How to Add Cheese Flavor to Your Popcorn – The Best Cheese Powder Revealed

  • Author: Sue Dorrens
  • Published: September 2, 2022
  • Time to read: 5 min.

The rich flavor of cheesy popcorn makes for a supercharged snack time or movie night, right? Logistically, though, adding shredded cheese to popcorn is a pain. It doesn’t coat evenly, clumps, and it’s not great unless it’s still pretty warm.

This is where cheese powder comes in.

But…what is the best cheese powder for popcorn? You’ll find several options below, along with instructions to make it yourself if you want to be extra fancy.

Best Cheese Powder for Popcorn

The key to a good cheese powder?

Get something with limited ingredients and long shelf life. Even if you coat your popcorn heavily, a little goes a long way, so you want it to last. Also, the fewer ingredients on the label, the richer and cleaner the flavor is.

Cheddar Cheese

Cheddar is a popular cheesy flavor for popcorn, and for a good reason. It’s mild, it’s rich and very flavorful. Plus, there’s something inherently satisfying about its deep orange color.

And the best one?

The most important aspect of a good cheddar cheese powder is to find something that tastes like actual cheddar cheese, not like an ultra-processed American cheese type of flavor. You also want something that won’t clump.

Try Hoosier Hill Farm’s cheddar cheese powder; it’s fantastic and hits all of the points mentioned here. Another great option is Anthony’s premium cheddar cheese powder, also made with high-quality ingredients.

White Cheddar

cheese flavors

White cheddar has a bit more sharp flavor, which cheesy popcorn connoisseurs tend to love. Adding a few herbs or even garlic powder can amp it up quite a bit. It feels a little more gourmet, making movie night fun.

What’s a good one to try?

Hoosier Hill Farm comes in clutch with a fabulous white cheddar powder that hits on the same points as its cheddar version. It doesn’t clump, has minimal ingredients, and has a deep, rich white cheddar flavor. Anthony’s also makes a white cheddar version of their cheese powder.

Sharp Cheddar

Are you a sucker for that tangy, sharp cheddar flavor? If you want to coat your popcorn with that flavor, look for a cheese powder with sharp cheddar or Vermont cheddar on the label or in the ingredients list. King Arthur makes one (King Arthur Better Cheddar Cheese Powder) that’ll knock your socks off.

Parmesan

Try adding it to your popcorn for those who love parmesan’s sharp, salty taste. It’s an extra extravagance when you add a few herbs (dried or fresh) or even some lemon zest to give it a citrus vibe.

Where to start?

There are some great parmesan cheese powders besides the good ol’ Kraft shaker bottle. Judee’s makes a good one without additives, and Cello makes a delicious organic version aged for a little extra sharpness.

Vegan Options

Even if you don’t eat cheese, you can still enjoy the flavor of cheesy popcorn. This vegan version will surprise you; it still tastes cheesy. Look for anything made with nutritional yeast as its main ingredient versus versions with many processed ingredients you can’t pronounce.

There are options for cheddar, parmesan, and many that don’t specify but just claim they’re ‘cheesy.’ The brand Parma! makes several great flavors that contain high-quality ingredients, and they work great on popcorn.

Here are some of their flavors to try:

  • Original
  • Garlicky Green
  • Better Than Bacon
  • Chipotle Cayenne
  • Garlic Basil
  • Jalapeno Bacon

If you’re looking for multiple options, Seed Ranch and NOOCH IT! also have vegan cheese powder options worth trying. For more information on vegan popcorn, check our article.

Homemade Cheese Powder

Do you want to partake in a cheese powder-covered movie night but don’t want to shell out the money for a pre-made powder? Make it yourself! It’s simple and satisfying, and you know exactly what ingredients are in it.

It’s pretty simple.

You can choose to make cheese powder using a dehydrator, an oven, or even the microwave. Once it’s dried, cool, and hardened, grind it into a powder using a food processor. Homemade cheese powder can last about a year, so make a big batch.

Using a Dehydrator

Drying cheese in a dehydrator is optimal because the temperature is the lowest, allowing maximum grease removal. This will provide the best end product.

  1. Line the trays with a single layer of paper towel
  2. Place the cheese (shredded) in a single layer on the paper towels
  3. Place the trays inside the dehydrator, set to the lowest temperature setting, and close the door
  4. Allow to dehydrate until fully dried and hard, about 10 hours (varies by cheese type), replacing paper towels halfway through
  5. Remove and allow to fully cool
  6. Use a food processor to grind it into a powder
  7. Spread the powder on fresh paper towels and place back into the dehydrator for another hour to remove the remaining oil/grease

Using the Microwave

Don’t have a whole day to make cheese powder? Try making it using your microwave.

Here’s how:

  1. Line a microwave-safe tray or plate with paper towels
  2. Place the cheese (shredded) in a single layer on the paper towels
  3. Microwave for 2 minutes, pausing every 30 seconds, replacing paper towels in between if needed
  4. Spread out on a fresh paper towel at room temperature to cool and dry
  5. Once cool, use a food processor to grind the cheese into a powder (if you get clumps, add ¼ teaspoon cornstarch or arrowroot powder)

Using the Oven

You can use your oven to dry out your cheese for the best results without a dehydrator. The results will be similar to using a dehydrator.

Here’s how:

  1. Preheat the oven to the lowest temperature setting available (ideally 110-170F)
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  3. Place the cheese (shredded) in a single layer on the paper towels
  4. Bake until the cheese is dry, crunchy, and slightly brown, about 8-12 hours, changing parchment halfway through if needed.
  5. Spread the cheese on paper towels at room temperature to fully cool
  6. Once cool, use a food processor to grind the cheese into a powder

Making Cheesy Popcorn

Once you’ve chosen your cheese powder, making cheesy popcorn is easy with just a few simple steps.

Here’s how:

  1. Pop your popcorn (any method)
  2. Melt some butter (or choose an oil)
  3. Toss the popcorn with the melted butter or oil, then toss with the cheese powder. Do this in batches until it’s coated to your desired amount.

How to Get Cheese to Stick to Popcorn?

The best way to get an even coating of cheese on every kernel? Batching.

When you add the melted butter and cheese powder, do it in small batches, tossing well between each. This will prevent clumping, and you’ll end up with more even coverage when it’s all done.

There you have it: a full guide for using cheese powder on popcorn.

Give it a try for a serious elevation at snack time, on movie night, or when you decide to have popcorn for dinner. Try a few different kinds, maybe add some butter, and have fun.

Sources

https://www.thekitchn.com/cheese-popcorn-recipe-23278995
https://www.wikihow.com/Dry-Cheese

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