Whether you call it muddy buddies or puppy chow, this classic is always guaranteed to be a crowd favorite. Rice Chex cereal is coated with a combination of melted chocolate and peanut butter, then tossed in powdered sugar for the ultimate easy sweet snack.
The first time I heard about this recipe, it was referred to as “puppy chow” and I absolutely thought that people were talking about a homemade dog food snack. I soon found out that it was an alternative (and sometimes regional) name for what is more commonly known as Muddy Buddies – a super quick recipe made with Rice Chex cereal. Traditionally, the cereal is coated with a melted mixture of chocolate chips, butter, peanut butter, and vanilla extract, then dusted with powdered sugar. Basically, it’s one of the most addicting snacks you’ll ever make. The fact that it can be thrown together in just 15 minutes is both wonderful and dangerous. If you ask me, it’s all sorts of wonderful.
I’ve tinkered with the recipe over the years, eliminating the butter from the chocolate and peanut butter coating, upping the peanut butter, and adjusting the powdered sugar and cereal amounts to make the most chocolatey and peanut buttery version that clumps up wonderfully (aren’t those clumps the best?!) and is coated in a nice thick layer of powdered sugar without using too much.
Basically, this version is muddy buddy perfection and I hope you’ll love it as much as I do!
It’s great for parties, snacks and even to give as a gift. Fill some canning jars, tie a ribbon or some twine with a nice tag and you have a perfect gift for a hostess, a teacher, or anyone in need of a pick-me-up.
What ARE muddy buddies?
Such a crazy name, right?!
Muddy buddies can go by a lot of alternate names; you may have heard them referred to as puppy chow, monkey munch, reindeer chow, or doggy bag. They get the crazy names from their appearance, sometimes looking like dog food or animal treats.
No matter the name, the delicious sweet snack remains the same – a rice cereal is coated with a melted combination of chocolate and peanut butter, and then tossed in powdered sugar. To say it is addicting is an understatement!
Cereals and substitutions
The most common cereal used for muddy buddies is Rice Chex, but sometimes Crispix is used.
If you need a gluten-free option, choose the Rice Chex (Crispix is wheat-free, but not gluten-free).
Peanut butter options and substitutions
Creamy peanut butter is the number one option for muddy buddies. I prefer brands like Jif and Skippy; avoid natural-style peanut butter that has oil separation, as it will be too oily for this recipe. You can use chunky peanut butter, as well, for an extra, well, crunch.
If you need a peanut-free substitution, these will work:
Nutella for extra chocolate!
My preferred chocolate to use is simply semisweet chocolate chips – they’re easy and most likely to already be in your pantry!
However, if you like your muddy buddies extra sweet, you can use milk chocolate; or, for those of you in the dark chocolate camp, you can totally substitute dark chocolate. Even white chocolate is fair game! Use chips or, if using a block or bar of chocolate, finely chop it before melting.
My preferred melting method is in the microwave (see instructions in the recipe below), but if you do not have a microwave, you can melt the chocolate and peanut butter in a heatproof bowl set over a small saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until completely melted and smooth.
Variations and mix-in ideas
I absolutely adore muddy buddies as-is, but there are a million different variations you could try. Some ideas for you:
Toss sprinkles in the powdered sugar before coating the muddy buddies.
Stir in M&Ms – use plain ones or different flavors – or Reese’s Pieces.
Stir in crushed candy canes (and maybe red and green M&Ms!) for some festive flavor.
Cookies and cream with crushed Oreos and white chocolate.
Add chopped nuts – peanuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts, etc.
Add whole chips – chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, butterscotch chips, mint chips, etc.
Adjust the flavoring by using different extracts.
See more muddy buddy versions below under “More Sweet Snacks”.
Once the coating is set, you can store muddy buddies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
However! I highly, highly recommend keeping it in the refrigerator or freezer – having it cold and extra crunchy is just phenomenal! If stored this way, you can easily keep them in the fridge for up to a month or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Place the chocolate chips and peanut butter in a medium bowl. Microwave in 30-second intervals on 50% power, stirring after each, until the mixture is completely melted and smooth. Stir in the vanilla extract and salt.
Pour a little bit of the chocolate mixture into the bottom of a large bowl. Add about a third of the cereal, a third of the remaining chocolate mixture, and repeat two more times. Using a rubber spatula, gently mix it all together until all of the cereal is completely coated. Place in the refrigerator for 5 minutes.
Place ½ cup of the powdered sugar in a gallon-size zip-top bag, top with half of the cereal mixture, another ½ cup of the powdered sugar, the rest of the cereal mixture, then the remaining ½ cup of powdered sugar. Seal the bag, then shake it very well until all of the cereal is coated with powdered sugar.
Spread the mixture out onto a wax-paper lined sheet pan to cool and set, about 30 minutes, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.