The pattern is predictable. In the warm months, kids come to our house to play. They swing on the tree swing, play in the tree house, mess around in the sandbox, and cover every available surface with sidewalk chalk. After a few hours they are hot, thirsty and hungry. It’s time to cool off in the basement and watch a show.
They look at me expectantly, “Are you going to make us that popcorn?”
Parents talk to us later and ask, “What is this popcorn my kids keep telling me about?”
I’ve perfected the recipe over a few years and I’ll share with you my secret. It makes all movies better. It makes game nights more fun. It’s sweet, and salty, and as irresistible as squishy baby thighs. It’s not as easy as throwing a bag in the microwave, but the results are 1,000% better.
My kids call it “Daddy Popcorn,” or “Sugary Popcorn.”
I call it, “Can’t-Stop-Eating Popcorn.” But you can call it:
Best Homemade Kettle Corn Ever
¼ cup water
½ cup white granulated sugar
1 TBSP salted sweet cream butter
Salt to taste (Sea salt, or kosher. Keep away from the iodine stuff.)
½ cup unpopped mushroom popcorn kernels
(We LOVE this kind of popcorn! Fluffy an perfectly round. However, you can use any kind you like. Orville Redenbacher’s is our #2 choice.)
- Small saucepan
- Popcorn popper (whatever method you like)
- Candy thermometer, or instant read thermometer
- Silicone spoon or spatula
- Large bowl
- Add the water, sugar, and butter into a small sauce pot and place it over medium high heat. Give it an occasional stir with a silicone or wooden spatula to melt the butter and help the sugar dissolve. As soon as it starts to boil turn the temperature to medium while you make the popcorn.
- Pop the popcorn using your favorite method. Air popper, stovetop popper, whatever. This is favorite go-to popper!
- Now here’s the critical part, you need to finish the sauce right away while the popcorn is still hot. Raise the heat on your sugar sauce to medium high and check the temperature. I tend to use an instant read thermometer because my candy thermometer doesn’t do well with batches this small. You need to get the sensor in the sauce, but don’t touch the bottom of the pot or it will throw off the reading. Let the sauce cook with an occasional stir until the temperature gets between 250-265F (120-130 C).
- Pour the warm popcorn into a LARGE bowl. The bigger the better. Cover one hand in an oven mitt (you don’t want molten sugar getting on your skin… trust me) and have a silicone spatula ready. Quickly drizzle the hot sugar sauce all over the popcorn and while it’s hot, immediately start to stir it around with a spatula. I like to slip the spatula into the side of the bowl and then lift toward the center. It’s more like tossing a salad as opposed to stirring. While it’s still gooey, add salt evenly to your preference and keep stirring while it cools. The sauce will start to harden and the popcorn kernels will begin to separate instead of clump together. When it’s just warm to the touch you can dive in.
You should have just enough to last the two hours it will take you to decide what movie to watch.