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Crockpot BBQ Pulled Pork

The absolute BEST honey BBQ pulled pork sandwiches made simple in the CROCKPOT! Recipe via chelseasmessyarpon.com

Serve these spice-rubbed Crockpot BBQ Pulled Pork sandwiches with a delicious sweet honey chipotle sauce and a simple coleslaw. Add a toasted bun with a side of this corn salad for the ultimate summer meal!

Image of Crockpot BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich on a plate, ready to be eaten.

Crockpot BBQ Pulled Pork

There’s nothing that compares to a good smoked pork butt, but if you don’t have a smoker or you just don’t want to babysit it for the greater part of 15-20 hours, this is your recipe!

You’ll still get succulent, tender pork, worthy of any summer barbecue, and in a fraction of the time with minimal effort. The entire pork butt fits nicely into a crockpot* and slow cooks all day requiring no extra effort as it cooks (like spritzing pork in a smoker every few hours or wrapping and unwrapping it in butcher paper). It also makes your home smell incredible while allowing you to stay in the air conditioning all day long!

(*Crock pot is the trademarked brand of slow cooker made by  Sunbeam Products, but it’s often used generically in the English-speaking world when referring to any slow cooker appliance.) 

And just as the pork is simple to make, the sauce is equally easy. While you can skip a step and grab some store-bought BBQ sauce, this homemade chipotle barbecue sauce is one of our favorites! It’s so flavorful, sweet, a little smoky, and a bit spicy. And before you stray away from the spicy aspect of this BBQ sauce, it can easily be tailored to your personal spice tolerance. So, let’s talk about the sauce first!

Process shot-- image of the chipotle bbq sauce ingredients being assembled in a blender; blending ingredients together to create the sauce.

Crockpot BBQ Pulled Pork sauce

  • Ketchup: I recommend Heinz® ketchup — it’s our favorite in this sauce (not sponsored).
  • Brown sugar: Light or dark brown sugar work great; we typically use light brown sugar
  • Honey: Between the honey and brown sugar — these two ingredients really sweeten the sauce– the sweetness is offset a bit with the chipotles, but the sauce is intended to be a bit sweet. If you’d prefer to have it more on the spicy side, either increase the chipotles (see below) or decrease the amount of honey and/or brown sugar.
  • Chipotle chilies in adobo: These chilies are what give the sauce its spice. Since we’re only using a bit of the can, be sure to read this chicken tinga tacos post for how to save and store leftover chipotles. Also, make sure to check out the quick tip below on adjusting spice levels.
  • Apple cider vinegar: The vinegar helps to balance the sweet and spicy blend of this sauce.
  • Worcestershire sauce: We use this ingredient to add to the depth of flavor.
  • Garlic: Either pre-minced garlic or a coarsely chopped clove work well.
  • Salt and pepper: Add to personal preference, remembering that the pork can be fairly salty!

QUICK TIP

Taste and adjust the sauce to personal preference; the chipotles are important to balancing the sauce (so it isn’t too sweet), but add slowly and taste as you go, so you don’t end up with an overly spicy sauce. Remember also that the bun and coleslaw tame the spiciness of the sauce.

How much chipotle?

  • Little to no spice: Use 1-2 tablespoons of the sauce surrounding the canned chipotle peppers.
  • Light spice: Use 2 tablespoons of the chipotle sauce and 1 tablespoon peppers.
  • Medium spicy: Use 2 tablespoons chipotle sauce and 2 tablespoon peppers.
  • Spicy: Use 2 tablespoons chipotle sauce and 3 tablespoons peppers.

Note that if you do make this sauce in advance (and put it in the fridge), it gets spicier as it sits. I love making the sauce in the morning, along with starting the pork in the crockpot, because come dinner time, there is literally nothing to do but assemble the sandwich (unless you’re also making coleslaw).

Process shots-- images of the seasoning rub for the pork; onions and apple juice added to the bottom of the crock pot; seasoned pork going into the crockpot; cooking all day; shredded and covered in the BBQ sauce.

Let’s talk pork

I’ve tried all kinds of pork and all different weights in my slow cooker. I’ve gotten the best results from using a 5 to 5.5-pound bone-in pork shoulder or butt roast. Some of the different labels you might see: butt roast, Boston butt, shoulder roast, picnic shoulder, or a pork shoulder butt blade roast. (There is a difference between butt and shoulder pork roasts, but sometimes the names are confused or misleadingly named; check out the differences here). My personal favorite is a Boston Butt, but without going to a butcher, I typically can only find a pork shoulder butt roast in regular grocery stores. And just in case you were wondering, butt refers to the butt-end of the shoulder roast, not the location on the pig!

A few notes on the pork:

  • I recommend bone-in: The bone adds loads of flavor and once cooked, it pulls out easily. Bones add flavor and juiciness to the Crockpot BBQ Pulled Pork. 
  • Fat cap: A fat cap is the white layer of fat on the top of the meat. Most pork butts will have this fat cap; don’t cut it off! Instead, put it facing upwards in the slow cooker. As the pork cooks, this fat will render and drip down making the pork more flavorful and more tender. Also, once the pork is cooked, it pulls off super easily and can then be discarded.
  • Cook the pork on low heat. I don’t recommend cooking the pork on high; it tends to dry it out and won’t end up as tender or juicy and does not shred as easily.
  • Don’t over-work the pork when shredding: There are few things worse than mushy meat after spending money and time on it! Use two forks to gently pull the meat apart. Don’t throw it in a food processor or stand mixers; that will disintegrate or make it mushy.

Process shots-- images of the coleslaw dressing being made and poured over the shredded veggies.

Brioche buns

Our absolute favorite way to serve this Crockpot BBQ Pulled Pork is on toasted brioche buns. (Here’s how to toast buns — on a grill, in a pan, or in the oven). Before toasting the buns, I recommend buttering both of the insides (use softened butter or butter in a tub).

Coleslaw

Toasted brioche buns, succulent BBQ pulled pork, and finally some coleslaw! The coleslaw adds the perfect contrasting crunchy texture to the tender pork and toasted buns; it’s no wonder they’re paired together so often!

I recently shared this coleslaw recipe, so you can use that recipe to top this crockpot BBQ pulled pork. That said, if you’re wanting a quicker prep time, grab a bag of coleslaw mix and some fresh (refrigerated) coleslaw dressing (I like Marie’s® best; not sponsored) and toss the two together until the coleslaw mix is sufficiently mixed.

Add a generous scoop of coleslaw right on top of the Crockpot BBQ Pulled Pork, top with a bun, and dig in!

Up-close image of Crockpot BBQ Pulled Pork sandwich showing off the pork and coleslaw layers.

Crockpot BBQ Pulled Pork side dish suggestions

More delicious summer recipes

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Crockpot BBQ Pulled Pork

5 from 2 votes
Spice-rubbed Crockpot BBQ Pulled Pork sandwiches with a delicious sweet honey-chipotle sauce and a simple coleslaw.
Print Recipe

Crockpot BBQ Pulled Pork

5 from 2 votes
Spice-rubbed Crockpot BBQ Pulled Pork sandwiches with a delicious sweet honey-chipotle sauce and a simple coleslaw.
Course Dinner, Main Course, Sandwich
Cuisine American
Keyword crockpot BBQ pulled pork
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 9 hours
Total Time 9 hours 30 minutes
Servings 10 -12 sandwiches
Calories 651kcal
Cost $11.12

Ingredients

Pork in the crockpot

  • 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 cup 100% apple juice (or chicken broth works)
  • 4.5-6.5 pounds bone-in pork butt shoulder roast (or Boston butt) (See Note 1)
  • 2 tablespoons tightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon EACH: chili powder, paprika (sweet), garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons EACH: onion powder, dry mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • salt and pepper

Chipotle Honey Sauce

  • 1 cup (263g) ketchup
  • 1/2 cup (95g) brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup + 1 tablespoon (232g) honey
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1-2 tablespoons canned chipotle chilies and surrounding adobo sauce (+ 2 tablespoons sauce surrounding chipotles) (See Note 2)
  • salt and pepper

For Serving

  • brioche buns and softened butter
  • coleslaw for serving, (See Note 3)

Instructions

Into the Slow Cooker

  • Coat a large 6-quart slow cooker with nonstick spray. Line the bottom with the thinly sliced onions (2 medium or 1 very large). Pour in the apple juice and minced garlic.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, mustard powder, ground cumin, salt, and pepper (I add 1 tablespoon salt and 1 heaping teaspoon cracked pepper). Remove pork from packaging and dab all over with a paper towel. Rub the spices into the pork -- all sides.
  • Place the pork on top of the onions; if there is a white layer of fat, place that facing up (the fat will render down and make the pork more tender).
  • Cover, and cook for 8-11 hours on low setting (a 5.5 pound pork is always done around 9 hours for me); I don't recommend cooking on high.
  • Once the meat is completely cooked through and shreds really easily, drain the liquid. Pull off the layer of fat on top (it should just easily pull off), and pull out the bone and discard both (or save the bone and the drained liquid to make homemade stock!)
  • Using two forks, shred the pork.

Sauce

  • In a blender, combine the ketchup, brown sugar, honey, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, minced garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a 1/4 teaspoon pepper (or to taste).
  • Add in 2 tablespoons of the adobo sauce surrounding the chipotle chilis and then 1 tablespoon of an actual chipotle chili (cut chili if needed). If concerned about heat, add chilies and sauce gradually tasting after additions. (Add VERY slowly because it's always easy to increase if you want more heat. If you are very sensitive to heat just add the sauce around the chilies in small quantities.) Blend sauce until smooth.
  • Pour the sauce over the pork (you may not use it all if using a smaller pork roast) and gently mix until pork is well coated and saucy.

Coleslaw And Buns

  • Spread butter on the insides of the buns. Add to a skillet or griddle and lightly brown the buns over medium heat.
  • Top the bottom bun with a generous amount of the BBQ pulled pork and a big spoonful of coleslaw (See Note 2). Add top bun and serve right away.

