The holiday season can be filled with tons of complicated or time-consuming desserts — while they’re often worth the effort, sometimes I want something sweet and simple. This Christmas puppy chow is an easy recipe full of sweet and salty flavor and crunchy texture.
Some people call it reindeer food or Christmas muddy buddies (or even Christmas crack), and there are plenty of other names for this sweet treat. All I call it is delicious!
Puppy chow is typically just a sweet snack mix but this recipe is the Christmas version. Cereal pieces, pretzels, and a chocolate peanut butter mixture are covered with confectioner’s sugar and mixed with fun Christmas-colored candy — it’s the perfect treat for the holidays.
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I love to make a big batch of this chow for holiday parties but it’s also fun to put together single-serving Ziploc bags of it for all of us to munch on when we hunker down for a holiday movie night. You can also take it to Christmas parties and cookie exchanges (sure it’s not a cookie, but who won’t love it?).
The best part of this recipe is how easy and quick it is to make. A little microwaving and a little bag-shaking results in a delicious sweet snack.
If you’re looking for quick holiday treats to make that both little ones and adults will love, this addictive Christmas puppy chow recipe may become your go-to. Take it to the next holiday party you attend and everyone will ask for the recipe!
Common Questions about Christmas Puppy Chow
Why is it called puppy chow?
Traditional puppy chow earned its name from its resemblance to dog food (though it tastes exponentially better, of course!). Christmas puppy chow doesn’t look as much like dog food, though, since it’s speckled with festive holiday colors.
Where is puppy chow popular?
Midwesterners in the U.S. love puppy chow. It’s very popular, particularly in the Dakotas, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Nebraska.
What else is puppy chow called?
In addition to being called puppy chow, the popular treat is also referred to as muddy buddies, reindeer chow, monkey munch, or doggy bag.
Christmas puppy chow is easy to store — there is no need for refrigeration and freezing is not recommended. Simply put the mixture in an airtight container or Ziploc bag and store it at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
Tips For The Best Christmas Puppy Chow
- When mixing the ingredients in the bag you may need to separate larger chunks with your fingers (from the outside of the bag).
- Be sure to use creamy peanut butter rather than chunky.
- Always use confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar) rather than granulated.
- Break up the candy canes easily by placing them in a Ziploc bag and beating them with a meat mallet or rolling them with a rolling pin.
- Peanut butter
- Unsalted butter
- Semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Vanilla extract
- Corn Chex cereal (or rice Chex)
- Confectioner’s sugar
- Mini pretzels
- White chocolate chips
- Candy canes (broken)
- Red and green M&Ms
- Red and green sprinkles
Kitchen Supplies You’ll Need
Try these easy no-bake treats
- Christmas Coal
- Peppermint Oreo Balls
- Easy No-Cook Fudge
- Peppermint Bark Cookies
- Divinity Candy
- Christmas Crack
How to Make Christmas Puppy Chow
- Combine the peanut butter and unsalted butter in a microwave-safe dish.
- Microwave the 2 ingredients at 20-second intervals, mixing after each until the ingredients are completely melted and combined.
- Add half of the chocolate chips and resume microwaving at 20-second intervals until the chocolate is melted and fully incorporated.
- Repeat with the remainder of the chocolate chips.
- Stir in the vanilla extract.
- Pour half of the cereal into a large mixing bowl.
- Cover the cereal with half of the peanut butter and chocolate mixture.
- Using a rubber spatula, fold the sauce into the cereal.
- Next, add the coated cereal to a large bag.
- Then, pour the confectioner’s sugar into the bag.
- Seal the plastic bag, then shake until the cereal is entirely coated with the confectioner’s sugar.
- Empty the bag into a large serving bowl.
- Top the mixture by layering the pretzels, M&Ms, white chocolate chips, candy canes, M&M’s, and sprinkles.
- Repeat the process with the second half of the cereal and the peanut butter chocolate mixture.
- Then, layer in the same way.
- Serve immediately or store.
What to Serve With Christmas Puppy Chow
- Ice cream – Toss this tasty treat over your favorite ice cream for crunchy texture and sweetness.
- Fruit – Sweet berries and other fruits are a great combo with puppy chow. You can also top your favorite seasonal baked crumble with puppy chow.
