Cheddar Cheese Popcorn (2021)

Bucketfuls of popcorn to snack on. The trick is finding the best cheese to coat it with.

Somehow I neglected to take any photos of the actual popcorn being made, so here's a picture of the unpopped popcorn!

Similar to my previous adventures with coating popcorn, I used mushroom popcorn. It pops as large spheres, as opposed to the more common "butterfly" shape. The popcorn brand I used last time was no longer available, so I tried this one instead. It didn't seem to have as high a percentage of mushroom kernels as the previous one, but the ones that did pop as mushrooms were huge! It worked out well for what I wanted to make here.

Next, I had to decide on the type of cheese to use. I ordered three varieties to experiment with: dehydrated white cheddar cheese, white cheddar cheese powder, and yellow cheddar cheese powder.

The first one is literally just what it says on the tin: dehydrated cheddar cheese (plus an anti-caking agent). Strangely, it didn't really taste like much of anything, let alone cheese. I can't really explain that. (Maybe it would be better rehydrated?) The other two are mixtures of cheddar cheese and flavorings like whey powder, buttermilk powder, and various acids. I also tried a few different combinations of the different cheese mixtures, but ultimately liked the white cheddar cheese powder the best.

The recipe goes like this:

  • 4 oz mushroom popcorn
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 oz white cheddar cheese powder
  1. Pop popcorn in air popper. Let cool slightly.
  2. In two plastic bins, put 1 tbsp of oil in each. Pour in popcorn, invert one container, and shake to coat.
  3. Pour into a third bin and add cheese powder. Close container with lid and shake to coat.

The air popper yields the largest kernels, but a light coating of oil is necessary to get the cheese to stick to the popcorn. I tried this "popcorn butter" spray, but it added an overwhelming amount of buttered-popcorn flavor which clashed with the cheese. It does taste remarkably like movie theater popcorn, but that wasn't what I wanted here.

An interesting side-note: the can uses a clever design called bag-on-valve (see here for an example of how it works). Unlike a traditional aerosol can, the propellant and the oil never mix. Instead, when the spray valve opens, the product is essentially squeezed out by the compressed air inside the can. The downside here is that the dispensed droplets are somewhat large, which makes it difficult to get a uniform coating without using a lot of the product (which added even more "buttery" flavor that I didn't want). I'm sure a bag-on-valve can of plain canola oil is available somewhere, but I didn't bother searching for it.

Finally, I ordered a case of these white 1-gallon plastic buckets and wrapped them with red and green cellophane for gifting. Despite the picture on the product listing, they arrived with handles. No big deal. They sealed really well and got the job done. I kept one as a test, and months later the popcorn was still fresh!

Updated by Luke on May 23, 2024 Posted by Luke on May 1, 2023