Snack mix, or party mix, is a staple of celebration at our house: kids' birthday parties, our Christmas Eve Risk marathon, and that particular big game that happens once a year. Big batches of this salty, savory snack are required to fill party bowls and kids' cups, but that means I need my oven or microwave running for several hours to get all my snack mix dry, so I rely on a slow cooker to get a big batch of snack mix ready for celebrations.
When I started making snack mix in the slow cooker, I made a few changes to the recipe as well. In this version, expect extra-bold flavor. We're upping the butter and the spices to make not only the smartest, most hands-off recipe for making a snack mix for a crowd, but also the tastiest.
Why You Should Make Snack Mix in the Slow Cooker
One of the best reasons to make snack mix in the slow cooker is that it frees up oven space, which is particularly handy when you are preparing for a party with cake baking or wing roasting. Even with the shorter cook time, preparing snack mix in the slow cooker means you can leave it unattended without it going soggy on you or burning. And while the microwave might be faster, larger batches will take multiple turns in the microwave before they are done.
Our Base Recipe Is Bold Snack Mix 2.0
Bold Chex Mix from the vending machine was my go-to snack in high school, and it wasn't until recently that I tried the classic recipe from the cereal box. This recipe takes the basic back-of-box recipe and gives it a flavorful boost. There's more butter, which (aside from helping the flavor) helps the seasoning cling to all the bit and pieces.
Now that I'm a convert to the freshly made stuff, I see the ingredient list as a guideline that is infinitely versatile. As long as you keep the proportion of "nuts and bolts" — the add-is like crackers and nuts — to seasoning the same, you can substitute in any cereals, crackers, sauces, and spices you have on hand.
In this version we used square cheddar crackers, but I almost always have cheddar cheese fish crackers on hand too. Oyster crackers, mini saltines, or even mini breadsticks are all welcome here too.
How to Make a Sweet Version of Snack Mix
For a sweet snack mix base, omit the Worcestershire sauce, seasoned salt, garlic powder, and onion powder. Replace them with 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup, 1/2 cup granulated or brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt.
3 Tips for Better Slow-Cooker Chex Party Mix
Avoid a soggy snack mix: Use an oval slow cooker for more surface area in heating the party mix. Place a double layer of paper towels under the lid to catch any condensation that gathers and keep it from dripping down onto the party mix.
Don't overcook it: The mix will look dry, not greasy or wet, when it is ready. Keep an eye on the pretzels and the Wheat Chex — these are the first to show signs of burning if you are close to overcooking the mix.
Add fragile mix-ins at the end: Cheeseballs are one of my favorite upgrades to classic party mix, but they get squished and overcooked in the slow cooker. Add these when the snack mix is done and cooling.
How To Make Slow-Cooker Chex Party Mix
Makes 12 cups
What You Need
Corn Chex cereal (4 1/2 ounces)
Rice Chex cereal (3 3/4 ounces)
Wheat Chex cereal (4 ounces)
bite-sized pretzels (3 ounces)
bagel chips (3 ounces), broken into bite-sized pieces (such as Stacy's Simply Naked bagel chips)
cheese-flavored crackers, mini breadsticks, mini crackers, or oyster crackers (2 ounces)
nuts, such as Party Peanuts (4 1/2 ounces, optional)
(1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
6-quart slow cooker, preferably oval-shaped
Dry and liquid measuring cups
Combine the cereals, chips, and nuts: Place the cereals, pretzels, bagel chips, other crackers, and nuts (if using) in a 6-quart (preferably oval-shaped) slow cooker. Using 2 wooden spoons, gently toss together, being careful not to crush the cereal.
Mix the seasonings: Whisk the butter, Worcestershire sauce, seasoned salt, garlic powder, and onion powder together in a small bowl or measuring cup. Pour half over the dry ingredients and toss to coat evenly. Pour in the remaining half and toss again.
Cover with paper towels: Place a double layer of paper towels over the top of the slow cooker to catch condensation.
Slow-cook the party mix: Cover and cook on LOW for 3 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. When it is done, the party mix should look toasty and relatively dry.
Cool the party mix: Pour the party mix onto a work surface or baking sheets lined with parchment or paper towels. Spread into a single layer. Cool for 5 minutes before serving or storing.
Store the party mix: Party mix can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Bagel chips substitution: If you can't find bagel chips, use oyster or bruschetta crackers instead.
Storage: Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.