Outside of a few notable deviations, there’s not a lot of variance to Cheetos flavors. The snacks are synonymous with the iconic Flamin’ Hot seasoning, and the ensuing madness that followed regarding its muddled origin story (now a major motion picture). In my opinion, Flamin’ Hot things are fine, but way overhyped. They taste relentlessly acidic and synthetic due to their citric acid, and the resulting flavor is spicy, sure, but never in the way that an actual pepper is. And you know what gets lost in the Flamin’ Hot Crunchy Cheeto most? Cheese. These are supposed to be cheese snacks, and all that Flamin’ Hot maltodextrin and capsaicin achieves spiciness, but never cheesiness. There’s a superior snack in the Cheetos lineup, one that marries both spice and cheese in wonderful tandem: Cheddar Jalapeño Cheetos, the best Cheetos product of them all.
What do Cheddar Jalapeño Cheetos taste like?
The ingredients list on a bag of Cheddar Jalapeño Cheetos includes actual dried jalapeño peppers instead of straight up capsaicin. What I like most about these Cheetos is that the spice is mild but consistently present. The slight heat allows for this indulgent cheese snack to taste more like cheese, and the other ingredients shine brighter, too. There’s buttermilk, Romano, cheddar cheese, onion powder, and garlic powder, so there’s a tangy zip to these snacks that comes directly from its excellent seasoning blend. Those ingredients (minus the Romano) are listed in Flamin’ Hot Cheetos as well, but you can barely taste them due to all the citric acidic and condensed pepper flavor drowning them out.
Cheddar Jalapeño Cheetos are just way more nuanced than any Flamin’ Hot flavored snack, and because of that they stay true to what Cheetos are supposed to be. Takis, for example, can get away with their jarring and tantalizing acid flavor because Takis never aimed to be a cheesy snack in the first place. Cheetos, by contrast, should burst with cheese taste above all else, because that’s what they are. A Cheeto is a fried, enriched corn snack containing a lot of fat and saturated fat. It should absolutely detonate with tangy, milky, indulgent flavor. These do, and because of that, they sit on top of the throne, far above any Flamin’ Hot product.