55 Better Ways to Enjoy Cereal
Break open the pantry, it's time to make some delicious cereal recipes. If you thought recipes should hide away after the breakfast hour or be enjoyed only with milk, think again. We've gathered our best recipes for main dishes, casseroles, muffins, cakes, and snacks that make the most of that oh-so amazing cereal crunch. You now have zero reasons to let that box go stale.
Strawberry Yogurt Cream Pie with Cereal Crust
Made with a fiber cereal-crusted pie shell, this strawberry yogurt cream pie is the ultimate no-bake dessert. With a fruity, rich filling (made even more digestive-friendly with the addition of Greek yogurt and berries *you’re welcome*), this breakfast-inspired treat is everything you want in a (somewhat) guilt-free dessert. It’s ultra-satisfying with just the right amount of sweetness, without sending you over the edge.
Cereal-Crusted Mozzarella Sticks
If your go-to appetizer is an order those infamous sticks of deep-fried cheese, please direct your attention here. To make the ultimate breakfast mozzarella stick, we covered thick, gooey cheese with cereal—don’t freak out, it’s only cornflakes. The impossibly crisp cereal forms a crust around creamy mozzarella before taking a bath in hot oil. The result? A crunchy golden brown exterior, warm melting cheese on the inside
Mocha Puppy Chow
A teaspoon of instant espresso powder and rich dark chocolate morsels are all that's needed to add depth and a slight coffee-flavoring to classic puppy chow. You can use chocolate cereal in place of plain cereal for extra-chocolatey flavor. This delicious homemade chocolate-cereal treat comes together in less than 10 minutes for an easy, sweet, and portable snack. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
This Orange Cream Pie Tastes Just Like a Dreamsicle
Do you remember when you first started to realize that your parents were real people? I don’t mean like that moment in your twenties when you witness one of your parents going through some mid-life meltdown and it suddenly dawns on you that they’re not some all-knowing higher being of maturity and adult-like grace; rather, they’re actually a lot like you, an imperfect and confused (but well-intentioned) person, just doing their best. That’s an important conclusion to reach, for sure, but I’m talking about when you first begin to consciously notice that there are details about who they are and how they act that are unique to them. Like, there are actual things to know about them besides the simple fact that they are your mom or dad.
This happened for me around age five, when I found out that my mom doesn’t drink milk. It’s not that she can’t drink milk, it just grosses her out—always has, ever since she was a kid. I learned this one morning when I decided that I wanted to open a restaurant out of our kitchen (this became a common make-believe theme in my life). It was to be one of those no-menu concepts that operates on the premise that you eat what the chef is making; this was largely due to the fact that I was five and cereal was about the only breakfast item I knew how to “cook” by myself. Plus, our home kitchen pretty much always operated by that philosophy, so it’s what I knew… if only I’d been able to appreciate the blessing that it is to have someone qualified and trustworthy making a simple decision on my behalf. (Unfortunately, when you’re in kindergarten and unable to make anything more complicated than a bowl of cereal, you kinda can’t anticipate that you’ll grow up to be not-a-doctor, not-a-teacher, not-a-cowgirl, but some indecisive weirdo who requires extremely patient, empathetic, almost therapist-like servers to take your order at any given restaurant.) Anyway, so I make my first and only customer of the day, my mom, the day’s special: A bowl of off-brand frosted flakes, bathed in 2% milk. When I delivered put the dish in front of my customer, I could immediately tell there was something off. Look, my mom was so grateful for the effort, but she had to break it to her eager-to-impress child that plain milk makes her gag.
As I ate my disappointment, along with the breakfast I’d so carefully dumped into a bowl for my mom, I considered this oddity… and all of a sudden, I remembered—my mom eats dry cereal. I’d only ever seen her eat dry cereal. She ate dry frosted flakes out of plastic cups instead of bowls. Sometimes, I too opted to eat dry cereal specifically because that’s what she did. It had just never made enough of an impact on me that I remembered or cared or asked why? up until that point.
