We debated naming this recipe “(Nora’s) Famous Munchie Mix”, but were worried that would make this family-friendly recipe hard to find online...and that would be a shame, because everyone deserves to eat this snack. Each holiday season, my mom (Nora) cranks out pounds of her “famous” snack for the ever-growing list of friends and family who know to ask for it early. Which at this stage, is basically everyone who knows her.
We recognize there are a lot of recipes online for variations of Chex Mix, but after trying a few for research’s sake, this one is still our favorite. It goes BIG on the spices, which we feel is essential. Otherwise it can feel like you’re mostly eating dry cereal, which is not exactly the craveable salty snack we had in mind. This Flavor Bomb Chex Mix recipe features the usual suspects like garlic powder, onion powder, worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. But it levels up with the addition of celery salt, smoked paprika, cayenne - and if you’re feeling fancy, a bit of (optional) nutritional yeast for a slightly cheesy kick. You probably already assume this during the holidays, but now is not the time to skimp on the butter. The melted butter is important for getting the spices to stick to the chex mix, rather than being left behind on the pan after baking. And we have a lot of spices (and flavor) joining the party.
Making this recipe could not be easier. All you need to do is get out the biggest roasting pan you have. Then, toss the butter into the pan and let it melt in the oven, while the oven pre-heats. Once melted, you pour the spices directly into the pan of melted butter and stir everything together to mix. Lastly, add the Chex (Shreddies), Cheerios, Pretzels, Cheese crackers, and nuts. You can mix everything in the pan - which is what we usually do - to save on dishes to wash. Once thoroughly mixed, you pop the pan into the oven, stir it occasionally, and then let cool completely. Extras can be stored in an airtight container or resealable bags. It keeps for at least a few weeks, but ours never lasts that long!
A few notes on ingredients and substitutions:
- Can I make this vegan? Yes, you can modify this recipe to make it vegan. Use vegan-friendly substitutes for the Chex and Cheerios. If you can find a vegan equivalent you like for the cheese crackers, use those; otherwise, add 3 additional cups of Chex to the mix (i.e. 6 cups of Chex in total). Substitute butter for a vegan butter (Myokos recommended, otherwise Earth Balance Sticks).
- What is the best substitute for celery salt? If you can’t find “celery salt” at the store, make your own. Grind dried celery seeds in a spice grinder, until it becomes a fine powder. Then mix, with salt (kosher salt recommended) at a ratio of 2:1. For example, if you start with 2 teaspoons of celery powder, then add 1 teaspoon of salt, which will yield a total of 3 teaspoons of celery salt. This recipe calls for 2 ½ teaspoons of celery salt, so keep the extras for another use.
- Is Worcestershire sauce vegetarian or vegan? Most Worcestershire sauce, including Lea & Perrins, is made with anchovies. If you need a vegetarian or vegan alternative, The Wizard’s and Annies are two brands that make an organic, vegan Worcestershire sauce.
- What can I substitute for peanuts in the chex mix? We recommend an equal amount (2 cups) of roasted almonds. We like to give them a very rough chop, to cut the almonds in half/thirds, but you could also keep them whole if you prefer.
Flavor Bomb Chex Mix
- ¾ cup unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (see note 1)
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
- 2½ teaspoons celery salt
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons hot sauce (such as Frank's)
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon cayenne
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 3 cups pretzel sticks (or other small pretzels)
- 3 cups Chex Wheat cereal or Shreddies Original (or similar)
- 3 cups cheese crackers (we use Annie’s Cheddar Squares)
- 3 cups Cheerios Original cereal (or similar)
- 2 cups roasted, unsalted peanuts (see note 2)
- Preheat: Add butter to 1 large roasting pan (ideally 12 x 16 x 3-inches, see note 3). Put pan in oven. Preheat oven to 250°F (120°C). (The butter will melt as the oven warms).
- Mix spices: Once the butter is melted, add garlic powder, Worcestershire, nutritional yeast (if using), celery salt, onion powder, hot sauce, cayenne, and smoked paprika to the pan. Use a rubber spatula to mix thoroughly, until a thick paste forms.
- Season: Add pretzels, Chex, cheese crackers, Cheerios, and peanuts to the pan. Stir extremely well, making sure the seasonings are evenly distributed.
- Bake and cool: Bake for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes, until mixture feels dry. Remove from oven. Let mixture cool in the pan, occasionally giving it a stir so it cools evenly. Once completely cool, transfer to airtight containers or resealable plastic bags. Store at room temperature.
- Worcestershire sauce: Most Worcestershire sauces are not vegetarian/vegan, so check the label if this is something you need. The Wizard’s and Annie’s are two brands that make vegan Worcestershire sauce.
- Peanut substitute: Instead, you could use roasted, unsalted almonds. Give the almonds a rough chop, before adding to the mix. Ideally the almonds are chopped down to about half their original size (don't chop too fine because it'll be harder to eat).
- Roasting pan: Cm equivalent is 30 x 41 x 8 cm. If you don’t have a large roasting pan, then you can instead position the oven racks in the lower- and upper-thirds of the oven. Then, melt butter on the stove (low heat) or microwave, add spices to melted butter, and stir to mix. Add remaining ingredients to a large bowl, drizzle the spice mixture over the bowl, then toss to mix thoroughly. Divide mixture onto two large baking sheets, then bake. Check mixture after 1 hour, as it may cook faster this way.
- Vegan option: To make this recipe vegan, use a meltable vegan butter (the least salty one you can find, since this recipe calls for unsalted butter). Use the nutritional yeast (listed as "optional"). And, use a vegan cereals and a vegan cheese cracker substitute. If you cannot find a vegan cheese cracker, double the amount of Chex cereal instead, and use an extra 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (3 tablespoons total for one batch of this recipe).