Pizza has rocked the world for centuries—since Ancient Greek times! It's only fitting that we top a pizza with the latest food that's been rockin’ taste buds across the globe: Flamin' Hot Cheetos. Yes, you can top a pizza with a crunchy, spicy, packaged snack. And yes, It is delicious. THERE ARE NO RULES IN PIZZA.
Pizza, oh pizza. Savory, cheesy, greasy pizza! No food can compare to you, but SO many foods taste more delicious on top of you, or in the shape of you. Even if you're a Flamin' Hot Cheetos purist, trust us: they're meant to be pizzafied. We've got our insane and highly-requested Hot Cheetos Pizza recipe for you below, but it's not just any old Hot Cheetos Pizza...
We visited the home of the ORIGINAL Hot Cheetos Pizza, Ameci Pizza Kitchen in L.A., to learn the craft from the masters! We learned from their genius and concocted our own remake of the recipe, so now YOU can try your hand at Hot Cheetos pizzafication. Check out our Hot Cheetos Pizza episode to see our trip to Ameci and our own Flamin' Hot pizzaventure! And, read on to learn some surprising tidbits about the spicy snack that's been taking the world by storm…
A Flamin' Hot History
The origin of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos traces back through a long history of snackdom. If you’re a serious snacker, you know that many a valiant snack came before the Hot Cheeto craze. It all started with C.E. Doolin, one of the founders of Frito-Lay, who bought the Fritos corn chips recipe for a measly $100 in 1932! Doolin started the Frito Co., and the first major snack he launched (after Fritos corn chips) was none other than the original Crunchy Cheetos snacks in 1948. The cheese-flavored, puffed cornmeal snacks have surely endured the test of time—nearly 70 years of dangerously cheesiness—but they’ve evolved along the way.
First, in 1971, Crunchy Cheetos were geniusly poofed into Cheetos Puffs, also much beloved today. That same year, Cheetos introduced its first mascot, and it wasn’t Chester the Cheetah…it was the Cheetos Mouse! Chester didn’t come on the scene ‘til 15 years later, and since then Cheetos has exploded with crazy snack ideas—most of which have (sadly) come and gone:
- 1990-1993: Cheetos Paws
- 1999: Cheetos X’s & O’s
- 2000-2008: Salsa con Queso Cheetos
- 2001: Cheetos Mystery Colorz, which turned your tongue blue or green!
- 2001-2006: Cheetos Pizza Puffs—which needs to make a comeback ASAP…
- 2002-2012: Cheetos Twisted
- 2005: Cheetos-flavored lip balm...or, just eat a bunch of Cheetos and lick your lips.
- 2011: Honey BBQ Cheetos Puffs
But, one flavor has carved itself a permanent place in history: Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, of course.
What You Don't Know About Flamin' Hot Cheetos...
Despite their genius, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos weren’t concocted by some flavor experts in a lab—Flamin’ Hot Cheetos were invented by a former Frito-Lay janitor! One day, Richard Montañez noticed that a machine broke on the assembly line and some of the Cheetos didn’t get coated in their classic orange cheese powder. So, he took some of them home and spiced them up with chili powder, in the style of the Mexican corncob snack called elote. His taste buds assured him it was a genius recipe, so he finagled himself a meeting with the CEO to pitch the idea. As you can guess, it was a hit, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos launched in 1992, and Richard is now an executive VP at Frito-Lay!
If you’re in the U.S., Mexico, or Canada, you’ve likely tasted the flavor bonanza that is Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. But, tasting isn’t everything. Hot Cheetos are a mysterious snack—perhaps the epitome of “dangerously cheesy”—and there’s a lot you probably don’t know about them.
- Frito-Lay does NOT skimp on filling the Cheetos bag. Most packaged snacks deceive us with a half-bag full of air, but not Cheetos. Though the package claims to contain 189 Cheetos per bag, the average is closer to 240! Can’t complain about that.
- If you feel like you’re addicted to Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, you could be right. The snack has several addictive qualities, which play with the pleasure center in the brain and make us crave more. The texture of Cheetos melts in your mouth, so your brain doesn’t process that you’re eating and urges you to eat more! Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is also used in the seasoning, which is a powerful flavor enhancer that’s known to hook our taste buds. And, the spiciness of Cheetos gives us an endorphin rush, similar to a mild opioid, that makes us feel good and then chase more of that good feeling!