Now, you may be wondering, why am I rambling on about my mundane childhood memories? Well, for one, sometimes rambling is just what I do. But more importantly, besides eating dry cereal from a plastic cup, there was another very important byproduct of my mom’s disdain for milk: She’d regularly mix a hearty pour of the stuff into her orange juice. She did this in order to reap the nutritive benefits of milk (I’m not sure if this was before orange juice fortified with vitamins and calcium was “a thing” or if we just didn’t know about it because we bought canned, frozen orange juice concentrate), without ever suffering through the experience of actually drinking straight milk. And her rebuttal to anyone who’d say “gross…” at the sight of her milky OJ mix was always the same, “It tastes just like a Dreamsicle!”
This is one of my mom’s signature phrases, that for some reason, has stuck in my brain for decades of life—“It tastes just like a Dreamsicle!” I have no earthly idea why. At some point or another, I know that my mom convinced me to give her drinkable iteration of the Dreamsicle—which for those of you who are unfamiliar, is a variety of creamy orange ice pop produced by Popsicle brand, and is apparently somehow different from an Orange Creamsicle—a try, no joke, it was delicious. And frankly, kind of genius. Given, I’ve never had an actual Dreamsicle, and I’m almost certain they no longer exist, but I’ve certainly eaten my fair share of orange sherbet… and I’m thinking it’s just about the same thing flavor-wise. If you’re still drawing a blank and mentally gagging over the idea of milk + OJ, another popular basis for comparison would be an (original) Orange Julius.
So look, the moral of this entire story is that dairy and orange juice are an absolutely delightful combination. And that exists as a stand-out fact in my brain solely because of my mom and her bizzare food preferences. That being the case, I just wanted to make clear that although it is named after the Dreamsicle, the inspiration behind this pie was 110% my mother—right down to the cornflake crust, which I incorporated to pay homage to the cereal she’d eat dry alongside her glass of pastel orange milk.
Perhaps you’re more interested in making this pie (I hope so, it’s rather tasty) than you are in receiving the entire “behind the music” story of its conception—in which case, you’re in luck, the recipe is right below. It’s creamy, it’s dreamy, and hey—it’s pretty easy to make. The construct of this pie is very similar to your classic, sweetened condensed milk-based key lime pie. The key differentiating factor between the two is that you legitimately need gelatin in this pie; your filling isn’t going set up with egg yolks alone. And if you're not exahusted with my rambling quite yet, I’ve tacked a few other pertinent *notes about baking this here pie onto the end of the recipe. So make it, share it (with #TryMyRecipes), and may you have the happiest of Pi Days, my friend.
Orange Dreamsicle Pie
For the Crust*
- 4.5 ounces graham crackers (1 sleeve of graham crackers)
- 3 ounces cornflakes (about 3 cups cornflakes; 1 cup and 3 tablespoons crumbs)
- 1 ounce brown sugar (about 2 packed tablespoons)
- 1/2 ounce instant dry milk powder (about 2 tablespoons)**
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
For the Filling
- 2 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk, divided***
- 1/4 tsp. vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 5 large egg yolks
- 2 tsp. unflavored gelatin****
- 2 tsp. orange zest
- 3/4 cup fresh orange juice, divided
- 2 1/2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp. orange extract
- orange gel food coloring
- Whipped cream (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 °.
2. To prepare the crust, combine graham crackers and cornflakes in the bowl of a food processor; pulse until coarse crumbs form. Add sugar, milk powder, and salt; pulse to combine. Add melted butter; process until mixture is moist and clumps together easily. Press crumb mixture evenly along bottom and up sides of a (9-inch) glass pie plate.
3. Bake crust on center rack at 350° for 8 minutes; place on a wire rack to cool. Prepare filling while crust cools, leaving oven on.
4. To prepare the filling, Measure out 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk in a glass measuring cup; whisk in the vanilla and set aside. Whisk together the remaining condensed milk, sour cream, and egg yolks in a large mixing bowl until combined.
5. Place 1/2 cup orange juice in a small saucepan; sprinkle the gelatin over the surface of the juice. Warm the juice over medium-low heat, whisking, until gelatin dissolves; remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
6. Whisk the lemon juice, orange zest, remaining 1/4 cup orange juice, and orange extract into the condensed milk mixture. Add the orange juice and gelatin mixture to bowl and whisk well to combine. Stir in coloring, 1 drop at a time, until desired color is reached. Place the pie plate onto a rimmed baking sheet and pour filling mixture into prepared crust. Carefully transfer to oven and bake at 350° for 5 minutes.
