This recipe for healthy puppy chow, or depending on where you live, “muddy buddies,” is a grown-up take on a childhood favorite. Made with delicious, quality ingredients like dark chocolate, almond butter and coconut sugar, this treat will satisfy your adult taste buds while sparking a bit of nostalgia. 

Photograph of healthy puppy chow piled into a spotted pottery bowl on a white table.

How do you make healthy puppy chow (muddy buddies)?

The process is very similar to making classic puppy chow with just a few thoughtful ingredient swaps.

Here are the ingredient swaps I make for healthy puppy chow:

  • Use dark chocolate instead of milk or bittersweet. Dark chocolate adds more antioxidants, nutrients and fiber, and adds less sugar, fat and carbs.
  • Use almond butter instead of peanut butter. Although the calories are similar, almond butter does add more fiber, vitamins and minerals.
  • Use coconut sugar in place of powdered sugar. Yay for naturally sweetened! 
  • Used a mixture of rice Chex cereal, wheat Chex cereal and toasted sliced almonds. The mixture here makes all the difference. Rice cereal adds that classic light, crisp crunch, wheat cereal adds whole grains and the almonds decrease overall carbs, adding protein and healthy fat.

Photograph of healthy puppy chow piled into a spotted pottery bowl on a white table.

How to make healthy puppy chow:

  • Grind coconut sugar into a fine powder using a spice grinder, high-powered blender or food processor.
  • Combine ground coconut sugar and arrowroot starch to create a naturally sweetened powdered sugar.  
  • Melt dark chocolate, almond butter, coconut oil and vanilla together in a double boiler (glass bowl set over a pot of simmering water) until smooth.
  • Combine rice cereal, wheat cereal and almonds in a large bowl.
  • Add melted chocolate mixture to cereal mixture and toss to coat evenly. Let chill slightly.
  • Toss chocolate-coated cereal with coconut sugar mixture until evenly coated and enjoy!

Photograph of healthy puppy chow piled into a spotted pottery bowl on a white table.

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Photograph of healthy puppy chow piled into a spotted pottery bowl on a white table.

Healthier Puppy Chow

  • Author: Lauren Grant of Zestful Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 8½ cups (17 servings) 1x
  • Category: Dessert, Snack
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: American


Crunchy, sweet, salty and nutty, this grown up take on a childhood favorite is healthier thanks to a few thoughtful ingredient swaps.


  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • ¼ cup arrowroot or cornstarch *
  • 6 ounces dark chocolate chips (1 cup)
  • ⅓ cup creamy almond butter
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil or butter
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (**optional)
  • 3 cups rice Chex cereal
  • 2 cups wheat Chex cereal
  • 1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • Pinch salt


Grind coconut sugar to a fine powder in a spice grinder (a high powered blender or food processor also works). Mix powdered coconut sugar with starch; set aside.  

Melt chocolate, almond butter, oil, and vanilla together in a double boiler (glass bowl set over a pot of simmering water) over medium heat until smooth.

In a large bowl or container with a lid, toss together cereal and nuts. Drizzle chocolate mixture over cereal mixture and stir until evenly coated; season with a pinch of salt then chill in refrigerator 5 minutes.

Add half of sugar mixture to chocolate-covered cereal mixture and toss to coat (or secure lid and shake), add remaining sugar mixture and toss to coat evenly.

Store healthy puppy chow in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.


* Arrowroot starch is used for two reasons. One, it keeps the chocolate-coated cereal pieces from clumping together too much, and two, it adds that signature white dusting look to the puppy chow. If you don’t care about the puppy chow looking white, you can use just 2 tablespoons of arrowroot starch and be just fine.

If you don’t have coconut sugar and/or don’t want to naturally sweeten this puppy chow, go right ahead and use powdered sugar. Start with ¾ cup and add more until desired sweetness is reached.

** Depending on the vanilla used, the chocolate might look a little off during melting. Just be patient and continue to melt until smooth.

Equipment Needed:

Glass bowl


LARGE mixing bowl

MAKE IT VEGAN/DAIRY-FREE: Use vegan chocolate

MAKE IT GLUTEN-FREE: Use all rice Chex cereal instead of wheat Chex cereal


  • Serving Size: ½ cup
  • Calories: 219
  • Sugar: 13g
  • Sodium: 109mg
  • Fat: 12g
  • Saturated Fat: 4g
  • Carbohydrates: 25g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Protein: 5g
  • Cholesterol: 2mg

Keywords: Healthy Puppy Chow, Dark Chocolate Muddy Buddies, Healthy Chocolate Recipe

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Photograph of healthy puppy chow piled into a spotted pottery bowl on a white table.

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine,,, and more.

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