Cheetos are a classic snack, invoking childhood memories of vending machines and trade-offs during lunch.

Hot Cheetos were always a hot commodity — pun intended. But, as it turns out, there’s so much more you can do with Cheetos beyond popping the cheese crisps into your mouth. 

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According to the Cheetos website, there are over 30 recipes with Cheetos as the main ingredient, ranging from tamales to honey ham to Flamin’ Hot birthday cupcakes, some of which are clearly for only the most adventurous of foodies. 

In anticipation of Thanksgiving, I thought it’d be a fun and delicious idea to recreate their Turkey Parm, which offers a less labor intensive approach to cooking the bird we all know and love. Turkey breast, melty mozzarella, and a crunchy Cheetos crust? I was immediately on board. 

First things first

First, it’s important to slice up the turkey into about eight-ounce portions. Then, pound them thin so that they cook evenly in the fryer. After the cutlets were to my liking, I seasoned liberally with salt, pepper, garlic, and onion powder for extra sazón. 

Next, I pulverized the Cheetos in my food processor until the resembled the texture of sand.

Then, I set up my breading station. First, I dipped the cutlets in cornstarch, dusted off the excess, then dipped them in the egg, and then into the Cheetos dust. 

For this part, I highly recommend using the wet hand-dry hand method to minimize messiness, which simply calls for using one hand exclusively to handle the dry ingredients, in this case cornstarch and Cheetos dust, and the other hand to exclusively handle wet ingredients, the eggs. 

Sizzle, sizzle, time to fry

Then, it was time to fry. As someone who prefers to either bake in the oven or use an airfryer, shallow frying with oil is something I’ve never quite mastered, but the crunch is truly unmatched. The seasoned and breaded turkey cutlets went into 350-degree oil for about five minutes each side.

I must warn you that there is plenty of hot oil splatter so a splash guard — which I didn’t have — would really help here. After the cutlets rested on a paper towel lined plate to soak up the excess oil, I topped them with generous amounts of Parmigiano Reggiano and fresh whole milk mozzarella. 

The cheese is the best part of this dish for me, adding the perfect ooey gooey texture in contrast to the crunchy Cheeto crust and marinara sauce. Garnished with more Cheetos dust and warm, earthy sage leaves, and then served with a side of angel hair pasta.

Final verdict

This was the perfect Sunday dinner, and honestly, a great option if you’re having a smaller Thanksgiving gathering and don’t want to undergo the massive endeavor of cooking an entire 16-pound turkey. 

Although, I will admit that frying to order is a feat of its own and requires lots of caution and attention. Still, this was a hit for me — the moist turkey breast, the crispy Cheetos coating, the savory and sweet red sauce, and the bubbling cheese, which brings everything together. 

And hey — you can still make those Flamin’ Hot birthday cupcakes with the leftover Cheetos. Who knows? They might be orange finger lickin’ good.