If you’re a fan of spicy snacks, then you will undoubtedly love the zingy flavor of hot Cheetos! With the perfect blend of cheesy and spices, these crunchy bite-size morsels are a firm favorite in many households.
But what is actually in hot Cheetos, and do they contain pork? Cheetos Flamin’ Hot flavored crisps are a cornmeal snack flavored with spices and cheese, which may contain enzymes derived from pork. The manufacturer Cheetos Flamin’ Hot does not include this flavor on its list of pork-free products, so they most likely contain pork.
Like many processed foods, Cheetos contain many ingredients that you might find surprising! Let’s find out exactly what goes into making these popular spicy snacks.
What Are Hot Cheetos?
Cheetos are one of those snacks that we know are probably not all that healthy for us, but we just can’t stay away from them!
Somehow just a few is never enough, and they keep you coming back for more. But how do they make these crunchy corn puff snacks so delicious?
All varieties of Cheetos are based on cornmeal, formed into a dough, and cooked in a special way that makes it expand into an air-filled crisp.
Cornmeal is formed from corn kernels that have had the outer coating removed, then ground into a very fine powder.
These air-filled crisps are then finished using a range of different ways depending on the type of Cheetos—crunchy Cheetos are fried, while all other varieties are oven-baked.
They are then tossed in the unique flavorings that make up each different type of Cheetos snack.
Hot Cheetos were first marketed in 1992, and are still a firm favorite to this day. They were one of the first spicy snacks to be widely available and were a stark contrast to other milder-flavored crisp varieties.
Interestingly, there is some dispute over who came up with the idea with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, and there is even a movie about the tale!
A rising star in the company claimed he had pitched the idea when he was working there as a janitor but was never credited with its creation. Whether this is true or not is open to dispute, but it makes for a great Hollywood movie!
What Do Hot Cheetos Taste Like?
So, just how hot are these spicy snacks? The exact ingredients are a top-secret recipe, so we’ll never know for sure, but they really do have a high level of heat intensity. In fact, many people find them too spicy and struggle to eat even one!
However, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos are more than just a big hit of fiery flavor. They have an intense cheesy taste, very similar to a strong Cheddar.
If you can imagine a cheesy puff, but more cheesy, and with a sprinkling of cayenne pepper, you’re probably on the right lines!
Do Hot Cheetos Contain Pork?
There is nothing to suggest in our description so far that hot Cheetos might contain pork, so where does this idea come from?
Whilst most snacks are based on a simple formula of baked or fried wheat, potato, or corn, it is the flavorings that can hold hidden surprises.
For example, many cheese flavorings can contain animal enzymes, and this can include pork enzymes.
There is no big conspiracy around the secrecy of the flavorings used to create each unique Cheetos flavor.
This is common practice to prevent rival companies from ripping off a recipe and is an acceptable practice under federal law. However, this can make it tricky for us to figure out what a product actually contains!
Luckily, federal law also helps us out here.
Food companies are required to disclose certain ingredients on their labeling for food safety reasons and need to meet certain criteria to be able to claim that a foodstuff is vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and so on.
So, let’s take a look at the ingredients list for Cheetos Flamin’ Hot flavor to see if we can figure out if any pork is hidden in there:
- Enriched Corn Meal (Corn Meal, Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid)
- Vegetable Oil (Corn, Canola, and/or Sunflower Oil)
- Flamin’ Hot Seasoning—bear with us here, this is a long one!
- Maltodextrin [Made from Corn]
- Monosodium Glutamate
- Yeast Extract
- Citric Acid
- Artificial Color [Red 40 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake, Yellow 6, Yellow 5]
- Sunflower Oil
- Cheddar Cheese [Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes]
- Onion Powder
- Whey Protein Concentrate
- Garlic Powder
- Natural Flavor
- Sodium Diacetate
- Disodium Inosinate
- Disodium Guanylate
Phew, that’s quite a list!
