What Are Cheetos Made Of?

Mike Mozart/CC-BY 2.0

Cheetos snacks are made of cornmeal extruded through differently shaped dies, then oven-dried or deep-fried and rolled in seasoning powders, according to Wired Magazine. Making a batch of Cheetos takes about 19 minutes. Every 30 minutes, Cheetos are taste-tested to ensure the highest quality.

Made from ground corn and water, Cheetos come in four different shapes as of 2014: crunchy “puffs,” regular puffs, sticks and popcorn shapes. Making Cheetos in each of these shapes requires loading cornmeal into machines that cut it into the various shapes. Metal plates in the extruders rub the meal so that friction builds. When the moisture in the meal boils, the shape pops, and the uncooked Cheetos travel 3 feet to land on a conveyor belt that carries them through hot vegetable oil for cooking. To ensure crunchiness, the Cheetos are cooked until the moisture is below 2 percent. Once they’re cooked, the Cheetos are loaded onto another conveyor belt and transported to tumblers for seasoning.

As the last conveyor belt takes the Cheetos to a packaging area, they cool to room temperature, and any remaining moisture steams off. As soon as they reach the packaging area, the Cheetos are ready to be packaged and shipped.