Kettle Corn vs Popcorn: Difference and Comparison

Since time immemorial, corn has been a part of human snacks. They were first made in Mexico around 3600 BC.

They are the whole grains of order poles and kingdom Plantae. There is a variety of popcorn based on the preparation method, such as kettle corn, steam-driven popcorn, butterfly popcorn, etc.

Popcorn and kettle corn are often confused with one another. Thus, it becomes important to know about them. Kettle corn is made in a kettle or pot of cast iron.

Popcorn is simple corn that is made in a pressure pot.


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Key Takeaways

  1. Kettle corn is a sweet and salty popcorn made with sugar, salt, and oil in a kettle or large pot; popcorn is a general term for any corn that pops when heated, often made with oil and, salt, other seasonings.
  2. Kettle corn has a distinct sweet and salty flavor; popcorn can be prepared with various flavors.
  3. Kettle corn is made with a specific recipe and cooking method; popcorn can be made in many different ways, such as microwaving, air-popping, or stovetop popping.

Kettle Corn vs. Popcorn

Kettle corn is a type of popcorn that is cooked in a kettle. It needs constant stirring.  It is sweet in flavor. Caramel can be added for better flavor. There are multiple different methods to prepare popcorn. It is salty in flavor. Cheese or chili can be added for better flavor. Popcorn is considered a healthy snack.

Kettle corn vs Popcorn

Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonKettle CornPopcorn
History Kettle corn dates back to the 18th century when it was made in Pennsylvania by the Dutch settlers.Popcorn has a long history backing it. Evidence shows that it made its first debut around 3600 BC in Mexico.
Method of cooking the cornKettle corn has a specific method of cooking. They are prepared in a kettle, pot, or cast iron Dutch oven. Constant stirring is required to make kettle corn.Popcorn is made in a variety of ways. The most common method includes preparing them in microwave or pressure utensils on a small scale and making them in the popcorn makers on a large scale.
IngredientsThe traditional kettle corn includes a mixture of kettle corn, oil, sugar, and salt. However, people have found new ingredients to maximize their taste.Popcorns require a mixture of corn, butter, and salt.
FlavorsKettle corn is predominantly sweet when tasted and only has a hint of salt. Sometimes it is made in caramelized flavors.Popcorns are salty to taste. Other common flavors added to it include chili, cheese, cinnamon, etc.
Nutritional valuesKettle corn has a higher sugar content but a lower fat content. However, being whole grains, they are packed with antioxidants and fiber.Air-popped corn serves as a healthy snack. It has a lower content of sugar and calories. They had a relatively higher sodium content if the salt added was higher. They are also rich in antioxidants and fiber.

What are Kettle Corns?

Kettle corn is a sweet variety of popcorn that differs in the preparation method, and this method can not be altered. They are prepared in a kettle, pot, or Dutch oven made of cast iron.

They require constant stirring till they are ready to serve. 

Kettle corn dates to the 18th century when it was first made by the Dutch settlers in Pennsylvania, US. They gained popularity in the 19th century but faced a downfall during the 20th century.

After that, they made a comeback in the 21st century in America.

The traditional method of preparation of kettle corn requires a mixture of corn, oil, sugar, and salt as major ingredients. Kettle corn is predominantly sweet to taste and only has a hint of salt.

Kettle corn is also made by adding caramel to it. Kettle corn has a higher sugar content but a lower fat content. However, it is a whole grain packed with antioxidants and fiber. They serve as a healthy snack.

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What are Popcorns?

Popcorn is a whole-grain snack that gets popped or puffed when exposed to heat. It belongs to the family Poaceae of the Plantae kingdom.

There is a wide variety of popcorn, namely, dent corn, flint corn, pod corn, steam-driven corn, kettle corn, etc.

Popcorn is made in a pot or vessel based on building pressure. They can be made in microwaves or popcorn makers. They do not require stirring. 

The history of popcorn dates back to about 10,000 years, around 3600 BC. It made its debut in Mexico.

Popcorn gained popularity in the 19th century when kernels became available on the East Coast of the US. 

The major ingredients for making popcorn are kernels, butter, and salt. They are salty to taste.

Chili, cheese, cinnamon, etc., can also be added to maximize flavors. Popcorn is rich in antioxidants and fiber. They have a higher content of salt.

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Main Differences Between Kettle Corns and Popcorns  

  1. Popcorns debuted much earlier than kettle corn in around 3600 BC; conversely, kettle corn existed in the 18th century.
  2. Kettle corn has a specific preparation method, whereas popcorn can be made in various ways.
  3. Kettle corn is always made in a cast iron pot or kettle, whereas popcorn can be made in any utensil or pot that is pressure based.
  4. Constant stirring is required to make kettle corn, whereas popcorn does not require any such thing.
  5. For preparation, kettle corn requires a mixture of traditional corn, oil, sugar, and salt; conversely, popcorn is only cooked with corn, butter, and salt.
  6. Kettle corn is sweet to taste, whereas popcorn is salty to taste.
  7. Kettle corn can be made with caramel; conversely, popcorn can be made with added chili, cheese, cinnamon flavors, etc.
  8. Kettle corn and popcorn are packed with antioxidants and fiber and are healthy snacks. However, popcorn is healthier than kettle corn.
  9. Kettle corn has a higher sugar content, whereas popcorn has a higher salt content.
Difference Between Kettle Corn and Popcorn
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