Nuts n’ Bolts

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An addictive mix of pretzels, chex cereal, cheerios and nuts, Nuts n’ Bolts is a great snack to feed a crowd.

Nuts n' Bolts

When I was little, my family lived on a cul-de-sac in Reston, Virginia called Turkey Wing Court. There were young families in every house, so kids were always outside riding bikes and big wheels (whatever happened to big wheels?!) or knocking on our door. The moms were all close friends – still are – and the dads carpooled every day into work together.

Every Sunday during football season, the whole neighborhood got together to watch the Redskins games (they were good back then!). Each mom had a special game day dish: Pat was known for her Swedish meatballs, my mom made a killer Stromboli, Carol did ribs, and Barb made giant vats of Nuts n’ Bolts.

The old neighborhood, circa 1978 (that’s Barb in the blue turtleneck; I’m in the middle with the blue overalls)

I loved (and ate massive quantities of) Barb’s Nuts n’ Bolts, so I emailed her recently to ask about the recipe. I wondered if it was the same as the Chex Party Mix recipe on the back of the cereal box. She promptly replied: “No way. That crap’s for amateurs.” She sent me her recipe, complete with notes to add a “whole mess” of this and that, and extra salt “if your heart works.” I made it and it brought me right back to those good ol’ days on Turkey Wing.

Big wheels! Roller skates!

How to make Nuts n’ bolts

The recipe is easy to make, and it makes a ton. You start by combining chex cereals, pretzels, cheerios and nuts in a large disposable aluminum pan. Feel free to omit any of the ingredients you like, just be sure to substitute more of something else.

Next, make the butter seasoning by combining the melted butter with the Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, seasoned salt, and thyme.


Slowly pour the butter mixture over the snack mix, being careful to spread it evenly around.

Then stir it with a spatula until all of the ingredients are evenly coated.

Bake in a low oven, stirring occasionally, for about 1-1/2 hours. Let it cool, then store in an airtight container.

It’s a great game day snack to feed a crowd and such a yummy blast from the past. Thanks, Barb!

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Nuts n' Bolts

An addictive mix of pretzels, chex cereal, cheerios and nuts, Nuts n’ Bolts is a great snack to feed a crowd.

Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 45 Minutes


For the Snack Mix

  • 4 cups corn chex
  • 4 cups wheat chex
  • 3 cups rice chex
  • 3 cups skinny bite-sized pretzels
  • 2 cups cheerios
  • 1½ cups salted nuts

For the Butter Seasoning

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (or vegetable oil)
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 heaping teaspoons seasoned salt
  • 1¼ teaspoons garlic powder
  • ¾ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¾ teaspoon dried thyme


  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Combine all of the snack mix ingredients in a large disposable aluminum pan.
  3. Combine all of the butter seasoning ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until well combined. Pour slowly over snack mix, stirring as you go, to coat evenly. Continue stirring until snack mix is well coated with seasoning. Bake for 1½ hours, stirring every 15 minutes. Let cool, then serve or store in an airtight container.
  4. Note: You can omit any of the snack mix ingredients as long as you substitute something else. The idea is to keep the ratio of snack mix to butter seasoning the same. Also, be sure your oven is fully preheated before you put the snack mix in. The initial surge of heat to preheat the oven will burn the snack mix in a heartbeat.
  5. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: This can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Cool completely before freezing.

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  • Can this recipe be halved? I read through the comments and didn’t see this question.

    • — Sharon on December 11, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure!

      • — Jenn on December 13, 2021
      • Reply
  • This is a delicious recipe. I followed the recipe but added 2 more Tbsp of melted butter and 1/2 tsp Sriracha to kick up the spice. Used 2 cups of Ritz Cheese Bits in my mix and decreased the cereal accordingly. The thyme is a nice savoury addition to the seasoning as others have remarked.

    • — Donna on December 7, 2021
    • Reply
  • Thanks for this. This is very close to my moms recipe! I’ve been looking for it.

    The only difference is my moms uses onion salt, garlic salt and omits the thyme and seasoned salt.

