Who doesn’t love Ranch-flavored everything? While I am not above buying the pre-made mixture for convenience, it is fun to make your own. Added bonus: you can control what goes into it.
I like Chex Mix because it’s salty with a hint of umami and sweetness from the Worcestershire sauce. You can eat it with your hands and it pairs well with beer. And it is a perfect canvas for sprinkling on your own ranch seasoning made with spices from the shop. Our chives and dill give the butter a vibrant green hue and the shallots add a note of sweetness to the otherwise very garlic heavy taste of Ranch. The recipe for the dried spice mix yields more than the Chex Mix recipe calls for and can be used for another round, or it is also delicious sprinkled over popcorn with some butter. It will keep for about a year in a well-sealed container.
And lastly, a trick I recently learned: if you use clarified butter when coating dried ingredients, such as Chex mix or popcorn, it diminishes the sogginess (see instructions for clarifying butter). Chex Mix should still be baked in a low heat oven to coat and toast the cereals. For popcorn, you don’t have to wait, although it is well worth it.
You can use any combination of your favorite Chex Mix inclusions as long as you have a similar volume with a total of 12 cups.
Ranch Seasoning Mix
Yields a little more than ½ cup, enough for two Chex Mix Recipes
2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
1 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons dill weed
1 ½ tablespoons dried shallots
2 tablespoons dried chives
¼ cup buttermilk powder*
1 teaspoon granulated onion powder
2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon café grind black pepper
9 cups Chex cereals
2 cups bite-sized pretzels
1 cup bagel chips or Melba toasts broken up into bite-sized pieces
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup Ranch Seasoning Mix
First, make the spice mix: place parsley flakes, dill, shallots and chives in a coffee or spice grinder and grind to a fine powder. Mix together with buttermilk powder, salt, pepper, garlic and onion. Adjust seasoning if necessary to fit your taste. Spice mixture will keep for about a year in a well-sealed container.
Next, make the Chex Mix: Preheat oven to 250 F. Place cereals, pretzels and chips into a large bowl. Melt butter and clarify it. To clarify butter: melt butter over medium low heat. Allow to come to a boil and continue to boil for about two minutes until the solids have separated out of the liquid and most of the foam subsides. Careful not to let the butter become brown butter which is what happens when the solids caramelize. Strain through a piece of cheese cloth or fine mesh strainer into a heat proof container. If you allow the mixture to cool slightly the solids that remain after straining can be skimmed off the top with a spoon.
(This step is not necessary to producing Chex Mix, however, the advantage of clarifying your butter is that you evaporate the water content through boiling the butter so your end result will be less soggy. But if that seems intimidating to you, just melting the butter will yield delicious Chex Mix. If you opt to use just melted butter than we recommend reducing the amount of butter to 1 ½ sticks.)
Return butter to pot, place over low heat and stir in Worcestershire sauce and 1/4 cup Ranch seasoning mix until the spices are evenly suspended in the butter. Pour butter mixture over cereal mixture and toss to coat.
Spread out onto two lined sheet trays and bake, stirring every 15 minutes, until fragrant and the mixture appears dry, approximately 1 hour. Chex Mix will keep in an airtight container for about a week.
*Available locally at Berkeley Bowl in bulk food section or at Farmer Joe's in the Bob's Red Mill section.