What’s your favorite snack food? It’s hard to pick just one. There are many, many versions of chips, nachos, dips, etc. that I can eat without stopping. But, if I had to pick just one thing that can be found in a bag, I have to choose party mix. My number one favorite is that Gardetto’s brand party mix that my parents used to take in the car on every road trip, along with Milk Duds and maybe some Twizzlers. And of course Gatorade for my dad. A close second would be Chex mix, which is quite similar to Gardetto’s except for what it adds in crunchy cereal goodness it detracts in subpar rye chips.
Like most things, the homemade version of Chex mix is infinitely better than the store bought version. My mom and aunt and grandma would make this every Christmas so somehow it has become one of those holiday staple foods, which is kind of strange because there is nothing really holiday-ish about it. It makes a large quantity and it is a nice break from all the holiday sweets, so it definitely works at Christmas time. But what’s stopping us from making Chex mix at all the other holidays throughout the year. A certain upcoming football centered holiday (yes it’s a holiday in my opinion) comes to mind.
The downside to a year-round supply of Chex/party mix is that, of course, it’s not so great for your waistline. Enter this chickpea party mix. I have kept the same classic seasoning mix (with some of TT’s suggested edits) but replaced the Chex cereal with popcorn. Instead of pretzels, I have swapped crispy, crunchy, and protein packed chickpeas. Instead of rye chips, I have used whole-grain Wasa crisps, although any cracker would work. And, I have replaced the classic peanuts with a super healthy and filling mix of almonds, walnuts, and pecans. This recipe is extremely customizable and it’s easy to vary the spice mixture to get a totally different taste. I can’t wait to hear what variations you create!
- 2 (15 oz.) cans chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and patted dry with a paper towel
- 1 T hot sauce (optional)
- 2 cups raw almonds
- ½ cup raw pecans
- ½ cup raw walnuts
- ⅔ cup popcorn kernels
- ⅓ cup neutral oil such as olive
- OR 10-12 cups popped popcorn
- 1½ cups broken cracker pieces, such as Wasa
- 1 stick (8 T) unsalted butter*
- 3 T worchestershire sauce
- 1 t. seasoned salt
- 1 t. onion powder
- 1 t. garlic powder
- 1 t. sea salt (OR TO TASTE!!)
- Optional: garlic salt, cayenne pepper**
- Preheat oven to 350.
- In the largest bowl you have(this is to save you from dirtying 2 bowls), toss the chickpeas with hot sauce. This is optional for those who like some spice. If you don't want spicy chickpeas, skip this step and move onto the next one. No need to swap oil or any other coating unless you prefer it.
- On a large baking sheet, spread the chickpeas, almonds, walnuts, and pecans (or whatever nuts you are using, if they are RAW).
- Roast the nuts and chickpeas in the oven for 10 minutes.
- While the nuts are roasting, pop your popcorn by placing the kernels and oil in a large pot over the stove. Turn the burner to high and when you start to hear popping, shake the pan to prevent burning.*** Once the popping slows, remove from heat and wait for popping to stop continuously shaking. Dump the popped popcorn into the previously used giant bowl.
- Remove nuts from oven and reduce heat to 250.
- Add the cracker pieces, nuts, and chickpeas and stir to combine.
- Melt the butter. Add worchestershire sauce and seasonings. Taste. Adjust seasonings to desired level of saltiness/spiciness. It should taste very mildly salty and whatever you consider medium-ish spicy. The flavors will intensify in the oven.
- Spread the mix on two large baking sheets and bake at 250 for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes and rotating the trays from top to bottom and vice versa.
- Cool on trays and store in an airtight container for at least a week. This keeps quite well, BUT, the popcorn will shrink in the oven and it will continue to shrink as time goes on. For purposes of these photos, I popped fresh popcorn to mix in the bowl to make it look more attractive. You can see that some popcorn is white while the rest is more of a brownish color. The white popcorn is the fresh batch. You can make this well in advance of your party, then stir in some fresh popcorn to make it more attractive.
**These were the Taste Tester's suggested additions
***I tried doing all the popcorn at once in my Dutch oven, but I regretted it. It is very hard to shake and handle. You are much better off to do it in two batches in a small saucepan with a GLASS lid, so you can see what's going on in there!