Sweet and Spicy Smoked Snack Mix

December 3, 2020

This Smoked Snack Mix is going to be the snack at hand for all your events. It’s perfect for tailgating, hiking, camping, parties, and basically anything else where there are people who like tasty munchies. This snack mix is coated with a sweet and sticky Cholula hot sauce-laced caramel. It’s not too spicy, not too sweet, and perfectly smoky while keeping all of the crispy crunch.

Smoked snack mix in a hinged glass mason jar with a baking dish of snack mix in the background. Text overlay reads: Sweet & Spicy Smoked Snack Mix.

Smoked Snack Mix

Now that we’ve got our crunch mixture ready, it’s time to talk seasoning. There are loads of snack mix recipes out there and they’re all about the same, super sweet or one-note savory, but I wanted something that would make people’s taste buds tingle. My favorite way to do that is to add in unexpected flavor profiles. That’s where the Cholula Hot Sauce comes in. It’s got such a nice mix of tangy vinegar, spices, and chiles that it was the perfect complement to the sticky sweet caramel.

Once that tasty caramel sauce hits those crackers, it’s time for another taste twister. This snack mix gets a smoky kiss from being baked on my smoker! I used maple wood to add the perfect hint of smoke to bring all of the elements together. This snack mix is crunchy, salty, sweet, smoky, and just spicy enough to keep you going back for another handful!

Quick note: If you don’t eat everything in one setting, store the snack mix in a single layer on sheets of parchment or wax paper in an airtight container.

Ingredients for smoked snack mix sauce being whisked in a saucepan.

Ingredients for Smoked Snack Mix

A good snack mix starts with the perfect combo of munchies and, after several versions and recipe testing, I believe I have found the perfect ratio! The secret to a good snack mix is picking real winners for every element. You don’t want to have any undesirables in your mix or you’ll end up with a bowl of the reject snack at the bottom with everything else eaten.

  • Chex cereal. You can use whichever variety you like, but I loved the rice and corn versions best.
  • Stick pretzels. This is important because they add all sorts of interesting angles and crispness to the mix without adding too much bulk.
  • Bugles. Find these guys in your snack aisle. They are the perfect amount of salty for the snack mix and add a lightweight crunch.
  • Oyster crackers. These offer a nice buttery cracker element and are the perfect size for munching!
  • Nuts. The spicy caramel sauce and smoke flavor is soo so good on nuts. I used unsalted mixed nuts, but you can really use whatever type of nut you like best!

I recommend you assemble all ingredients before starting. You’re essentially making a homemade caramel and you need to move quickly to get it all put together.

Stack of smoked snack mix on aluminum foil.

Smoked Snack Mix Recipe Variations

If you’re looking to mix up ways to cook this snack mix (or you’re interested in trying some different flavors), try out these snack mix recipe variations:

  • Cook on your grill. If you don’t have a smoker, you can totally adapt this recipe for your oven or grill. Just follow the time and temperature guidelines in the recipe below. You’ll be missing a little of that smoky element, but all of the great flavors of the crackers and Cholula caramel will still be in the snack mix.
  • Set the caramel in your oven. If you aren’t smoking the mix, pop it into the oven at 225 to help set the caramel.
  • Try a different hot sauce. I like Cholula the most in this mix, but you could sub for another hot sauce like Frank’s RedHot.

Smoked snack mix in a blue baking dish.

More BBQ Snack Recipes

Here are some tasty snacks that you can make on your BBQ! They’re great to have on hand at parties or to give as gifts during the holiday season.

Smoked Snack Mix Recipe

Making tasty BBQ snacks for your family should be a breeze. If you’re looking for the ultimate way to help you make better BBQ, feed the people you love, and become a backyard BBQ hero, join my members-only group The Grill Squad for full access to all my meat, rubs, sauces, and meat buying masterclasses, podcasts, and so much more.

Want Hey Grill Hey goodies delivered straight to your door? Patio Provisions has great products to help you make delicious food for your family and friends.

Smoked snack mix in a hinged glass mason jar with a baking dish of snack mix in the background.

Sweet and Spicy Smoked Snack Mix

This Smoked Snack Mix is going to be the snack at hand for all your events. It's perfect for tailgating, hiking, camping, parties, and basically anything else where there are people who like tasty munchies.
5 from 10 votes
Prep Time : 10 mins
Cook Time : 1 hr
Total Time : 1 hr 10 mins
Servings : 6 cups



  • 2 cups Chex cereal (rice or corn is my favorite)
  • 2 cups pretzel sticks
  • 1 cup Bugles
  • 1 cup oyster crackers
  • 1 cup mixed nuts

For the Cholula Caramel

  • 1/2 cup salted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Cholula original hot sauce
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda


  • Preheat your smoker to 225 degrees F.
  • Dump all crackers, cereals, and nuts in a large mixing bowl.
  • In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, Cholula, and salt. Boil for 3 minutes, whisking continuously. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the baking soda. The mixture will bubble up and foam quite a bit, just keep whisking.
  • Pour the caramel sauce over the snack mix in the large bowl. Stir quickly to cover all of the snacks with the caramel sauce.
  • Dump the caramel covered snacks out onto a foil lined sheet pan that has been lightly sprayed with non-stick spray.
  • Smoke the snacks at 225 degrees F for an hour. I used a mix of cherry and maple wood for a subtle smoky flavor that complemented the sweet heat from the caramel sauce.
  • Remove the sheet pan from the smoker and allow to cool before breaking the snacks apart and serving (though if you find yourself sneaking bites of the still warm snacks, I won't judge you).
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**This post was originally published in September 2020. We recently updated it with more information and helpful tips. The recipe remains the same.