7. Gently spoon the reserved condensed milk over surface of the pie and use a butter knife to “swirl” the milk into the orange layer.
8. Continue baking at 350° until pie is just set (pie should still be slightly jiggly in the center), about 10 to 12 minutes more. Cool pie completely on a wire rack. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours. Slice and serve with freshly whipped cream, if desired
*I like my crumb crusts thick. I like there to be enough of the crumb mixture for me to build up a nice looking edge around the lip of the pie plate (and maybe drop a little on the floor like the klutz I am); that said, it you prefer a more delicate layer of crumb crust, you can easily get away with cutting the amount of cookies and salt in half, and the butter down to 5 tablespoons. Personally, I’d leave the amounts on the other ingredients as is.
**I like to include dehydrated milk in crumb crusts because this helps the melted butter really kick ass at it’s job of binding everything together, and it adds a very subtle touch of dairy depth. This is a little trick I picked up from seeing how Christina Tosi uses the ingredient in some of her recipes. That said, it’s not essential to making this recipe “work,” so if you don’t have it in your pantry and don’t feel like buying it, that’s A-OK. Just leave it out this time, but I’d highly recommend grabbing a box next time you’re at the store so you can try it next time. (It also really comes in handy when you completely forget that you’re out of milk until you’re standing in front of a cup of morning coffee that you desperately need… but desperately do not want to drink black.)
***I am adding this note to say that if you want to save yourself a step on this pie, you can bypass the dividing of your sweetened condensed milk and the rest of what that entails.The idea here was to create something of a nice little swirly effect—with a pure vanilla-y cream mixed into the surface of this orange pie—to drive the concept home, both visually and (if you’re really paying attention) in flavor. That said, you’re also A-OK to just go right ahead and mix in all of the condensed milk with your sour cream and yolks, and then stir in your vanilla at the same time you add the orange extract. Plop a pile of whipped cream on top before serving, and you’re good to go.
****Just want to throw this out there—2 teaspoons is not a full (0.25-ounce) package of unflavored gelatin, which contains about 2 1/2 teaspoons. I tried making this pie with the full package and the consistency was a bit overly gelled. I fully recognize that it might seem tedious and silly to measure out a portion of a package of anything that weighs a quarter of an ounce; and honestly, it’s not going to be the end of the world if you dump that whole package in. However, for a more enjoyable textural experience, I’d recommend that you do not.
Peanut Butter Crispy Rice Treats
This healthy version of crispy rice cereal bars uses brown rice cereal, natural peanut butter, honey instead of corn syrup, and dried cherries. With 2 grams of fiber per bar, you don’t have to feel guilty about indulging.
Master Turkey Meatloaf
This is the ultimate, foolproof, turkey meatloaf that is every kind of comforting that you would want a meatloaf to be. This just may be the only meatloaf recipe you'll ever need. Not only is this dish absolutely delicious, but it's also gluten-free. This flavorful meatloaf features bacon for added flavor and richness, and includes a special factor with a trio of tomato sauces and condiments to create an updated version of the traditional meatloaf topper. To make this meal even better, try enjoying it on a sandwich the next day.
Clara Cakes' Breakfast Cake
Clara Polito, also known as Clara Cakes, is only 19 years old, but she's been baking for over seven years. And when you bake that much, eating cake for breakfast isn't out of the question. "Yeah, especially when I was making this cookbook," she laughed in an interview. "I took a lot of the dessert photos, so I would have at least half a cake around, so I’d be like, 'OK, I guess this is breakfast.'" The cookbook in question is Clara Cakes: Delicious and Simple Vegan Desserts for Everyone!, forthcoming from powerHouse Books, and it's full of dozens of recipes for plant-based pies, cookies, frostings, and, of course, cakes.