- We’re not really sure what makes Hot Cheetos hot. There’s a slew of ingredients listed under the “Flamin’ Hot Seasoning,” but none of them point to specific spices or peppers! Most likely, the spice is somewhere within the “natural flavors” used, but every genius recipe has a right to its secret formula.
- Flamin’ Hot Cheetos have caused some hospital visits… Hence, “dangerously cheesy” applies here. Now, don’t panic—most often it’s been kids who eat (way too many) Hot Cheetos that experience problems. In a few cases, the intensity of the spiciness has caused chest and stomach pains in kids, whose bodies aren’t great at handling spice. In most cases, parents have panicked at their kids’ bright red poop, believing it to be blood when it’s truly caused by the red dye!
- Though Flamin’ Hot Cheetos are only available in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, there’s a surprising variety of other Cheetos flavors across the world... You can find fizzy Pepsi Cheetos in Japan, ketchup Cheetos in Poland, strawberry Cheetos in Russia, peanut butter covered Cheetos in Eastern Europe, and Japanese steak Cheetos in China!
The Hot Cheetos Flame Has Caught Fire
There’s no denying that Cheetos and its Flamin’ Hot cousin have made serious waves in the snacking world. They’re crunchy, they’re cheesy, and then you throw some mystery spice into the mix and we can’t get enough. Maybe we’re addicted? After all, in 2015, Flamin’ Hot Cheeto’s were among the top 5 salty snacks that were bought most at convenient stores. And, the Flamin’ Hot mash-up craze shows we just want MORE.
Though we believe Hot Cheetos Pizza is the pinnacle of all Cheetos mash-ups, there are plenty of others that might tickle your fancy. If you’re a true Cheetos freak, you’ll want to add these delights to your bucket list:
- Cheetos Quesadilla—Taco Bell in the Philippines tried launching a quesadilla stuffed with Cheddar Jalapeño Cheetos!
- Cheetos Burrito—in the U.S. last year, Taco Bell also tried wrapping up rice, beef, cheese sauce, and CHEETOS in a tortilla.
- Cheetos Crunchwrap Slider—this time in Canada, Taco Bell debuted a beefy, cheesy Crunchwrap loaded with some extra cheese-a-lcious crunch.
- Cheetos Chicken Fries—onto Burger King, where they geniusly breaded their chicken fries in Cheetos dust.
- Mac ‘N Cheetos—taking it to the next level, BK decided to mold mac ‘n cheese into Cheetos shaped sticks, roll ‘em in Cheetos dust, and then deep fry them!
- Cheeto-rito—not to be confused with the Cheetos burrito, this beauty is a sushi burrito rolled in Hot Cheetos dust that’s offered at The Low-Key Poké Joint in Garden Grove, California.
- Flamin’ Hot Sushi—that’s right, Red Eye Fish in So Cal has Hot-Cheetos-topped sushi!
- Hot Cheetos Wings—also in southern Cali, Krazy Wings and Philly has got chicken wings coated in Hot Cheetos crumbles for ya.
- Flamin’ Burgers & Dogs—Dogzilla Hot Dogs will top your weiner with Flamin’ Hots and Pie Dog will add them to your burger, yet again in So Cal!
Are there more Flamin’ Hot mash-ups out there, waiting for you to taste them? Absolutely. But, more importantly, there’s Hot Cheetos Pizza.
Ameci Pizza Kitchen: The Very First Hot Cheetos Pizza
You’ve probably heard about Hot Cheetos Pizza, seen it trending online or maybe even at a pizzeria near you. But, if it wasn’t Ameci Pizza Kitchen in L.A., it ain’t legit. Ameci is the birthplace of the ORIGINAL, the very first, the O.G. of Hot Cheetos Pizzas! How such a divine idea came to them, we’ll never know. What we do know is it’s delicious. And, we were lucky enough to visit the Ameci Pizza Kitchen and check out how the true gurus get to pizza-fying Hot Cheetos.
It all starts with a classic, New York style pizza crust that’s tossed to perfection. That’s then topped with a thin layer of New York tomato sauce. Of course, they follow up with mozzarella cheese, but Ameci does things differently than other pizza-makers. Instead of shredded mozzarella, they use mozzarella cheese slices to create the most beautiful, drool-worthy melted cheese pulls when the pizza is separated into slices. And then, before heading into the oven, the cheese is covered in vibrant red Hot Cheetos dust!
