Chef's Hat: Make a batch of the ultimate holiday snack mix
With a little creativity and a little time, you can create a custom Chex snack mix to suit your taste and entice your guests when entertaining.
Party mix, or what some people refer to as Chex mix, has been a holiday staple for many families for generations. This crunchy treat is lightly seasoned and easy to customize to include any of your favorite snacks.
The traditional ingredients include cereals, nuts, pretzels, bagel bites and small pieces of candy.
While some people toss together a few cups of cereal and some nuts and place the mixture into large serving bowls, this delightful treat is much more appetizing if a few seasonings are added and the dish is baked to meld the flavors together.
Of course, there are those who have widely experimented with this simple snack by adding nontraditional ingredients. These bits and pieces of foods have included everything from Snickers bars to bacon to taco seasoning mix.
Party mix began with the creation of Wheat Chex by the Ralston Purina Company in the 1930s. It's good to know that although Ralston Purina made the cereal, it was not manufactured in any of the plants that made pet food. It was called “Chex” as a play on the red and white checkerboard logo that Purina still uses today.
Purina sold the Chex cereal brand to General Mills in the 1980s.
The well-known Chex Mix was supposedly created by a Purina Company executive’s wife who whipped up a dish of this ever-famous treat for a holiday party. Soon after that the recipe began appearing on the back of Chex cereal boxes and this holiday tradition began.
A problem with the traditional snack mix was the large number of ingredients needed and the huge batch it created. The reality is, you do not need to mix up a batch of snack mix that contains three cups of three different types of cereals, two cups of pretzels and another two cups of snack crackers or bagel bits.
You can whip up a batch of snack mix with just a cup or two of your favorite ingredients. And it does not need a large variety of herbs or seasonings. A little butter, some Parmesan cheese, a bit of garlic and salt is all it takes to create a flavorful, savory and crunchy snack.
Don’t buy a package of pre-made snack mix for your holiday gatherings. With a little creativity and a little time, you can create a custom mix to suit your taste and entice your guests. Happy Eating!
Pumpkin Snack Mix
- 6 cups assorted cereal - use at least 3 cups of Rice or Corn Chex; the remainder can be Cheerios, Golden Grahams or additional Chex type cereal
- 2 cups dried fruit - dried cranberries, raisins or other dried fruit
- 1 cup honey roasted cashews or peanuts
- 2 cups pretzels
- 1 1/2 cups graham crackers, cut or broken into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon salt
Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Spray two large baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray or cover them with aluminum foil.
In a large bowl, add the cereal, dried fruit, nuts, pretzels and graham crackers.
Place the melted butter in a small bowl or large measuring cup. Add the maple syrup, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, vanilla and salt. Whisk until well combined.
Slowly pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients. Toss lightly to combine.
Divide the mixture between the two baking pans. Place pans in the oven and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. The mixture must be stirred every 15 to 20 minutes so it does not stick. Once the mixture is dried and a bit crunchy, remove it from the oven. Let it cool for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Place the snack mix in airtight containers. The mixture should keep for 7 to 10 days.
Sweet & Salty Snack Mix
Adapted from www.julieseatsandtreats.com
- 1 cup butter
- 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 7 ounces Corn Chex cereal
- 7 ounces Rice Chex cereal
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 8-ounce can honey roasted cashews
- 8 ounces mini M&Ms
Spray two large baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray or cover them with aluminum foil. Heat an oven to 250 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine the rice and corn cereal and the cashews.
In a small saucepan, add the butter, brown sugar and corn syrup. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in the baking soda and vanilla. Pour the liquid mixture over the cereal. Lightly toss. Divide it evenly on the baking sheets.
Place baking sheets in the oven and cook for 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes so the mixture does not stick.
Remove sheets from the oven and let cool. Add the M&Ms once the mixture is cool. Store in airtight containers.
Chex Mix for 2
- 3 cups Chex-style cereal, any variety
- 1 1/2 cups pretzel sticks
- 1 1/2 cups small cheese crackers or Goldfish
- 6 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese (for a very cheesy taste, use ½ cup)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup mini M&Ms
- 2 ounces salted almonds
Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray or cover it with aluminum foil.
In a large bowl, mix together the cereal, pretzels and crackers.
In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the melted butter, garlic powder and salt. Pour mixture over the cereal and lightly toss. Add the Parmesan cheese and toss.
Spread mixture on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for an hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove sheet from the oven and let it cool. When cool, add the M&Ms and nuts. Put into a resealable container.
Donna Evans is a Pineandlakes Echo Journal correspondent.