Though Polito takes her politics seriously—"I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing if it weren’t for becoming vegan," she writes in the book—she doesn't actively advertise that her desserts are vegan. "First, I wasn’t into the idea of being vegan," she admitted, despite growing up in a vegetarian household. "Then I just educated myself more about why I would be vegan and different factory farm cases that I had read about and that’s what really made me start not eating eggs or dairy." She finally made the switch to vegan at 14, shortly after her mom did, and started baking and selling her baked goods at punk shows in and around Los Angeles.
She quickly became known for her so-called "Inception Cookies" at these shows, which, she explains, often tricked people—and not just because they were secretly vegan. "People buy what they think is just a giant chocolate chip cookie, walk away from the table, bite into it, and make some sorta pleasantly surprised face when they discover the harmony of the Oreo and chocolate chip cookie all in one package," she writes." Then, they turn around, point at the cookie, and give me a thumbs up."
Each recipe in this book comes with these types of loving details, about her life in L.A., her family, the DIY punk scene in which she came up. "There’s a story attached to every recipe," Polito explained, "and I think with most people, you connect with food over memories." The chocolate and ricotta cheesecake with a pine nut and white cornmeal crust, for instance, is a vegan take on her favorite Italian dessert. (The ricotta is vegan, of course, made by blending cashews and almonds and some lemon.) The breakfast cake was inspired by a bowl of corn flakes with bananas and milk—"or soy milk, in my case," she added.
And this banana breakfast cake, which comes stuffed with maple pudding and smothered in a not-too-sweet yet still dense maple frosting, is probably the best way to eat cake for breakfast. Polito does have some tips for anyone who wants to attempt this recipe at home. "The corn flakes, just make sure they’re cooked long enough, and they’re nice and crunchy. And let them cool completely before you put them on the cake, so they’re not soggy or anything." As for the bananas? "You have to buy ahead of time, you really need to have close-to-brown bananas or with brown speckles," Polito insists. "It’s best for baking because all the sugar is ready for you, and the flavor’s way more prominent."
For Polito, though, this cookbook is only the start. "I dream about a lot of things. I would definitely like a shop, another cookbook, a baking show, just everything. Everything all in one." Just like this breakfast cake.
Note: If you're making a two-layered breakfast cake, double the amount of ingredients Banana Cake Batter and Maple Frosting.
Clara Cakes' Breakfast Cake
Whole Grain Marshmallow Crispy Bars
Make traditional Rice Krispies Treats a little more nutritious by using multi-grain cereal and dried cranberries.
Shiitake-Stuffed Butternut with Quinoa Streusel
Look for quinoa flakes on the hot cereals aisle. If you can't find them, use all panko for the topping.
Ice Cream Treasures
Use any combination of cereals you like. This frozen dessert would also be delicious with chocolate ice cream and chopped walnuts instead of almonds.
These no-bake bars come together quickly with common pantry ingredients. Make sure the cereal is well crushed (try packing it in a sealed zip-top plastic bag and using a rolling pin) so it incorporates into the peanut butter mixture.
Rice Brittle Crunch
Invite friends to make the toppings for an indulgent ice-cream potluck party—peanut brittle mixed with crispy rice cereal, fresh blueberry sauce and an over-the-top mix of crushed chocolate-covered pretzels, cookie crumbs and more.
Peanut Butter-Chocolate-Oatmeal Cereal Bars
The microwave keeps preparation for these peanut butter-chocolate bar cookies short and simple. Briefly bake the oatmeal crust in the oven, then top with the cereal and peanut butter-chocolate fillings and let cool for 45 minutes.
Triple-Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Puppy Chow
This recipe is a staff favorite. Sweet, creamy, and slightly salty, Triple-Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Puppy Chow will become your new, go-to way to make the classic chocolate-cereal treat.
Crispy Chicken and Garlicky Collards
Improve on the cornflake-coating trick by using multigrain cereal to increase the fiber. Baking rather than frying the chicken eliminates a whopping 24 grams of fat per serving.
These crispy oatmeal cookies may keep everyone guessing about the ingredients. The crispiness comes from toasted rice cereal instead of nuts and the sweetness comes from brown sugar and raisins.
You’ll only need 3 ingredients—dates, puffed wheat cereal, and shredded coconut—for these super-easy, totally no-cook treats.
