This Vegan Puppy Chow (aka vegan muddy buddies) is an easy no-bake dessert featuring tons of chocolate, peanut butter, crunchy cereal, and a mix of powdered sugar and optional coconut to make the best snackish dessert ever! Prep this in just 5 minutes and freeze until you have deliciously fun clusters galore and store in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to destroy--I mean eat.
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Hey Internet, I’ve grown up basically equally on the east coast and in the midwest (US)--and now I’ve kind of resigned myself to having lived just over half of my life in the midwest. No matter where I was, I always enjoyed a dessert snack phenomenon called puppy chow/muddy buddies.
This is a great no-bake dessert. I’ve already explored the joy of no bake desserts a bit on this site, including my vegan s'mores, vegan coconut balls, vegan snickers bites, vegan chocolate pudding, vegan chocolate bliss balls, and even my vegan ice cream cake does not require an oven!
Although the name is kinda funky, this is something you do NOT want to give to dogs. Chocolate is poisonous for dogs, unfortunately.
But unless you’re allergic, chocolate is perfectly fine for humans. Luckily! I for one just LOVE chocolate.
And this recipe combines crunchy rice cereal, melted chocolate, runny peanut butter (easily swappable for any other nut or seed butter if you’re allergic to peanuts), a little coconut oil (optional), and powdered sugar.
I even swapped half of the powdered sugar for finely shredded coconut in one of my recipe tests and it was amazing!
Anyway, this customizable dessert is fantastic, so I highly recommend you give it a try. You can also halve or quarter the recipe if you’re not so sure about having a sheet pan full of it or you don’t have a ton of space in your freezer.
P.S. If you're into easy desserts, try my list of 50+ No Bake Vegan Desserts!
Why This Recipe Works
So this vegan puppy chow recipe is really really easy. First, we melt some chocolate, peanut butter (or whatever nut or seed butter), and a little coconut oil (optional, but it makes for a better texture and better clustering in my opinion) and mix it all together.
After adding a little vanilla extract and a pinch of salt, the mixture gets combined with crunchy rice cereal. Then tossed with organic powdered sugar and shredded coconut (optional).
Then all you have to do is freeze it! Really simple and really delicious vegan muddy buddies.
Because of how the chocolate mixture makes the pieces stick together, they cluster really easily.
The clusters are fun to grab and eat, but if you’re not into that look, just break apart the clusters before serving--they’re very easy to break.
Finally, you could customize this recipe a lot. The obvious ways are mixing up the nut butters (um, tahini + chocolate, I’m trying that next) and mixing up the toppings a little. The coconut shreds are great because they cut the amount of sugar you need to use.
BUT you can also use slightly less cereal and mix in other things. Try using crunchy cinnamon cereal and some miniature vegan marshmallows to make S'MORES vegan puppy chow. Or mix in some nuts and seeds for a satisfying bark.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Chocolate chips or chunks: You can use any type of (vegan) chocolate you like. I used semi sweet chocolate chunks (couldn’t find chips, but they work just as well). But dark chocolate would also be delicious.
- Peanut butter: I don’t have to tell you how good peanut butter and chocolate are together! I like a runny natural peanut butter for this recipe (I get mine from Costco). If yours is thick, you may need a tiny bit more coconut oil, but melt it all together first and see if its thin enough (should be an easily-poured, pancake batter like consistency). If you or someone you are serving this to is allergic to peanut butter, this recipe works with any other nut or seed butter, such as tahini or sun butter.
- Coconut oil, optional: This is an optional ingredient because the recipe does work without it. During my recipe tests, I tested to see if coconut oil did anything special to the recipe (since non-vegan versions tend to add butter), and it both improved the texture and helped the vegan muddy buddies cluster together.
- Vanilla extract: For flavoring. Optional.
- A pinch of sea salt: Again, optional, but it really brings out the flavor of the chocolate!
- Crunchy rice cereal: I used an organic knockoff of Chex cereal for this recipe because I didn’t love the ingredients in the regular box--many vegans (including myself) will not eat some fortified vitamin D3 products because the D3 can be derived from sheep’s wool. Any crunchy cereal should work with this recipe, though.
- Organic powdered sugar: To keep the dairy free puppy chow from being a sticky mess, it is coated in powdered sugar which also sweetens it. I recommend buying organic powdered sugar since non-organic could be possibly not vegan. In the US, sugar is often filtered through animal bone char, so research your brand if you’re not sure.
- Finely shredded unsweetened coconut: This is completely optional, but I loved the texture coconut added to this recipe. It also replaces some of the sugar, so it helps this recipe not be cloyingly sweet. If you don’t like coconut, just replace it with an equal amount of powdered sugar.
