This vegan “cheese” popcorn is just as addictive as the movie theater’s

Vegan Cheese Popcorn
Photo: Lily Kunin

Popcorn is one of those foods that always ends up on nutritionists’ “healthy snacks” lists. When it’s air-popped and plain, there are only 31 calories per cup, making it a popular go-to for noshing (mindless or otherwise). But here’s the thing: Plain popcorn can be pretty, well, bland.

Well+Good Council member, Clean Food Dirty City creator, and wellness entrepreneur Lily Kunin is not down with settling for boring food because it’s healthy—not one bit. So, she played around with a way to make popcorn flavorful without the gross chemicals you’ll find in the microwaveable kind. Her secret: a mixture of nutritional yeast, paprika, garlic, and turmeric.

“Using just nutritional yeast is still tasty, but the topping often ends up at the bottom of the bowl,” she says. “This mixture clings to every piece of the popcorn for the perfect umami cheesiness in every bite.”

Watch the video below to see how to make it and get her recipe below.


Lily Kunin's vegan "cheese" popcorn

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, combine the olive oil, nutritional yeast, tamari, paprika, garlic powder, and turmeric and stir well. It will be a paste-like consistency. Set aside.

  2. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment or foil and set aside.

  3. Pour coconut oil into a large, deep pot. The oil should cover the bottom of the pot. Drop three popcorn kernels into the pot, cover, and turn the heat to medium-high.

  4. Once the kernels have popped, add the rest of the kernels and remove from heat to shake and coat all kernels in the coconut oil.

  5. Return the pot to the stove, over medium-high heat. Once the kernels begin to pop, shake the pot vigorously with the lid ajar until the pops start to slow (a couple of minutes).

  6. While still hot, pour the popcorn onto the sheet pan and spread the "cheese" mixture over the popcorn. Make sure your hands are clean and toss the mixture with popcorn until evenly coated.

  7. Enjoy—eat by the handful or store in an airtight container!

Recipe Notes

If you're vegan, you need to know about these new egg substitutes that taste just like the real thing. Plus, the secret to making vegan poké.

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