Festive Holiday Muddy Buddies Recipe

Whether you grew up calling this craveable snack muddy buddies, puppy chow, reindeer chow, or monkey munch, you know it's just about the most perfect holiday treat ever invented. Recipe developer Katie Rosenhouse brings us this recipe for a sophisticated twist on classic muddy buddies — a chocolate-coated Chex Mix concoction that's crisp, chocolaty, and just oh-so-snackable. "Muddy buddies are outrageously dangerous," Rosenhouse tells us. "As a pastry chef, I'm around desserts pretty often, and let me tell you: muddy buddies are the one sweet snack I'm completely unable to resist."

Traditional muddy buddies are made by coating Chex cereal in a combination of melted peanut butter, butter, and chocolate. The mixture is then coated with a thick layer of powdered sugar, and sometimes tossed with holiday candy like M&M's, for a sweet snack you can eat piece by piece (good luck stopping at just a few). For this version, chocolate Chex are coated with Nutella and dark chocolate, then lightly coated with powdered sugar for glorious clusters of crisp, nutty, chocolaty goodness — with a hint of salt in the mixture for a balanced flavor profile. Chopped hazelnuts and metallic dragees are added for a sophisticated holiday touch, as well as mini chocolate-covered pretzels or an irresistible finish.

Gather the ingredients for festive holiday muddy buddies

Only 10 ingredients are needed to make this holiday treat, and about half are pantry staples. Note that if you don't have these exact ingredients on hand, it's very easy to make substitutions.

Chocolate chex are the base of these muddy buddies, but other flavors of Chex cereal can be substituted in their place. The cereal is coated with a combination of melted butter, salt, bittersweet chocolate, vanilla, and Nutella. Feel free to use any chopped chocolate or chocolate morsels you prefer, including dark or milk chocolate varieties. The chocolate-covered muddy buddies are coated with powdered sugar, but the quantity can be increased or decreased depending on how thick you prefer the sweet coating. More melted dark chocolate is drizzled over, with chopped hazelnuts and holiday sprinkles added for a festive touch. Feel free to swap the type of sprinkles or nuts as you like. Mini chocolate-covered pretzels are mixed in before serving, but these can be skipped or substituted with holiday-themed candy, if needed.

Step 1: Pour the cereal into a bowl

Pour cereal into a large bowl. Set aside.

Step 2: Combine the butter and chocolate

Place butter, 1 cup chocolate chips, and salt into a small bowl.

Step 3: Melt the chocolate mixture

Microwave or heat over a double boiler until chocolate is melted, then stir until smooth.

Step 4: Add Nutella

Add Nutella and vanilla, and stir until smooth.

Step 5: Add the chocolate mixture to the cereal

Pour chocolate mixture over cereal.

Step 6: Toss to coat

Toss with gloved hands or a spatula until cereal is fully coated.

Step 7: Transfer the cereal to a bag

Place half the cereal mixture into a large zip-top bag.

Step 8: Shake it up with sugar

Add ¾ cup confectioners' sugar, seal, and shake until coated. (Add ¼ cup more sugar if you prefer a heavier coating).

Step 9: Repeat with the remaining cereal

Transfer coated cereal mixture to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and repeat with remaining cereal.

Step 10: Melt the remaining chocolate

Melt remaining chocolate in the microwave or over a double boiler.

Step 11: Drizzle it on the muddy buddies

Drizzle chocolate over cereal mixture.

Step 12: Add toppings

Sprinkle on hazelnuts and sprinkles before the chocolate sets.

Step 13: Chill until set

Chill baking sheet until chocolate is set, about 15 minutes.

Step 14: Add pretzels and serve

Mix in pretzels, and serve.

Where did muddy buddies originate?

Muddy buddies originated in the Midwest, with recipes for puppy chow (an interchangeable name for this snackable treat) dating back to at least the 1960s. If you know it as reindeer chow or monkey munch, you're not alone. The name of this treat will vary based on where you're eating it.