How to Make Vegan Puppy Chow
- Start by melting your chocolate, peanut butter (or other nut/seed butter), and coconut oil (if using) in a heat safe vessel. I like to use a large pyrex measuring cup because it has a handle and a spout. If using the microwave, cook in 30 second increments, stirring and checking until it’s thoroughly melted. You can also do this in a double boiler or a small pot (with a small amount of water) fitted with a heat safe bowl. Mix thoroughly.
- Next, flavor the chocolate mixture with vanilla extract and a pinch of sea salt. Stir and taste, adjusting accordingly.
- Place your crispy rice cereal in a large bowl (preferably one that has a lid!) and cover completely with the chocolate mixture. I recommend scraping out the container--the more chocolate the better.
- Using a spatula, very carefully and gently yet thoroughly combine the cereal with the melted chocolate mixture, making sure to cover every single piece. If you want clusters, you want the cereal to be saturated with the mixtures. If you prefer individual pieces (like for kids), you can add a little more cereal or you don’t need to be as thorough.
- If you want the clusters, go ahead and do the next part now. If you don’t, stick scrape the bowl out and spread on a lined pan and freeze for a few minutes until the chocolate is just set. Then use your hands or a utensil to break up all the clusters, then move onto the next step.
- Add half your batch of chocolate to another large bowl, preferably one with a lid. I actually used my salad spinner! (I took out the basket first.) Lay out the batch flat in the bowl and cover with half of the powdered sugar and half of the coconut (if using). Then add the remainder of the chocolate coated cereal on top and the remainder of the powdered sugar and coconut. Add the lid and carefully (gently) shake the box in every direction. Make sure to hold the lid down so you don’t make a huge mess! You can also do this in a clean paper bag or a large food storage bag (though for that you may need to do that in small batches).
- Once the vegan muddy buddies are well mixed, lay them out on a lined sheet pan (try to keep the clusters if that’s what you’re going for) and freeze until solid (about an hour).
- Store in the freezer or fridge--we like these cold! They can be served at room temp, but any sunlight or warmer temperature could melt them a bit, making them a sticky mess. Tip for parties: add these to a bowl and place another bowl filled with ice beneath it. These can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months! Once frozen, you transfer to a container so you get your sheet pan back. I’m not sure how long they’d last in the refrigerator. The food safety certified me says 1 week to be safe.
Frequently Asked Questions
In the freezer, up to 6 months. In the refrigerator or at room temperature, about a week. Keep in mind that storing these at room temperature can be a little risky as they can melt and get sticky if too warm.
This is a very easy meal using components from the poke bowl. I like to lay a thin layer of cooked sushi rice (leave an inch at the top with no rice) on a sheet of nori (seaweed for sushi), and then add toasted sesame seeds, grated carrots, cucumbers, green onions, the watermelon tuna, avocado, and a good squeeze of vegan spicy mayo (vegan mayo + sriracha). Then wet the bare strip of nori at the top, roll up and seal. Wrap in paper, wet your sharpest knife, and cut on the diagonal. Serve with some soy sauce for dipping and anything else you like such as wasabi or pickled ginger.
You can split the batch into 2 or 3 batches and use zippered food storage bags. Make sure to split the powdered sugar and the shredded coconut (if using) too so you have enough for every batch. Then combine the mixed batches on the lined sheet pan and freeze until solid.
Expert Tips for Success
- If you use too much cereal, you’ll get less of that chocolate peanut buttery goodness. I recommend using 6 cups, not 9 or 10.
- If you’re worried your vegan puppy chow will be too sweet, use only 1 cup powdered sugar and 1 cup shredded coconut.
- Or, if you’re worried it won’t be sweet enough, you can just use 2 cups of powdered sugar. If you still want to use the coconut, maybe then just add a little liquid sweetener to the chocolate peanut butter mixture.
- Only heat the chocolate peanut butter mixture enough to mix it until smooth. Don’t overheat it. That’s why I recommend heating in 30 second increments.
- Even if you don’t want to eat it frozen or cold, store this dairy free puppy chow in the freezer, it will last longer! It will also help it travel longer if you’re bringing it on a camping trip or a road trip.
- Experiment with the toppings or add-ins! Try mini vegan marshmallows or whatever else you like.
More Recipes Like This
- Vegan Smores
- Vegan Rice Crispy Treats
- Date-Based Vegan Snickers Bites
- Vegan Chocolate Bliss Balls
- Vegan Chocolate Pudding
- No Bake Vegan Ice Cream Cake
- Vegan Coconut Balls
- Pumpkin Pie Vegan Custard
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