Here’s How to Make Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Popcorn at Home

updated Jan 22, 2020
Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Popcorn

Here's how to make Cheetos' new Flamin' Hot Cheetos Popcorn at home.


Prep10 minutes

Cook15 minutes

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Credit: Meghan Splawn

Last weekend, on a movie date with my two kids, I discovered the sheer joy of Cheetos popcorn. The mixture of buttery popcorn and crunchy Cheetos was dispensed warm from the popcorn machine, and although we bought the bag just for fun, let me tell you: this stuff was exceptional. I was shocked by how the two snack foods, when combined, were so much more than the sum of their parts. The Cheetos were warm and buttery and cheesy, and the popcorn was extra flavorful and rich thanks to the Cheetos cheese.

After arriving home, I immediately went searching the web for recipes, only to quickly discover that Cheetos recently released a bagged version of the stuff (all popcorn, no Cheetos), as well as a Flamin’ Hot version. I haven’t been able to get my hands on these yet, so instead, I figured out how to make both varieties at home. Here’s how to do it.

Credit: Meghan Splawn

How to Get Super Cheesy, Flamin’ Hot Flavor at Home

Making Cheetos Popcorn at home can be as simple as popping popcorn and tossing in a handful of Cheetos, but to really rival the movie theater experience (and beat the pants off the bagged version) you need two special ingredients: mushroom popcorn kernels and cheddar cheese powder. If you can only invest in one or the other, make it the cheese powder.

Mushroom popcorn is a variety of kernels that pops up into a big, fluffy, round flake (flake is the technical term for a popped kernel of corn). Most store-bought popcorn is a variety known as butterfly popcorn, which pops faster but also has a tighter, crunchier texture — it’s why your home-popped corn doesn’t have the same texture as movie theater or snack popcorn. This is my favorite mushroom popcorn for popping at home!

Flamin’ Hot Cheeto seasoning can be made at home as well, as long as you’ve got cheddar cheese power. Skip the cheesy popcorn seasoning you find at most grocery stores (it’s got a bunch of additives in it) and buy plain cheese powder online. I like Anthony’s Premium Cheddar Cheese Powder for its flavor, color, and price. It lasts forever in the pantry and you can use it for everything from mac and cheese to homemade cheese crackers. Add smoked paprika, cayenne, and a few other spices to give the popcorn its spicy kick.

More Flamin’ Hot recipes we love:

Credit: Meghan Splawn

Making Classic Cheetos Popcorn

If you’re after the more mild version of Cheetos Popcorn, skip the paprika, sugar, garlic and onion powders, and cayenne called for in the recipe and increase the kosher salt to 1 teaspoon. Otherwise, follow the recipe as written.

Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Popcorn

Here's how to make Cheetos' new Flamin' Hot Cheetos Popcorn at home.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes


Nutritional Info


  • 1/3 cup

    cheddar cheese powder

  • 1 teaspoon

    hot smoked paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    granulated sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    garlic powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    onion powder

  • 1/8 teaspoon

    cayenne pepper

  • 3 tablespoons

    vegetable oil

  • 1/2 cup

    popcorn kernels, preferably mushroom popcorn

  • 6 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 3 cups

    crunchy Flamin’ Hot Cheetos (about 3 1/2 ounces)


  1. Place 1/3 cup cheddar cheese powder, 1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon onion powder, and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper in a small bowl, and stir with a fork to combine.

  2. Measure out 1/2 cup popcorn kernels. Heat 3 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid, such as a Dutch oven, over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add 2 to 3 of the popcorn kernels. When they pop, add the remaining popcorn kernels. Cover and shake the pot back and forth while the popcorn pops, until the popping slows (there’s no popping for 10 seconds), 6 to 8 minutes total popping time.

  3. Pour the popcorn out onto a rimmed baking sheet to cool. Meanwhile, return the pot to medium-high heat and add 6 tablespoons unsalted butter. When melted, add 3 cups Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and toast until fragrant, about 1 minute. Return the popcorn to the pot and remove from the heat.

  4. Using a large spatula, toss the popcorn with the buttery Cheetos. Sprinkle with the cheddar cheese mixture and toss until evenly coated. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe Notes

Classic Cheetos popcorn: If you're after the more mild version of the Cheetos Popcorn, skip the paprika, sugar, garlic and onion powders, and the cayenne. Increase the kosher salt to 1 teaspoon and follow the recipe as written.

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

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