- Hot chocolate – There’s no dessert that isn’t a perfect pairing with a hot cup of cocoa.
- Coffee – Sipping coffee while snacking on puppy chow is the perfect way to wind down after a meal or while watching a seasonal movie.
- Heavy cream or milk – Throw this chow in a bowl and drizzle some cream over top for a decadent dessert.
- Yogurt – Top some Greek yogurt or a flavored yogurt of your choice with this puppy chow mix.
Why You Should Make This Recipe
This is a traditional favorite that everyone loves, but there are a few other reasons to whip up this easy snack.
- Easy – There’s no baking involved and the simple steps make it easy to toss this together quickly.
- Fast – It’s a cinch to pull this together on the fly or to make it ahead for a gathering.
- Inexpensive – There’s nothing fancy here — just simple ingredients that combine to make a great-tasting dessert.
Variations and Add-ins
- Chips – Instead of semi-sweet choose a different type of chocolate like dark chocolate chips, milk chocolate chips, or even white chocolate chips. You can also add peanut butter chips or butterscotch.
- Extract – Replace some or all of the vanilla extract with the flavor of your choice.
- Colorful canes – Most choose to use the traditional red and white but you can use any colorful variety you like.
- Spices – Sprinkle in some seasonally favorite flavors like cinnamon or nutmeg.
- Candies – Swap out some or all of the M&Ms with any other miniature or crushed candies — peanut butter cups work well. You can also use other varieties outside of the holiday m&m.
DON’T MISS MY HOLIDAY E-BOOK!
If you love this easy snack recipe, you’re going to love these other holiday treats too. Please click each link below to find the easy, printable recipe!
Other Holiday Desserts
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Christmas Puppy Chow
- ¾ cup peanut butter
- ½ cup butter unsalted
- 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 12 ounces corn Chex cereal
- 3 ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1 cup mini pretzels
- 1 cup white chocolate chips
- 1 cup candy canes broken
- ½ cup red and green M&Ms
- 2 tablespoons red and green sprinkles
- In a microwave-safe dish melt the peanut butter and unsalted butter. Microwave for 20-second intervals and mix at each interval until both kinds of butters are melted.
- Add half of the semi-sweet chocolate chips to the bowl and melt them in the microwave. Microwave for 20-second intervals and mix at each interval until the chocolate is melted into the butter mixture. Add in the rest of the chocolate chips and repeat the steps until everything is completely incorporated.
- Add in the vanilla and stir.
- Place half of the cereal in a large bowl and pour half of the peanut butter chocolate mixture over the cereal. Gently fold the melted chocolate into the cereal with a large spoon or rubber spatula.
- Once fully coated add the coated cereal and half of the confectioner's sugar to a large resealable bag. Seal the bag and shake until the cereal is fully coated. You may have to separate larger chunks by feeling from the outside of the bag. Just separate using your fingers on the outside of the bag. Shake again until all the pieces are coated. Pour these tasty coated cereal pieces into a large serving bowl.
- Top this first layer with half of the: pretzels, M&Ms, white chocolate chips, candy canes, M&M's, and sprinkles.
- Repeat steps 4 and 5 for the second half of the coated cereal and confectioner's sugar.
- Top this final layer with the remaining pretzels, M&Ms, white chocolate chips, candy canes, M&M's, and sprinkles.
- Store the mixture at room temperature in an airtight container for up two weeks.
- You can use fewer cups of cereal if you like. Some use 6 cups instead of 11 cups, as they like the thick chocolate coating on the cereal.
- You can use a big brown paper bag instead of a reuseable bag.
- This can be stored in the fridge or freezer and eaten cold or frozen.
- Alternative to semi-sweet chocolate: dark chocolate.
- Alternative to creamy peanut butter: sunflower seed butter, as it will set better than natural nut butter. Can also use crunchy peanut butter.
- Try this with rice Chex instead.
- You can use generic versions of the cereal as well.
- Additional fun add-ins: peanut M&Ms, salted peanuts, mini marshmallows, or mini Reese’s Pieces.
Nutritional information for the recipe is provided as a courtesy and is approximate. Please double-check with your own dietary calculator for the best accuracy. We at Taste of the Frontier cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site. Erythritol carbs are not included in carb counts as it has been shown not to impact blood sugar. Net carbs are the total carbs minus fiber.