Kent needed only 43 minutes of the final day to take the four wickets they required for victory over Essex in their season-opening LV County Championship Division Two fixture.
Resuming at 198-6 in pursuit of a target of 285, Essex's tail crumbled to 227 all out in 9.5 overs of action at Chelmsford.
Kent paceman Robbie Joseph dismissed Tim Phillips (12), James Foster (21) and Reece Topley (0) to finish with figures of 4-25, while medium pacer Simon Cook (1-47) accounted for David Masters (0).
Kent's 57-run win earns them a 20-point haul as they look to bounce straight back after last season's relegation from the top flight.
Three late wickets from Darren Stevens put Kent on the brink of victory against south east neighbours Essex at Chelmsford.
The veteran all-rounder claimed the crucial wicket of Ravi Bopara to leave Essex requiring 87 more runs for victory with only four wickets remaining.
Captain James Foster, who top-scored with an unbeaten 88 in the first-innings, remains unbeaten on 12 and will have a massive say in the outcome of this crunch clash.
A total of 13 wickets fell on day three after Kent had earlier crashed from 146-3 to 238 all out in their second innings.
Martin van Jaarsveld made 63 for the visitors and Stevens added a useful 30, however teenager Reece Topley (5-46) continued his dream debut with a five-wicket haul to keep the hosts in contention.
The teenage seamer's efforts left Essex requiring 285 for victory, and they made a decent start thanks to a half-century from Billy Godleman (58).
However, England duo Alastair Cook (31) and Bopara (39) failed to build on promising starts as Stevens (3-62) and spinner James Tredwell (2-45) put Kent back on top.
Kent finished day two on 146-3 in their second innings, giving them a lead of 192, after bowling out Division Two rivals Essex for 201 at Chelmsford.
Resuming in deep trouble on 49-6, the hosts were indebted to a fighting knock from skipper James Foster for getting them to a competitive score.
The wicketkeeper-batsman made an unbeaten 88 that included 11 fours, sharing a seventh-wicket stand of 42 with former Kent batsman Matthew Walker (22).
Tim Phillips weighed in with 20 before falling to the medium pace of Darren Stevens, who finished with career-best figures of 6-60.
There were also two wickets apiece for seam duo Robbie Joseph and Simon Cook, meaning Kent came out to bat again with a 46-run advantage.
Captain Rob Key - who had been bowled for a second-ball duck on day one - helped them forge further ahead with a patient 61, while Martin van Jaarsveld was unbeaten on 43 when stumps were drawn.
A five-wicket haul from Darren Stevens and Sam Northeast's magnificent 112 helped Kent take control against Essex on day one at Chelmsford.
The visitors were indebted to Northeast's century - the first registered by any player in the 2011 LV County Championship season - for getting them through to what appeared to be a modest total of 247.
They had suffered the worst possible start too when skipper Robert Key was bowled for a second-ball duck, and at one stage found themselves 140-7.
Northeast, though, led a lower-order recovery before becoming one of three victims for Maurice Chambers. David Masters also picked up three scalps, while there were two, albeit at a cost, for debutant seamer Reece Topley, 17.
Essex's reply never recovered from the early loss of England opener Alastair Cook, who became the first of Stevens' victims when he was caught behind, as they stuttered to 49-6 by the close of play in the Division Two clash.
The medium-pacer also removed Ravi Bopara without troubling the scorers on the way to his maiden five-wicket haul in first-class cricket.