Ralston Purina (yes, the pet food company) was the inventor of Chex. The brand's Purina Dog Chow dog food was so named in reference to "military chow" — how service members in WWI described their food. Whether this chocolaty treat using Chex cereal was so named because of its connection to a dog food company, that it resembled kibble, or for the intensity with which it is often gobbled down, is up for debate. In 2002, General Mills profited off the popularity of the recipe using its Chex cereal by publishing a muddy buddies recipe on the cereal boxes, bringing the sweet snack's nationwide popularity to a new level.

What other ingredients can I use in holiday muddy buddies?

The sky is the limit when it comes to variations on this classic snack. With Nutella adding a nutty sweetness to the coating, we love adding bittersweet chocolate into the mix. If you prefer to chop up a bar of chocolate, swap the bittersweet variety for dark chocolate (the higher the percentage, the darker the chocolate). You can also go in a sweeter direction by opting for milk chocolate. 

It's easy to amp up the holiday flavors in these muddy buddies by adding a hint of spice — nutmeg, cinnamon, or pumpkin pie spice would all pair nicely. To keep it classic, you can substitute Nutella with peanut butter. For a kid-friendly version, add in classic holiday sprinkles or M&M's. The mini chocolate-covered pretzels can be substituted with mini marshmallows, popcorn, chocolate chips, coconut, or holiday-themed candy.

Note that this snack is perfect not just for Christmas, but also for New Year's Eve. The gold and silver theme and snackable nature of this treat are a perfect pairing for New Year's parties, keeping everyone happy while waiting for the ball to drop. This Nutella-laced version is also a great dessert for Valentine's Day — pair with themed sprinkles, and you'll be happily munching away with your love in no time.

How long can I store muddy buddies?

While this recipe makes a generous amount of muddy buddies, they store well if you happen to have any leftovers. Store the cooled muddy buddies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week, perhaps in small zip-top bags to quickly grab as an after-school or office snack. If your home is on the warmer side, opt to store them in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or freeze them for up to 2 months (though we doubt they'll last that long). "I actually love muddy buddies straight out of the freezer," Rosenhouse tells us. "The chocolate sets up nice and firm, and they're even more crisp and delicious when cold." 

Whether you serve this decadent dessert at your next dinner party, holiday gathering, or just as a late-night snack, it's guaranteed to be the festive, indulgent touch your holiday season needs.

Festive Holiday Muddy Buddies Recipe
5 from 28 ratings
Chocolate lovers will be big fans of this sophisticated take on muddy buddies, made with Nutella, dark chocolate, hazelnuts, and festive sprinkles.
Prep Time
25
minutes
Cook Time
5
minutes
Servings
10
servings
Muddy Buddies served in bowl
Total time: 30 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 (12.8-ounce) box chocolate Chex cereal (about 8 cups)
  • ½ cup (1 stick) salted butter
  • 1 ½ cups bittersweet chocolate chips, divided
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup Nutella
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar, divided
  • ½ cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon holiday sprinkles and/or metallic dragées
  • 2 cups mini chocolate-covered pretzels
Directions
  1. Pour cereal into a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. Place butter, 1 cup chocolate chips, and salt into a small bowl.
  3. Microwave or heat over a double boiler until chocolate is melted, then stir until smooth.
  4. Add Nutella and vanilla, and stir until smooth.
  5. Pour chocolate mixture over cereal.
  6. Toss with gloved hands or a spatula until cereal is fully coated.
  7. Place half the cereal mixture into a large zip-top bag.
  8. Add ¾ cup confectioners' sugar, seal, and shake until coated. (Add ¼ cup more sugar if you prefer a heavier coating).
  9. Transfer cereal mixture to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and repeat with remaining cereal.
  10. Melt remaining chocolate in the microwave or over a double boiler.
  11. Drizzle chocolate over cereal mixture.
  12. Sprinkle on hazelnuts and sprinkles before the chocolate sets.
  13. Chill baking sheet until chocolate is set, about 15 minutes.
  14. Mix in pretzels, and serve.
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