Skip to main content

PBS Kids' Cheesy Popcorn for Family Movie Night

Daniel Hautzinger
A Black father and son enjoy a bowl of popcorn on the couch and watch TV

Cheesy Popcorn

Popcorn is the perfect recipe to try in the kitchen with your children as they test out their chef skills. And with a dairy-free option, this popcorn recipe is meant for everybody.

As you make this special treat, let your children take the lead with measuring, pouring, and mixing. It’s a great way to introduce kitchen basics and practice fine motor skills. You can also ask questions like, “What do you think makes popcorn pop?” to get their scientific minds thinking. And the best part is, at the end, you get to enjoy this delicious cheesy popcorn!


1/2 cup popcorn kernels
4 tbsps butter or 1/4 cup olive oil for dairy-free
1/4 cup powdered cheese or 1/4 cup nutritional yeast for dairy-free


1. Begin by popping your popcorn according to the directions for your popcorn maker. Encourage your child to help measure and pour the kernels as you talk together about measurements and amounts. Many air poppers come with their own measuring cup, but if yours doesn’t, start with about ½ cup. If you don’t own an air popper, a microwave bag of plain-flavored popcorn works just as well!

2. As your popcorn is popping, prepare the butter. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter by heating it in 10-second increments in the microwave until it is completely liquid. Once melted, pour it into a large popcorn bowl. If you’d like to create a dairy-free version of your cheesy popcorn recipe, instead of using butter, use olive oil. Simply pour ¼ cup of olive oil into a large bowl without heating.

3. Once the popcorn is popped, pour it into the bowl over the melted butter or olive oil. Toss the popcorn using a large spoon or utensil so that the butter or olive oil completely coats the popcorn. This is a fun part to let your children help with! Try to make sure all of the popcorn gets coated; this is what will help the powdered cheese stick.

4. Sprinkle about half of the powdered cheese or nutritional yeast over the top of the popcorn and continue to toss to spread the flavor around. Once combined, add the rest of the powdered cheese or nutritional yeast in the same way. Toss until all of the popcorn is coated.