivals, and craft fairs.
How Kettle Corn Differs from Regular Popcorn
Although the two look almost identical, there are differences between the two types of corn used. Kettle corn is a specific type of corn, and as we mentioned earlier, is cooked in a large iron kettle that has been oiled.
Once popped, the popcorn is tossed with salt and sugar, which creates a very unique sweet and savoury flavor. Popcorn on the other hand is made from a type of corn that has been grown with the intent to burst open and puff up through heat exposure.
Traditional popcorn is a high fiber and healthy snack, but is often sprinkled with salt and butter, or other flavoring such as toffee or cheese, for a multitude of taste and texture options for every palate.
Naturally, most popcorn containing ingredients such as butter and cheese are not suitable for vegans.
How To Make Kettle Corn at Home
If you fancy filling your home with the homely and nostalgic smell of homemade kettle corn as a perfect movie snack, then grab a pen and take note!
3 tablespoons oil, like coconut oil, rapeseed oil, or other vegetable oil
1/2 cup corn kernels
1/4 to 1/2 cup white granulated sugar, to taste
1 teaspoon salt
- Line a baking sheet with parchment and place it near the stove. You will tip the popped corn out onto this sheet to cool.
- Warm the oil. Pour the oil into your pot and drop three kernels of corn over the top.
- These three kernels will be your indicator for when the oil is hot. Cover with the lid and place over medium-high heat.
- Add the corn kernels, sugar, and salt.
- When you hear one of the kernels pop, uncover the pot and pour in the rest of the kernels, sugar, and salt.
- Use 1/4 cup of sugar if you like slightly sweet kettle corn and more if you like sweeter. Stir everything together to coat all the kernels and then replace the lid.
- Shake the pan while the popcorn pops. This is important! Shake the pan occasionally as the popcorn starts to pop, and then more frequently and vigorously as the popping increases.
- Rest the pot on the burner every few seconds to maintain the heat. This part is crucial to be on the ball for!
Please note: Some particles of steam toward the end of popping are normal, so don’t confuse them with smoke. Obviously, if you do smell smoke, stop popping and proceed with the next steps, as your corn will burn otherwise.
- Remove from heat when popping slows. When you hear popping begin to slow remove the pan from heat.
Don’t wait for every kernel to pop or your corn will burn; as soon as you think it might be starting to slow down, take it off the heat. Total popping time is about 2 to 3 minutes on a typical electric stove.
- Pour the corn onto your baking sheet. When the popping slows, immediately uncover your pot, and pour the corn on the prepared baking sheet.
- Use the long-handled spoon and your fingers to spread the popcorn into an even layer to cool and pick out any burnt pieces (there are always a few in every batch!) – be mindful of hot kernels!
- Cool the corn. Let the kettle corn cool for at least five minutes — the popcorn will crisp as it cools.
- Eat immediately while still warm (recommended!) or store in an airtight container.
Hey presto! You have kettle corn!
However, if you feel that kettle corn is not worth the hassle, and think your Netflix sesh would benefit from some vegan popcorn instead, no problem! Let’s look at what vegan popcorn options are available to us.
Type of Vegan Popcorn
- Boom Chicka Pop – Sea Salt and Lightly Sweet Kettle Corn
- Skinny Pop – Sea Salt and Butter
- Orville Redenbacher Popcorn – Naturals Simply Salt, Naturals Light Simply Salt, Kettle Corn, SmartPop!
- Pop Secret – Kettle Corn
- Act II – Kettle Corn and Butter Lovers (shocking, but true)
- Newman’s Own – Sea Salt and Tender White
- Jolly Time – Simply Popped Sea Salt, Kettle Mania, Healthy Pop Kettle Corn
What Movie Theaters Stock Vegan Popcorn?
AMC, Regal, and Cinemark all have popcorn that is already vegan, as long as you don’t add the butter, of course.
Other Great Vegan Movie Snacks
If popcorn or kettle corn just doesn’t do it for you, fear not! We’ve compiled a list of alternative vegan movies snacks to chow down on during your movie date night!
- Homemade loaded vegan nachos! Just load up the tortilla chips with all the best toppings then pile on your favorite vegan cheese of choice, and violá!
- Hummus, guac, carrot sticks, and vegan lightly-salted chips.
- Vegan ice cream
- Vegan cheese & charcuterie board
- Salted pistachio nuts
- Monkey nuts
- A nice glass of vegan wine (or two!)
- Vegan spinach & artichoke dip
- Vegan chocolates
- Spicy, savoury, and salty roasted chickpeas! Make at home with chili powder & rock salt.
- Homemade banana chips
- Cauliflower wings
- Trail-mix cookies
- Peanut butter protein balls
- Bruschetta with salsa and vegan cream cheese
- Vegan homemade pizza
- Mixed nuts
- Vegan beer or ale
Kettle corn (and many popcorns) are an ethical, cruelty-free, and delicious snack to enjoy with a movie or to pack in your lunch box for work!