    I’m going to make yours and then adjust to try and recreate that flavour.

    • — Andy on November 17, 2021
    • Reply
  • Excellent! The addition of Thyme is wonderful!

    • — Linda Gucciardi on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • My family devoured this!

    • — Alison on December 16, 2020
    • Reply
  • My mom and I made this all my growing-up time using the recipe on the Chex cereal boxes.
    Your recipe is much more flavorful! Thanks for improving a family favorite.
    I’m now making another batch for my Mah Jongg group who will be here playing on Monday.

  • This recipe brought back Christmas memories for me as well, and is a popular snack in my house full of boys. In my area of Canada, we call them bits and bites. Same recipe although we usually substitute Shreddies for Chex.
    The pictures were adorable. I love the one of you roller skating in a maxi dress, so cute and so much of its time.

    • 🙂
      Glad you like it!

  • My mom always made this for Christmas, but after she passed away my sister took over the role. Being from Louisiana, we always add in some Tabasco sauce to taste, and probably more Worcestershire. Wouldn’t be the holidays without this! Y.U.M.!!!

    • In Canada we add some Sriracha or Shumka Dust. Shumka dust is from Thunder Bay and can be mail ordered.

      • — sherry shorthouse on December 6, 2021
      • Reply
  • Thanks for sharing. This is our families original Nuts and Bolts recipe, as I remember. The Chex mix recipe is similar, but they keep adding different ingredients each year. They call it the original Chex Party mix recipe, but they have stuff in the recipe that wasn’t even on grocers shelves back in the fifties, to no way should the call theirs the “original Chex Mix” recipe.

    Also for the original Nuts and Bolts, the pretzels (bolts) did always fit into the cherrios. Those pretzels were Nabisco Veri Thin pretzel sticks. Has anyone seen those Veri Thin pretzels anywhere these days. I also add whole cashews and no other nuts. Always drives me crazy when people sit and pick out the cashews and the pretzels and never touch the cereal.

    For quite a while we could also buy Chex Bran cereal. Probably for five or six years I have not seen Chex Bran cereal. Anyone seen it anywhere. Newer flavors now available just aren’t the same ad the original stuff. I made 44 cups of Nuts and Bolts last week. My granddaughter called last week and asked grandma if grandpa had made the nuts and bolts yet. Inquiries like that make me glad that I have kept the family tradition 46 years since I left my parents home.

  • Thank you for sharing this — this is exactly as it was when I was a kid, too, and I’d lost my aunt’s recipe.

  • OMG! So happy to find this recipe! Mom and Dad used to make this for the holidays back in the ‘50s. And yes, it was Nuts and Bolts! I’ve been guessing the amounts from the cereal box, but it hasn’t been right. I don’t care for corn Chex so I add more of the others, and IF I’ve saved my bacon grease, I substitute that for some of the butter. I also break up the pretzels to make it easier to handle. This is the real deal; thank you SO much!

  • O have a friend who have us this for Christmas each year. We moved away 10 years ago and I miss him, and also this yummy, addicting snack mix. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe as the store-bought is NOT the same. I can’t wait to make this and send some to him this Christmas! Love all your recipes. Just recently got your cookbook’s a favorite.

  • Hi Jenn,
    What is in the “seasoned salt” in this recipe? Do you have a preferred brand or one that you recommend (I am in Canada so we might not have the same brand, but I might be able to order it online)?
    Love your recipes as always – my husband and I just enjoyed your crust-less broccoli and Gruyere quiche for dinner!

  • Thanks for posting this Nuts & Bolts recipe. I knew the one on the Chex box is not the original even though it calls it that. We didn’t use bagel chips back in 1950. I doubt that we knew what a bagel was. I’ve been using the recipe on the box because I can’t find my original but it always seems like flavor is missing. I’ve already made 3 batches this year from the box. Next batch will be using your recipe.

  • What are the amounts of butter, Worcester
    And other dry ingredients?

