Kettle Corn Versus Popcorn: The Differences and Similarities

  • Author: Sue
  • Published: September 16, 2021
  • Time to read: 5 min.

It’s easy to assume that kettle corn and popcorn are the same thing, but they are two truly different types of snacks. While both are a type of popcorn, the way they are cooked, the way they taste, and their nutritional value all vary quite a bit.

Before we go into more detail about these two types of popcorn, here is the main difference between the two: kettle corn is always a sweet popcorn, while regular popcorn can be any flavor and can even be cooked plain without any added salt or butter.

Is Kettle Corn Healthier Than Popcorn?

It is often tricky for kettle corn to be healthier than regular popcorn, but it is not impossible. Usually, kettle corn is made not only with sugar but also with a little bit of salt and butter so that the balance of flavors is a little more even.
Regular popcorn, on the other hand, can be air-popped and eaten plain, which makes it healthier than kettle corn.

Since regular popcorn can also be soaked in butter and oil, it can actually be worse for you than kettle corn.

The bottom line is this: if you read the ingredient lists for anything you add to the popcorn while you’re making it, and after it’s cooked, you can make both kettle corn and regular popcorn relatively healthy. It’s just a matter of reading your labels and trying to go with the ingredients that have the lowest amounts of sugar, salt, saturated fat, and cholesterol, among other things.

If you pay attention to everything you’re using to cook and season both kettle corn and regular popcorn, you can always find a way to make it a little healthier if you like.

kettle corn being made

How Is Kettle Corn Different From Popcorn?

When looking at kettle corn vs. popcorn, there are many differences. Let’s start with a few of the basics. First of all, kettle corn:

  • Is cooked in a cast-iron kettle, Dutch oven, or a regular saucepan
  • Has to be stirred constantly so the sugar doesn’t burn
  • Is mostly sweet
  • Has a much-higher sugar content than regular popcorn
  • Usually includes a mixture of salt, oil, and sugar
  • Is less healthy than popcorn that has been air popped

Check out our article on how to choose a stovetop popcorn maker to help you make kettle corn.

On the other hand, regular popcorn:

  • Can be cooked in a variety of ways
  • Does not have to be stirred constantly
  • Is mostly salty and not sweet
  • Has a lower sugar content than kettle corn
  • Usually includes a mixture of salt and butter
  • Can have high amounts of saturated fats, especially the popcorn sold in movie theaters

Is Kettle Corn Healthy to Eat?

As a general rule, kettle corn is not the unhealthiest snack on the planet, but that all depends on what ingredients you use for cooking and seasoning it. If you use sea salt instead of regular table salt and use healthier oils, you can cut down on the unhealthy ingredients typically found in kettle corn.

Keep in mind that kettle corn will always contain sugar, and sugar is not exactly good for you. Nevertheless, if you use a little less sugar and the other ingredients you’re using are organic and healthier, kettle corn doesn’t have to be that bad.

Is Kettle Corn Hard to Digest?

All popcorn, including kettle corn, is whole grain and contains lots of fiber. We don’t actually digest fiber but instead, it pushes through our digestive tract to keep us regular and healthy. A one-cup serving of popcorn contains about one gram of fiber, so eating popcorn is a great way to increase the fiber you get in your daily diet. Since most people don’t get enough fiber daily, popcorn is an excellent food to add if you’re frequently constipated.

However, if you’re not used to eating a lot of fiber and you suddenly start eating large amounts, it can be bad for your stomach and cause gas and bloating, among other symptoms.

The best thing to do if you’re interested in adding popcorn to add more fiber to your diet is to add these foods slowly so that you’re not eating too much fiber at one time. Once you get used to having more fiber in your diet, you can increase it slowly until you’re getting enough fiber on a daily basis.

What About the Nutritional Content?

The nutritional content of kettle corn vs. popcorn varies, again, depending on how it is cooked and seasoned. When you compare these two types of popcorn, kettle corn always has more sugar. If you have high blood sugar, this is something you’ll have to consider when you’re trying to decide between these two types of popcorn.

On the other hand, when comparing kettle corn to the popcorn sold in movie theaters, its saturated fat content is much lower.

If you air pop your popcorn and add only a touch of salt, it is very healthy, especially because popcorn is high in fiber and antioxidants. The air-popped type of popcorn is also lower in calories and sugar than kettle corn. On the other hand, when you compare any type of popcorn, or even kettle corn, to the popcorn served in movie theaters, there is no comparison. Almost any type of popcorn is healthier than the popcorn sold in theaters

Why? Because movie theater popcorn is almost always filled with butter or margarine, salt, and lots of flavorings. It also contains roughly 30 grams of saturated fat, which is almost a two-day supply of fat for most people. Of course, you should also keep in mind that adding unhealthy ingredients to any type of popcorn doesn’t take away its positive nutritional benefits. It merely adds things that aren’t so good for you but make it taste good.

Popcorn, in other words, is filled with all types of nutrients on its own. Its preparation and seasoning methods will determine if the final product is good for you or very unhealthy, and that part is entirely up to you.

In Summary

Kettle corn is great for people who love their popcorn sweet but making it is a labor-intensive process, mostly because you have to constantly stir it so the sugar doesn’t burn.

Regular popcorn can be fixed in any number of ways, and these are just a few of the differences between kettle corn and regular popcorn. Kettle corn also produces a caramelized flavor because of the mixture of sugar and salt. While you can add some sugar to regular popcorn, it will never be as sweet as kettle corn is.

Your preference for one of these popcorn types or the other will depend on how you want it to taste and how healthy you expect it to be. You certainly have more control over what to add and what to avoid when it comes to regular popcorn, but you sure can’t beat the taste of homemade kettle corn.

It’s really up to you which type of popcorn you want to eat. They each have their pros and cons, so your preferences and tastes can help you decide which one is right for you.

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