Slow Cooker Ranch Party Mix is packed with flavor and is a great way to make snack mix for a crowd without taking up space in the oven. Bonus that the addition of ranch seasoning makes the house smell AMAZING.
Earlier this fall, when I started testing a bunch of new recipes for the slow cooker (and I tested a bunch), I wanted to stretch the limits of what I imagined could be made in this handy machine. Sure, I use my slow cooker for soups and chilis, but what else could it do? Making a mix like this one (snack mix, party mix, Chex mix, etc) was totally new to me, but it’s actually a really fun way to do it! Here’s why…
Why Make Party Mix In the Slow Cooker
- You won’t take up space in the oven. Making a big batch of party mix in the oven can require a couple of large sheet pans. If you’re cooking other things at the same time, you can free up your oven by using your slow cooker for this mix. (Also handy if you just don’t want to turn on the oven!)
- More room for error / less chance of burning. My memories of making party mix as a kid always involve a section of burned pieces (always the wheat Chex!) because I would inevitably walk away and forget to babysit the oven and stir frequently. The slow cooker cooks this at such a low temperature that it won’t burn if you let it go a few extra minutes.
- Less mess. Using the slow cooker = way fewer dishes. Everything can be combined right in the bowl of a slow cooker (instead of the classic mixing bowl + multiple sheet pans for the oven version).
But Does it Get Crunchy?
I know what you’re thinking – but Jess, don’t you need the high heat of the oven to get all of the ingredients crunchy. When I started testing Slow Cooker Ranch Party Mix, I thought that the slow cooker would never get it crunchy. For the first hour to 90 minutes of cooking, some of the Chex pieces are still soft and saturated with the butter / Ranch mixture. But, every stinkin’ time, towards the end of cooking, I would go to stir everything and find that it was delightfully, evenly crunchy. Not a single piece stayed soft.
Other Favorite Snack Mixes
- Sweet and Salty Snack Mix – I made this one year for Christmas and now I get requests for it every year. Super crunchy, sweet and salty, it’s one of those snack mixes that you just can’t stop eating.
- Sweet and Spicy Sriracha Snack Mix – This has a bit of an Asian twist that makes it fun and unique. You can add as little or as much spice as you want.
- Sweet and Spicy Sriracha Roast Cashews – These roasted cashews were inspired by our favorite bar snack in Bangkok, Thailand. Fresh ginger and minced kaffir lime leaves don’t make regular appearances in snack and nut mixes, but try this recipe and you’ll see why they should!
- KitchenAid Slow Cooker (6 quart) – When I was testing slow cooker recipes for this fall season, I got a lot of questions about the “best” slow cooker. The truth is, I just followed the advice of other experts (including America’s Test Kitchen and Food and Wine. This $99 machine has been a staple in my kitchen for years and works better than any other slow cooker I’ve used.
- 4-cup Pyrex Measuring Cup – This is great for melting butter and mixing the topping that is poured over the party mix.
Slow Cooker Ranch Party Mix
- 6-quart Slow Cooker
- 10 cups Chex Cereal (Any combination of corn, rice, and wheat)
- 1 cup Mini Pretzels
- 1 1/2 cups Whole Roasted Cashews (use peanuts if you prefer)
- 2 1/2 cups Cheez-Itz (I use the white cheddar variety)
- 8 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
- 1/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce
- 4 Tbsp Ranch Seasoning (store-bought or use Homemade Ranch Seasoning)
- Combine cereal, pretzels, cashews, and Cheez-Its in the bowl of a slow cooker.
- Melt butter and combine with Worcestershire sauce and Ranch seasoning. Pour over ingredients, stirring well until evenly coated.
- Cover and cook on low, stirring every 30 minutes (this will prevent the mix from burning around the edges), until toasted, 2 to 3 hours. (Note: The cereal will start out soft and you will think it’s not crisping up properly, but keep going. Near the 2 hour mark, many of the cereal pieces will start to turn crisp, getting very toasty by the end of cooking. In the last hour, it’s critical not to miss stirring the mixture every 30 minutes to ensure even cooking and no burned bits.)
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