This no bake sweet and salty snack mix recipe has it all. It has so many fun textures and it is coated in a crunchy caramel that ties it all together. Plus this tasty caramel Chex mix can be customized to match your flavor preferences or the occasion.
Sweet and salty snack mixes eaten by the handful are always a good idea. Especially when they are so quick and easy.
This fun caramel coated Chex mix will keep your hand coming back for more every time. It is a fun mix of cereals, pretzels and peanuts all wrapped in a caramel coating.
The best part is it is finished in the microwave. So you get that crunchy coating without even having to turn on the oven.
You are going to want to make it for every party and holiday from now on. Nobody will complain either, it is so good they’ll be begging for more.
Sweet and Salty Snack Mixes
It is hard to beat a good sweet and salty combination. Instead of satisfying each craving separately, you get to do it all in one bite.
Sweet and salty snacks are always a hit at parties. Especially when they have a variety of textures and flavors mixed in.
Our white Christmas trash recipe is always a hit for that reason. It combines bugles, pretzels, nuts and more with a white chocolate coating.
This mix is similar, but features a buttery caramel instead of the white chocolate. The crunchy texture and the mix of flavors is hard to beat.
It is perfect for snacking on at a party. Or bag some up and give it to people as an edible gift.
What’s in the Mix?
My friend Mary-Ann is the one who introduced me to this recipe. Her mix features a lot of fun textures.
You can follow this recipe exactly and use pretzels, peanuts, cheerios, cornflakes, Chex and Bugles. It is a perfect mix of crunchy goodies.
However, you can very easily experiment with your base ingredients. If you don’t feel like buying all of those items, leave one or two out.
Just make sure to replace that volume with something else. So if you don’t want to do cornflakes, add 2 extra cups of something else.
If peanuts aren’t your thing, use mixed nuts instead. Or use cashews or almonds or whatever you like best.
Or leave out the Cheerios and add more Chex. You get the idea, you just want to keep the total volume of goodies pretty close to the original recipe.
Now put all of those goodies in a paper grocery sack and move on to making the caramel.
The Crunchy Caramel Coating
Now that we have our base ready to go, it is time to focus on the caramel part of this sweet and salty snack. It is what is going to bring it all together.
Be sure to use a big enough saucepan. Once you cook the butter, brown sugar and corn syrup together you will add some baking soda.
This will cause the mixture to foam up and grow. You don’t want that scalding hot sugar mixture to get on everything, so use a larger pan than you would think.
When your caramel is ready to go, pour it over the cereal and snacks in the brown paper bag. Roll the top shut and give it a good shake to coat everything.
You will put the bag in the microwave and cook it for a bit and then shake it to make sure it’s evenly coated. After repeating this process several times the mixture should be evenly coated and the caramel cooked to a consistency where it will dry hard and crunchy.
It’s a lot like the way my husband’s grandma makes her caramel corn or my aunt make her caramel Crispix mix. It is a quick and easy to get everything coated really well and avoid a sticky gummy texture.
Spread the finished mixture out on wax paper to cool. Add the candies and wait until the mixture is completely cooled and hardened before transferring to an airtight container.
Why do you add baking soda to the caramel?
Adding baking soda to the hot sugar mixture causes it to bubble up. Those air bubbles help to give the caramel volume, making it easier to coat all of the cereal mixture. Plus it helps to give it the right crunchy texture when it is finished.
What if I don’t have a brown paper grocery bag?
If you don’t have a paper grocery bag, you can finish this snack mix in a large glass bowl. Just stir it well after the cooking intervals rather than shaking it.
Tips and Tricks:
Make sure to use an oversized saucepan. The mixture bubbles up pretty big when it is boiling and again when you add the baking soda.
Be sure there are no staples or anything in your grocery bag before you use it. No metal in the microwave!
Make sure the mixture is completely cooled before you put it in an airtight container. This maximizes the crunchiness. You don’t want it soggy from still being hot!
Do you have a favorite snack mix? I would love to hear all about your favorite combinations!
Mary-Ann’s Sweet and Salty Caramel Snack Mix
- 4 cups small pretzels
- 4 cups cheerios
- 4 cups rice chex or your favorite variety
- 2 cups cornflakes
- 2 cups peanuts or mixed nuts
- 7.5 oz. bag bugles
- 2 cups packed brown sugar
- 1 cup butter
- ½ cup corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cups M&M’s or Reese’s Pieces or a combination
- Place pretzels, cereals and nuts in a large brown paper grocery sack and set aside.
- In a large saucepan, melt together butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt over medium heat. Bring to a boil and allow to boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Stir in the vanilla and baking soda, taking care because the mixture will foam and bubble.
- Pour hot caramel mixture over cereals in the brown paper bag. Roll the top down to seal and shake to coat.
- Place bag in the microwave and cook on high for 30 seconds. Carefully remove bag and shake, turning the bag over to make sure everything is coated. Repeat this process for a total of 5 times in the microwave, with a shake after each.
- After the last trip to the microwave, dump the contents of the bag onto sheets of wax paper. Carefully spread the mixture out a bit. You want clumps, but not one huge clump! Allow to cool completely.
- Once cool, break into smaller clumps and sprinkle with candies. Store in an airtight container.