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: I've tried all kinds of pork and all different weights in my slow cooker. I've gotten the best results from using a 5-5.5 pound bone-in pork shoulder or butt roast. Some of the different labels you might see: butt roast, Boston butt, shoulder roast, picnic shoulder, or a pork shoulder butt blade roast. (There is a difference between butt and shoulder pork roasts, but sometimes the names are confused or misleadingly named; check out the differences here). My personal favorite is a Boston Butt, but without going to a butcher, I typically can only find a pork shoulder butt roast in regular grocery stores.
Note 2: Chipotle peppers can vary, but below is generally what I'd add to the BBQ sauce depending on how spicy (or not spicy) I'd like it to be. If not adding a lot of spice, you'll want to reduce the honey.
  • Little to no spice: Use 1-2 tablespoons  adobo sauce surrounding the chipotle peppers.
  • Light spice: Use 2 tablespoons adobo sauce  and 1 tablespoon peppers.
  • Medium spicy: Use 2 tablespoons adobo sauce and 2 tablespoon peppers.
  • Spicy: Use 2 tablespoons adobo sauce and 3 tablespoons peppers.
Note 3: Here's a homemade coleslaw recipe. For a quicker coleslaw, grab a bag of coleslaw mix and some fresh (refrigerated) coleslaw dressing (I like Marie’s® best) and toss the two together until the coleslaw mix is sufficiently mixed.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1sandwich | Calories: 651kcal | Carbohydrates: 63.1g | Protein: 57.1g | Fat: 18.3g | Cholesterol: 159.9mg | Sodium: 656.8mg | Fiber: 1.9g | Sugar: 33.4g

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Taco Pasta Salad

This easy Taco Pasta Salad combines pasta, taco-seasoned meat, iceberg lettuce, black beans, and veggies. A homemade creamy chili-lime dressing is the perfect complement to this salad.

Overhead image of Taco Pasta Salad

Taco Pasta Salad

It’s no secret my obsession for tacos runs deep; from these meatless healthy tacos to shrimp tacos to this chicken taco salad to taco bowls and about 30 other taco recipes in between, there are a lot of taco recipes on this website. So, of course there was a need to combine tacos with a pasta salad.

Enter: Taco Pasta Salad.

I’ll say it right now: this is not your typical taco salad, loaded with store-bought Catalina or French dressing, crushed up Doritos, and packaged Cheddar. While I’m all for using shortcuts and purchased dressings when it makes sense, I’ve just never been a fan of those types of taco salads in the past. To be fair, it’s most likely because I’m not a huge fan of commercial Catalina or French dressings, and always find myself craving a more “homemade” taco salad. 

So this salad came to be. It has taco-seasoned ground beef, thinly sliced iceberg lettuce, black beans, veggies, fresh herbs, and the most crave-worthy creamy chili-lime dressing.

Process shots-- images of the ground beef being cooked; the lettuce being chopped and washed; pasta being cooked and drained; and everything being combined.

Taco Pasta Salad tips

  • Use textured pasta. Choose pasta that has plenty of nooks and crannies to hold that delicious chili-lime dressing. If you can’t find bowtie pasta, I recommend miniature shells, rotini, or fusilli. 
  • Don’t use all the pasta. Most pasta salads call for an entire box of pasta, so it’s easy to go on auto pilot and fix an entire box. However, this recipe calls for only 3 cups, so make sure to measure that out before boiling the pasta.
  • Salt the pasta water. Since this pasta is eaten cold, the flavors tend to get muted. Make sure the pasta is well-salted as it cooks, since salting is the only chance you have to season the actual pasta. Don’t be afraid to add more salt to the finished dish if it needs it. Read about how to properly salt your pasta water here. As a general rule of thumb, I add 1 teaspoon salt to 4 cups of water.
  • If you have time, make the dressing in advance. This dressing improves if it’s made in advance and chilling in the fridge; the flavors meld together and intensify, plus, it’s just better chilled! 
  • Assemble this salad right before eating. This is not a pasta salad that sits well with the dressing. The dressing wilts the lettuce quickly, giving it an unpleasant texture. If making in advance, store salad separately from dressing and combine the two right before eating. Only dress what will get eaten the same day. 

Process shots-- images of the dressing being made and being tossed with all the salad ingredients.

Homemade taco seasoning

Since Taco Pasta Salad is a bit more involved than similar recipes (we’re making a homemade dressing), I call for a packet of taco seasoning in the recipe. That said, if you’ve got extra time or would prefer homemade, I have a go-to recipe to replace a taco seasoning packet.

Here’s the recipe to make your taco seasoning from scratch:

  • 1 tablespoon ground chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon each: ground cumin, ground paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon each: onion powdergarlic powder, dried oreganosalt, and pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon beef bouillon powder (optional)

Stir the seasonings together and use in place of the taco seasoning packet when cooking the ground beef.

Up-close overhead image of Taco Pasta Salad.

Recipe notes

  • Corn. If you’re using frozen corn, I’d recommend letting it thaw and then cook in a dry skillet to slightly char it. For fresh corn, cut the corn off the cob and add straightaway to the salad, or you can grill it first. To see grilling directions, follow the directions in this Elote recipe.
  • Lettuce. I use iceberg lettuce in this salad, since it’s a typical lettuce found in tacos; feel free to swap it with romaine lettuce if you prefer. If this pasta salad is going to sit in the dressing for a bit, I’d recommend leaving out the lettuce entirely. It wilts very quickly with the dressing. One other note with the lettuce: make sure it is 100% dried before adding it in; otherwise, it makes the dressing watery. I love using a salad spinner to thoroughly dry lettuce.
  • Make this recipe healthier. With a few swaps, you can ramp up the nutrition in Taco Pasta Salad. I recommend making the homemade taco seasoning mix listed above, swapping lean ground turkey or chicken for the ground beef, and using fat-free sour cream in the dressing.
  • Add some crunch. If you’re craving something crunchy or a tortilla texture in your salad, feel free to add in some crunchy tortilla strips — either homemade or from the store. 

More pasta salad recipes

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Taco Pasta Salad

5 from 2 votes
This easy Taco Pasta Salad combines pasta, taco-seasoned meat, iceberg lettuce, black beans, and veggies. A homemade creamy chili-lime dressing is the perfect complement to this salad.
Print Recipe

Taco Pasta Salad

5 from 2 votes
This easy Taco Pasta Salad combines pasta, taco-seasoned meat, iceberg lettuce, black beans, and veggies. A homemade creamy chili-lime dressing is the perfect complement to this salad.
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Keyword Chicken Taco Pasta Salad
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 8 -10 as a side (4-6 as a meal)
Calories 242kcal
Cost $5.54

Ingredients

Dressing

  • 1/3 cup (65g) full-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup (75g) sour cream (can use lite or fat free)
  • 3 tablespoons (40g) freshly squeezed lime juice + 1/2 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon EACH: ground cumin and garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon EACH ground chili powder, paprika
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce or Sriracha
  • 1/4 teach each: fine sea salt and pepper

Salad

  • 3 cups (170g) farfalle/bowtie pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound (16 oz.) lean ground beef
  • 1 package (1 oz.; 28g) taco seasoning mix
  • 3 cups (150g) iceberg lettuce
  • 1 small red bell pepper, (~3/4 cup; 90g) chopped into small pieces
  • 2 cups (305g) cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1/3 cup (20g) thinly sliced green onions (~3 onions)
  • 1/3 cup (15g) finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup (145g) frozen or fresh corn, thawed or cut off the cob (See Note 1)

Instructions

  • DRESSING: Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a bowl. Whisk together until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • PASTA: Prepare the pasta according to package directions (don't cook all the pasta; only use 3 cups!). Make sure to generously salt the water (I add 1 teaspoon to every 4 cups of water). Don't forget to salt the pasta water or the whole salad will taste under-seasoned. Drain pasta, rinse under cold water, let cool and allow to dry.
  • GROUND BEEF: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet. Add in the beef and cook, crumbling as you go, until browned and cooked through. Drain off any fat as needed. Add in the taco seasoning and stir until coated. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
  • SALAD ASSEMBLY: Stir together the cooled pasta and cooled beef mixture, lettuce, chopped peppers, quartered cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced green onions, finely chopped cilantro, drained and rinsed black beans, and corn (See Note 1). Gently toss to combine.
  • DRESSING: Give the dressing another quick stir and then pour over the salad. Gently toss to combine. Taste and adjust any seasonings to personal preference, adding more salt and/or pepper as needed. Enjoy immediately!
  • STORAGE: Salad is best enjoyed soon after being dressed; it does not sit well with the dressing.

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: If using frozen corn, I recommend letting it thaw and then cooking in a dry skillet to slightly char it. For fresh corn, cut the kernels off the cob and add straightaway to the salad, or it can be grilled first. To see grilling directions, follow the directions in this Elote recipe.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 10servings | Calories: 242kcal | Carbohydrates: 33.6g | Protein: 18.5g | Fat: 3.8g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Fiber: 4.9g | Sugar: 3.6g

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Pudding Pops

Special thanks to LACTAID® for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.

Dark Chocolate pudding pops made with LACTAID® milk have plenty of rich, chocolate flavor. These pops make for the perfect summer cool-down treat that will be a hit with adults and kids alike!

Pudding pops

I’m so excited to share this deliciously rich pudding pop recipe with you today! I’m also very proud to share with you that I’ll be partnering with LACTAID® this year. This is very personal for me, since I feel like LACTAID® products have made such a great difference in my home.

About five years ago, we learned that my husband is lactose intolerant; LACTAID® milks and ice creams have truly been a game changer. He can now enjoy his favorite breakfast (cereal-ha!) and I’m able to use LACTAID® milk in so many of my recipes that start with a creamy base. He can still enjoy those dishes, thanks to LACTAID® products. 

So, first a little background if you aren’t familiar:

What is LACTAID®?

  • LACTAID® dairy products provide all the protein, calcium, and vitamins you’d find in real dairy (because they are real dairy!) but without any lactose.
  • LACTAID® is 100% real milk, just without any lactose.
  • From milk, to ice cream, to cottage cheese, LACTAID® products help satisfy all your dairy cravings without the discomfort 
  • Available at most mass merchandise, drug, and grocery stores.
  • LACTAID® Milk is ultra-pasteurized which allows the real milk to last longer under proper refrigeration and maintain its creamy, delicious taste.
  • And best of all, LACTAID® products taste and perform exactly the same as regular dairy foods!

