Updated for 2019. My Grandma Martha Borzykowski used to make a mean Chex Mix — and it inspired me in the late 1990s to push the envelope and try to perfect the classic holiday finger food. Here, for the first time [in 2008], I share my highly customized recipe for the best Chex mix.
I have many happy memories of munching by the fistful on one version of Chex Mix or another at Thanksgivings and Christmases since I was a little boy. My mom still often makes a milder recipe, and we’ve generally found that having more Chex Mix on hand is hardly unwelcome.
Wonder-Working Chex Mix — Updated for 2019
(Pro tip: As tempting as it might be to simply double this recipe — because who doesn’t want twice as much Chex Mix? — don’t. You need to have only one batch in the pan for it to crisp up during baking. By all means, make two or even three batches, but mix and bake them sequentially.)
8 c cereal
You can mix the cereal however you like, but my default blend is 3 c Crispix, 2 c Rice Chex, 2 c Corn Chex, and 1 c Wheat Chex
1 c nuts
I favor whole cashews, but there’s an intense debate about whether standard mixed nuts are preferable.
1 c Goldfish
I usually use “Original” flavor, but cheese or even pretzel flavors work, too. (In the latter case, you’ll want to leave out the real pretzels.)
1 c small pretzels
Over the years, my allegiance oscillates among mini twists, “thins,” and those square “window pane” types.
1 c sesame sticks
These used to be considered “optional” in this recipe. No longer. They’re just too awesome. They only problem is that they disappear too quickly from the mix once people catch on!
Optional (up to 1 c each):
If you use smoked almonds or wasabi peas, I strongly recommend adding them after the bake, just mixed in during the cooling phase. Otherwise, much of their distinctive flavor “washes off” without contributing much to the flavor of the sauce overall. Speaking of the sauce:
½ stick butter
3 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T soy sauce
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 T Frank’s Redhot hot sauce
Yes, I believe this brand is best, but Trader Joe’s “Green Dragon” hot sauce makes a pretty awesome substitute. If all you’ve got on hand is Tabasco, reduce to 1½ teaspoon.
1+ teaspoon sesame oil
1+ teaspoon grated fresh ginger
a shake of chili powder
the zest of ½ an orange
Optional but highly recommended. Think of a Chinese dish like spicy orange chicken, and you’ll imagine how yummy the orange zest makes this Chex Mix. (What will you do with the zest from the other half the orange? Just make two batches. Problem solved.)
Measure out the dry ingredients in the biggest bowl you can find. No bowl is too big. Melt the butter, then mix in the other wet ingredients. Pour the sauce over the dry ingredients and turn with your bare hands repeatedly to thoroughly coat everything evenly. Put in a large roasting pan. Bake at 250°F for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven and spread out on large sheets of paper towels to cool and dry. Store in airtight containers only after completely cool. Not that it’ll be around for long!