Today, we're making Kitchen Sink Cereal Bars!
Kitchen Sink Cereal Bars
You've never seen a cereal bar treat like this one before! We're taking the basic concept of a favorite childhood treat, but amping up the volume by swapping out cereals and adding all kinds of salty sweet ingredients. If you're a salty sweet treat lover like me, you're going to need a chaperone nearby whenever you're within 2 feet of these. And if you're not, prepare to be converted!
Let's start with the base mix of our bars. We're going to use not one, not two, not three, but FOUR different mix-ins to form the base of our cereal bars. So, we'll start with some rice cereal squares, like Chex. Then, we'll add in some plain kettle potato chips, some mini pretzels, and some broken Oreo cookies. Now as we're preparing these items to get mixed together, we want to crush our chips, pretzels, and cookies into pieces that are similar in size to our rice cereal. That way, each element will blend together in perfect harmony leaving no chance of uneven or lopsided bars.
Once we have our cereal mix on stand by, we can start working on the glue of our bars...the melted marshmallows. We're going to melt some butter over medium heat in a large pot or dutch oven, then we'll add in the marshmallows until they are completely melted. I like to stir the marshmallows constantly while they're in the pot to make sure no spots touch the heat for too long and start to crystalize. We also want to make sure we take the pot off the heat the moment every last bit of marshmallow is melted. Leaving the marshmallow mix on the heat for too long can lead to tough bars, and nobody wants that!
Once the marshmallows are melted down, we'll remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cereal mix until everything is coated. But, we're not done yet! Before we transfer the mix to a pan to set and cool, we're going to stir in some M&Ms as our final special ingredient. Waiting until the last moment to stir in the candy helps to keep them from melting too much, so make sure you don't add them in at the same time as the cereal.
From there, we'll transfer the mix to a foil lined pan that's been spritzed with cooking spray. We'll gently pat down the mix to fill out the pan. And, we'll give these babes a couple hours to set up before we cut them up and stuff our faces.
To really drive home what's in these bars, I like to crush a few extra chips, pretzels, and cookies then use them as a garnish on top of the bars. While the bars are still warm and fresh in the pan is the perfect time to add these extra toppings.
When it's time to enjoy these treats, beware. They tend to disappear VERY quickly. I'm not really sure how it happens. But one minute there's a full pan of treats in front of you, and the next minute you're covered in marshmallow residue with no recollection of how the goodies disappeared.
These bars are the absolute perfect balance of salty and sweet. And, you get a taste of both sensations in each and every bite. The cereal helps to give these bars some body; but the balance of the candy, cookies, chips, and pretzels is what creates this magical experience that you'll need to keep experiencing again and again and again.
And just to make sure nobody feels guilty about eating a whole pan of cereal bars in one sitting, look at it this way. Since we're putting everything but the kitchen sink in these bars, these are the perfect pantry clean out treat! ;-)
Ok, everyone. I can't think of a better way to kick off the weekend than with these delicious bars. So, this is where I'll leave you for today.
Have a great weekend, I'll be sure to load us up with some extra veggies next week, and let's eat!
Kitchen Sink Cereal Bars
- 3 cups crispy rice square cereal (like Chex)
- ¾ cup plain kettle potato chips, crushed
- ¾ cup mini pretzels, crushed
- ½ cup Oreo cookies, crushed
- 5 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 bag (10 oz) marshmallows
- ½ cups M&Ms
- cooking spray
- Line an 8x8 baking dish with aluminum foil. Lightly spray it with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Add cereal, kettle chips, pretzels, and cookies to a large mixing bowl. Toss gently to combine. Set aside.
- Melt butter in a dutch oven or large pot over medium heat. Add marshmallows, and stir constantly just until the marshmallows are completely melted and smooth. Remove from heat.
- Immediately, add cereal mix to the pot with the melted marshmallows, and stir to completely coat the cereal mix. Add in M&Ms, and stir gently to mix them in. Transfer mix to prepared dish. Spritz the back of your spatula with cooking spray, and gently press the mix evenly into the prepared dish, making sure not to pack in the mix too tightly. Allow the cereal bars to sit for at least 2 hours to cool and set.
- Remove the bars from the pan by lifting the foil out of the dish. Cut into 12 squares. Serve!
- *When you're crushing the chips, pretzels, and cookies, aim to make the pieces similar in size to the cereal.
- *Crush an extra tbsp or so of the chips, pretzels, and cookies to garnish the tops of the bars while they're still warm.
- *Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.