How to make pudding pops

  • Make the pudding: The pudding is so easy to make! We add the LACTAID®  milk, sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, salt, and egg yolk to a pot and whisk until thickened.
  • Add chocolate and vanilla: Once the mixture is removed from the heat, the dark chocolate and vanilla are stirred in until melted.
  • Chill: After the pudding is finished, it needs to chill before it can be frozen. The pudding needs time to thicken and cool so that the popsicle sticks stick in the center.
  • Freeze: Once the pudding has chilled through, it can be transferred to miniature cups and a popsicle stick can be added into the center. Once the fudgesicles are frozen through, they’re ready to eat–or you can garnish them!
  • Garnish: More on this below!

Fun garnish ideas

  • Drizzle pudding pops with melted dark chocolate. I like to melt a few tablespoons of dark chocolate in the microwave and then drizzle the melted chocolate over the pop. The chocolate hardens very quickly onto the frozen pudding.
  • Add toppings: If pops are drizzled with chocolate they can immediately be topped with just about anything you’d like. Our favorites: crushed up coconut, crushed freeze-dried berries, and miniature chocolate chips. Some other ideas: a drizzle of melted peanut butter baking chips, crushed nuts (pistachios, pecans, walnuts, almonds, etc.), hemp seeds, sprinkles, and crushed up chocolate sandwich cookies.

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Pudding Pops

0 from 0 votes
Dark chocolate pudding pops made with LACTAID® milk have  plenty of rich, chocolate flavor. These pops make for the perfect summer cool-down treat that will be a hit with adults and kids alike!
Print Recipe

Pudding Pops

0 from 0 votes
Dark chocolate pudding pops made with LACTAID® milk have  plenty of rich, chocolate flavor. These pops make for the perfect summer cool-down treat that will be a hit with adults and kids alike!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword pudding pops
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Freezing Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 18 minutes
Servings 6 popsicles
Calories 202kcal

Equipment

  • 3-ounce plastic or paper cups
  • Popsicle Sticks

Ingredients

  • 2 and 1/2 cups LACTAID 2% Reduced Fat Milk or LACTAID  Whole Milk
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup dutch cocoa process
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 large egg yolk (discard or save whites for another recipe)
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Optional: 1/4 cup melted dark chocolate, miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips, crushed up freeze dried berries, flaked coconut, or other favorite toppings if desired

Instructions

  • PUDDING: Place the LACTAID® milk, sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, salt, and egg yolk in a medium to large pot. Heat over medium high-heat, whisking briskly and constantly. Whisk for 7-9 minutes or until mixture is thick and bubbly.
  • PUDDING CONT.: Remove the pan from heat and immediately add in the chocolate chips and vanilla extract. Stir with a wooden spoon until melted and smooth. Pour and press the mixture through a sieve into a heat proof bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Make sure the plastic wrap touches the top of the chocolate pudding (so a film doesn't form). Place in the fridge until completely chill through, about 1 hour.
  • FORM ICE POPS: Spoon the mixture into 3-ounce cups and then place a wooden stick in the middle of the cups. Freeze until solid, about 6-8 hours. Remove from the freezer and use scissors to cut the paper cup off the pudding pop.
  • OPTIONAL GARNISH: If desired, garnish the pudding pops! They melt quickly, so have everything ready to go as soon as you pull them out of the freezer. We like to drizzle the pops with melted chocolate and immediately sprinkle with crushed freeze-dried strawberries, coconut flakes, or miniature chocolate chips. Work quickly when adding toppings as the melted chocolate hardens quickly on the cold ice pop.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 6g | Calories: 202kcal | Carbohydrates: 33.8g | Protein: 5.2g | Fat: 6.2g | Cholesterol: 32.8mg | Sodium: 44.4mg | Fiber: 1.3g | Sugar: 32.5g

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Chicken and Wild Rice

Chicken and Wild Rice bowls combine seasoned wild rice, grilled chicken, tender sweet potatoes, and the most addictive cilantro-lime sauce.

Overhead view of Chicken and Wild Rice in a bowl.

Chicken and Wild Rice

Say hello to my latest meal prep obsession! The last few months, I’ve gotten out of the habit of meal prepping so a few Sundays ago I made this recipe with meal prep in mind. And since then, it has been on repeat three weeks in a row. Which is pretty unlike me, since I like to change out my meal prep quite a bit.

But I cannot get enough of these Chicken and Wild Rice bowls! That, and, my sister who just moved here for school (but is waiting things out due to Covid) keeps stealing a few prepped meal bowls from my fridge — ha! So what is supposed to last most of the week has only been lasting me one or two days. 

I don’t blame her though; these are so addictive. Plus, they’re a meal you just feel great eating, since they’re loaded with nutritious ingredients.

The original inspiration for this recipe came from a lunch at Aubergine and Company cafe here in Utah– their wild rice chicken bowls are delicious! They have a few more components, so I’ve simplified things and will share a few ways to streamline this recipe even more. Let’s get started!

Process shots of making the wild rice: combine the ingredients in a pan; simmer until rice is tender.

Wild rice

While I don’t use too many boxed ingredients for meals, I’ll admit I do enjoy packaged wild rice. It’s convenient, tasty, and fast to make (particularly when making these bowls that have quite a few of components). I use two boxes of wild rice for this recipe, but I’ve also made wild rice from scratch. If you prefer to make the wild rice from scratch, here’s my go to recipe:

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup wild rice*
  • 1 tablespoon butter (or olive oil)
  • 1 and 2/3 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon EACH: salt and dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon EACH: cracked pepper, oregano, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar

Instructions

  1. In a fine-mesh sieve, thoroughly rinse the wild rice.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients in a pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a low simmer (a few notches above lowest temperature).
  3. Cover the pot, simmer for about 45 minutes, and then check. If tender, stop cooking; if not, cook for another 10-15 minutes or until it is tender. Add additional broth as needed (if the liquid has all evaporated but rice is not yet tender).
  4. When the rice is cooked through, drain off any additional liquid and fluff it with a fork.

*Alternatively, you could use 1/3 cup wild rice and 1/3 cup parboiled long white rice. It has to be the parboiled long white rice to cook evenly with the wild rice.

Wild rice can be tricky sometimes, since cooking time varies by the brand, so you’ll want to keep an eye on it as it does cook.

Process shots of making the cilantro-lime sauce: add ingredients to blender; blend to combine; drizzle in olive oil; pulse to emulsify.

Cilantro-lime sauce

This sauce is the ultimate chicken-sweet potato-wild rice topping. It’s tangy, acidic, a little spicy, and packed with flavor. I started out aiming to copycat the sauce at Aubergine, but have to admit, we like this sauce even better! 

A few ingredient notes:

  • Lime juice and zest: Use about four or five big, juicy limes for this sauce. I like using this electric juicer to make juicing them a breeze. This microplane is my favorite for zesting. These two tools make the sauce for Chicken and Wild Rice bowls come together in a cinch.
  • Olive oil: The better your olive oil, the better the flavor of the sauce, so be sure to use good quality, extra virgin olive oil.  
  • Cilantro: To get 1/2 cup, you’ll need about one bunch (unless you have an especially large bunch!) To prepare for this sauce, I simply hold the base of the bunch with one hand and use my other hand to twist off the leafy tops. It’s fine to get some smaller stems in the sauce as well — they have loads of flavor.
  • Jalapeño: I only add in 1 tablespoon, but if you like it spicy, add more jalapeños– as much as you want!
  • Honey: This ingredient adds some much-needed sweetness to offset all of the acidity going on.
  • Almond butter: It sounds weird, I know, but almond butter adds the perfect balancing flavor and a nice thickness to the sauce. If you don’t have almond butter, it will be okay without it. I would not recommend using peanut butter instead, though, as that will overpower the sauce.
  • Cumin: Cumin is a great spice for this sauce that complements the flavors in the chicken.
  • Dijon mustard: Make sure to use Dijon, not yellow mustard. There’s a big flavor difference!
  • Garlic: There’s no need to mince the garlic before adding it into the blender. Just give a few coarse chops to make sure it integrates nicely into the sauce.

Process shots for preparing sweet potatoes: pierce and microwave the potatoes; halve and remove skins; grill on both sides; cut into cubes.Sweet potatoes

Just like in this Ground Turkey Sweet Potato Skillet recipe, we use a shortcut on the sweet potatoes for these bowls. We use the microwave oven; it totally works, and the texture is still fantastic! Microwaved sweet potatoes have tender flesh and soft skins that peel off in a cinch. 

  • The only prep needed is to poke a few small holes in the potato so the steam can escape. Use a fork to pierce the potato a few times.
  • An 8-ounce (1/2 pound) sweet potato takes about 5 minutes to cook on 100% power. Larger sweet potatoes will take longer, and when cooking multiple potatoes at the same time, you will need even more time. Continue to microwave the potatoes in 1-minute bursts until the potatoes are cooked through.
  • You’ll know the potatoes are ready when they pierce easily in the center with a fork.

Tip: When purchasing sweet potatoes, choose two or three of the smallest potatoes you can find. I try to pick 5-or-6-ounce potatoes. This will ensure they fully cook in a timely manner.

If you’re not microwaving the potatoes, I’d recommend cooking the potatoes according to this baked sweet potatoes recipe first. Once the potatoes are cooked, the skins peel off easily. I then like to place them on the grill alongside the chicken for a crispier exterior. Give them a quick spritz with olive oil cooking spray, a sprinkle of salt, and then grill for a couple of minutes per side.

Process shots of grilling chicken: halve chicken breasts and pound to even thickness; whisk together seasonins and olive oil; brush olive oil blend onto both sides of the chicken; grill, cool and slice.Chicken

Since there are quite a few other things going on, I wanted the chicken to be as simple as possible. Pick your favorite chicken seasoning and add it to the chicken liberally, along with some salt and pepper!

Although it’s technically a veggie rub, this seasoning is one of my favorites for quick grilled chicken. I also love Mrs. Dash’s® chicken grilling blend. (Neither brand is sponsored on this site.)

Final steps for making Chicken and Wild Rice: assemble the bowls; drizzle on cilantro-lime sauce.

