Mexican Puppy Chow: Sweet, Sour and Salty Snack Mix

Mexican Puppy Chow
photo (c) Robin Grose
  • 30 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins,
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 20 servings

Despite its name, puppy chow (or its cousin, muddy buddies) is a snack very much intended for human, not canine, consumption. It is, for many, a beloved treat for children and party snack for all ages.

Although countless varieties exist, most people puppy chows contain the common ingredients of cereal, white chocolate and powdered (confectioner's) sugar; additional sweet and salty ingredients (small candies, peanut butter and other snack foods such as pretzels, etc.) turn a plain puppy chow into one appropriate for a certain season, holiday or special occasion.

This puppy chow recipe combines several classic sweet and salty Mexican elements to produce a snack mix that's sure to be a hit north or south of any border. Don't miss the list of possible alternate ingredients underneath the recipe, because once you've tried the basic version, you'll want to continue to experiment with the vast world very mixable of sweet and salty flavors.

What You'll Need

  • 1/2 cup tamarind paste and chile candy (such as Pulparindo brand, chopped)*
  • 2 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground chile and lime powder (Tajin brand or similar)*
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon ground anise
  • 14 ounces (about 400 grams) white chocolate candy coating
  • 9 cups chocolate-flavored, doughnut-shaped oat cereal (Cheerios brand or similar, divided)
  • 3/4 cups cinnamon-flavored gummy candies (such as Hot Tamales brand)
  • 1 cup peanuts (salted, honey roasted, or "Japanese-style"*)
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seed kernels (toasted and salted)*
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (semi-sweet chips, red- and green-colored white chocolate chips, or a combination of these)

How to Make It

*Asterisked Mexican ingredients are often available in a large supermarket; if that is not the case in your area, they are common in Mexican or Hispanic grocery stores, or can be obtained online.

  1. Unwrap the tamarind candy. Use kitchen scissors or a sharp knife to cut the tamarind candy into 1/2-inch cubes or squares.

  2. Measure the confectioner's sugar, chile and lime powder, cinnamon and anise (if using) into a large zip-top plastic bag. Seal the bag and mix thoroughly. Set aside.

  1. Melt the candy coating, either in the microwave or stovetop in a double boiler.

  2. Add 6 cups of the cereal to the melted white chocolate and stir until all the cereal pieces are well coated. (Set the other 3 cups of oat cereal aside.)

  3. Immediately scoop the candy-coated cereal into the bag with the sugar and spice mixture. Reseal the bag and shake the contents all around until all of the sugar has adhered to the candy coated cereal.

  4. Pour the coated cereal into a large bowl. Add the reserved (uncoated) cereal, the gummy candies, tamarind candy pieces, peanuts, pumpkin seeds and chocolate chips; mix again.

  5. Pour your delicious Mexican puppy chow mix into a serving bowl (or ladle it into individual containers or bags) and enjoy!

Variations on Mexican Puppy Chow:

Change up one or more of the ingredients in the recipe with something from the following list:

  • Chopped dulce con leche milk candy wafers (obleas con cajeta, such as Coronado brand)

  • Gumdrops, miniature marshmallows, and/or cinnamon chips

  • Chopped Mexican chocolate candy bars (such as Carlos Quinto or Bocadin)

  • Small, hard cinnamon candies (such as Red Hots)

  • Chamoy sauce (in place of or in addition to the lime-chile powder)

  • Chopped dried fruit (raisins, prunes, apricots, pineapple, mango, etc.)

  • Chopped chili-covered chamoy strips (such as Skwinkles) in place of or in addition to the chopped tamarind candy

  • Cubed sugar-covered fruit paste (such as guava paste or quince paste, called ate in Mexico)

  • Ground chile pepper, such as powdered chipotle or piquin