S'mores Chewy Crispy Bars
We take two childhood favorites—s'mores and crispy rice cereal bars—and combine to make delicious S'mores Chewy Crispy Bars.
Cornflake, Pecan, and Marshmallow-Topped Sweet Potato Casserole
Adding cornflakes cereal to the pecan-brown sugar topping gives the casserole extra crispiness and crunch.
Asian Snack Mix with Nori
Rice-flake cereal, seasoned nori (seaweed flavored with sesame oil and salt), miso and wasabi come together in this light, munchable, Asian-inspired riff on Chex Mix.
Oven "Fried" Chicken Fingers with Honey-Mustard Dipping Sauce
There's no need to feel guilty about feeding your kids chicken fingers several times a week with this low-fat version featuring chicken tenders coated in a mixture of cereal and breadcrumbs and baked in the oven for perfect tenderness and crispiness.
Sesame-Soy Nut and Pretzel Mix
Full of salty nuts, pretzels, and cereal and doused with a butter- and Worcestershire-based glaze, the classic snack mix racks up sodium quickly (and who honestly stops at the barely 1/2 cup serving suggestion?). Our Asian-inspired mix saves 160mg sodium per serving with plenty of crunch and bold, salty flavor in a more generous 3/4 cup portion.
Double-Chocolate Cereal Treats
Skip your boring breakfast and opt for these decadent chocolate-on-chocolate cookies that boast full satisfaction and a dose of whole-grain goodness. Rich, decadent, and ultra-crispy, these healthy, bite-size snacks are the perfect start to the day. And they're ready to eat in a fraction of the time needed to prepare typical sweet treats.
Cookies and Cream Puppy Chow
4 ingredients are all that's standing between you and this delicious treat made with white chocolate morsels and plenty of Oreo cookies. We cut back on the powdered sugar here because the white chocolate adds plenty of sweetness. If you're feeling Parent Trap vibes--add 1/2 cup of melted creamy peanut butter to the melted white chocolate.
Layered Peeps Crispy Treats
Why make boring Rice Krispie treats when you can make colorful and festive bar treats using Peeps and Rice Krispie cereal? You can use any 4 colors of Peeps that you prefer--or even double up on two colors for a half-and-half treat. To make pops: Cut 1-inch think slices widthwise, and then cut the slices in half. Insert a cake pop stick into the bottom of each treat, dip in melted chocolate, and decorate with sprinkles or crushed candy pieces. Display pops in a jar or candle votive holder stuffed with Styrofoam.
Birthday Cake Puppy Chow
Sprinkles and white chocolate are the only mix-ins you need to create this birthday cake-inspired treat. Sugary-sweet, colorful, and fun, it makes an easy, portable snack for a birthday party or holiday celebration. Pro tip: For a festive July 4 treat, use red, white, and blue sprinkles instead. You can change up the colors for any holiday.
Au Gratin Potato Casserole
Snickerdoodle Puppy Chow
Orange Dreamsicle Crispy Treats
From the Kitchen of Robin Wilson, simplysouthernbaking.com, Altamonte Springs, FL
"You can also use yellow and pink food coloring gel to make peach. Practice on a piece of wax paper, adding a little at a time to achieve your perfect shade. I serve these to family and friends, and there's never a square left."
Browned Butter-Pecan Chewy Crispy Bars
We love the grown-up flavor of Browned Butter-Pecan Chewy Crispy Bars. They're reminiscent of the treasured childhood treat but have an adult twist.
Baked Smokin' Macaroni and Cheese
Crispy Chocolate Hearts
Surprise your family, neighbors and even coworkers with a thoughtful Valentine's Day gift. Fill heart-shaped chocolate boxes or pretty tins with homemade goodies and give them away with a smile. It takes less than an hour to prepare each of these treats, but it'll look like you worked all day.
Crispy Oven-Fried Catfish
Cornflakes are the secret to a crisp baked coating. Serve with sautéed mixed veggies, such as squash, zucchini, and carrots, and a green salad. Test Kitchen secret: For an extra touch of heat, add a few drops of your favorite hot sauce to the buttermilk before chilling the fillets.