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HOW TO CREATE THE BEST HOMEMADE TRAIL MIX


Bowl of homemade trail mix. The trail mix recipe pictured includes almonds, cashews, peanuts, peanut m&ms, dark chocolate covered almonds, and dried cherries.

Homemade trail mix is great because you can include exactly what you want in it! It’s also one of the most easy snacks to make and comes together in minutes. Trail mix is a great snack for work, road trips, outdoor adventures, and so much more!


Below I outline how you can build your perfect batch of trail mix! This includes trail mix ingredient ideas, outlines what ratio of ingredients to use, and a number of other things to think about when making your first batch.


TELL ME ABOUT TRAIL MIX


Level of difficulty: Easy. Measure, stir, and store!

Flavor & texture: The flavor and texture of your trail mix will vary depending on what ingredients you choose! This is part of the fun of making your own mix. Want a super chocolatey batch? Mix in a variety of candies or chocolate covered items into your trial mix. Want a tropical trail mix? Try incorporating a variety of dried fruits and large-flaked coconut. The possibilities are endless!

Time: It will only take you about 5 minutes to mix up your homemade trail mix.


WHY SHOULD I MAKE MY OWN TRAIL MIX?


There are so many reasons to make your own trail mix:

  • Customize to your own tastes: You can pick all of your favorite ingredients and use them for homemade trail mix (no more picking out the ingredients you don’t like!). If you’d prefer a more protein rich mixture you can do this by adding in a higher quantity of nuts vs. sweet items.

  • Cost effective: Homemade trail mix is a cost-effective snack idea vs. purchasing pre-packed trail mix. You will be able to make a much larger portion of trail mix for a fraction of the cost of the pre-made versions of this snack.

  • Dietary restrictions: If you have any specific dietary needs, you can accommodate that much more easily (and with confidence) when you make your own trail mix

  • Ability to make the quantity you want: you can make a super-sized portion of your favorite trail mix recipe for a party or large family, you can make a gallon sized bag of homemade trail mix for a road trip to share with your friends, or you can make a smaller portion using your favorite trail mix ingredients that you can pack in an individual sized bag to take to work or that will fit in your pack for a hike.


4 photo collage showing how to make homemade trail mix. The first photo shows the ingredients, the 2nd photo shows the ingredients placed nicely in a mixing bowl, the 3rd photo shows the ingredients being stirred, and the 4th photo shows a mixed up trail mix with one small zip-top bag filled with trail mix.The trail mix recipe shown here has almonds, cashews, peanuts, peanut m&ms, dark chocolate covered almonds, and dried cherries.

WHAT ARE THE BEST TRAIL MIX INGREDIENTS?

Trail mix is classically made with a variety of nuts, candies, and dried fruit. Below is a list of ingredient ideas for creating your perfect trail mix recipe:

  • Nuts & Seeds (no shells):

  • Almonds

  • Peanuts

  • Cashews

  • Walnuts

  • Pecans

  • Pistachios

  • Pepitas

  • Hazelnuts

  • Note: I do not recommend using sunflower seeds – while I enjoy these, they’re too small for trail mix and tend to sink to the bottom

  • Sweets, Candies:

  • m&ms (regular, peanut, peanut butter…they’re all good!)

  • Chocolate chips or chocolate chunks (milk, semi-sweet, or dark)

  • Dark chocolate covered almonds or raisins

  • Yogurt covered almonds or raisins

  • Malted milk balls

  • This suggestion is a little uncommon, but my mom would often put the really big malted milk balls in our trail mix growing up and all the kids thought this was THE COOLEST…I still dream about it.

  • Shredded coconut (larger shreds)

  • Dried or Candied Fruits:

  • Raisins

  • Dried cherries

  • Craisins

  • Dried apricots

  • Dried pineapple

  • Dried mango

  • Candied orange peel


WHAT IS THE BEST INGREDIENT RATIO FOR TRAIL MIX?


While this is subjective, a good place to start is by using an equal amount of each ingredient. Pick 3-5 types of nuts and 2-4 types of sweets/candies/fruits for the ultimate trail mix! Add more of specific ingredients as desired.


OVERVIEW: HOW TO MAKE TRAIL MIX

  1. Select your trail mix ingredients: see notes above on ingredient ratio suggestions.

  2. Measure and mix your ingredients: In a large bowl, mix together your selected trail mix ingredients

  3. Store your trail mix: If making a large batch of your homemade trail mix recipe, store your trail mix in an air-tight container on your counter until you’re ready to enjoy. If you’re planning to take this hiking, to work, or to school you can pre-pack individual sized zip-top baggies with your trail mix to make an easy on the go snack!


A child's hand reaching into a bowl of this homemade trail mix recipe.

TIPS & TRICKS FOR MAKING THE BEST TRAIL MIX


Look in your baking aisle for the best deal on nuts! I’ve found that you can often buy the same nuts from the baking aisle instead of the snack nuts aisle for quite a lot cheaper (especially for walnuts, pecans, and almonds).


Check the bulk section for trail mix ingredients! If your grocery store has a good bulk section, this is another great place to look for your ingredients. You can select the exact amount you want and the cost per ounce is often less and the pre-packaged options. Using ingredients from the bulk section is also a good way to try new items without committing to a huge package of something. I’ve also had the best luck finding specialized items, like yogurt covered almonds, from bulk sections.


I’m planning to take my trail mix hiking or camping, anything I should know before I pick my ingredients? Trail mix is an awesome snack for the trail (aptly named!) and camping! However, if you’re planning to hike or camp in warmer weather, I recommend selecting ingredients that do not melt (you don’t need a gooey mess in your pack / all over your hands while you’re out in the woods). Avoid chocolate chips, yogurt covered items, chocolate covered items, etc. If you want to include chocolate in your trail mix for warm weather adventures, make sure it is candy coated (think m&ms).


I bought a big bag of nuts because it was cheaper…how should I store the extra nuts that I do not put in my trail mix? I feel this – sometimes you can’t buy all of your ingredients in the same sized package (and sometimes the bigger bag is a better deal!). If you’re not going to use these nuts in a baked good, snack, or meal soon, I recommend storing them in your freezer. This will help to keep your extra nuts fresh for longer.