This Christmas Puppy Chow is the perfect snack for the holiday season—festive and fun, and brimming with crunchy chocolate-peanut butter goodness!
Why Make This Recipe
- Easy Recipe: Make it in about 15 minutes—no need to bake or chill.
- Kid-Friendly: Kids love Puppy Chow (or Muddy Buddies, or Monkey Munch, or Reindeer Chow—whatever you prefer to call it!). Plus, this recipe is so simple that kids of all ages can help.
- Simple Ingredients: Most are things you already have in the pantry!
- Customizable for Any Holiday: Puppy Chow with red and green M&Ms is the perfect recipe for Christmas, but you could easily make a Hanukkah Puppy Chow with blue and white M&Ms. Or, try my 4th of July Puppy Chow for some red, white, and blue fun.
- Rice Chex Cereal: These are a standard for making puppy chow, and there’s usually even a recipe on the box. But you can use Crispix as well if you can’t find Rice Chex.
- Chocolate: Use a chopped chocolate bar, rather than chocolate chips. Chocolate chips are made to hold their shape rather than melt.
- Cocoa Powder: Traditionally, the chocolate-peanut butter-covered Chex are just tossed in powdered sugar, but I like to cut the sweetness of the sugar a bit by adding cocoa powder. You can use whatever cocoa powder you prefer, and Dutch-processed or regular cocoa powder both work fine.
- Pretzels: I like the combination of salty and sweet in this recipe, but really the pretzels are totally optional. Also, feel free to use whatever pretzel shape you like (the smaller the better). You might also try replacing the pretzels with salty peanuts!
- Peanut Butter: I recommend a regular commercial peanut butter for this recipe, like Jif or Skippy. Natural peanut butters are delicious, but unfortunately they just don’t melt as smoothly as non-natural brands! Note that for a peanut-free muddy buddies recipe, you can just leave out the peanut butter in this recipe.
🥣 Step-by-Step Instructions
To make Christmas Puppy Chow, start by chopping 6 ounces semisweet chocolate into small chunks. Cut 2 tablespoons unsalted 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 ½ cup creamy peanut butter, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, and ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt, and mix until smooth.
Pour 8 cups Rice Chex cereal into a large mixing bowl and add chocolate-peanut butter mixture. Stir gently until all pieces are coated.
Pour 2 cups confectioner's sugar into a large ziptop bag along with 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder. Add coated cereal and shake until well coated. You may need to do this in batches.
Spread onto cookie sheet in a single layer to cool. (Line the cookie sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup.)
When cool, put into a large bowl and gently stir in 2 cups pretzels and 2 cups holiday M&Ms.
Guaranteed to be a hit at Christmas parties, or make it as a sweet snack mix to keep around the house during the holiday season.
🧐 Recipe FAQs
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.
Rice Chex is gluten-free, and so are the rest of the ingredients with the exception of the pretzels. Use gluten-free pretzels or leave them out entirely for a gluten-free version of this recipe.
Note that if you replace the Rice Chex with Crispix, keep in mind that Crispix is not certified gluten-free (though it doesn’t contain any ingredients with gluten).
Puppy chow can last a week at room temperature sealed in an airtight container, though in my house it never lasts more than a few days. Still, these holiday treats are great to make in advance and have on hand for holiday parties or a gift for neighbors (put in a baggie and tie with a pretty bow!).
Nope! No refrigeration needed—just keep it in an airtight container.
👩🍳 Expert Tips for Christmas Puppy Chow
To avoid soggy muddy buddies, work quickly after you have added in the butter/chocolate/peanut butter mixture. You want to stir carefully, but not so slowly that the chocolate mixture sinks in to the cereal, causing it to get soggy.
You may find that you have more powdered sugar than you need to coat the puppy chow. Remove the puppy chow from the ziploc bag carefully, leaving the extra powdered sugar at the bottom of the bag.
That way, there won’t be extra sugar coating the M&Ms and pretzels once they are stirred together in a large bowl.
Want more mix-ins? You can also stir peanuts, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, or even mini candy canes into this holiday puppy chow recipe.
Love making festive recipes for cookie exchanges or your holiday party? Try this equally delightful maple syrup-sweetened Christmas snack mix packed with nuts, cereal, and M&Ms. Or, try replacing the mini eggs in my Easter Rice Krispie Treats with chilled red and green M&Ms. Now you've got Christmas Rice Krispy Treats!
Other Holiday Desserts
You can find all of my dessert recipes in my Dessert Archive, but here are a few of my favorite holiday recipes:
If you try this Christmas Puppy Chow recipe, I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below—I read them all, and your feedback is invaluable to me.
- 6 ounces semisweet chocolate
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup creamy peanut butter
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 cups Rice Chex cereal
- 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 cups holiday M&Ms
- 2 cups thin pretzels
- 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 confectioners sugar into a large ziptop bag along with the cocoa powder.
- Add coated cereal and shake until well coated. You may need to do this in batches.
- Spread onto cookie sheet in a single layer to cool.
- When cool, put into a large bowl and gently stir in M&Ms and pretzels.
• You can substitute Crispix for Chex Mix (though in that case, this dessert may not be gluten-free).
• Use a regular commercial peanut butter for this recipe, like Jif or Skippy. Natural peanut butters are delicious, but unfortunately they just don’t melt as smoothly as non-natural brands! Note that for peanut-free muddy buddies, you can just leave out the peanut butter in this recipe.
How to Store:
No refrigeration needed—just keep it in an airtight container, where it will last for about a week.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 590Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 12mgSodium: 451mgCarbohydrates: 92gFiber: 4gSugar: 60gProtein: 8g
Nutrition information is provided as a general reference for users courtesy of the online nutrition calculator Nutritionix.