Chicken and Wild Rice toppings

While these bowls are phenomenal with just the main components (chicken, wild rice, sweet potatoes, and sauce), a few tasty toppings take these Chicken and Wild Rice bowls to the next level.

  • Arugula/spinach blend: To get in a few more greens, I like to add a couple handfuls of whatever lettuce I’ve got in my fridge; lately that’s been arugula and spinach, which work great in these bowls.
  • Avocado: I’m sure you’re not surprised this ingredient makes it in the bowl; I love avocados! A good, ripe avocado adds healthy fats to these bowls, as well as a nice creaminess.
  • Sliced almonds: For a crunch, add in some nuts! Any type will work, but I’m partial to sliced almonds in these Chicken and Wild Rice bowls.
  • Dried cranberries or dried tart cherries: Just a small handful goes a long way; dried fruit adds a touch of sweetness and a little extra tartness.

Close-up view of Chicken and Wild Rice, ready to eat.

Storing Chicken and Wild Rice 

  • As the sauce chills, it thickens quite a bit. Don’t be alarmed, but the sauce can also form clumps–it’s just the olive oil solidifying at the cold temps. Take the sauce out of the fridge about 20-30 minutes or so before you need it, to bring it back up to temperature, then shake it up (or stir vigorously) to remix.
  • Portion for meal prep. After making all the components for this meal (chicken, rice, sweet potatoes, and sauce) I evenly separate everything into five meal prep containers. Start by layering even amounts of rice, then chopped chicken, and then chopped sweet potato. I spoon the sauce into five smaller sauce containers. I add any other ingredients (like lettuce and toppings) to a small plastic bag. If adding avocado, I prefer to add that each day since pre-portioning it will cause it to brown and change texture.

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Chicken Wild Rice Bowls

5 from 3 votes
Chicken and Wild Rice bowls combine seasoned wild rice, grilled chicken, tender sweet potatoes, and the most addictive cilantro lime sauce.
Print Recipe

Chicken Wild Rice Bowls

5 from 3 votes
Chicken and Wild Rice bowls combine seasoned wild rice, grilled chicken, tender sweet potatoes, and the most addictive cilantro lime sauce.
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword wild rice and chicken
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 6 servings
Calories 441kcal
Cost $7.49

Ingredients

Chicken

  • 2 pounds (907g) boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons chicken grilling blend (See Note 1)
  • 1/4 teaspoon EACH: ground cumin and freshly cracked pepper

Wild Rice, Sweet Potatoes, & Optional Bowl Toppings

  • 2 packages (6 oz; 170g EACH) Long Grain and Wild Rice packaged mix (See Note 2)
  • 2 pounds (907g) small sweet potatoes (7-8 oz. each)
  • Optional: handful of arugula spinach blend; 1 large avocado, sliced almonds, dried cranberries or dried tart cherries

Sauce

  • 1/2 cup EACH: freshly squeezed lime juice (106g) and olive oil (98g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1/2 cup (13g) gently packed cilantro (about 1 bunch; some stems are fine, I just twist off the tops typically)
  • 1 tablespoon EACH: coarsely chopped jalapeño, honey, almond butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove coarsely chopped garlic clove

Instructions

  • SAUCE: In a small blender, combine all of the sauce ingredients except the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste (I add 1/4 teaspoon of each). Pulse to combine ingredients. Once combined, drizzle in the olive oil and pulse just to incorporate. Transfer sauce to a mason jar and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • WILD RICE: Follow package directions to prepare wild rice. Once cooked, fluff with a fork. Keep the lid on to keep warm while preparing the chicken and potatoes.
  • SWEET POTATOES: Wash and scrub four to five (2 pounds total) sweet potatoes. Use a fork to pierce the skin-- about 6-8 pierces per potato. Cook on a microwave-safe plate for 5 minutes. Flip and microwave for another 3-5 minutes, or until potatoes are tender and can easily be pierced by a fork in the center. The time will vary, depending on the size of the potatoes. I have tested this recipe with 6, 7, and 8-ounce sweet potatoes; larger potatoes take longer. Remove from the microwave and let cool slightly. Once cool enough to handle, cut the sweet potatoes in half lengthwise. Peel the skins off with your fingers (they should easily slip off). Spray both sides of the potatoes with cooking spray and lightly sprinkle both sides with salt.
  • CHICKEN: Stir together the olive oil, salt, pepper, chicken seasoning, and cumin in a small bowl and set aside. Slice large chicken breasts in half horizontally. Cover chicken breasts with plastic wrap (to avoid splatter). Using a meat mallet or the bottom of a frying pan, pound breasts to even thickness (you don't want to flatten the meat, just even it in thickness). Pat chicken dry with a paper towel. With a pastry brush (or your hands) brush both sides of all the chicken breast pieces with the seasoning and oil blend. Set aside.
  • GRILL: Preheat grill to medium high (400-450 degrees F.) Add chicken to cleaned and greased grill (I rub grill grates with a vegetable oil-drenched paper towel). Grill for 4-5 minutes per side, flipping over halfway in between or until chicken registers 160 degrees F. Remove to a plate and tent with foil. If needed, add an extra sprinkle of salt to the chicken breasts off the grill. Add the sweet potatoes to the grill and cook for 2 minutes per side, using tongs to flip potatoes halfway in between. Remove to a plate to slightly cool. Coarsely chop sweet potatoes. Thinly slice or chop chicken breasts.
  • ASSEMBLE: Set out even amounts of wild rice and top with chicken and sweet potatoes. Add any other optional toppings; I like a small handful of an arugula/spinach mix, sliced almonds, dried cranberries, and a thinly sliced (or chopped) ripe avocado. Drizzle with sauce and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

Note 1: I like Mrs. Dash's® chicken grilling blend, which does not have salt added. Whatever chicken seasoning blend you use, make sure it doesn't have salt added or you'll need to adjust the salt amount in the rub.
Note 2: Here's what I use when making wild rice; if you'd rather not used packaged wild rice, read the blog post for a homemade wild rice recipe.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 6g | Calories: 441kcal | Carbohydrates: 47.3g | Protein: 37.7g | Fat: 12.6g | Cholesterol: 110.3mg | Sodium: 162.7mg | Fiber: 4.9g | Sugar: 9.7g

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Grilled Flank Steak

Easy grilled flank steak with a delicious marinade and an easy cilantro-parsley chimichurri. This grilled flank steak recipe includes a simple marinade, easy rub, and a delicious chimichurri sauce. Recipe from: chelseasmessyapron.com

Here’s our absolute favorite recipe for easy Grilled Flank Steak. It marinates in a simple blend of ingredients focused on maximizing flavor and tenderness, and then gets a quick rub of spices before being grilled to perfection. If desired, top this delicious flank steak with the simple chimichurri herb sauce included in this recipe.

Keep the grill going and pair Grilled Flank Steak with our favorite grilled corn salad.

 

Overhead image of the grilled flank steak with chimichurri sauce over it

The best-ever Grilled Flank Steak

Grilled Flank Steak is a recipe I make all summer long and have for years now. It’s a family favorite and a hit with anyone that gives it a try.

The steak starts in a simple marinade of just six ingredients, and then after it’s marinated, we add a quick four-ingredient spice rub to maximize flavor. And while this grilled flank steak can certainly stand on its own, it’s truly out of this world when paired with an easy herb sauce — my (inauthentic) take on chimichurri. A lot of the ingredients overlap from the marinade to the herb sauce, so why not whip that up too?!

What is flank steak?

Flank steak is cut from the bottom abdominal area of the cow, so it contains a lot of hard-working muscles. A flank steak has a lot of tough fibers running throughout it and is a fairly lean piece of meat. It’s also slightly thicker and wider than skirt steak (read about the differences between skirt and flank steak here). 

QUICK TIP

Sometimes a grocery store will label a flank steak under a different name such as a London Broil, Flank Steak Fillet, and/or Jiffy Steak. When in doubt, ask the person at the meat counter. If you can’t find a flank steak, flat iron steak, hanger steak, or skirt steak will all work similarly with this recipe.

Process shots: Assemble the marinade ingredients; mix to combine; add steak to the mixture; separately, combine the rub ingredients; sprinkle over steak and rub in; grill to desired level of doneness.

Is flank steak tough or tender?

Since flank steak is lean with tough fibers, it benefits from the tenderizing effects of a marinade. Flank steak is a thin cut of meat with a lot of surface area between the string-like muscle fibers, so it absorbs the flavors of the marinade well.

Flank steak is going to be most tender when it is thinly sliced against the grain and cooked to  medium rare. By using this marinade recipe and following a few tips I’ll share in this post, you’ll end up with the absolute best flank steak — it practically melts in your mouth, it’s so tender.

Grilled Flank Steak will end up tough if it’s not marinated (or marinated too long), not cooked at a high temperature, over-cooked, or sliced in the same direction of the muscle fibers.

How do you cook flank steak so it’s not tough?

  • Make sure the grill is completely heated before you add the steak to the grates. High heat sears the surface of the meat, resulting in a juicier steak with an amazing char.
  • Cut the cooked steak against the grain and sliced on the bias. Here’s more on that! It’s especially important to cut against the grain (at a steep diagonal so slices are wide) because of all the tough muscle fibers. By cutting against the grain, it reduces the length of those muscle fibers to make chewing easier. 
  • Slicing on the bias means holding the knife at a 45-degree angle instead of the standard bread slicing angle.
  • We like to use a long serrated, sharp bread knife to cut a grilled flank steak. However, any sharp knife will work.
  • Use a meat thermometer to ensure the meat is perfectly cooked to your personal preference (more on this below).

QUICK TIP

Flank steak is very lean and will be tough and chewy if it is cut in the same direction of the muscle fibers.

Process shots: Make chimichurri sauce by first combining red wine vinegar, garlic and lime juice; finely chop and lightly pack parsley and cilantro and add to vinegar; add seasonings and honey; stir well and let sit; serve over steak.

How long does it take to grill a flank steak?

One of the best things about flank steak is how quick it is to grill! It takes about 8-10 minutes to grill to medium-rare.

I prefer grilled flank steak at medium rare and find it loses flavor and texture when cooked beyond medium.  A high grill temperature and short grilling time will keep a flank steak tender. 

