Learning how to make homemade cheddar cheese popcorn will change snacktime forever! Enjoy it on movie night or at the holidays!
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Popcorn has magical healing powers. I’m convinced. It’s a cure for the inevitable afternoon snack craving.
Any kind of popcorn is hard to turn down, especially cheddar cheese popcorn.
Cheddar cheese popcorn recipe
Made with melted butter and a generous sprinkle of cheese, there’s so much cheesiness in every single bite.
This crunchy, cheesy snack goes so wonderfully with both butter popcorn and caramel popcorn.
It is often the star of Christmas popcorn tins and it is a valiant sidekick to caramel in Chicago popcorn mix.
It’s also simply delicious on its own, in a large bowl, with real cheese flavor sprinkled over every kernel.
First, you need to start with popped popcorn. You can buy it pre-popped, or use a microwave bag. Or you can make your own popcorn.
Did you know a jar of popcorn kernels costs about the same as a box of six popcorn bags, and yet you can make three times the popcorn from it. At least. There are lots of ways to make popcorn from home. (More on that below!)
You’re going to want to use a quality butter for your popcorn. I usually keep Kerrygold Irish butter on hand. Trust me: Quality butter will change your life.
You can use unsalted butter, and you can control the amount of salt you add.
Dairy-free butter will also work, as will any kind of oil like olive oil or light vegetable oil.
You will want to use a fine salt. I like to keep finely ground sea salt on hand for all my cooking.
Because it is larger and heavier, coarse salt will not stick well and you will find it at the bottom of the bowl.
Last but not least, the secret ingredient! The cheese powder you use makes a difference.
For traditional cheddar cheese popcorn, use one with the signature orange color. But feel free to use white cheddar cheese or even parmesan for a different flavor kick.
Which cheese powder is best for popcorn?
To make cheddar cheese popcorn, you will need dehydrated cheese powder to sprinkle all over your popcorn. If it’s made from real cheese, it will have more natural flavor.
Cheese powder is great for flavoring other foods too, like macaroni & cheese, vegetables and casseroles.
You can also add it to pizza popcorn for a cheesy twist.
Here are a few types of cheese powder to try:
Anthony's Premium Cheddar Cheese Powder
This is a classic, yellow cheese powder and will yield you something similar to the pictures you see here. This one is gluten-free and has no artificial coloring.
King Arthur Flour Vermont Cheese Powder
King Arthur Flour's cheese sprinkle is a white cheddar, with a sharp flavor. This one won't give you the yellow color you see in these photos but it's still delicious!
Anthony's Premium Nutritional Yeast Flakes
For a vegan option, you can substitute nutritional yeast (nickname: nooch) for the cheese sprinkle. It's gluten-free too!
If you’d like to try a bunch, here is a set of various cheesy popcorn sprinkles to try.
How to make homemade cheese popcorn
This classic snack is so easy to make.
First, make your popcorn. You can use the paper bag method or make stovetop popcorn. You can also invest in an air popper machine (if your cabinets have room). But my favorite way is with this magical microwave popcorn bowl.
It’s my favorite it because you can cook popcorn without greasy oil, it won’t burn as quickly and the silicone bowl collapses for easy storage when you’re not using it. Oh, and it’s easy to clean too! It’s magic, I tell you.
Now that you have your popped popcorn, it’s time to make it cheesy! The best part of all.
How do you get cheese to stick to popcorn?
To get the cheese powder to stick to the popcorn, you will need to first coat it in melted butter that has been slightly cooled.
Salted or unsalted butter will work great. I typically use salted butter, but if you use unsalted you may wish to add some more salt to compensate.
Feel free to substitute vegan butter here if you like!
To combine the popcorn, butter, salt and cheese sprinkle, you can do it all in a big mixing bowl with a spoon or spatula, or you can do it all in a big ziptop bag and give it a big shake.
Up to you! Either way, you’ll love it. Be sure to store it in an airtight container. It will stay fresh for about two days — if you can wait that long!
Variations and substitutions
There are a number of ways you can make this recipe your own!
Make it dairy-free and vegan: Use your favorite plant-based butter, olive oil or coconut oil to coat the kernels. For the cheese, you can use nutritional yeast, which has a naturally cheesy flavor.
Change up the cheese: Use grated parmesan to make parmesan popcorn, or make white cheddar cheese popcorn with a white cheddar sprinkle.
Mix it with other types of popcorn: Make a sweet-and-salty snack by mixing it with bourbon caramel popcorn, or mix it with your favorite buttery popcorn for a savory snack.
Cheddar Cheese Popcorn
From movie night to holiday gifts, cheddar cheese popcorn is always a hit!
- 1/2 cup uncooked popcorn kernels (around 15 cups popped popcorn)
- 1/2 stick butter, melted
- 1/2 cup cheddar cheese sprinkle
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Cook your popcorn kernels your preferred way. If using a silicone popcorn bowl, cook kernels in the microwave with the lid on for about 3 minutes on high, or until popping slows to 8 seconds between pops.
- While popcorn is cooling, melt butter in the microwave (around 45 seconds to 1 minute) and let cool slightly.
- Pour popcorn into a mixing bowl. Drizzle half the butter over popcorn, then sprinkle with half the cheddar cheese sprinkle. Stir with a spatula or wooden spoon. Repeat with the remaining butter and cheddar sprinkle, and season with salt, to taste. Enjoy!
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 3.5 cups popcorn
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 169Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 46mgSodium: 331mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 4g
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