Puppy Chow

Puppy Chow

The first time I heard of puppy chow was over a decade ago while working with a chef who was making large batches of it for the holidays. I didn’t pay much attention to what she was doing and was confused as to why she wanted to give parcels of dog food away, but whatever. I had seen many nonsensical things in my life so I didn’t question it.

A few minutes later I saw her tossing Chex rice cereal in large pans filled with melted chocolate and I asked again what she was making to which she responded, “Uh hello, I just told you! I'm making puppy chow!” I finally put two and two together and realized puppy chow was not what I thought it was. 

Why Is It Called Puppy Chow?

Also known as muddy buddies, monkey munch, moose munch, and reindeer chow, this treat mostly made around the holiday season is literally the easiest snack to put together. Named after its resemblance to actual puppy chow (and perhaps the launch of Chex cereal, known by some as “human chow,” from the Purina company back in 1937), human puppy chow became a household staple in the Midwest by the 1960s. 

What Is In Puppy Chow?

Most recipes for this treat are really similar. Mine calls for rice Chex cereal (making this snack gluten free), equal parts of chocolate to peanut butter, a little butter to help the viscosity, and a good amount of salt for a nice umami touch. You can alter the ratios to find your preferred levels of chocolate, peanut butter, and salt.

Tips for Making Puppy Chow

  • Don’t burn the chocolate—Heating the chocolate in increments helps to prevent it from burning and the mixture getting too hot.
  • No really, don’t burn the chocolate—Stop microwaving the chocolate when there are still a few unmelted pieces in the bowl–the residual heat from the already melted chocolate will help melt the rest as you stir it.
  • Let it cool slightly—Don’t toss the chocolate-coated cereal in the powdered sugar when it’s too hot, this will just completely dissolve the sugar and there won’t be a powdery look to the puppy chow.

“An easy way to combine tasty flavors into one snack, just make sure to get to them fast if you don’t live alone or they’ll vanish.” —Noah Velush-Rogers

Close up of chocolate and powdered sugar-coated Chex cereal A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 3/4 teaspoon fine salt

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 8 cups rice Chex cereal

  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients to make puppy chow

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  2. In a microwave-safe mixing bowl combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and butter.

    Chocolate, peanut butter, and butter in a large bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  3. Heat the chocolate mixture in the microwave on full power in 30-second increments, stirring in between, until completely melted, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes total time. Cook it until the chocolate is just melted, do not overcook or the chocolate may burn.

    A bowl of melted chocolate, peanut butter, and butter

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  4. Whisk in the salt and vanilla until smooth.

    Whisking in salt and vanilla to the chocolate mixture

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  5. Place the rice cereal in a large mixing bowl and pour the chocolate mixture on top. Toss together until all the cereal is completely coated. Set aside in the fridge for 5 minutes to cool slightly.

    Rice cereal coated in chocolate-peanut butter mixture

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  6. Place the powdered sugar in a large zip top bag. Add the coated cereal to the zip top bag, seal it and then shake it to coat evenly.

    A zip top bag filled with powder sugar-coated chocolate rice cereal

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  7. Line a sheet pan with a piece of parchment or wax paper. Empty the cereal onto the sheet and use your fingers to spread and separate the pieces. Place it in the fridge to set, about 20 minutes.

    A baking sheet of puppy chow

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

How to Store

Store the puppy chow in an airtight container or zip top bag for up to 1 week at room temperature, 2 weeks in the fridge, or up to 3 months in the freezer.

Feeling Adventurous? Try This:

  • Use a different nut butter—Try substituting the peanut butter with nutella or other nut butters.
  • Try another kind of chocolate—You can also experiment with milk and white chocolates or use a combination.
  • Include add-ins—Add fun things to the mix like mini marshmallows, pretzel rods, or shredded coconut.

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