That said, cook the steak exactly how you like it!  Below are the temperatures for cooking flank steak to your personal preference.

Fully preheat the grill to 450 degrees F. Aim to keep the grill that consistent temperature throughout the grilling process.

  • Rare: 120-125 degrees F
  • Medium-Rare: 135 degrees F (about 4-5 minutes on one side and another 4-5 minutes on the other side)
  • Medium: 140 degrees F (about 5-7 minutes on one side and another 3-5 minutes on the other side)
  • Medium-Well: 150 degrees F (about 8-10 minutes on one side and another 3-5 minutes on the other side)
  • Well-Done: 160-175 degrees F.

**Time depends on the steak’s thickness, your grill, and actual temperature of your grill**

QUICK TIP

Pull the steaks off about 5 degrees below the desired temperature — the flank steak will “cook” those last 5 degrees from carryover heat as it rests tented under foil.

Overhead view of Grilled Flank Steak, sliced and topped with chimichurri sauce.

Sauce tips

The chimichurri sauce that tops this Grilled Flank Steak isn’t complicated to make but can be a little time consuming if made by hand. Personally, I think it’s best with hand-chopped herbs (hand chopping creates a more coarse and textured sauce), but you can save time by using a food processor or small blender. Here are a few other tips:

  • Make the sauce ahead of time. I recommend making the sauce in advance right after making the marinade. This herb sauce just gets more and more flavorful as it sits! 
  • Make sure to completely dry the herbs. After washing the cilantro and parsley, take the time to fully dry them (a salad spinner makes this process go fast). If you use wet herbs, the sauce will taste watery.
  • Use good quality, extra-virgin olive oil. The better your olive oil, the better the flavor of the sauce. 

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Grilled Flank Steak

4.58 from 7 votes
Our absolute favorite recipe for an easy Grilled Flank Steak. This steak starts in a simple marinade and then gets a quick rub of spices before being grilled to perfection. If desired, top this delicious steak with simple chimichurri herb sauce included in this recipe.
Print Recipe

Grilled Flank Steak

4.58 from 7 votes
Our absolute favorite recipe for an easy Grilled Flank Steak. This steak starts in a simple marinade and then gets a quick rub of spices before being grilled to perfection. If desired, top this delicious steak with simple chimichurri herb sauce included in this recipe.
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword grilled flank steak
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Marinating Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 682kcal
Cost $19.75

Ingredients

Steak & Marinade

  • 1.5 - 2 pounds (907g) flank steak
  • 1/4 cup (52g) olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup EACH: honey (84g) and soy sauce (65g)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped Italian parsley

Quick Spices

  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon EACH: ground cumin, ground coriander seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Chimmichurri

  • 3-4 cloves finely chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 large lime (2 tablespoons juice)
  • 1/2 cup (30g) finely chopped cilantro (~1 full bunch)
  • 1/2 cup (33g) finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley (~1 full bunch)
  • 1/2 cup (104g) good-quality olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • fine sea salt and freshly cracked pepper

Instructions

  • PREP: Remove flank steak from packaging and pat dry with paper towels. Place in a large resealable bag.
  • MARINADE: In a bowl, combine the olive oil, minced garlic, red wine vinegar, honey, soy sauce, pepper, and 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped Italian parsley. Whisk together and pour over the flank steak. Seal and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour and preferably 4-6 hours. Flip the steak in the bag halfway through the marinating time.
  • CHIMICHURRI SAUCE: I like to make this the same time I'm marinating the meat, because it gets more flavorful as it sits. In a large mason jar, add the finely chopped garlic cloves (2-3 cloves if sensitive to garlic, or 4 cloves for garlic lover!), red wine vinegar and freshly squeezed lime juice. Stir and set aside. Finely chop a bunch of parsley to get a full 1/2 cup gently packed (you should use most, if not all of a good sized bunch; some stems are fine -- I just remove the bulk of large stems and then chop the rest). Chop the cilantro and measure to get a lightly packed 1/2 cup. Add the parsley and cilantro to the mason jar along with the olive oil, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, and honey. Season to taste with salt and pepper (I use 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper). Stir thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate while the meat marinates.
  • GRILL PREP: Preheat the grill to 450 degrees F. Once heated, clean the grill grates with a wire brush. Liberally oil the grill (I do this by drenching a paper towel in canola or vegetable oil and, holding tongs, rubbing the paper towel over the grill). This will ensure the meat doesn't stick to the grates and gets a great char (char = flavor!)
  • QUICK SPICES: Stir together 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
  • STEAK: Remove from marinade and discard remaining marinade. Sprinkle half the rub on top of the steak. Place on fully heated grill (rub-side down) and quickly sprinkle the rub on top. Close grill lid. Cook for 4-5 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature is 130-135 degrees F for medium rare or 145 degrees for medium. (I use a meat thermometer here. My grill takes exactly 4 minutes per side at 450 degrees F.) Remove the steak from the grill to a cutting board. Tent with foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Once the steak has rested, slice it very thinly against the grain (See Note 1). Serve with chimichurri herb sauce.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Find the fibers on the steak and determine how they are running along the steak. Once you find that grain, slice perpendicular (here's a visual). This will keep the meat juicier and much more tender. It's easier to chew when cut against the grain.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 682kcal | Carbohydrates: 26.5g | Protein: 41.9g | Fat: 46.5g | Cholesterol: 215mg | Sodium: 556.4mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 22.9g

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Homemade Granola Bars

These easy Homemade Granola Bars are made with oats, nuts, honey, and a little bit of chocolate for good measure!

These chewy granola bar copycats are so much better than store-bought! They’re fresh and flavorful, sticky and chewy, and loaded with tasty, filling ingredients.

For naturally sweetened bars (with dates), check out this granola bars recipe. For a chocolate-loaded version, try these chocolate granola bars next!

Image of Homemade Granola Bars, cut and ready to eat.

Homemade Granola Bars

My kids inhale granola bars. We bring them everywhere — to the park, to the doctor’s, to the store….they can count on me always having a few in my purse or in the car ready to hand out.

Since we go through them so quickly, I’ve started making my own. I love knowing exactly what’s in them and honestly, I think they taste way better — and  the kids agree!

This recipe is basically a copycat version of a standard Chewy granola bar. They are indeed chewy, chocolate-y, and packed with good-for-you grains and other nutritious ingredients. 

They are also very simple to make. I typically whip up a batch every Monday morning (and again on Thursday, because like I said, my kids inhale them), and from start to finish it never takes more than 20-25 minutes. While there is some baking required, it’s only to toast the nuts and oats. Toasting these ingredients results in an irresistible roasted flavor that completely elevates the taste of these homemade gems.

Close-up image of the oats and nuts, ready to toast in the oven.

How to make granola bars from scratch

  1. Start by toasting the oats and nuts. Any nuts can be used in these bars; our favorites are cashews and almonds. Toasting them improves the overall flavor of the bars and keeps them from getting overly soft when the wet ingredients are added in.
  2. Prepare the syrup mixture. While the oats toast, add butter, honey, and brown sugar to a small pan and heat until smooth. 
  3. Combine mixtures. Once the nuts and oats are toasted and syrup is smooth, combine everything in a large bowl, along with toasted coconut flakes, salt, and vanilla extract.
  4. Finish the bars. Add the chocolate chips at the end, since they melt down a bit from residual heat, but that also help hold the bars together. Compress the bars firmly in the pan and chill until set up.

A commonly asked question is why granola bars fall apart; I have a few tips!

Why do my granola bars fall apart?

Homemade granola bars will fall apart for a few different reasons:

  1. There is not enough syrup mixture. Make sure to measure the honey to the top of the measuring cup and scoop every bit of it into the saucepan. Don’t reduce the brown sugar or butter amounts either; every bit of the syrup is needed to ensure the bars stay together.
  2. They aren’t compressed firmly into the pan. Press the granola mixture hard and firmly into the pan; use the bottom of a 1 cup measuring cup to get leverage in pressing them down.
  3. The bars haven’t been chilled long enough. While hot or even warm, the bars will crumble into granola instead of a bar. Make sure the bars spend enough time in the fridge until they are completely firm.

Process shots of making Homemade Granola Bars: melt honey, butter, brown sugar and salt; heat and stir until smooth; combine oats, nuts and coconut; pour syrup mixture in; combine and mix in chocolate chips; press into pan; add chocolate chips on top.

Homemade Granola Bar variations

  • Nuts: Pretty much any coarsely chopped nuts will work in these bars. You can use a single variety of nuts, the two nuts as indicated in the recipe, or even use a combination of three types of nuts (as long as quantities remain consistent — 1/2 cup total of nuts in these bars).
    • If you aren’t a fan of cashews and almonds try one of these other ideas: pistachios, walnuts, pecans, peanuts, or hazelnuts
  • Chocolate chips: For healthier bars, dark chocolate chips can be used instead of the semi-sweet chocolate chips listed in the recipe. You can also replace the chocolate chips with a different mix in such as chopped dried cranberries, raisins, or extra coconut. Note that the chocolate does help to hold these together a bit better.
  • Butter: You can replace the butter with 1/4 cup coconut oil (measured in the hardened state). While this substitution works, the bars are slightly more prone to falling apart and do need to be stored in the fridge.
  • Add some spices: For a fall-flavored bar, try adding in some pumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice; even some cinnamon would be nice! I’d recommend 1/2 to 1 full teaspoon.
  • Love salted chocolate treats? Add a small sprinkle of sea salt flakes to the top of individual bars. If adding salt on top, I’d recommend leaving it out of the base.

Recipe tips

  • Line the pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang for easy removal. These bars are near impossible to get out nicely in an unlined pan. Aluminum foil will also work in a pinch.
  • Coarsely chop the nuts. If the pieces of cashews and/or almonds are too large, they will cause these Homemade Granola Bars to fall apart easier; plus, a full almond or cashew can be overwhelming in a bite.
  • Adjust the salt. If you use salted nuts in the recipe, you may want to decrease the amount of added salt.
  • Use old-fashioned oats. Quick oats and steel-cut oats will both create the wrong texture and won’t work properly in these bars — it will end up more like granola than a granola bar.

Overhead shot of Homemade Granola Bars, with a hand reaching to take one.

