Original Chex Mix - sometimes known as Nuts & Bolts - has been around for three-quarters of a century now. Generations have enjoyed this boldly spiced, smokey, crunchy combination of cereals, pretzels, nuts, and savory deliciousness. Look no farther: this vintage, original Chex Mix recipe is just what you're craving.
Long before you could buy Chex Mix mix at the grocery store, there was the original homemade party mix - spicy, smokey, habit-forming Nuts & Bolts. This vintage Nuts & Bolts recipe - the real original Chex mix recipe - dates back to the 1950s, when it first began appearing on Chex cereal boxes.
What's the Story on this Recipe?
Chex mix steadily rose in popularity in the 1960s, as people began sitting - and snacking - around the television. By the time I was a child, it was a holiday tradition in many homes, including ours. My mother's best friend Mrs Houston would make a giant batch of Nuts & Bolts and give our family a big bag every year.
The only problem with Mrs. Houston's homemade Chex mix was, no matter how big the bag was she gave us, there was never enough. I could have crunched through handful after handful of that savory, delicious mix for breakfast, lunch, and late night snack and still not have had enough.
Years later, when I preparing for my first Christmas in my own apartment, I decided I needed to make some Original Chex Mix to welcome the holiday season. So, being young and hopeful, I went to the grocery store and bought one of those little Chex Mix seasoning packets.
All I can say is, the premixed seasoning didn't even compare. So much disappointment.
Luckily, Mrs Houston was still living at the time, so I asked her for her Nuts & Bolts recipe. I wrote it down on a little recipe card, and have since then guarded the card like Charlie's golden ticket, taking it out each November to make the annual batch of our favorite old-fashioned party mix.
Original Chex Mix Ingredients
This is one of those rare occasions when I recommend using specific product brands. (Oops! I forgot the Cheerios in the picture!) You can use alternative brands (and I have); but the results don't always measure up. For this recipe, I recommend going with the tried-and-true.
- Nuts: Traditionally, peanuts are used in Chex party mix, but we usually add cashews instead.
- Liquid Smoke: Do not leave the Liquid Smoke out!
- Liquid Smoke lasts practically forever, so even if you never use it for anything else, you can keep it in the back of your seasoning shelf and pull it out every year just to make Nuts & Bolts.
- Cereals: The cereal choices in this recipe are the standards listed in this heirloom recipe; however, you can mix it up as much as you want! We use:
- Corn Chex
- Rice Chex
- Wheat Chex
- Cheerios (Plain, original Cheerios)
- Pretzels: Thin stick-style pretzels work best.
- Butter: Use real, salted butter. Do not use margarine.
- Olive oil: Use light flavored EVOO, or canola oil.
- Worcestershire sauce
- Tabasco sauce
- Lawry's Seasoned Salt
How to Make this Chex Party Mix Recipe
Prepare Snack Mix
In a large paper grocery bag, mix cereals, pretzels and nuts together and set aside.
In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and oil together, and then blend in Worcestershire Sauce, Liquid Smoke, and hot sauce.
Slowly pour over the butter mixture over the dry mix in the bag, shaking as you do to cover everything. Sprinkle seasoned salt over everything, shut the top of the bag, and shake the heck out of it.
Oven-bake Party Mix
Original Chex Mix recipe is oven baked, low and slow.
Take out the extra rack in your oven if you have one, and put the remaining rack on the bottom or next to the bottom level. Preheat oven to 225°F | 110°C.
Roaster Pan Method
Pour the mixture into a large (turkey) roaster pan. (It will barely fit.) Place mixture in roaster pan into oven. Bake for 45 minutes.
Using oven mitts, carefully pour mixture into the large paper bag and shake a couple of times. Return mixture to roaster pan and return to oven.
Repeat 4 times, for a total baking time of 3 hours.
Paper Bag Method
Use this method if you don't have a pan big enough.
Roll the top of the bag down and place the whole thing on a large cookie sheet.
