How do they make cheetos and other cheese puffs? — David, Pittsburg, Pa
Marshall Brain Answered:
If you look at the ingredient label for just about any kind of cheese puff, the first ingredient is corn meal and the second ingredient is oil. All of the other ingredients are in the coating.
The basic idea is to take the corn meal, mix it with water and extrude it. If you want to create a cheeto, you extrude it as a rod and cut it every inch or two. If you want cheese balls, you extrude it and cut it in ball shapes. If you want rings (like Funyuns) you extrude it as a ring.
Once you have the shape, you fry them in oil. Once fried you cover them in the cheesy powder and put them in bags.
You can see the basic process in this video:
The only difference between a Funyun and a cheese puff is the shape and the powder they coat it with.