This “cheesy” version of homemade Chex Mix (or Gardetto’s snack mix) is super easy to make at home, and you can make a boatload of it in one go.
But this isn’t a recipe that involves dehydrating cheese into dust or robbing mac n’ cheese boxes of their flavor packets. (Though that’s a pretty good idea, come to think of it).
Rather, it’s a vegan chex mix, with one very powerful ingredient: fermented tofu.
STAY WITH ME.
What is fermented tofu? An extraordinary vegan ingredient.
Fermented tofu, also known as fermented bean curd, bean cheese, or tofu cheese, is made with firm tofu, rice wine, and other seasonings. Read more about it in our Fermented Bean Curd explainer article.
A key translation there is “cheese.” It does certainly have a texture reminiscent of a creamy cheese, and a salty, somewhat cheesy flavor.
I’ve been thinking for a while that we’ve all been doing fermented tofu a big disservice.
It’s the secret ingredient that truly makes all the difference in our Vegan Asian Vegetable Stock , and we love it cooked up with Stir-Fried Water Spinach.
But I feel that its powers are untapped. Scrolling through social media, I saw that someone made a homemade “nutritional yeast” but used dehydrated cubes of fermented tofu, ground into dust. Sheer brilliance. From there, this idea was born.
White vs. Red Fermented Tofu
Fermented tofu or fermented “bean curd” comes in white and red varieties. The white version is what we use in this recipe, and it has a more delicate flavor that lends itself well to vegetables.
The red bean curd has more of a funky, pungent flavor, which goes great with meats like pork. Lots of folks will make the addition of a cube or two of red fermented red bean curd to my dad’s Char Siu recipe (though we still maintain it’s just as delicious without it!). And never was there a plate of Chinese Fried Ribs with Fermented Red Bean Curd that didn’t disappear as fast as they were fried! Think of both varieties a little bit as you would a white vs. red wine.
The red version is a bit too winey and strong for this application, so we call for white.
What goes into snack mix?
If you haven’t rooted through a bag of Chex Mix or snack mix in search of very specific morsels, you may be a bot.
Everyone has their preferences–are you a bagel chip person? Who isn’t? (RIP the white bagel chips…) Are you a wiggly breadstick fiend, or are you a corn Chex hoarder?
(I distinctly remember at one of Sarah’s childhood birthday parties, one of her friends savagely plucked all the corn chex out of a giant bowl of Chex Mix in record time. While even as a six year old I was horrified, I also can’t really blame her. Corn chex FTW.)
It’s a high stakes snack. Here’s my rationale for my personal blend:
- Corn Chex cereal – DUH.
- Wheat Chex cereal – I’m not sure I like these by themselves per se. But I enjoy the textural contrast with the corn Chex.
- Sesame breadstick shards – The shard bit is important here. You don’t want to just chuck them in whole. These are the bagel chip substitute, because store bought bagel chips are always heavily salted. Also, I don’t have the patience to cut a bunch of bagels into tiny slices and then toast them and THEN make this. But if you can find unseasoned bagel chips, they would be a stellar addition, of course.
- Pretzels – I’ll admit that with this recipe, I wanted to see if I could pull off not just vegan cheesy Chex Mix, but another snack I can never resist—the cheddar pretzel. Rold Gold makes a cheddar pretzel, and it’s the perfect delicate little snappy pretzel with an addictive dusting of cheese. But if you’re vegan or lactose intolerant, it’s no bueno. I’m proud to say that the pretzels in this snack mix get puh-retty close. They have the same salty flavor and coated effect. Related point, does anyone remember that they used to make a mustard flavor? WHY DID THEY DISCONTINUE THOSE?! If anyone works at Rold Gold HQ, please provide some answers.
You could also use bits of your favorite crackers (oyster crackers would be both cute and delicious), pita chips, or if you really want to be healthy, sunflower or pumpkin seeds or nuts.
I’m a firm believer that nuts have no place in homemade chex mix. But when you make this at home, you’re in control!
“Cheesy” Homemade Chex Mix Recipe Instructions
Preheat your oven to 250°F.
Add the fermented tofu to a small bowl.
Use a whisk to break down the tofu until smooth (it will still have a grainy texture, and that’s okay). Add the garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, sugar, and oil. Whisk until smooth and emulsified. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the Chex cereals, pretzels, and breadsticks.
Drizzle the marinade over the mix in 3 batches…
Between each batch, stir the mixture until evenly coated.
Transfer the mixture to a baking sheet.
Bake at 250°F for 45 mins, stirring every 15 minutes or so.
Remove from the oven immediately (now is not the time to let them sit in there while you do other things). Cool for at least 10 minutes before enjoying—they might feel warm to the touch but they’re very hot from the seasoning mix!
Let cool completely before storing. This homemade chex mix will keep for a few weeks in a resealable container. The recipe makes approximately 6½ cups (about 12 servings).
“Cheesy” Homemade Chex Mix
- 4 tablespoons white fermented bean curd (about 4 cubes, mostly solids though some liquid is OK)
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 3 cups corn Chex cereal
- 1 cup wheat Chex cereal
- 1 1/2 cup unsalted pretzels
- 1 cup broken up sesame breadsticks (just crush them in your hand to make large jagged shards)
- Preheat your oven to 250°F.
- Add the fermented tofu to a small bowl. Use a whisk to break down the tofu until smooth (it will still have a grainy texture, and that’s okay). Add the garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, sugar, and oil. Whisk until smooth and emulsified.
- In a large bowl, combine the Chex cereals, pretzels, and breadsticks. Drizzle the marinade over the mix in 3 batches, stirring between each batch until evenly coated. Transfer the mixture to a baking sheet.
- Bake at 250°F for 45 mins, stirring every 15 minutes or so.
- Remove from the oven immediately (now is not the time to let them sit in there while you do other things). Cool for at least 10 minutes before enjoying—they might feel warm to the touch but they’re very hot from the seasoning mix!
- Let cool completely before storing. This snack mix will keep for a few weeks in a resealable container.