How Are Cheetos Made?

by Lexa W. Lee - Updated September 26, 2017

Cheetos cheese curls, a well-known snack food marketed by Frito-Lay, are made in 14 factories in 11 states, according to The manufacturing process takes only a few minutes, but the steps require accurate coordination.

Cornmeal Extrusion

Cornmeal is pumped 100 yards from storage through a tube into a hopper at the factory. The meal enters an extruding machine, which rubs, melts and heats the cornmeal, which boils and pops into a cylindrical shape. The extruder expels the Cheetos, which fall onto a conveyor belt.


The Cheetos are fried as they travel through a pan of hot vegetable oil. They are fried until crunchy, when their moisture level falls to less than 2 percent. When done, they move to another conveyor belt.

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Adding Cheese

Nozzles spray a mix, consisting of oil and powdered cheese, onto the Cheetos, coating them thoroughly. The coated pieces fall onto another conveyer belt, where they cool before they are packaged and shipped from the factory.

About the Author

Lexa W. Lee is a New Orleans-based writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has contributed to "Central Nervous System News" and the "Journal of Naturopathic Medicine," as well as several online publications. Lee holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from Reed College, a naturopathic medical degree from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine and served as a postdoctoral researcher in immunology.

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