What’s the Difference Between Caramel Corn and Kettle Corn?

Have you ever had caramel corn? It’s pretty delicious, right? Now compare it to kettle corn. They’re both popcorn, but that’s about where their similarities stop. Caramel corn is usually heavily air-popped, with a sweet and sticky glazed topping. Kettle corn is popped in a kettle (the name tells you that much), then lightly dusted with sugar. So what’s the difference between the two?

Let’s dive in.

Differences in Ingredients and Texture

Caramel corn is made with brown sugar, butter, salt, and popcorn. It’s cooked in a large pot over medium heat until the butter melts, then the mixture is stirred to make sure all of the popcorn gets coated. The caramel coating is then poured onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Once cooled, the caramel corn is broken apart into pieces and packaged for sale.

The Best Kansas City Tradition at Topsys

Kettle corn is simply popped corn that has been coated with a mixture of sugar and salt (and sometimes butter) and then heated in a special kettle-shaped popper. The result is very similar to caramel corn except for its crunchy texture – it has a harder shell than that of caramel corn and doesn’t break apart as easily as caramel corn does when you bite into it.

Taste Differences

Caramel corn is a bit sweeter than kettle corn. The caramelized sugar gives it a richer flavor, which makes it perfect for movie nights or for eating on a rainy day. It’s also great for pairing with other flavors like chocolate or nuts!

Kettle corn is light and crunchy—it pops up nice and fluffy even after it’s popped in the heat of the oven. It’s not as sweet as caramel corn so kids can enjoy it too! It also has a unique texture that goes well with savory foods like cheese or meat dishes!

Type of Caramel or Syrup Used

Caramel corn is made using a dairy-based caramel sauce, which can be made with milk or cream, butter, brown sugar, and vanilla. It’s usually coated with salt as well—and sometimes peanuts or coconut flakes. This type of caramel is typically cooked until it reaches a light golden color and has a smooth consistency.

Kettle corn is also coated with sweet ingredients but uses brown and brown sugar instead of dairy-based caramel. That means that its color will be darker than caramel corn (and even brown). It also tends to have more of an “oatmeal” taste rather than a buttery one because of its high concentration of sugar crystals.

Difference in Preparation Methods

Kettle corn is made by placing kernels in a metal bowl, covering them with oil and sugar, and then cooking the mixture on the stovetop until it reaches a high temperature.

Caramel corn is made by combining sugar, butter, and corn syrup in a pot over low heat. Caramel popcorn is then sprinkled with salt once it has cooled down enough to handle.

Nutritional Differences

There are health benefits associated with eating caramel corn because of the butter (which contains some saturated fat). It’s also likely that the oils from this type of popcorn would help your body absorb nutrients from other foods eaten at the same time (such as when you eat popcorn at a movie).


Kettle corn has less saturated fat than caramel corn, but it also has less nutritional value overall since it doesn’t contain any butter or other fats to aid in digestion or absorption of nutrients from other foods eaten at the same time (such as when you eat popcorn at a movie).

Topsy’s Caramel Popcorn Is the Best You Can Get

tin of popcorn flavors

At Topsy’s Popcorn, we always have fresh gourmet popcorn in stock. Our popcorns come in airtight tins that preserve their freshness, so you can be sure that you’ll always get the freshest popcorn every time! Made with fresh sweet creamery butter and caramel sauce, our caramel popcorn is the most delicious you can get!

Contact us today to place your order!