Sweet & Spicy Snack Mix with Cholula Caramel

Sweet & Spicy Smoked Snack Mix with Cholula Caramel SauceSweet & Spicy Smoked Snack Mix
Sweet & Spicy Smoked Snack Mix with Cholula Caramel Sauce

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36 thoughts on “Sweet and Spicy Smoked Snack Mix

  1. I’m going to try this, too. I don’t have a smoker and plan to bake it in the oven. Do you think a smidge of liquid smoke might work in the caramel sauce?

  2. this is amazing my husband brings it to work in gallon zip locks and everyone seems to make it to his desk all day long.

    How long do you think it would stay fresh in mason jars?

  3. I’ve made this 4 or 5 times over the last few months. It is always a hit! I’ll admit that I do back off on the Cholula a bit (I come from a long line of Norwegian farmers). My brother-in-law even said “You could make money selling this stuff”….

  4. I used chaffing pans (small) as my smoker is tall and not very wide.. I found the caramel ended up at the bottom and was very difficult to break the mix apart. Most of my pretzels etc ended up broken. Tastes good but but feel like I did something wrong.

      1. I’ve made this several times, always a hit. I try some different add in snacks each time… folks love the mini melba toast as an add in. I always add more bugles too, those are so good with this sauce on them.

    1. I would say pretty far in advance(a month or more). It will keep really well in a sealed bag.

  5. Substitute the Oyster Crackers for Cheez Its and it takes it to another level! Love this recipe and have made it multiple times. After the first time didn’t love the Oyster Crackers and have used Cheez Its every time since. It gives you that Caramel & Cheddar popcorn effect, except spicy & smoky.

    1. This is our go to snack! We have brought it to parties and work events, and have received nothing but raves!!! Perfect amount of sweet and spice…. with that kiss of smoke!

  6. This is our family’s all time go to snack recipe! It is awesome, spectacular, stupendous, and the list goes on! Thank you for this recipe

  7. Oh yeah….this came out great! I can’t wait for it to finish cooling. It was going to be in some Christmas gifts, but I don’t think my hubby will be able to keep his fingers off of it. I also used Cheez Its after watching your video. Really, really good!

  8. Just took it off of the Traeger. Keep nibbling as it’s cooling. Nice sweetness and some kick. Love your recipes.

  9. I’ve made this several times, always a hit. I try some different add in snacks each time… folks love the mini melba toast as an add in. I always add more bugles too, those are so good with this sauce on them.

  10. I love a little chocolate thrown in at the very end after the mix has cooled. Just used some red and green M&M candies for seasonal color.

  11. I made this today and it turned out great. Love the flavors coming together. It’s like crack, as it is addictive.

  12. Just finished a batch. Made 1 – 1/2 batch of the caramel, put that on top of about 8 cups of //// rough chopped pecans, sunflower seeds, mixed nuts, rice chrispies, assortment of Chex cereals, added 1/2 capful of liquid smoke to caramel during the cooking phase, didn’t want to do smoker, easier to keep oven at 225.
    Didn’t taste or smell much smoke, just a hint of heat from hot sauce
    I let them cool and cut into bars with pizza cutter
    Had to hide them, have already eaten 4!!!
    Sorry about messing with your recipe, it’s the real deal just as you published it. Made it several times before going off the rail

  13. Outstanding!. I can’t tell you how many batches of this I’ve made but well over 40. I package it for Christmas gifts, hostess gift, etc. It is always a hit. You can add anything you like although a few things add moisture. Try toffee bits, Kiks, puffcorn, etc. It’s all good but the Bugles are my favorite. I like that I can adjust this for different needs – nut free, gluten free, etc.

  14. I have made this delicious snack mix but at the time i didn’t use cholula as I didn’t know if you could get it in Canada or not so I used Franks Red Hot Buffalo instead and was still amazing. I am actually going to be making this again today for a friend and I found the cholula hot sauce so will be trying it with that this time. I couldn’t find oyster crackers but I substituted them with plain goldfish crackers and it was also delicious. The only thing I am not sure that I did wrong was it was hard to break apart the mix when it was done. Can you shed some light on what I possibly could to for the next time so that it breaks apart easier and I don”t risk breaking everything to bits.

  15. We like to sub honey for the how sauce and apple jacks for the oyster crackers. Smokey caramel apple taste

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