Homemade Granola Bar storage

I wrap each bar individually in plastic wrap and then keep the wrapped bars in a larger container or zipper top plastic bag in the fridge — perfect for on the go! We do prefer these bars straight out of the fridge!

These bars will stay fresh for a week when stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Leftover bars can be frozen for up to 3 months. More info on freezing bars here.

More healthy snacks

QUICK TIP

Take your time pressing this homemade granola bar mixture into the pan; the harder and firmer you press down, the less the bars will fall apart.

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Homemade Granola Bars

5 from 5 votes
These easy Homemade Granola Bars are made with oats, nuts, honey, and a little bit of chocolate for good measure!
Print Recipe

Homemade Granola Bars

5 from 5 votes
These easy Homemade Granola Bars are made with oats, nuts, honey, and a little bit of chocolate for good measure!
Course Breakfast, Snack, Vegetarian
Cuisine American, Healthy, Vegetarian
Keyword homemade granola bars
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 28 minutes
Servings 12 bars
Calories 212kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 and 1/2 cups (238g) old fashioned oats (do not use quick or steel oats)
  • 1/4 cup (34g) whole cashews, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup (34g) whole almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup (111g) honey
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup (67g) light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • scant 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (See Note 1)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (28g) toasted coconut flakes, optional
  • 1/2 cup (82g) miniature chocolate chips, divided

Instructions

  • PREP: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper or a silpat liner. Line a separate 8x8 inch pan (thicker bars) or 9x9 inch pan (thinner bars) with parchment paper, leaving an overhang for easy removal.
  • TOAST OATS AND NUTS: Add the oats to the sheet pan. Coarsely chop the cashews and almonds and add to the pan. Bake for 2-3 minutes, stir around, and bake for another 2-3 minutes or until lightly toasted and fragrant. Remove and allow to slightly cool.
  • SYRUP MIXTURE: Meanwhile, cut the butter into small cubes. Add the honey, butter, brown sugar, and salt to a mediu- sized saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir constantly until the mixture is completely smooth and sugar is fully dissolved. Remove immediately from the heat (do not simmer or boil mixture).
  • BARS: In a large bowl, combine the toasted oat and nut mixture with the coconut flakes. Pour the syrup mixture over the bars and add in the vanilla extract. Stir well, until all the oats and nuts are coated in the syrup mixture. Let cool for a few minutes and then add in 1/4 cup of the chocolate chips. They will get a little melty and that's intentional to hold the bars together well.
  • CHILL: Transfer the mixture into the prepared pan and use a silicone spatula to compress the bars. Take your time and press them very firmly (this is important to avoid crumbling later on). Once the mixture is evenly pressed down, add the remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips and press those gently to adhere to the top of the bars. Cover the pan and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour and up to 3 before cutting into bars.
  • CUT BARS: Using the parchment paper overhang, pull the bars out of the pan and use a sharp knife to cut into 12 evenly sized bars.
  • STORAGE: Store the bars in an airtight container. Refrigerate for firmer bars and leave at room temperature for softer bars (we love these bars straight out of the fridge!). Granola bars are best enjoyed within 7 days. Freeze leftover bars for up to 3 months.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: If you use salted nuts in this recipe, you may want to decrease the amount of added salt.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 12bars | Calories: 212kcal | Carbohydrates: 31.6g | Protein: 3.5g | Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 10.2mg | Sodium: 2.6mg | Fiber: 2.7g | Sugar: 19.1g

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Asian Pasta Salad

The ultimate BEST EVER Asian Pasta Salad! Mandarin, chicken, almond pasta salad with the BEST sesame dressing! via chelseasmessyapron.com

 This Asian Pasta Salad is loaded with tender pasta, fresh baby spinach, crisp red peppers, toasted sliced almonds, sweet and juicy mandarin oranges, crunchy carrots, and fresh herbs. The salad is tossed with an addictive sesame-soy sauce dressing that is the perfect complement to all the ingredients. We like to add in some rotisserie chicken for added protein, but it’s optional, so this salad can be made vegetarian!

We love this pasta salad on the side of these Asian chicken tacos — it’s a match made in heaven!

Overhead image of Asian Pasta Salad.

This is a step away from mayo-laden pasta salads (hi, still love you guys too!) to a fresh and light Asian-inspired dish. We love the crisp textures, the fresh flavors, and the dressing is insanely good.

While pasta salads can often feel heavy and one-note, this salad is anything but that. It’s got plenty of fresh veggies (and fruit — thanks to the mandarins!) and the dressing has plenty of components — soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame seeds, and sesame oil to give it depth of flavor and textural components.

Asian Pasta Salad recipe tips

  • Make sure the pasta is well-salted as it cooks, since salting is the only chance you have to season the actual pasta. As a rule of thumb, I add 1 teaspoon salt to 4 cups of water, so about 1 tablespoon of salt when cooking the rotini noodles for this salad.
  • Get a small textured pasta. Choose pasta that has plenty of nooks and crannies to hold the delicious sesame-soy sauce dressing. If you can’t find rotini, I recommend miniature shells, miniature farfalle, or fusilli.
  • Cook the pasta to al dente. Since the pasta sits in dressing, it has a tendency to get soggy if it has been overcooked. On the flip side, pasta becomes a little firmer when served cold, so don’t under-cook it! I cook it right to the package directions of what al dente is (for rotini, that is 7-8 minutes).
  • Make the dressing in advance. This dressing benefits from being made in advance and chilling in the fridge; the flavors meld together and intensify, plus it does taste better chilled.

Process shots--images of the pasta being cooked and cooled; all the salad ingredients being added on top of a bed of spinach, and the dressing being made; dressing being poured over the salad.

Rotisserie chicken

Rotisserie chicken adds protein and filling power to this salad, but it can be left out for a quicker prep or if this salad is planned to be more of a side dish than main course. It can also be left out to make a vegetarian salad. 

I like using rotisserie chicken for a quick prep time. And since the rotisserie chicken is seasoned, it lends more flavor to this salad.

If you aren’t purchasing a rotisserie chicken, you can make your own rotisserie chicken and use the leftover meat in this salad. Alternatively, you can use leftover grilled chicken or any other leftover chicken; just make sure to chop it into bite-sized pieces. 

I’ll usually buy (or make) a rotisserie chicken and use it in one meal (like these rotisserie chicken tacos or peanut chicken lettuce wraps) and set aside 1 and 1/2 cups of the chicken to use in Asian Pasta Salad later in the week.

Image of the dish being tossed together.

Variations

  • Add a creamy element. My favorite creamy element is avocado. Since avocados don’t hold up well in the salad, if you add them, add to individual plates right before serving. 
  • Use a roasted red pepper. While a raw red pepper is great in this salad and it’s what I typically use, you can try roasted red peppers for a softer, smokier flavor. You can buy jars of roasted red peppers at the store; they are usually near things like pickles, capers, and artichoke hearts.
  • Use fresh clementines. In place of the canned mandarins, peel some clementines, segment them, and use those.
  • Replace the spinach with chopped baby kale. (read about how to prepare it in this kale couscous salad!)

How to toast sliced almonds

Spread the sliced almonds into an even layer in a small, dry (no need to add oil) skillet over medium-heat and stir them around a bit until they are fragrant and toasted to your liking.

Watch the almonds carefully; they can go from perfectly toasted to burnt in an instant! I like to remove them as soon as they begin to smell fragrant. They make the perfect crunchy topping for this Asian Pasta Salad.

Image of the dressing being poured over the Asian Pasta Salad.

Storing Asian Pasta Salad 

  • This salad doesn’t sit or store well once dressed. The dressing will wilt the spinach, the veggies soften, and the almonds get soggy. 
  • The salad can be made in advance if everything is stored separately and tossed together right before serving. 
  • Asian Pasta Salad does not freeze or thaw well.

More pasta salads

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Asian Pasta Salad

5 from 3 votes
 Asian Pasta Salad is loaded with tender pasta, fresh baby spinach, crisp red peppers, toasted sliced almonds, sweet and juicy mandarin oranges, crunchy carrots, and fresh herbs. The salad is tossed with an addictive sesame-soy sauce dressing that is the perfect complement to all the ingredients. We like to add in some rotisserie chicken for added protein, but it's optional, so this salad can be made to be vegetarian!
Print Recipe

Asian Pasta Salad

5 from 3 votes
 Asian Pasta Salad is loaded with tender pasta, fresh baby spinach, crisp red peppers, toasted sliced almonds, sweet and juicy mandarin oranges, crunchy carrots, and fresh herbs. The salad is tossed with an addictive sesame-soy sauce dressing that is the perfect complement to all the ingredients. We like to add in some rotisserie chicken for added protein, but it's optional, so this salad can be made to be vegetarian!
Course Salad
Cuisine Chinese
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 452kcal
Cost $6.23

Ingredients

  • 1 package (16 ounces) rotini pasta
  • 4.5 cups (5 ounces 147g) fresh baby spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (202g) shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 1/2 cup (65g) red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 can (15 ounces) mandarin oranges
  • 1/2 cup (45g) shredded carrots
  • 1/3 cup (15g) fresh green onions, chopped
  • 1/3 cup (9g) fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Optional: 1/3 cup sliced almonds (32g) (toasted if desired)

Dressing

  • 1/2 cup (97g) vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup (88g) soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup (73g) rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Instructions

  • PASTA: Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook according to package directions. Drain pasta, and rinse under cold water until cool. Transfer to a large bowl and immediately toss with 3-4 tablespoons of the dressing (see next step).
  • DRESSING: While the pasta is cooking, prepare the dressing. Combine vegetable oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, ginger, pepper, and sesame seeds in a mason jar. Place the lid on and shake until combined.
  • ASSEMBLE SALAD: Add the coarsely chopped spinach, shredded rotisserie chicken, chopped red pepper, drained mandarin oranges, shredded carrots, chopped green onions, and fresh cilantro to the large bowl with the cooled pasta,.
  • DRESS SALAD: Toss all the ingredients together gently and then coat with the dressing to desired amount. Enjoy immediately. (This salad doesn't store well with the dressing, so only dress what will be eaten right away). If desired, top with sliced toasted almonds (Note 1).

