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Sweet and Spicy Popcorn

Recipe and Photograph by Joy Wilson


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup yellow corn kernels
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
Cayenne pepper, for sprinkling


1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Make sure the pan that you’re using is easy to lift and has a tight fitting lid. You’ll need to secure the lid and shake the pan around a bit during popping. Once the oil is heated, add the unsalted butter to melt.

2. Add the corn kernels and sprinkle the sugar as evenly as possible over the unpopped corn. Place the lid on the pot and increase the heat to medium high.

3. When the corn begins to pop, place one pot holder over the lid and another over the handle, securing the lid to the pot. Carefully but deliberately remove the pot from the flame and shake a bit. This will help ensure that the sugar does not burn on the bottom of the pan. Return the pan to the heat as it continues to pop. Shake again every 30 seconds or so to prevent burning.

4. When popping slows, turn off the heat and take the lid off slightly to release some of the steam.

5. When popping stops completely, remove lid and sprinkle popcorn with cayenne pepper and half of the salt. Dump kettle corn into a large bowl and sprinkle with the rest of the salt and another sprinkling of cayenne pepper. The sugar will still be very hot so toss with a wooden spoon to prevent any burned fingers.

6. Enjoy immediately. Be warned: this stuff is totally addictive.

Makes 6 to 8 cups.