Umami Dusted Popcorn

Umami Dusted Popcorn

In depth research and experimentation have led me to the crystalline clear realization that the best flavor on earth is that of crunchy Cheetos. Not the regular ones. They’re crap. Just the crunchies. The reason of course is pure science. It’s a chemical gestalt of cheese powder (or powdered cheese depending on who your talking to, and a bunch of other … stuff. Well I think we’ve cracked the code and truth be told, there are multiple secret ingredients including: nutritional yeast which is actually good for you and available at your local health food store; cheddar cheese powder, which is available from most reputable spice purveyors; trashy, green canister “parmesan” cheese, which is available at most gas stations; and last but not least buttermilk powder which you can find on the baking aisle of most megamarts.

Be forewarned, the resulting mix is extremely habit forming. Placing it on popcorn only makes it better … I mean worse.

Triple Cheese Popcorn
Serves 4
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  1. 2 ounces Cheddar cheese powder
  2. 1/2 ounce finely grated Parmesan cheese-food (meaning the stuff in the green can)
  3. 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  4. 1 teaspoon buttermilk powder
  5. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  6. 3 tablespoon canola oil
  7. 4 ounces popcorn kernels
  8. 3 tablespoon canola oil
  9. 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
  1. Process the parmesan cheese-stuff, nutritional yeast, buttermilk powder and kosher salt in a food processor to a fine, granular powder.
  2. Place the oil and popcorn in a large, 6-quart, metal mixing bowl. Cover with heavy-duty aluminum foil and poke ten slits in the top with a knife.
  3. Place the bowl over medium heat and shake constantly using a pair of tongs to hold the bowl. Continue shaking until the popcorn finishes popping, approximately 3 minutes.
  4. Remove the bowl from the heat and carefully remove the foil.
  5. Melt the butter in the microwave. Slowly drizzle over the popcorn, while spinning the bowl. Add the cheese mixture, re-cover with the aluminum foil and shake to coat the popcorn with the cheese mixture. Serve immediately.
  1. Although the butter does bring flavor to the party, it does contain water so in time it will suck some of the crispness out of your corn. Using olive oil will help to avoid this wilting.
Alton Brown's Triple Cheese Popcorn Recipe


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  1. 1

    MyDearest Alton,
    You are my Popcorn Hero. I made this and I couldn’t wait to share it with EVERYONE ! I love this recipe and I love you. Sometimes I make it to the recipe. And sometimes I add buttermilk dressing powder and make it ranch style. YUM!

  2. 3
    Billy D

    Meh…it is OK, my recipe is better. Kraft Mac and Cheese Packet mixed with Buttermilk powder and 1/2 teaspoon of MSG and instead of butter use Ghee or clarified butter which has no water.

  3. 5
    Tia Lemon

    If you are going to have this as a part of your road show … feature it some where….had to seach for popcorn to find it….hate hunting for stuff.

    • 7
      Robb Geist

      The Canola is for the popping of the . The Olive Oil in the notes is as a substitute for the butter, should one choose to do so. My opinion is that everything is better with butter though.

    • 9

      Nutritional Yeast is often referred to as “Vegan Cheese.” But like any replacement food, the nickname is always bad. IT has a cheese-esque flavor, and it’s good and healthy, but doesn’t really mimic cheese well. Not a vegan or vegetarian, but I use this stuff on popcorn all the time.

  4. 12
    Brian Bennetts

    I wonder… would using ghee (clarified butter…good stuff though, not the cheap stuff from a plastic bottle) work in reducing the amount of water/moisture from regular butter, or perhaps a 50/50 mix of the two butters? If it does maintain crispness, does it maintain flavor?

    • 16

      Hi Jen, that’s a great question. Try a YouTube search “alton brown popcorn” and you would come across the Good Eats episode where he explains this. 🙂

  5. 17
    Lori Titus

    When I make homemade popcorn, I use clarified butter and popcorn stays crunchy! To clarify your butter, heat slowly on the stove and use a spoon to drag off the frothy cream at the top. It’s easy 🙂

  6. 19

    I have a good solution to the butter or oil debate. Butter infused olive oil. I use it on popcorn anyway, and it has all the good flavor of butter but not the wilting issues you’d get with hot butter. It’s not exactly at every store but I can get it locally here, or you can buy it online.

  7. 21

    Great If we speak about the glance of the iphone app it is certainly certainly not that superb. It just simply appears like a frequent third get together retail outlet where you search for the software and mount them. Fine.

  8. 22
    Pokemesh for PC

    awesome This approach is certainly top-quality because it assures you dont own to download a sole record from the net. You give simply for the viewing fees, and there is certainly no have to account with any Pokemon Trainer reports just as very well nice.

  9. 23

    Where can you find powdered cheddar cheese? I’ve searched in all the grocery stores in my town and have completely stumped the workers who haven’t even heard of it. Is this an item you have to buy online?

  10. 26

    are we supposed to add all of the “triple cheese topping” outlined in the recipe for the amount of popcorn indicated, or just some of it?

    • 27

      4 oz of kernels will produce about 16 cups (or 4 quarts) of popped corn. If you feel that the amount of topping is too much, you are of course welcome to use less and save the extra topping in the fridge.