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: If desired, toast the almonds. Spread the sliced almonds into an even layer in a small, dry (no need to add oil ) skillet over medium-heat and stir them around a bit until they are fragrant and toasted to your liking. Watch the almonds carefully; they can go from perfectly toasted to burnt in an instant! I like to remove them as soon as they begin to smell fragrant.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 8servings | Calories: 452kcal | Carbohydrates: 20.2g | Protein: 26.4g | Fat: 29.3g | Sodium: 500.8mg | Fiber: 1.3g | Sugar: 9.4g

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Ham and Cheese Hoagies

Crusty toasted rolls are topped with sautéed and and seasoned veggies, deli ham, and melty Provolone cheese. This Ham and Cheese Hoagies recipe comes from my brother-in-law who is practically famous for them 🙂

Pair these hearty hoagies with a light side salad like this Olive Garden Salad or this summer Panzanella Salad.

Close-up view of a Ham and Cheese Hoagie.

My brother-in-law’s “famous” sandwich

This sandwich is my brother-in-law’s specialty. His wife–my sister– has raved about it to me a few times, yet after hearing her description of it, I was a bit skeptical. After he made them for a few more of my siblings and their spouses to great reviews, though, I knew I had to give this sandwich a try.

And now I totally get the hype. These Ham and Cheese Hoagies are incredible! They’re a combination of a cheesy ham sandwich and a Philly cheesesteak, and they couldn’t be easier to make. Bonus: they’re also very inexpensive and great for clearing out those lingering leftover veggies in the fridge.

While you will be chopping a few veggies, once they’re in the skillet sautéing, it’s pretty much hands-off. These sandwiches can  be on the table in 30 minutes or less! And while I normally consider sandwiches lunch fare, Ham and Cheese Hoagies are hearty and comforting enough to be enjoyed as a filling dinner.

Process shots: Combining oil, onion and peppers in a pan; sautéing; adding garlic and mushrooms; sautéing again; add chopped ham and seasonings; heat through.

Ham and Cheese Hoagies variations

  • Swap the meat. I know, I know, these are ham and cheese hoagies, but feel free to use thinly sliced steak or browned ground beef or a different meat instead of ham.
  • Switch up the veggies. If there are veggies in these hoagies you don’t like, swap them for more a of different veggie.
  • Simplify the seasonings. These Ham and Cheese Hoagies are supposed to be easy! So if you don’t have all the different seasonings, just use 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning instead.

Process shots: Season ham and veggie mix with salt and pepper; separate into four equal parts; add Provolone cheese; heat to melt the cheese.

Ham and Cheese Hoagie tips

  • If you don’t want to use the oven at all for this recipe, no worries. Simply add the cheese and cover the pan. Residual heat will melt the cheese enough that you can then gently stir the cheese into the veggies and ham. 
  • Slice the veggies thinly and evenly. The more evenly the veggies are cut, the more evenly they’ll cook up.
  • Cut long strips of veggies in half. If the pepper or onion slices are too long, they’ll fall out of the sandwich. Aim for 1 and 1/2-inch-long strips.

QUICK TIP

Buttering the buns and toasting them adds a great flavor and keeps the bread from getting soggy too quickly.

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Ham and Cheese Hoagies

0 from 0 votes
Crusty toasted  rolls are topped with sautéed and and seasoned veggies, deli ham, and melty Provolone cheese.
Print Recipe

Ham and Cheese Hoagies

0 from 0 votes
Crusty toasted  rolls are topped with sautéed and and seasoned veggies, deli ham, and melty Provolone cheese.
Course Dinner, lunch, Main Course, Sandwich
Cuisine American
Keyword Ham & Cheese Hoagies
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 sandwiches
Calories 465kcal
Cost $5.61

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups baby bella mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 pound deli ham, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon EACH: dried parsley, dried basil, Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, optional
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 slices Provolone cheese
  • 4 small crusty hoagie buns + softened butter (optional)

Instructions

  • PREP: Preheat the oven to high broil (optional). Thinly slice the peppers, onion, and mushrooms. See Note 1. Mince the garlic and chop up the ham.
  • COOK: In a large (12 inch) oven-safe skillet, heat the olive oil on medium-high. Add in the sliced peppers and onion. Season with salt and pepper, about 1/8 teaspoon each. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until softened and onion is translucent. Add in the sliced mushrooms and garlic. Stir-fry for another 3-5 minutes or until veggies are crisp tender. Add in the chopped deli ham along with the parsley, basil, Italian seasoning, and dried thyme. Season again with salt and pepper to taste; I add about 1/4 teaspoon of each. Stir and heat through the ham for about 2-3 minutes.
  • BROIL: In the pan, separate the mixture into 4 equal parts and section those parts into 4 mounds in the skillet about the width of the Provolone cheese slices (see picture in post). Place a slice of cheese over each section. Cover the pan and let melt for a few minutes, or slide into the oven and broil for 1-2 minutes, watching closely to avoid burning anything. Gently mix the cheese into the peppers and onions in each individual portion. The cheese will help hold everything together.
  • HOAGIE BUNS: If desired, spread butter on the insides of the buns. Add to a skillet or griddle and lightly brown the buns over medium heat. Add one scoop of the cheesy meat and veggies per bun. Enjoy while hot!

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Slice the veggies thinly and evenly for even cooking. If the pepper or onion slices are too long, they'll fall out of the sandwich easily. Aim for 1 and 1/2-inch-long strips, so cut long strips in half lengthwise.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1sandwich | Calories: 465kcal | Carbohydrates: 35.8g | Protein: 26.1g | Fat: 22g | Cholesterol: 73.1mg | Sodium: 482.9mg | Fiber: 3.4g | Sugar: 9.1g

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Peanut Butter Brownie Bites

Miniature Peanut Butter Brownie Bites: creamy peanut butter filling in a chocolate fudge brownie covered in a soft, chocolate ganache.

While this recipe uses a packaged brownie mix, I also share in the post how to make the brownie portion from scratch. If you’re ready for another similar (and popular!) mini brownie recipe to save for next time, try these mini brownie bites with Rolos®.

Overhead image of the peanut butter brownie bites with a bite taken out of two of them

Peanut Butter Brownie Bites

If you like chocolate and peanut butter and love brownies, you will fall head over heels for Peanut Butter Brownie Bites! They start with a fudgy brownie base, then add a soft, rich, and buttery peanut butter filling, and a rich, milk chocolate ganache tops everything off.

These treats are rich, but they’re small, so it doesn’t feel like an overly heavy treat. They’re the perfect dessert to serve to a crowd, to bring to an event, or to serve at a dessert/cookie exchange party. These Peanut Butter Brownie Bites transport well, store nicely, and best of all, they’re totally delicious!

Process shots: bowl with brownie mix and other ingredients; mix to combine; grease pan and dust with cocoa powder; add batter to the pan; bake; create an indent in each hot brownie.

Let’s talk brownies

Not interested in using a brownie mix? No problem! This homemade brownie bites recipe is the perfect replacement for the mix in this recipe. 

Follow that brownie bites recipe with this exception: instead of adding the chocolate bar into the center of the brownie bites, leave the chocolate out, and press the 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon into the brownie to create a little well that we’ll fill with peanut butter.

As far as brownie mixes go, use your favorite brand. I have a few preferred mixes (none of the below are sponsored):

If using Ghirardelli’s brownie mix, the overall yield of brownies will be higher. I typically use Betty Crocker’s mix for this recipe.

Process shots: Cream the peanut butter and butter; add in powdered sugar and vanilla and mix well; fill brownie cups with the peanut butter mixture.

Peanut Butter Brownie Bite filling

The center filling on these Peanut Butter Brownie Bites consists of four ingredients:

  • Creamy peanut butter: Stay away from natural or no-stir peanut butters for this recipe. I recommend Skippy’s® creamy peanut butter for best flavor (it’s sweeter!) and consistency (not sponsored).
  • Unsalted butter: The butter gives the filling a rich, smooth texture that complements the peanut butter flavor nicely, and ensures that peanut butter is not the only flavor. I recommend unsalted butter so we can perfectly control the salt in these treats.
  • Powdered sugar: The powdered sugar provides sweetness and structure. If you’d like a thicker filling, add a bit more; for a softer and creamier filling, use less.
  • Vanilla extract: It’s a nice flavor enhancer, but if you don’t have any vanilla on hand, these Peanut Butter Brownie Bites are fine without it!
  • Optional: salt. If you’re using unsalted butter and the peanut butter you are using is not salted, you’ll want to add a small pinch of salt. This helps intensify flavors and balance the sweetness.

QUICK TIP

If the peanut butter filling is too soft and not filling up the brownies nicely, simply put it in the fridge for 20-30 minutes. Once it’s firmed up a bit, it’s very easy to work with.

Chocolate ganache

The chocolate ganache only has three ingredients: milk chocolate (or use semi-sweet chocolate if you’re concerned about sweetness), heavy cream, and corn syrup. The corn syrup gives these peanut butter brownie bites a beautiful glossy finish but leave it out if you choose.

In this recipe I recommend making half of the ganache, dipping half the brownie bites, and then making the rest of the ganache, and dipping the rest of the brownie bites. I’ve found that dipping the brownie bites works best in smaller batches, so the chocolate doesn’t harden before you’re finished dipping.

I recommend high-quality chocolate chips for best flavor and melting. I personally love Ghirardelli® or Guittard® (not sponsored).

Process shots: combine chocolate chips, heavy cream and corn syrup. Heat and stir frequently until melted and smooth; dip brownie bites in chocolate; shake off excess.

Storing Peanut Butter Brownie Bites 

These bites are best enjoyed within a day or two of making. Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container, and then allow time for the brownie bites to stand at room temperature (about 30 minutes or so) before eating, so the brownies aren’t too hard.

QUICK TIP

Number 1 tip: Use a good nonstick miniature muffin tin. I can’t say enough good things about this muffin pan; these Peanut Butter Brownie Bites always come out beautifully! Even with a nonstick muffin tin, you’ll want to prepare the pan by generously greasing it with shortening. This is truly the best way to ensure the brownie bites come out nice and easily.