    • Hi Pam, It sounds like you are just looking at the portion of the page that has the pictures with some instructions underneath. If you scroll down a bit to under the pictures, you’ll find the full recipe. Alternatively, at the very top of the page, you can click the “recipe” button right under the recipe title.

  • This tastes like baked cereal. Don’t waste your money.

    • — Terry Robinson
    • Reply
    • In no way does the recipe taste like “baked cereal” nor is it a waste of money. It’s a great snack for the holidays. I make this recipe every year, it’s a keeper!

    • I found the flavor to be subtle, but present. I thought the flavor was more pronounced the next day. To suit my tastes, I might increase the flavor mixture by half. I think that may give it more of a punch.

  • Excellent recipe – essentially the same one I grew up with. I make it every year. Don’t be afraid to increase the worcestershire sauce a little if you like that extra savory bite. I use a little over a cup of it.

  • Your recipe for Nuts ‘n Bolts sounds absolutely delicious!
    How long does it keep in sealed jars?
    Canuck Judy

    • Hi JJ, I think it would keep nicely for up to a week (and glad you like it)!

  • Can you freeze this mixture? I haven’t made it yet. I want some for Christmas, but that is 2 months away, and I don’t want the butter to go rancid. Thanks

    • Yes, Geri, I think it should freeze nicely.

  • Suggestion: Add some fresh lemon juice to the butter mix w/the Worchestshire sauce. It adds some zip. Sriracha drops are good too.

  • I agree with Jenn’s friend Barb… the chex box recipe is for amateurs… A pro calls this recipe nuts and bolts and a amateur calls it chex mix….,

    My family also has a 50 year tradition of making nuts and bolts for the holidays. All the kids expect their large bag full at Christmas.. and it’s a cherished treat anytime we get together for any kind of family reunion.

    We do almost exactly this recipe, except one other really good addition. We use an equal amount of Bacon fat to butter. We also use celery salt as well as the other spices mentioned.

    This would be fabulous as is I am sure, and it was cool to see others enjoy nuts and bolts as well as my family.

  • I have made a different version of this in the past. I used to make a few batches at a time it freezes well in an airtight container

  • This is my first review on any food item….and I use the internet a lot while planning meals. That’s how much I love this snack. It has become our staple for the game table at both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Perfect amount of spices/herbs. I always add Cheez-Its instead of Cherrios (personal preference) but all else stays the same. Great recipe!

  • This is almost the exact recipe to a T my grandmother made while we were growing up. I was panicking searching for my written copy in her handwriting and looked around on the Internet for a dupe until I found it. Every other recipe is basically the Chex party mix. Big difference. Yours as close as I have found to it. I found my recipe she gave me finally soon after finding yours and compared the two. Zero difference except she adds nuts which are definitely optional. This is the old fashioned good stuff. People have no clue what they are missing until they’ve tried this recipe! Thanks for posting! I’m bookmarking yours in case I ever lose my handwritten one!

    • Ha I’m so blind and silly. Yours has nuts! So yep no difference! 🙂

  • I was searching for ideas for foods to serve at a Christmas Open House… what a joy to come upon your post and read about your neighborhood get-togethers. It makes me want to search through my old photos as I’m sure ours are similar. 🙂
    My mom and older sisters used to make Nuts & Bolts. I had forgotten about it. I can’t wait to taste it again. Thanks!

  • Thank you! My mom made this exact same recipe at Christmas for our family in the 70’s, and continued each year for the grandkids! My mom has since passed away, (miss her so much!) and I wanted to make this when we go visit our 25 year old daughter for Thanksgiving, and couldn’t find my mom’s recipe. Thanks to you & and the internet, both me & our daughter will have a little bit of our childhood memories brought back this year! Thank you!!!

  • I made this today for our Football Saturday party. My hubby could hardly wait until it was out of the oven to begin nibbling because it smelled so good! It’s always good to have several munch mix recipes, and this one is a good addition. Thanks, Jenn….and Barb!

  • I think I may have found my new addiction! YUM. For my fellow Australian cooks, Chex cereal is hard to find – I used Kellogg’s Crispix and Nutri-Grain, and they turned out great! Woolworths Select brand also do the pretzel sticks. I didn’t know what seasoned salt was, so I used chicken salt. My Dad is going to LOVE this, thank you!

