Cheesy Caramel Snack Mix
June 28, 2018 by Nicole Collins
Salty sweet takes a turn for the cheesy today!
Ok, so you guys should know by now that I have some weird habits. And, I’m sure you’ve also figured out by now that I enjoy some strange eating combos, as well.
For example, I like to mix things that don’t necessarily go together at first thought. Growing up, one of my favorite snacks was fritos dipped in sour cream. My friend and I used to play in her basement with a bag of fritos and a tub of sour cream next to us at all times. Let's pretend it's like nachos without all of the toppings.
I've also told you that I love to shove Oreos and potato chips in my mouth at the same time. That's how we ended up with these cookies.
But, have you ever tried Cheez-its and Oreos Thins together? Oh Em Gee! I’m still working on a way to give you a recipe that combines Oreos and Cheez-its without totally freaking you out. But, if you feel extra trustworthy today, go for it! Shove them both in your mouth at the same time. You won’t regret it!
I got the idea for today’s recipe from a bag of popcorn that I saw on Instagram on a junk food blog that I follow. I get lots of ideas from Instagram pics, actually. Anyways, it was a cheddar popcorn and caramel popcorn mix. I couldn’t stop thinking about that picture I saw, so I started researching where I could find it. I was super bummed, because I learned that it was only a summer special flavor; and we were neck deep in winter when I saw this pic.
Well low and behold, I walked in to my local grocery store that weekend, and there was that glorious bag of popcorn sitting on the “special products” shelf just waiting for me to grab a bag (or three). What? They were 2 for $5!
And boy, was that some of the best popcorn mix I've ever had.
This was also around the time that Cheez-its rolled out their new snack box of Cheez-it's and caramel popcorn in the same box. It's one thing to see the cheesy caramel combo in one place. But, when lightening strikes twice, you've got to take the hint!
You might not be ready for Oreos and Cheez-its yet. Soon, grasshoppers. Soon. But, the cheesy caramel combo suddenly seems to be a little less scary, so I thought I’d start there with you guys today!
So today, we're making Cheesy Caramel Snack Mix!
I feel like this recipe is kinda “go big, or go home.” If I'm going to mix cheesy goodies and crunchy caramel. I'm going alllllllll in!
For the base of our snack mix, we're using the big cheeses! Cheddar popcorn, crunchy cheese curls, and cheezy crackers join forces with mini pretzels for our snacking pleasure. Now honestly, we could just stop here with the snack mix. I mean, cheese on cheese on cheese is more than good enough for me. But, what fun would that be?
Our next step is to make a quick homemade caramel. Some butter, brown sugar, a little corn syrup, a little vanilla, and a pinch of baking soda come together to make a nice crunchy caramel coating for our cheesy snacks. Bake it low and slow in the oven, let it dry, and you've got Cheesy Caramel Snack Mix. It's really that simple!
This recipe is everything I love about the salty sweet combo, with sooooo much more! The cheesy element adds salt in such a different way, adding a richness that just can't be beat.
And if you really want to take a leap of faith with me today, add some M&Ms to this mix. That sure would be a nice intro to mixing cheese and chocolate, so you'll be all in when I convince you to eat Oreos and Cheez-its!
Totally random side note before I send you on your way today...I thought it might be worth noting that I actually didn’t write today’s post. I mean I wrote it, but I didn’t physically write it. I decided what I wanted to talk to you about today while I was sitting in traffic yesterday, so I talk to texted the majority of this post to myself. Isn’t that a brilliant idea? I don’t think I was breaking any laws, because I wasn’t technically texting and driving. But, if that isn’t on the “approved list of things to do while you're sitting in bumper to bumper traffic”, then please disregard the entire previous statement and just fast forward straight to making this snack mix asap!
Anyways, this snack mix has been a hit everywhere it's been. But be careful. It's dangerously easy to go from eating a handful to eating a bagful in like 60 seconds. It's that amazing! Not even gonna be mad about that though. #sorrynotsorry
So enjoy, and let's eat!
Cheesy Caramel Snack Mix
Serves: about 9 cups Print
3 cups cheddar popcorn
2 ½ cups crunchy cheese curls (like Cheetos)
2 ½ cups cheddar crackers (like Cheez-Its)
1 cup pretzels
1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil, and spray it lightly with cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, add popcorn, cheese curls, cheese crackers, and pretzels. Mix to combine.
In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, add butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup. Stir occasionally with a silicone spatula until the mix starts to bubble. Once the mix comes to a boil, boil for 4 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat, add baking soda and vanilla, and stir well to combine.
Pour the caramel mix over the popcorn mix. Toss gently with the same silicone spatula to coat all of the snack mix. Spread the mix in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 45 mins, removing the pan from the oven every 15 minutes to toss the mix. When finished baking, spread mix on a wax paper or foil lined table, breaking up any big clumps, to dry. Let sit for 30 mins- 1 hour. Store in an airtight container for about a week.
*Lining your tray with foil is not required, but it makes for super easy clean up!
*You can add a cup of M&Ms to this snack mix to make it even more delicious.
*If you don't have a silicone spatula, get one! They can handle the heat, they're easy to clean, and they're great for baking. But, if you don't have one today, you can use a wooden spoon to stir your caramel too.
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