“Cheesy” Cauliflower Popcorn

The last time I ate popcorn, I was 8 years old. I remember it clearly. My mom was out of town, so Dad was on “dinner duty.” I don’t remember what we had for dinner, but later that night we watched a movie, stayed up extra late, and in the process ate way too much popcorn. It was great father-daughter bonding time, but yikes on the food situation! I remember waking up the next day feeling absolutely miserable: bloated, puffy, tired, and cranky.

It wasn’t until 2 years later that I discovered I had a corn allergy.

Giving up popcorn didn’t interfere with my life too much, since we didn’t eat it often growing up. (That’s why it was a special treat that we totally overdid whenever Mom flew the coop!) But nevertheless, sometimes you just get a craving for what you can’t have, a fixation on the “forbidden fruit.”

When compared to real popcorn, I’ll be honest, this “Cheesy” Cauliflower Popcorn doesn’t really taste a thing like the real stuff. It’s better!

A little chewy, a little crunchy, a little melt-in-your-mouth, this healthier alternative to popcorn skips the butter, artificial flavors, and corn altogether. Cauliflower stands in for the popped corn, while nutritional yeast and a blend of spices bump up the flavor and impart that mouthwatering “cheesy” quality.

If nutritional yeast is something you haven’t used before, don’t be scared. I’ve just started using it in small amounts as a flavoring agent in the past few months. It sounds weird and smells a little funny, but it works wonders when used in the right application.

If nutritional yeast is not something you can tolerate, feel free to skip it and you’ll still end up with very flavorful cauliflower that’s a great munchie for movies!

I’m a bit obsessed with cauliflower right now. Here are some more cauli-licious recipes you might like:

“Cheesy” Cauliflower Popcorn

Serves 2-3


  • 1 medium cauliflower head, cored and cut into bite-sized florets
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or melted coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (powder, not flakes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder (omit for less spicy)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower florets with the oil, nutritional yeast, sea salt, paprika, mustard powder, and black pepper. Spread the cauliflower out evenly on the lined baking sheet. Roast for 20-25 minutes until brown in spots, stirring once halfway through.
  3. Serve warm or at room temperature…and be prepared to be addicted!


Hallie Klecker is the author of Super Healthy Cookies and  The Pure Kitchen, both gluten- and dairy-free cookbooks focusing on fresh ingredients and whole foods. Her newest e-book, Crazy for Kale, makes use of kale in 40 creative ways. She is also the Editorial Content Manager for Simply Gluten Free Magazine. Hallie writes the recipe blog Daily Bites, where she shares her passion for cooking with whole, natural foods. Hallie is a certified Nutrition Educator and former personal chef. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

Read all of Hallie’s posts here.

16 Responses to “Cheesy” Cauliflower Popcorn

  • Deanna says:

    Ha! I posted an almost identical recipe almost a year ago, except mine was stove-top. I love cauliflower done this way – and it was for the same reason – missing popcorn. :)


  • Looks so good! Can’t wait to make it, I have all the ingredients!


  • Kim says:

    I love the combo of smoked paprika and nutritional yeast! It tastes so good on almost everything –I like it sprinkled on to a baked potato. I haven’t tried it on cauliflower yet, but I will soon!


  • Alta says:

    This could easily become addictive. Yum!


  • Elaine says:

    It looks really good! I miss cheesy food but I can’t have dairy or any kind of yeast :(


  • Alisa says:

    Too funny, I make almost the exact same recipe sometimes! Though I haven’t tried the mustard powder. I knew there was a reason we collaborated on recipes – I love your food :)


  • Jan says:

    I’m thinking about making this to have in the car on a road trip. Do you believe the little nuggets of goodness need to be refrigerated or can we just have a baggie of them sitting out in the car?

    Also, if they require refrigeration, do they taste better at room temp, so let them come up to temperature before we hit the movies?


    Hallie @ Daily Bites Reply:

    @Jan, They would be okay for a few hours at room temp, any longer and I’d keep them refrigerated. Chilled, room temp, warm…I like them all ways! :)


  • Kathryn says:

    This looks amazing! I’m picking up cauliflower on the way home!


  • Tessa says:

    This was a tasty side for lunch! I decided to cut bite size pieces and broil it for 5 minutes until browning. I would play with some lemon juice next time, ,Abe some cayenne, and it would be fun to try dehydrating these to see if it is possible to ge them truly crunchy! Thanks Halle!


  • Maggie says:

    Hallie you come up with the best things (hello roasted chick pea recipe). I will definitely be trying this. The first time I bought Nutritional Yeast was about 7 years ago. I was so grossed out by it, but it has since become a STAPLE in our house. We take it on all our weekend road trips even. Yep, we’re weird! Thanks for another great recipe.


  • Mikey says:

    Hi, this cauliflower thing is a great idea, i also have an allergie like you. I think this will help me a lot, but I really think my kids will have a much healthier snack. Thank you vrey much for the recipe. You’re the best!


  • Love, Love, LOOOOVE this recipe. That is the bottom line! :D


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  • Shayne says:

    I came across your recipe today and I tried this and it came out great, I wanted to thank you for posting it


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