Cheese Popcorn

published Feb 18, 2022
Cheese Popcorn Recipe

Spice up your movie night with cheese popcorn.


Makesabout 14 cups

Prep5 minutes

Cook10 minutes

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cheesy popcorn in a bowl with a spoon sprinkling more cheese powder over the top.
Credit: Photo: Eric Kleinberg; Food Stylist: Kristina Vanni

Take movie night to a whole new level by making a batch of cheese popcorn. It comes together in minutes and tastes just like it came from the theatre concession stand. The key is to get the cheese powder evenly coated over the whole batch of popcorn. This technique works with just about any popcorn popping method. I like doing it the old-fashioned way on the stovetop because there’s no need for any special equipment. Plus, your whole kitchen will be filled with the aroma of freshly popped popcorn, which adds to the thrill of a cozy night in with a great film.

How Do You Get Cheese to Stick to Popcorn?

The best way to get cheese to stick to popcorn, as well as coat all the kernels equally, is to toss the popcorn with melted butter and the cheese mixture in batches. Start with about half of the melted butter, drizzle it over the popcorn, and then toss to coat. Immediately sprinkle with half of the powdered cheese mixture and toss again. Repeat the process with the remaining butter and cheese and by the end, each bite will be perfectly coated.

What Cheese Powder Is Best for Popcorn?

If you want a plain cheddar cheese powder that you can jazz up with your own additional mix-ins, I like the Amish Country brand. This brand can be found in some grocery stores or online. Kernel Seasons also make some delicious options for cheese powder. They have a nacho cheddar popcorn seasoning that really jazzes up this recipe. If you use this brand, you won’t need to add any additional cayenne pepper to give it a spicy kick. They also make a white cheddar cheese popcorn seasoning that is another great option.

Credit: Photo: Eric Kleinberg; Food Stylist: Kristina Vanni

How to Make Cheese Popcorn

It’s easy to make cheese popcorn in three easy steps.

  • Start by popping a batch of plain popcorn. This can be done according to your preference — on the stovetop, in a popcorn maker, or in an air popper all work great.
  • Next, melt some butter to help the cheese stick.
  • Finally, coat the popcorn with the butter followed by the cheese powder or blend of your choice.

Cheese Popcorn Recipe

Spice up your movie night with cheese popcorn.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 10 minutes

Makes about 14 cups

Serves 4

Nutritional Info


  • 1/4 cup

    cheddar cheese powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    dried mustard powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    cayenne pepper

  • 2 tablespoons

    high-heat cooking oil, such as avocado oil, canola, grapeseed, or sunflower

  • 1/2 cup

    unpopped popcorn kernels, plus a few for testing

  • 4 tablespoons

    (1/2 stick) unsalted butter


  1. Place 1/4 cup cheddar cheese powder, 1/4 teaspoon dried mustard powder, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper in a small bowl and stir to combine.

  2. Heat 2 tablespoons high-heat cooking oil in a 3-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Place 2 or 3 popcorn of the popcorn kernels into the oil, cover, and wait for the kernels to pop, about 4 minutes. When these tester kernels pop, it is an indication that the oil has reached the correct temperature for popping.

  3. Remove the popped tester kernels. Add 1/2 cup popcorn kernels in a single layer. Put on oven mitts and cover the pot. Remove from the heat for 30 seconds. This will allow all the kernels to come up to temperature before returning to the heat for popping.

  4. With your hands in the oven mitts, arrange the lid so it is ever so slightly ajar from the pan. This will allow some steam to vent, resulting in crispier popcorn. Return the pan to the heat and gently shake the pan continuously over the burner. Continue to move the pan back and forth as the kernels pop. Once the popping slows and there are several seconds between pops (after about 3 minutes), remove the pan from the heat. Pour the popcorn into a large bowl.

  5. Return the pan to the stove and add 1/2 stick unsalted butter. The residual heat from the pan should melt the butter; if not, gently warm over low heat until melted.

  6. Pour half the butter over the popcorn in the bowl and toss to combine. Add the remaining butter and toss again. Immediately sprinkle the cheese mixture over the popcorn, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing after each addition to evenly coat each popped kernel.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftover popcorn can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.