This Christmas Puppy Chow is the perfect holiday snack—festive and fun, and brimming with crunchy chocolate-peanut butter goodness!
Why Make This Recipe
- So Easy: This recipe can be made in about 15 minutes, and doesn’t require baking or chilling.
- 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.
- Customizable for Any Holiday: I love Puppy Chow with red and green M&Ms 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: 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: 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, it’s better to use bar chocolate like this Ghirardelli chocolate bar rather than using chips.
- 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 peanut-free muddy buddies, you can just leave out the peanut butter in this recipe.
🥣 Step-by-Step Instructions
To make Christmas Puppy Chow, start by chopping 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 confectioner's 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 pretzels and M&Ms.
🧐 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.
Yes! Rice Chex is gluten-free, and none of the other ingredients in this recipe contain gluten. 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 sealed in an airtight container, though in my house it never lasts more than a few days.
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.
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. And please follow along on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook or subscribe to my newsletter. I'd love to inspire you with more delicious, healthy, and seasonal recipes!
📖 Recipe Card
- 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.