Protein Puppy Chow (Gluten Free, Vegan)

Protein puppy chow (muddy buddies) is the perfect sweet snack during the holidays or any time of the year.

Made with dark chocolate, peanut butter and protein powder, this gluten free, vegan recipe is the perfect snack. Kids love it too! 

Hand taking a large handful of protein puppy chow
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Why you will love this high protein puppy chow

  • Packed with protein – the protein powder makes this sweet dessert a little more filling
  • Lower in sugar – instead of powdered sugar, we use protein powder to give the puppy chow it’s distinct look and taste
  • Easy to make – simply melt chocolate, coat the cereal and toss in protein powder.
  • Great for holiday parties or gatherings – I mean who doesn’t love chocolate and peanut butter together?
  • Vegan friendly, Gluten Free, Dairy Free (see suggestions below on what to use)
Overhead shot of a bowl of protein puppy chow


  • Chocolate chips (or chocolate chunks) – use your favorite chocolate chips here. Be sure they are dairy free if you need this recipe to be dairy free or vegan. Some of my favorites are Enjoy Life or Trader Joe’s 72% Dark Chocolate Chips
  • Natural peanut butter – you want the peanut butter that comes with a little oil on the top. This will blend well with the chocolate chips. You could also use sunbutter if you need this recipe to be nut free and peanut free.
  • Coconut oil or avocado oil – this gets added to the chocolate when melting to help thin it out a bit.
  • Protein powder – I recommend a chocolate protein powder but you could also use vanilla. Use a protein powder you love, the flavor will be very prominent in the recipe.
  • Chex type cereal – I prefer buying off brand Chex Rice Squares from Aldi for this recipe but use whatever you have available to you.
Bowl of protein puppy chow with a silver spoon scooping some out of the bowl.

How to make protein muddy buddies

Step 1: Melt together chocolate chips and natural peanut butter (the runny stuff with the oil on top when you buy it). Add a tablespoon of coconut oil or avocado oil to help thin it out. Once the chocolate is melted, mix in a serving of protein powder to help it stick to the rice cereal.

Step 2: Pour the chocolate peanut butter mixture over the rice cereal in a large bowl with a tight fitting lid or gallon zip lock bag and stir, stir, stir (should look like the photo in step 2).

Step 3: Once coated, add the protein powder and cover the bowl with a lid. Shake shake shake!

Other flavor ideas

  • Pumpkin spice: Use white chocolate and coconut butter or cashew butter + pumpkin pie spice and vanilla protein powder
  • Chocolate mint: use chocolate chips, coconut butter, cashew butter or almond butter + mint extract + chocolate protein powder
  • Gingerbread: Use white chocolate chips, coconut butter or cashew butter, molasses and add cinnamon, ground ginger and nutmeg and vanilla protein powder.

Common questions

What is puppy chow?

Never had puppy chow? Stop everything and go buy some Chex Cereal. You don’t know what you are missing! Puppy chow is also called muddy buddies or moose munch (but I’ve never heard anyone use those terms).

Puppy chow is a dessert recipe, often popular around the holidays that mixes together peanut butter, butter, and melted chocolate. This mixture is poured over Chex Cereal, coating the cereal in a base of chocolate peanut butter goodness. Once coated in the chocolate peanut butter mixture, the cereal is then coated in powdered sugar, giving it a very distinct look.

Sounds pretty much like every child’s dream right? Since it’s every adults dream too, I wanted to make this holiday favorite without so much added sugar.

What is the best protein powder to use

Adding protein is a great way to make a snack more filling, and also helps to reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe. Don’t let the addition of protein to this recipe fool you though, it’s just as declivous and enjoyable as regular puppy chow!

For the protein, I used Nuzest chocolate protein with this recipe. Use chocolate or vanilla protein powder from your favorite brand in this recipe. Be sure that you enjoy the flavor of your protein, as it is a very big part of the flavor of this dessert.

Overhead shot of a bowl of protein puppy chow with holiday ornaments around the bowl

What cereal should I choose to make gluten free puppy chow?

Not all Chex cereal is gluten free. Be sure to grab the Rice Chex or Corn Chex to make this recipe gluten free.