  • Traditional “Nuts n Bolts” has the nuts (cheerios) and the bolts (pretzel sticks). It does not have chex mix

  • This was a great version of Chex Mix – I really liked the addition of thyme. It made for a nice fragrant home as it was baking as well (I love the story as well)!

  • OMG! My Mom made this too! she also called it “Nuts and bolts”. So I made it. It’s exactly like Mom’s. I poured it all in an air-tight container and served it at my condo’s happy hour. they loved it!

    • — Heather Lampman
    • Reply
  • I love this except I have to ration my portions! I add cayenne because I like a bit of heat. A friend of mine uses Marcona Almonds and that is very special.

  • Hi,
    My great grandmother made this every Christmas. She put it in tins she collected though the year and gave it out as gifts. Yummy.
    Yes, Homemade is much better than store stuff.

  • How long (and how) would I be able to store this mix???

    • Hi Liz, It keeps well in an airtight container for about a week.

    • Thanks Jenn – I botched the first attempt to make this by using two heaping Tablespoons of Seasoned Salt. Terrible. Second try worked and hopefully will be appreciated at the Superbowl bash tomorrow.

    • I package mine in ziplock freezer bags and it keeps fresh much longer than the yummy snack will last before its all eaten up 😉 (I tried your recipe – with the butter rather than oil like I usualy use – delicious!)

  • OMG! My mother made this! It-is-the-best!!!! YOWZZZZA!

    • — Heather Lampman
    • Reply
  • I grew up calling them Nuts and Bolts too! It’s wonderful to hear them called that.

  • Delicious and a ton better than the norm just with the addition of thyme! Genious. Thank you for sharing. My kids love this recipe and I feel better giving them this instead of the prepackaged snack version.

  • My family loves Nuts & Bolts I have made this for years! It’s a hit every time .

  • I love the butter blend! I throw in some Kix cereal because it adds a (healthy!) sweet kick to some bites.

  • Can’t wait to try this! Am always looking for new snacks to try. Thanks so much!

  • Probably the best I’ve ever had. I love the addition of the cheerios. Really makes the difference!

  • Made this with my daughter for Super Bowl. We had a great time making it, a better time eating it. I think it helped the Giants win the Super Bowl. Just sayin’.

  • This is great! Thank you. My family makes this recipe as well…mostly during the holidays…however, we call it “Trash”.

  • Great seasonings mixture one of our tradional favorites no matter the time of year. When California comes to Virginia it is an expected to be on hand Munch. Will definitely try Once Upon a Chef’s version!!

  • My mother made this every Christmas. After she was no longer able, I took up the tradition. I didn’t make it this year because my daughter has become Gluten intolerant. I need to figure out how to make substitutions. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Dale, Rice and corn chex are thankfully gluten free. Nuts are ok, so that leaves pretzels, which I think you can find gluten free. Good luck!

    • we made it with gluten free pretzels and increased corn and rice chex to leave out wheat and it is great and gluten free

  • My Mom use to make vats of nuts and bolts too. Only difference was adding shreddies and lot of peanuts. She also added a bit of curry powder. I must make some this weekend. She doesn’t make em any more. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • I will definitely be trying this one out…the pics are great! If that were today you guys would be covered head to toe in padding and helmets. 😉

  • What a great post about wonderful childhood memories! And great photos — so sweet! We were just talking to our kids about playing outside on Big Wheels the other day. Can’t wait to make this stuff. Thank you for another yummy & family friendly recipe!

  • What sweet memories, and loved your great photos.

    I remember making a version of this to sell for the high school music boosters and calling it “deluxe” snack mix – ’cause I used twice the amount of nuts called for in the recipe. ;-))

    No matter the exact ingredients, it is delicious for munching. Thanks for bringing it to the front of the recipe file once more.

  • I love this – my aunts always make chex mix like this for Christmas and it’s the best. I think they add celery salt as well. YUM!

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