Old Favorite Chex Mix Treat for Holiday Entertaining and Gifts

The old family roasting pan full of homemade Chex Mix.

The old family roasting pan full of homemade Chex Mix.

Make this stuff by the bucket load and you’ll have treats for holiday parties and more to give away as gifts. Until my neighbors Nancy and Allie came by with a lovely bagful for Toby and me in advance of the holiday, I had not thought about good old Chex Mix since last Christmas .

Allie is the mix-maker. She wings it, sometimes adding one thing, sometimes another. The current sample has chocolate chips in it. Having never, so far ever, made it for myself, their gift inspired me to try producing it. Another island friend came to mind who always made it from her mother’s recipe for her annual holiday party, but, when I asked her if she could share it, she said that apparently she had tossed the recipe out. It looks like one of those recipes you follow once, then, having absorbed the principle, make in any way you please thereafter.

So I turned to the web where you can find fortyeleven recipes for anything. Holy Chex Mix: talk about variations! Talk about opportunities for personal creativity and expression!

Anyone who has ever eaten this stuff knows that you start with the woven squares of Chex cereal, then add pretzels, or broken bagel or tortilla chips, which are all tossed together with oil or melted butter, with lashings of onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, seasoned salts, Worcestershire, even Tabasco if you like heat. Then you add mixed or unmixed nuts. If you want to go a sweet route you can add chocolate chips, or dried banana chips, or M & Ms, or chocolate-covered-this-and-that’s. Or seeds. Or what-have-you.

For gluten-free Chex Mix, you can base your snack on Rice Chex, add all-corn chips, plus rice crackers, plus nuts. Just be sure to read the ingredients on the boxes so no wheat or other gluten-laden grains sneak into the mix.

Alternative seasonings can be a package of Ranch dressing seasonings, or Italian herbs and spices, or the fiery mix you put on Buffalo wings. I’m pretty sure I spotted something with a Thai inclination. When I stood in the spices and herb section of the grocery store and saw all the rubs, seasoned salt mixes, and herb blends, I realized that there really was no limit to how you could jazz up a bunch of cereal. What fun! In fact, this might be a good way to get rid of the last quarter of a jar of some steak blend you bought once and stopped using.

Because I prefer savory over sweet, I used the classic blend of Wheat, Corn, and Rice Chex, plus pretzels, some Cheerios, and salted peanuts. Pretzels are a variable product these days, and it occurred to me that a cup of broken peanut-butter-filled pretzels, or mustard and honey flavored nuggets would be very tasty. Allie uses canola oil, so I did, too, though butter has its merits. Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, salt, pepper, and a little cumin rounded out my additions. I added a little liquid smoke to the oil I used.

When you add the oil, be sure to dribble it, tossing the ingredients until you see a little glistening on most of the cereal squares. The original recipe is a little light on the seasonings, in my opinion, and I doubled them all then added more; you suit yourself while remembering that it is easier to add than to take away. Taste as you go, and adjust. (Tough job, tasting, but someone has to do it.)
I notice that you can of course buy Chex Mix pre-made and packaged. I suppose that is a good idea if you don’t want a whole lot of it sitting around to tempt you. The combination of ingredients, however, make me think of snack-factory floor-sweepings.

Chex Mix
3 cups of Wheat Chex
3 cups of Rice Chex
3 cups of Corn Chex
1 cup bite-sized pretzels
1 cup mixed nuts
1 cup other cereal, or corn or bagel chips, broken lightly
¼ to 1/3 cup canola oil, or melted butter
2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
2 to 3 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons seasoned salt or spice or herb blend
Pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Put the Chex cereals, pretzels, nuts, and additional chips or cereal into a generous-sized roasting pan. Dribble the oil on the ingredients, tossing gently, until they glisten lightly with oil. Sprinkle in the Worcestershire, then the onion and garlic powders, plus other seasonings, continuing to toss gently. Bake for about half an hour, stirring at least once half-way through.

Makes twelve cups of snack mix.

Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.