The Unexpected Ingredient That Adds A 'Cheesy' Burst Of Flavor To Your Popcorn

bowl of cheesy popcorn
bowl of cheesy popcorn - Bhofack2/Getty Images

There are quite a few ways to season your homemade popcorn beyond the standard salt and butter. You can find pre-made popcorn seasonings available in grocery stores, sold in flavors like cinnamon roll, white cheddar, and nacho cheese. But if you're following a plant-based diet or just looking to cut out some extra dairy from your foods, finding a cheesy replacement to sprinkle on popcorn may not be so easy.

Fortunately, there's a completely vegan alternative that can add that extra burst of flavor. Nutritional yeast is a powder made from inactive yeast that can be sprinkled on top of your popcorn for an additional taste. Once your popcorn has been popped, simply add the nutritional yeast as a seasoning, and enjoy. Adding a little bit of moisture in the form of cooking spray, coconut oil, or a vegan butter alternative could help the yeast stick to every piece of popcorn, too.

Read more: The Ultimate Guide To Snacks In America

What Is Nutritional Yeast?

bowl of nutritional yeast
bowl of nutritional yeast - Myboys.me/Shutterstock

The umami flavor of nutritional yeast has been compared to nuts or cheese. But what exactly is nutritional yeast? The seasoning is actually pretty similar to what you'd use when making some homemade bread. The difference is that nutritional yeast (also called "nooch") is inactivated and made specifically to flavor food. In addition to adding some extra flavor to your dishes, the yeast provides a little bit of extra protein, fiber, and B vitamins, per Healthline.

That cheesy flavor actually comes from the way that it's produced, according to Henry Ford Health. The yeast is grown in a sugar-based product for several days before being deactivated through pasteurization. That deactivated yeast is then rolled out, dried, and turned into flakes. Additional vitamins and minerals can also be added to those flakes before the yeast is sold.

Because its flavor mimics that of cheese, nutritional yeast is often used in vegan macaroni and cheese, queso dip, and sauces.

How To Pair Nutritional Yeast With Other Seasonings

bowl of seasoned popcorn
bowl of seasoned popcorn - Mmeemil/Getty Images

Nutritional yeast can be a great addition to popcorn on its own. But because of its savory, umami flavor, it can also pair well with other seasonings, and it mixes well into blends. Adding a little bit of salt to the popcorn could help amplify that classic, cheesy popcorn taste and allow the flavors of the nutritional yeast to shine.

Mixing up a blend of seasonings to upgrade your popcorn can also make for some delicious snacking. The yeast pairs well with paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder, as well as fresh herbs, like thyme and rosemary. Some have even said that combining the yeast with some garlic powder, cumin, paprika, chili powder, and salt could make your snacks taste like Doritos.

The next time you mix up a batch of popcorn, try sprinkling in some nutritional yeast -- along with your other favorite spices -- for some cheesy flavor, minus the dairy.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.