So, we know that there are no animal products in the “natural flavor” ingredient, as the company would have to declare these separately on the ingredients list. But is there anything else on this list that might contain pork?
Yes, there is—look at the cheddar cheese in the flavoring! This contains a simple ingredient called ‘enzymes’, used during the cheese production process. Cheese enzymes can come from a range of sources, both plant and animal-based.
But as this does not specify the type of enzyme and where it comes from, we needed to do a bit more detective work.
Luckily the manufacturer of Cheetos is open and transparent about their ingredients and has produced a list of snacks that do not contain enzymes derived from pork.
And are Cheetos Flamin’ Hot on this list? No, they are not! In fact, they openly state that many of their cheese-flavored crisps contain pork enzymes. So, if you’re avoiding pork products, then stay away from cheesy crisps.
Are Hot Cheetos Vegetarian?
The fact that Hot Cheetos likely contain pork enzymes means that they are not vegetarian.
There is nothing else in the ingredients list that would not fit in with a vegetarian diet, and if the enzymes used were from plant-based ingredients then it is likely that the manufacturers would market the product as vegetarian.
The Cheetos Flamin’ Hot range is not labeled as vegetarian, and should not be eaten by anyone following a vegetarian diet.
Are Hot Cheetos Kosher?
Bad news—Cheetos Flamin’ Hot are not kosher either! The manufacturers of Cheetos produce a list of approved Kosher snacks on its website, and hot Cheetos do not appear on its list.
Are Hot Cheetos Halal?
And yes, you’ve guessed it—Cheetos Flamin’ Hot are also not halal! In fact, it appears that nearly all Cheetos flavors contain animal enzymes, and are not suitable for vegetarians or anyone following a kosher or halal diet.
What Other Types Of Cheetos Are There?
If you’re a fan of Cheetos, don’t despair! There is one option left to you if you want a snack that is free from animal enzymes: Cheetos Baked Crunchy Cheese Flavored Snacks.
However, this variety still does not appear on the list of kosher crisps, and the manufacturers have said that none of the Cheetos flavors are halal.
If you want a snack that is vegetarian, halal, or kosher, then the best place to start is with simple salted crisps. These are a divine combination of thinly sliced potatoes, fried in vegetable oil and seasoned with salt.
With fewer artificial colors and flavors, keeping it simple is much better for your health. Oh, and they won’t set your mouth on fire either!
Now that we’ve gone over Hot Cheetos and seen how these snacks use pork as a part of their makeup, let’s take a look at a few related questions on the subject!
What’s the best way to store Cheetos?
Once you’ve opened a bag of Cheetos, it is unlikely there will be any left to store! But if you have the willpower to step away from these snacks, what is the best way to keep them fresh and crunchy?
The enemy of crisp snacks is the usual suspects: air and moisture. Keep these away from your crisps and they should stay fresh for several days.
The simplest way is to fold down the top of the bag and seal it with a clip, but it can be difficult to get an airtight seal with this method.
Alternatively, pop your bag of opened crisps inside an airtight container. Pick one as small as possible, to minimize the amount of air inside. This will keep your Cheetos crisp and crunchy until you are ready to enjoy them next time!
Can Cheetos be used to make nachos?
Not content with just enjoying Cheetos for their delicious crunch and tasty flavor, many people go one step further and use them to make nachos!
This might sound odd, but think about it—you’ve already got the great base flavor there, and just need to add in your favorite nacho toppings.
Although Cheetos are not the same shape as the triangular tortilla chips we normally use, they do have the perfect texture to carry the pile of toppings we love on nachos.
This taste sensation is so popular that many people have named it Nacheetos!
If you like your nachos spicy, try topping Flamin’ Hot Cheetos with salsa, sliced Jalapeno chili peppers, and shredded Monterey Jack cheeses. For a milder version, original cheese Cheetos pair well with guacamole and sour cream.
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