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Puppy Chow Bars (dairy free, gluten free)

These puppy chow bars fall somewhere between puppy chow and a rice crispy treat. Whether you’re team muddy buddies or team puppy chow, this recipe is a crowd favorite everyone will love!

Puppy Chow Bars

What is Puppy Chow?

If you didn’t grow up eating this dessert at birthday or holiday parties, there’s always been a debate over what the actual name is.

Regardless, muddy buddies or puppy chow consists of Chex cereal that’s coated in melted chocolate and peanut butter and tossed with powdered sugar until each piece is well-coated.

Read: highly addicting.

Cut Puppy Chow Bars

What Makes These Puppy Chow Bars Different?

Traditional puppy chow has a sh*t ton of sugar (hence why it’s so addicting), and you usually end up eating way more than intended only to be left with the inevitable puppy chow hangover.

These puppy chow bars have much less sugar, while not lacking in sweetness, and are made with crispy rice cereal making them gluten-free. The addition of both dairy-free butter and chocolate chips makes them more allergen friendly.

Puppy Chow Bars

Puppy Chow Bar Ingredients

  • Peanut butter – aim for natural creamy peanut butter with the only ingredients being peanuts and salt.
  • Crispy brown rice cereal – this provides texture and the size is nice for a bar. Make sure you use brown rice cereal and not brown rice puffs (puffs will make your bars soggy).
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips. Since this recipe only has a small amount of added sugar on the top, the majority of sweetness comes from the chocolate. I use these dairy-free chocolate chips.
  • Dairy-free butter. I love Miyoko’s vegan butter, but any other brand will work.
  • Vanilla extract: This helps elevate and balance the flavors.
  • Powdered sugar: This gives it that true puppy chow effect and provides a little extra sweetness, but is optional.
Puppy Chow Bar on its Side

Substitutions & Variations

Please remember that recipes are just a starting point.

How can you make these puppy chow bars using what you already have? Here are some ideas…

  • No peanut butter? – sub almond or cashew butter.
  • Nut-free? – use sunflower seed butter. Because sunflower seeds are less sweet than peanuts, you’ll likely want to add 1-2 tablespoons of maple syrup or honey which you’ll add in at the same time as the sun butter.
  • No brown rice cereal? – use another plain gluten-free cereal. Even if it’s in the shape of ‘O’s, they’ll still taste great. Just make sure to buy plain cereal (not flavored). Rice Krispie cereal will work, but it’s not gluten-free if that matters to you.
  • No chocolate chips? – use a 60% cacao chocolate bar instead.
  • No dairy-free butter? – You can either use refined coconut oil (for no coconut taste) or use real butter if you consume dairy.
  • No vanilla extract? – Just leave it out.
  • No powdered sugar? – It won’t have that puppy chow look, but you can leave it out. It’ll still taste delicious.

How to Melt the Chocolate

You can melt the chocolate in two ways: in the microwave or using the double boiler method.

For the Double Boiler Method

  1. Add an inch or two of water to the bottom of a small pot over medium heat. Next, place a medium bowl on top of the pot so that it’s not touching the water.
  2. Place the chocolate into the top bowl and as the water heats up, the chocolate will begin to melt. Stir gently until melted, and remove the bowl from the heat. (The bowl will be hot so be careful.)

For the Microwave

  1. melt the chocolate in 20-30 second increments, give it a stir and continue these steps until the chocolate has melted.

More Desserts You’ll Love

Puppy Chow Bars

5 from 4 votes
Puppy Chow Bar on its Side
These puppy chow bars fall somewhere between puppy chow and a rice crispy treat. Whether you're team muddy buddies or team puppy chow, this recipe is a crowd favorite everyone will love! This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan.
Author: Lindsey Jenkins
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Serving Size 16 bars

Ingredients
 

  • 4 cups crispy brown rice cereal
  • 3/4 cup natural creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 Tablespoons dairy-free butter or substitute
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar optional
  • Pinch of salt only if your peanut butter isn’t salted

Instructions

  • Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Add the cereal to a large bowl and set aside.
  • Melt the chocolate using one of the methods mentioned above. Once melted, add in the peanut butter, butter, vanilla (and salt if using). Stir until well combined.
  • Add the chocolate mixture to the bowl of cereal and mix until the cereal is well coated.
  • Press the puppy chow mixture into the parchment-lined pan forming an even layer and sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.
  • Put the pan in the fridge to firm up before serving (about 1 hour).
  • Cut into squares and store in a tightly sealed container in the fridge for up to 1 week. Take out a few minutes before serving to soften.

Notes

SUBSTITUTIONS:
No peanut butter? – sub almond or cashew butter.
Nut-free? – use sunflower seed butter. Because sunflower seeds are less sweet than peanuts, you’ll likely want to add 1-2 tablespoons of maple syrup or honey which you’ll add in at the same time as the sun butter.
No brown rice cereal? – use another plain gluten-free cereal. Even if it’s in the shape of ‘O’s, they’ll still taste great. Just make sure to buy plain cereal (not flavored). Rice Krispie cereal will work, but it’s not gluten-free if that matters to you.
No chocolate chips? – use a 60% cacao chocolate bar instead.
No dairy-free butter? – You can either use refined coconut oil (for no coconut taste) or use real butter if you consume dairy.
No vanilla extract? – Just leave it out.
No powdered sugar? – It won’t have that puppy chow look, but you can leave it out. It’ll still taste delicious.

2 Comments

  1. Carol Gamell says:

    Lindsey…I don’t think I’ve told you how much I enjoy A Nourishing Plate”. During days of pandemic isolation just reading through you site is a wonderful diversion. And any recipe I try has turned out beautiful.

    1. Aww, thank you so much, Carol! Your comment completely made my week! I’m so happy to hear you’re enjoying it so much. 🙂

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