This 4th of July Puppy Chow featuring M&Ms and pretzels is a fun and patriotic dessert, perfect for any July 4th celebration!
I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for holiday-colored M&Ms. To me, they are a key part of my holiday decor from red and green for Christmas to pastel peanut M&Ms for Easter to orange and black ones for Halloween. (Is this not a thing other people do? If so, don’t tell me.) So the red, white, and blue 4th of July M&Ms always have a place in my house. And this year when I began thinking about a dessert to take to our annual neighborhood potluck, they inspired this 4th of July Puppy Chow recipe.
What is puppy chow?
Think of it as Chex Mix’s dessert-y cousin. Puppy chow goes by other names as well, including Muddy Buddies, Monkey Munch, Muddy Munch, and Reindeer Chow. Popular in the midwest United States since the 1960s, this snack (really, dessert) features chocolate peanut butter-covered rice cereal tossed in powdered sugar. The name comes from the fact that the snack has an unfortunate resemblance to puppy kibble—but I assure you this Puppy Chow is infinitely more delicious. And a great addition to your potluck's dessert table.
What kind of cereal should I use for puppy chow?
This recipe uses Rice Chex cereal, which is the type of cereal traditionally used. There’s even a recipe on the back of the Rice Chex box (though I've altered it slightly for this version—for the better!). You can use Crispix cereal as well.
How long will puppy chow last?
Puppy chow can last a week sealed in an airtight container, though I’m willing to bet it won’t make it more than a few days. I had to hide mine from peckish kids and husband when I made it a few days in advance.
How do you make 4th of July Puppy Chow?
Puppy chow is wonderfully simple to make. I've heard rumors that it was a staple of middle school home ec class in the Midwest for years (which concerns me slightly, but I think the point is that it's easy to make).
Just melt 6 ounces of chocolate and 2 tablespoons of butter together in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave and stir until mixture is smooth. Then stir in ½ cup creamy peanut butter, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, and ½ teaspoon salt.
You’ll notice that my recipe calls for semisweet chocolate rather than chocolate chips. You can use chocolate chips, but chocolate chips are actually made to hold their shape rather than melt (think of how you want an actual chunk of chocolate in your chocolate chip cookie, not just a melted pool of chocolate).
So whenever your recipe calls for you to melt chocolate, choose to chop up a high-quality chocolate bar rather than using chips.
Next, pour 8 cups of rice Chex cereal into a large bowl and add in the chocolate-peanut butter mixture. Stir gently until all pieces are coated.
Pour 1 ½ cups confectioners sugar into a large ziptop bag along with 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder. The cocoa powder is not traditionally part of the puppy chow recipe, but I think it cuts the extreme sweetness of the confectioners sugar in a good way (and more chocolate is never a bad idea!).
Add coated cereal and shake until well coated. You may need to add a little more confectioners sugar to cover everything.
Spread onto cookie sheet in a single layer to cool.
When cool, put into a large bowl and gently stir in 2 cups of pretzels and 2 cups of M&Ms. The pretzels and M&Ms aren't traditionally part of the recipe, but I love the savory/sweet combination they make.
That's it! Serve and watch your guests devour this in minutes.
You can also make this dessert for all sorts of holidays—see my Christmas Puppy Chow as well! Or, for another holiday dessert idea, how about using my Easter Rice Krispy Treats recipe but substituting chilled red, white, and blue M&Ms for the mini eggs? Or, get creative and do a 4th of July version of these adorable Halloween Oreo Truffles!
Love a no-bake dessert? You'll want to check out these deliciously chocolatey Corn Flake Cookies too.
And, if you're looking for another sweet dessert that is easily customized to whatever holiday you want, check out my Butter Cookie Cutouts. Frost and sprinkle however you like!
And, you might also enjoy some of my other summer dessert recipes, showcasing the best of summer fruit:
- Cherry Danish with Puff Pastry
- Strawberry Parfait with Mascarpone Cream
- Peach Blueberry Crisp
- Cherry Chia Seed Smoothie
- 6 oz semisweet chocolate
- 2 T. unsalted butter
- ½ c. creamy peanut butter
- ½ t. vanilla extract
- ½ t. kosher salt
- 8 cups rice Chex cereal
- 1 ½ c. - 2 c. confectioners sugar
- 1 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 c. pretzels
- 2 c. M&Ms
- Chop chocolate into small chunks and butter into 2-3 pieces, and put both into a microwave-safe bowl.
- Melt chocolate and butter on medium power in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, until smooth. (It will take around 2 minutes.)
- Add peanut butter, vanilla extract, and kosher salt, and mix until smooth.
- Pour cereal into a large bowl and add chocolate-peanut butter mixture. Stir gently until all pieces are coated.
- Pour 1 ½ cups confectioners sugar into a large ziptop bag along with the cocoa powder.
- Add coated cereal and shake until well coated. You may need to add up to another ½ cup of confectioners sugar to cover everything.
- Spread onto cookie sheet in a single layer to cool.
- When cool, put into a large bowl and gently stir in pretzels and M&Ms.
Use non-natural peanut butter for the best results. Store in airtight container for up to a week.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 13 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 458Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 321mgCarbohydrates: 72gFiber: 3gSugar: 47gProtein: 6g
Nutrition information is provided as a general reference for users courtesy of the online nutrition calculator Nutritionix.