Nancy's Sweet and Spicy Party Mix: Homemade nibbles are party favorites


Posted on December 3, 2008 at 10:14 AM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 21 at 1:15 PM

People are passionate about cereal snack mixes. For our annual Desperation Holiday Recipe Contest, we asked readers to share their favorite customized party nibbles. After munching our way through a variety of recipes, we learned that you can do practically anything to a bowl of cereal and nuts, and it will taste fantastic.

That's probably why this recipe has stood the test of time - and evolved. Just Google "Chex Mix recipes" and more than 103,000 entries pop up. The Web site includes 70 recipes, not counting variations.

"Probably, the most unusual party mix we've seen contained wasabi peas and chow mein noodles," said Cheri Olerud, food editor in charge of Chex cereals for the General Mills test kitchens. (For a link to the recipe, view today's column at

The party-mix phenomenon started more than 50 years ago, when the wife of a Ralston Purina executive brought a cereal mix to a holiday gathering. Then, in 1953, the original recipe for "Party Mix" appeared on the side panel of a box of Wheat Chex. Since then, home cooks have added everything from chocolate to chili powder in search of the perfect party snack.

So it was difficult to pick the winners, and we're grateful to everyone who took the time to share. In today's column, we share one savory and one sweet. Today's sweet sensation comes from Nancy Neel of Little Rock, Ark.; Amy Brown of Leawood, Kan., adapted the original Chex Mix recipe.

Write to Desperation Dinners, c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016.

8cups Kellogg's Crispix cereal (see notes)
1cup unsalted pecans
1cup pretzels, any shape
1 sticks (3/4 cup) butter (see notes)
cup brown sugar, lightly packed
teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste (see notes)
KATS BARRY/United Media

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking pan and set aside. Or, for easier cleanup, line pan with parchment.

Pour cereal, pecans and pretzels into a 3-quart or larger bowl or cooking pot and toss to mix.

In a small saucepan, begin melting butter over medium-high heat. Stir in brown sugar, and bring mixture to a boil. Cook at a moderate boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and pour at once over cereal mix. Toss lightly to coat mix.

Pour cereal mix into baking pan and bake, uncovered, for 8 minutes. Remove from oven, stir gently, and bake 8 minutes more. Remove from oven and cool mix to room temperature (in the pan), about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Mixture keeps up to 2 weeks in an airtight container or tin.

Makes 8 cups.

Notes: Nancy's version used 6 cups of cereal. We tested the mix a second time using 8 cups of cereal and preferred this slightly less-coated version. Crispix is a blend of corn and rice. You can use a blend of half Rice Chex and half Corn Chex cereals.

We also tested the mix using only 1 stick of butter. While not as rich, it was still delicious.

Omit all or most of the cayenne pepper when serving very young children.

PER -CUP SERVING: Calories 115 (52% fat) Fat 7 g (3 g sat) Cholesterol 11 mg Sodium 128 mg Fiber 1 g Carbohydrates 13 g Protein 1 g

3cups Corn Chex cereal
3cups Rice Chex cereal
3cups Wheat Chex cereal
2cups unsalted pretzels
1cup (6 ounces) unsalted mixed nuts or peanuts
1tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoons seasoning salt
1teaspoon garlic powder
2teaspoons ground cumin
1teaspoon chili powder
cup olive or canola oil

Preheat oven to 275 F.

Pour all cereal, pretzels and nuts into a 4-quart or larger mixing bowl or cooking pot. Toss gently to mix. Set aside.

Put Worcestershire, lemon juice and all of the spices into a 1-cup or larger glass measure. Stir with a fork or small whisk to mix well. Add oil and microwave, uncovered, on High (100 percent power) for 1 minute. Remove from microwave and stir well.

Pour warmed oil mixture over cereal mix and use a rubber spatula to remove all spices from the cup. Use the spatula to gently toss the cereal mixture and coat it with the oil mixture as best you can.

Divide mixture evenly between 2 9x13-inch baking pans, and bake, uncovered, for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and spread mixture on paper towels. Cool until it reaches room temperature, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Store in airtight containers up to 2 weeks or freeze up to 2 months.

Makes about 12 cups.

PER -CUP SERVING: Calories 71 (52% fat) Fat 4 g (1 g sat) No cholesterolSodium 97 mg Fiber 1 g Carbohydrates 7 g Protein 1 g