That Flamin’ Hot dust infuses all of its tongue-tickling flavor into the pizza. When the pie comes out melty and bubbling, it’s cut into slices before being topped with the pièce de résistance: crunchy, fresh Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. It’s cheesy, it’s crunchy, it’s loaded with flavor—it’s a pizza you don’t wanna miss. Check out Ameci Pizza Kitchen and try out the granddaddy of Flamin’ Hot Pizzas, if you get a chance. But, if not, that’s alright. We’ve got a Hot Cheetos Pizza remake recipe for ya right here. No problemo.
NY Style Pizza Dough
- 1 cup warm water
- ½ cup bread flour, or all-purpose flour
- 1 packet (0.25 oz.) active dry yeast
- 1 ½ tsp white sugar
- 2 cups bread flour, or all-purpose (more if needed)
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp fresh oregano
- ½ tsp garlic powder
Thanks to allrecipes.com for this awesome dough recipe!
*NOTE: This dough will need to sit in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight before it can be baked. Plan your dough-making endeavors about a day before your desired pizza-eating endeavors! The unbaked dough will last around 3 days in the fridge, or you can freeze it for longer storage.
NY Style Tomato Sauce
- 1 can (28 oz.) whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 2 cloves garlic, grated
- 2 tsp fresh oregano (+ extra dried oregano if you like!)
- pinch red pepper flakes
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 sprigs fresh basil
- 1 medium onion, halved (we diced ours on accident…still delicious.)
- 1 tsp sugar
Serious thanks to Serious Eats for this scrumptious sauce recipe!
Hot Cheetos Pizza Assembly
- New York style pizza dough
- New York style tomato sauce
- mozzarella cheese slices (a bunch!)
- 3-4 cups Flamin’ Hot Cheetos
To make your NY style pizza dough:
- Combine water, ½ cup flour, yeast and sugar in a bowl and stir. Allow to sit until mixture is foaming and bubbly, around 20 minutes.
- Stir salt, 2 cups flour, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and fresh oregano into the yeast mixture with a wooden spoon until dough holds together. Place dough on a lightly floured work surface.
- Coat the inside of a bowl with 2 ½ teaspoons of olive oil. (This bowl will hold your dough after you’ve kneaded it!)
- Knead dough, adding flour as needed, until soft and sticky, about 10 minutes.
- Form dough into a ball and place in bowl. Place bowl in a warm area and cover with a cotton towel for about 2 hours, until dough has doubled in size.
- Punch down dough and place in a large re-sealable plastic bag. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. When ready to use, remove dough from fridge and bring to room temp before using.
To make your NY style tomato sauce:
- Pulse tomatoes into small chunks using a food processor or immersion blender.
- Combine butter and oil in saucepan over medium-low heat, until melted. Add grated garlic, fresh oregano, pepper flakes and salt. Cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add pulsed tomatoes, basil sprigs, onion, and sugar to saucepan.
- Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and allow to cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. (You want to cook sauce until it’s reduced by half.)
- Remove basil stems (and onion halves, if you used them instead of chopped). Season to taste with salt.
- Once sauce has reduced, blend until smooth using a food processor or immersion blender. Set aside.
To make your HOT CHEETOS PIZZA:
- Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out your New York style dough. (Ours turned out thicker, but you can roll yours as thin as you’d like.)
- Place on a pizza pan or pizza stone, drizzle with olive oil, and prebake for 8 minutes. (Use a pizza stone lightly brushed in olive oil to get the bottom brown and crisp.)
- While crust bakes, prep your Hot Cheetos dust. In a food processor, blend about 2 cups of Hot Cheetos into dust. Set aside.
- Carefully remove crust from oven after prebaking. (If your dough poofs up with a giant air bubble, it’s okay. We’re not sure if it’s supposed to do that, but ours did, and it turned out great.) Spread on a thin layer of your sauce and top with mozzarella cheese slices.
- Sprinkle Hot Cheetos dust on top of your mozzarella slices. Brush edges of crust with butter or olive oil, if desired.
- Return pizza to oven and bake another 15-20 minutes.
- Remove from oven, cut into slices, and top with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. (We put our Cheetos on first and then cut it…but either way will work.)
- Now sit down, take a load off, and EAT THE HOT CHEETOS PIZZA!
Yields 1 crazy Flamin' Hot Cheetos Pizza.