  11. 28

    While I can appreciate the appeal of Crunchy Cheetos, you may be unaware of the far superior crunchy cheese snacks Hawkins Cheezies. They are however, only available in Canada, but I suggest everyone try them if they get the chance.

  12. 30
    Sharon Edelson-Eubanks

    I see “3 tablespoon of canola oil” listed twice but no olive oil listed in the recipe, yet, the “Notes” mention the use of olive oil. Two questions: (1) are we to really use 6 TBS (3 + 3= 6) or is the second “three tablespoons” a typo? And (2) are we to use (a) canola OR olive oil OR (b) canola AND olive oil and, if we are two use both types of oil, how much olive and at what point in the prep?

    • 31

      The olive oil mentioned is suggested as a substitute for the butter drizzled on at the end. The water content in the butter makes the corn soggy . The olive oil makes the cheeses stick without the wet factor.

  13. 32

    this recipe is amazing on popcorn! Hopefully you don’t over indulge as I did. Oh the pain lol…..ready for a colonoscopy afterwards. Have enjoyed many times since but always keep the quantity within reason

  14. 35

    I found the olive oil to be a bit weird tasting. On the second attempt using butter I did find that the butter wilted the popcorn but tasted a lot better; to rectify this soggy debacle, I divided the popcorn onto 2 parchment lined baking sheets and let it “dry” at 250 degrees for 7 to ten minutes. Perfection! Cheesy, crispy, buttery popcorn. Woo hoo!!

  15. 36
    Matthew Start

    Super excited to make up a batch since I saw your show on grand rapids. Just made some up and I can’t prevent it from clumping into one big ball. Even added some unpopped kernels to try and prevent clumping but they didn’t help. Did I do something wrong?

  16. 37

    I refuse to eat “green can” parmesan since reading about how much wood cellulose is put into it, which is over what is recommended and advertised. Some brands aren’t even made of parmesan but rather white cheddar!

  17. 39
    Ann Thompson

    Loved the show from Redding! Thank you for the popcorn recipe!! Is the cheddar powder 2 ounces by weight or by volume?

  18. 41

    Went to the Redding show! You were amazing! Thanks for a funtastic show!!!! Thanks for meeting your fans afterwards, you made our year!!!! Can’t wait to make this when I get home!

  19. 42

    loved the San Jose show …….just wish there was more food science. …maybe i can appease the food god by offering a sacrifice? im excited to try the cheese powder. Will there be a doritos powder coming out soon? =o)

  20. 43

    Agree with Aileen…was also at the show in San Jose last night and I believe the term was “heroine of the culinary world” 😀 I too came here explicitly to find this recipe and will be trying it this weekend. Thanks for a great show and for solving this essential equation for our understanding of the known physical universe.

  21. 44

    My husband and I just attended the show in San Jose last night. (We were the pair with yeast sock puppets way off to your right.) The minute you announced the “crack of the culinary world” we turned to each other and just knew we had to find this recipe. We’re looking forward to making this, with our usual popcorn made on the stove with the (sorry it’s a unitasker) pot with the built in agitator, our homemade clarified butter, and the salt I ground down in my mortar and pestle because we just can’t seem to find pickling salt at our grocery store.

  22. 45
    Saltier Bit

    Made this yesterday. The Cheetos reference is well-earned. I made sure to get the bright orange cheddar cheese powder! The recipe doesn’t say when to add the cheddar cheese powder – it’s not listed in the dry ingredients that get buzzed together. I added it anyway. 2 ounces is a LOT of cheddar cheese powder! I also added 1/4 tsp of Flavocal seasoning. I had about half of the recipe leftover after adding it to the popcorn… which is the perfect reason to make more popcorn!

  23. 47
    Joe Kraatz

    Loved your show at the Balboa Theater this afternoon. Haven’t been that entertained in ages. Can’t wait to try the popcorn recipe. I eat so much pop corn Inshould go through the 12 step program!

  24. 48

    The aged white cheddar Pirate Booty (in the “health” food section of our grocery store) is the best cheese flavored packing foam product on the market, but I will definitely give this a try when I gather the raw ingredients. Thanks for the great show @ Syracuse, btw!

  25. 50

    Mr. Brown, we loves the Durham NC show this past Friday. Made a batch of the umami powder tonight, and I wondered if you had any anti-caking suggestions.

  26. 53

    A great snack for movie night! I will have to disagree with you on the Cheetos thing though! They’re great when your power gets knocked out by a hurricane (I live in Louisiana), all those preservatives keep it nice and fresh, haha. After this tour, you should come to Baton Rouge, Louisiana! We have some great places, and I would love to meet you!

  27. 56
    Scotty J

    Nay, Cheddar Jalapeno Cheetos are the greatest snack food ever created. I buy them in gross on Amazon, because they’re rarely on the shelf at the shops or in the food machine at work. There’s a case of them in my trunk as we speak.

  28. 57

    First paragraph seems a bit janky, but I’m guessing it is saying you don’t need to process the cheddar cheese powder, can just mix it in with the rest of the stuff after you process them. Also, double canola oil in the recipe I assume is a mistake?

    All that being said Cheetos are the only cheese flavored products I like, so have to try this.

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