This post is sponsored by Cholula® Hot Sauce. Big thanks to the awesome brands that support everything that goes on here at heygrillhey.com.
Sweet & Spicy Smoked Snack Mix is going to be the snack at hand heading into this awesome fall weather. 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. Not too spicy, not too sweet, and perfectly smoky while keeping all of the crispy crunch.
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.
I start with Chex cereal (you can use whichever variety you like, but I loved the rice and corn versions best). Then add in the pretzels. Stick pretzels. This is important because they add all sorts of interesting angles and crispness to the mix without adding too much bulk. Next up is the 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 are my next ingredient. They offer a nice buttery cracker element and are the perfect size for munching! Finally, it’s all about the 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!
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 tastebuds 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!
*PRO TIP* 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.
Sweet & Spicy Smoked Snack Mix
- 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).