Are all Chex cereals vegan friendly?

Most Chex cereals have Vitamin D3 in them, which is not vegan friendly. If you want to make your own vegan puppy chow, I recommend grabbing the Millville Rice Cereal from Aldi or grabbing a generic brand from your local grocery store. These often do not have the Vitamin D3 in them.

How to store muddy buddies

  • On the counter: You can store leftover puppy chow on the counter for 1-2 days in an airtight container.
  • In the fridge: I prefer to store the leftovers in the fridge, as the chocolate hardens a bit in the fridge. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
  • In the freezer: Store 2-3 months in the freezer in a freezer safe bag or container.


Chex Cereal: I like to use the Rice Chex Cereal, as it’s gluten free and vegan friendly. You can use whatever Chex cereal you enjoy. You could also use pretzels or puffed rice in place of the Chex cereal.

Peanut butter: It’s important that you use a natural peanut butter (the kind that comes with the oil on top) as that kind of peanut butter typically is thinner and easier to combine with the melted chocolate to pour over the cereal. You could also use almond butter, tahini, or sunflower seed butter if you don’t have peanut butter or can’t have peanuts.

Melted chocolate: I like to use Enjoy Life or Pascha Brand Chocolate as it’s dairy free and gluten free and soy free. I love the Pascha 100% cacao or 85% cacao because it’s lower in sugar than most other brands of chocolate. You could also use melted white chocolate or Lily’s Chocolate for a Sugar Free Chocolate.

Coconut Oil: Coconut oil helps to thin out the chocolate and make it easier to pour over the cereal. You can also use avocado oil in place of the melted coconut oil.

Protein Powder: You can use vegan or whey protein powder, whichever you love. You could also use powdered sugar, make your own powdered maple sugar or sugar free powdered sugar in place of the protein powder.

Large white bowl filled with protein puppy chow with holiday ornaments in the foreground
★ Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating below!
Bowl of protein puppy chow with a silver spoon scooping some out of the bowl.

Protein Puppy Chow

This grown up puppy chow (muddy buddies) is high in protein, gluten free and simple to make. It will feed a crowd and can be modified to what you have on hand! The best part, no sugar high to come down from!
4.75 from 4 votes
Print Pin Save Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: muddy buddies, puppy chow
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 minute
Total Time: 21 minutes
Servings: 20

Guided Recipe Video



  • In a microwave safe dish, melt dark chocolate chips in 30 second increments (for about 1 minute). 
  • To the melted chocolate, add the peanut butter and coconut oil. Stir well until everything is incorporated.
  • In a large bowl, add Chex cereal.
  • Pour chocolate mixture over cereal and mix until all pieces are covered in chocolate.
  • Add 1 serving of protein powder to the chocolate peanut butter mixture and stir well. 
  • Pour cereal into a Tupperware container with a lid. Add protein powder and shake shake shake.
  • Shake until all cereal pieces have a thin coating of chocolate protein.
  • Refrigerate 5-10 minutes to allow chocolate to set.


*For a vegan option use only Rice Chex.

Nutrition Information

Nutrition Facts
Amount per Serving
Where does nutrition info come from? Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy, sourced from the USDA Food Database.
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  1. 4 stars
    Just tried this recipe! So yummy for a healthier alternative. When coating the cereal I mixed half peanut butter protein powder and have chocolate protein and it was amazing. Thanks for sharing!

  2. 5 stars
    I love this recipe! I’ve made it with all sorts of different cereals — Chex, Cheerios, All-Bran, Life — and it’s awesome with every single one. I usually use a regular peanut butter, and unsweetened chocolate melted with 2 tbs. raw honey or stevia. So, so good. Thank you!

  3. 5 stars
    This was so great! I used earth balance coconut peanut butter because it was what I had on hand, used dark chocolate cocoa powder and added an extra tablespoon, and used a combination of peanut butter and chocolate flavored protein powder! Next time I’ll use 8 cups of Chex because with 9 some pieces were thinly coated. This is seriously addicted and actually really filling! Can’t wait to do it again and play around with the ingredients more!

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