Place the bag on the cookie sheet into the preheated oven. Make sure that the top of the bag is at least a five inches away from the top oven element. Bake for three hours, shaking the bag every 30 minutes.
To make things easier when using the paper bag method, we prepare two bags - one full and one empty. Every half hour, we take the hot mixture out of the oven on the cookie sheet, pour it from the full bag to the empty one on the counter, and then put the (new) full one back in the oven. Doing it this way, the mix at the very bottom gets stirred, and we never have a clump of mix that doesn't get stirred.
If you do a half-batch, you can easily make it in a large roasting pan.
This Chex mix recipe makes a boatload and then some, so feel free to pare it down. (However, if you make the whole batch, you'll have plenty to give away as gifts. Maybe.)
Substitute equal amounts of any cereals you like. Keep in mind that sweetened cereals will change the sweet-savory balance.
Since the original Chex Mix recipe was first published back in the 1950s, countless sweet and savory variations of the recipe have been created. Some of our favorites include:
- Puppy Chow / Muddy Buddies: Chocolate, peanut butter, and powdered sugar Chex mix.
- Reindeer Chow / Christmas Muddy Buddies: Basically Puppy Chow with red and green M&Ms.
- Churro Chex Mix: This recipe essentially turns Chex into Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
- Cheesy Ranch Chex Mix
- Maple Pumpkin Spice Chex Mix
- Gluten-free Chex Mix
Chex mix tastes best after a day, and up to a week after it is made. Stored in an airtight container, it will last up to a month.
Chex mix also freezes well. Stored in a freezer container or resealable bag, it will last 3 months or more.
A large roasting pan is a game-changer when it comes to making mountains of Chex Mix. You can use a large disposable aluminum pan, like grocery stores sell around Thanksgiving; but we prefer to use a large, high-sided 17x13 roasting pan. (One batch of this Chex mix recipe barely fits in it!)
Fill quart jars with Chex party mix, tie a colorful bow around the lid, and Boom! You've got a fun, festive holiday gift for friends and neighbors!
Liquid smoke is made from condensed smoke vapor. Hardwood chips and sawdust are burned at high temperatures, and the smoke particles are collected in condensers. The resulting liquid is concentrated down even farther for a strong smoke flavor.
More Holiday Recipes
Nuts & Bolts (Original Chex Party Mix)
- Large Roasting Pan
- 1 - 14 ounce box Wheat Chex
- 1 - 12 ounce box Corn Chex
- 1 - 12 ounce box Rice Chex
- 1 -12 ounce box Cheerios about 12 cups
- 1 bag thin pretzels – the stick kind about a pound
- 2 cups nuts (your choice: peanuts, cashews, etc.)
- 1 ½ cups butter
- ½ cup light olive oil
- ½ cup Worcestershire Sauce
- 2 Tablespoons Liquid Smoke
- 2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
- 1 ½ teaspoons Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
- Take out the extra rack in your oven if you have one, and put the remaining rack on the bottom or next to the bottom level. Preheat oven to 225°F | 110°C.
- In a large paper grocery bag, mix cereals, pretzels and nuts together and set aside.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and oil together, and then blend in Worcestershire Sauce, Liquid Smoke, and hot sauce. Slowly pour over mixture in the bag, shaking as you do to cover everything. Sprinkle seasoned salt over everything, shut the top of the bag, and shake the heck out of it.
Roaster Pan Method:
- Pour the mixture into a large (turkey) roaster pan. (It will barely fit.)
- Place mixture in roaster pan into oven. Bake for 45 minutes.
- Using oven mitts, carefully pour mixture into the large paper bag and shake a couple of times. Return mixture to roaster pan and return to oven.
- Repeat 4 times, for a total baking time of 3 hours.
Paper Bag Method: (If you don't have a pan big enough.)
- Roll the top of the bag down and place the whole thing on a large cookie sheet.
- Place the bag on the cookie sheet into the preheated oven. Make sure that the top of the bag is at least a few inches away from the top oven element.
- Bake for three hours, shaking the bag every 30 minutes.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.
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