More brownie recipes:

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Peanut Butter Brownie Bites

5 from 4 votes
Miniature Peanut Butter Brownie Bites: creamy peanut butter filling in a chocolate fudge brownie bite topped with a soft chocolate ganache.
Print Recipe

Peanut Butter Brownie Bites

5 from 4 votes
Miniature Peanut Butter Brownie Bites: creamy peanut butter filling in a chocolate fudge brownie bite topped with a soft chocolate ganache.
Course Dessert, Snack, Vegetarian
Cuisine American, Vegetarian
Keyword peanut butter brownie bites
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Total Time 38 minutes
Servings 36 miniature brownie cups
Calories 141kcal
Cost $4.16

Ingredients

Special equipment

  • A miniature muffin tin

Brownie Base

  • 1 package (17.8 oz; 504g)s) Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix + ingredients called for on the box (I like Betty Crocker's Supreme Triple Chunk mix)

Peanut Butter Filling

  • 1/2 cup (114g) creamy peanut butter
  • 4 tablespoons (56.8g) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup (52g) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional: pinch of salt

Topping

  • 4 tablespoons heavy whipping cream, separated
  • 2/3 cup (4 ounces; 116g) milk chocolate (or semi-sweet) chips, separated (See Note 1)
  • 2 teaspoons light corn syrup, separated

To prepare the pan:

  • Shortening and cocoa powder

Instructions

  • PREP: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Rub shortening into each cavity of a miniature muffin pan. Dust with cocoa powder, shaking off and discarding any extra. This step is very important so that the brownies come out nicely. I like to use a plastic sandwich bag to keep my hands clean (place the bag on your hand like a glove, dip in shortening, coat muffin tin cavities, repeat). Muffin liners don't work well with this recipe.
  • BROWNIES: Prepare the brownie mix according to package directions. Fill each muffin cavity 2/3 full. Bake for 17-21 minutes, being careful to not over-bake. They should look set and not wet on top.
  • BROWNIES, CONT.: Remove from the oven and immediately gently press the back of a 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon into the center of each brownie. Allow to cool slightly (about 5 minutes) and then gently twist the brownie and pull out. Allow to completely cool on a wire rack.
  • PEANUT BUTTER FILLING: While the brownies cool, beat the peanut butter and butter together until creamy. Add in the powdered sugar and vanilla extract (Add a pinch of salt if your peanut butter is unsalted). Set in the fridge to firm up while the brownies finish cooling.
  • PEANUT BUTTER FILLING, CONT.: Fill the completely cooled brownie cups evenly with the peanut butter filling. Use a knife to smooth the top so it is even.
  • CHOCOLATE GANACHE: I like to separate the ganache into two parts so the chocolate isn't hardening while dipping. Add 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream, 1/3 cup milk chocolate chips, and 1 teaspoon light corn syrup to a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in bursts of 15 seconds, stirring in between each burst for 15 seconds, until melted and smooth. Dip brownies into the ganache and shake off the extra. Once you've used all that chocolate ganache, repeat with the remaining 2 tablespoons heavy cream, 1/3 cup milk chocolate chips, and last teaspoon corn syrup. Dip until all brownie bites have been topped with chocolate ganache.
  • STORAGE: Allow to stand at room temperature to completely set up. These bites are best enjoyed within 1 or 2 days of making. Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container, and allow time for the brownie bites to stand at room temperature (about 30 minutes or so) before eating so the brownies aren't too hard.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: We love milk chocolate, but if you're concerned about sweetness, use semi-sweet chocolate chips instead. I recommend a good, high-quality chocolate chip for best flavor and best melt.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1miniature brownie cup | Calories: 141kcal | Carbohydrates: 16.3g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 7.8g | Cholesterol: 10.2mg | Sodium: 63.7mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 11.3g

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Granola Bars

These Granola Bars are naturally sweetened, easily customizable, require no baking, and are loaded with flavor! For an extra delicious snack, add a layer of chocolate on top!

Not the granola bars you’re looking for? Try these “Chewy” copycat granola bars or chocolate granola bars.

 

Image of Granola Bars, stacked on top of each other, ready to be eaten.

Granola Bars

Granola bars, muesli, granola, energy bites — I love them all! Truthfully, I’d rather eat these granola bars than a candy bar. Not only do they have plenty of (natural) sweetness and flavor, they’re also chewy, chocolate-y, and I always feel great eating them.

These bars are sweet, without refined sugar (depending on the chocolate used). They’re naturally sweetened with dates and pure maple syrup. If you’ve never baked with dates, you’re in for a treat–literally. Dates are the fruit of the date palm tree and they work wonders in naturally sweetening baked goods, smoothies, sauces, desserts, or these very granola bars 🙂

You can read more about the health benefits of dates here, but for today I’ll be sharing how to use dates to make these granola bars.

QUICK TIP

Dates grow on a specific type of palm tree. Medjool dates are very large (good for stuffing) and contain about 66 calories each. Deglet Noor dates are not as sticky and are smaller. They’re less sweet and contain about 20 calories (due to both size and sweetness).

Dates

  • First off, here’s where to find dates in the grocery store. I typically use Sunsweet® or Natural Delights® dates and personally like Deglet Noor dates best, with Medjool dates as a close second — both work great in these granola bars.
  • Make sure the dates you’re using are pitted. An un-pitted date in a blender will wreak havoc on the blades.
    • How to pit a date: Using a small serrated or paring knife, slice lengthwise down into the date. Pull open the date and you’ll see a long hard pit; remove it and discard. If the dates are soft, you can easily pull them apart with your hands and remove the pit.
  • The dates should be soft enough that you can easily squish them or pull them apart to remove the pit by hand. If they aren’t this soft, you’ll want to soak before using in this recipe. 
    • How to soak dates: Soak them in warm water until they are soft enough to remove the pit by hand (anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours). Make sure to drain well and remove any excess water before using in Granola Bars.
  • Blend the dates to a thick paste. The date “paste” is primarily what will bind and sweeten the bars. To blend dates down to a paste, it’s important to have a high-powered blender or food processor. Pulse or blend until a thick, smooth paste forms. This may take some patience and breaks to scrape edges and stir before blending again. (I use a miniature twister jar with a Blendtec® and it usually takes about 1-2 minutes to blend soft dates into a paste.)

Process shots-- images of the dates being blended; all the other ingredients being added to a bowl and mixed together; melted chocolate being poured over the bars; the bars cooling; and then being cut up.

Granola Bar variations

  • Swap the nuts: We love chopped pistachios in these bars, but any nut will work, including almonds, walnuts, pecans, and hazelnuts. Make sure to coarsely chop the nuts and use 3/4 cup (98g) in this recipe. If you’d like to leave out the nuts, replace them with equal amounts of coarsely chopped dried fruit (like dried tart cherries, dried cranberries, dried apricots, raisins, etc.)
  • Use a different nut butter: Swap out the peanut butter for almond butter, cashew butter, or another nut butter. Depending on the nut butter used, you may need slightly more of it (almond butter tends to be slightly drier than peanut butter). You’ll know you need more if the mixture is crumbling and not coming together nicely. Add additional nut butter slowly; use 1-2 tablespoons at a time.
  • Swap the sweetener: Switch maple syrup for agave nectar or honey. I would not recommend leaving out the dates or swapping those for anything else.
  • Leave off the chocolate topping: Don’t love dark chocolate? Leave it off! The dark chocolate could also be swapped for milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate; the bars will simply be sweeter (with refined sugars). Alternatively, only melt 1/4 cup chocolate and drizzle it on top of these bars (like in this no bake granola bars recipe).

QUICK TIP

For extra flavor (without extra effort) use roasted and salted nuts in these Granola Bars. If you only have raw nuts, you can quickly toast them in the oven (toast the oats while you’re at it!). Add the oats and nuts to a lined sheet pan and bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees F, stirring once halfway in between. The nuts and oats should smell fragrant, but not burned.

Up-close image of Granola Bars being stacked on top of each other.

Granola Bar tips

  • Use an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer to thoroughly mix ingredients. This Granola Bar mixture can be thick and sticky. An electric hand mixer can be very helpful in ensuring the date paste incorporates thoroughly.
  • Press the bars firmly into the pan. Once all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed, that mixture needs to be compressed into the pan. The better compressed the bars, the less likely they are to fall apart later on.
  • Add some salt. If you use salted nuts or plan on adding sea salt flakes to top the bars, don’t worry about adding salt to the base of this recipe. If you don’t use salted nuts or add salt flakes, I’d recommend adding a scant 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt to the base of these bars.
  • Cut the bars with a large, sharp knife. These bars are more prone to falling apart if a dull knife is being shimmied into the bars. 

QUICK TIP

For gluten-free Granola Bars: While the ingredients in these bars are naturally gluten free, make sure to check all your ingredient labels to verify they weren’t processed in a facility with gluten.

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Granola Bars

5 from 5 votes
These Granola Bars are naturally sweetened, easily customizable, require no baking, and are loaded with flavor! For an extra delicious snack, add a layer of chocolate on top!
Print Recipe

Granola Bars

5 from 5 votes
These Granola Bars are naturally sweetened, easily customizable, require no baking, and are loaded with flavor! For an extra delicious snack, add a layer of chocolate on top!
Course Breakfast, Snack, Vegetarian
Cuisine American
Keyword granola bars
Prep Time 25 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 12 bars
Calories 161kcal
Cost $5.13

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (155g) packed pitted dates (See Note 1)
  • 1/3 cup (77g) creamy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup (102g) pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (51g) quick one-minute oats
  • 1 cup (98g) old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup (98g) roasted and salted pistachios, coarsely chopped (See Note 2)
  • 1/2 cup (85g) miniature chocolate chips (See Note 3)

Granola Bar Topping (Optional)

  • 1 cup (174g) dark or milk chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil

Instructions

  • PREP: Line an 8x8-inch pan with parchment paper or foil, adding an overhang for easy removal. Don't spray with cooking spray as it makes these bars greasy. Set aside.
  • DATES: See Note 1. In a small blender jar (I use the small Twister jar and Blendtec) or a food processor, pulse the pitted dates to create a very thick and sticky paste. This can takes some patience; stir with a spoon and re-blend as needed.
  • ADD NUT BUTTER: Scoop out every last bit of the date paste and add to a large bowl. Add in the peanut butter, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Use an electric hand mixer to beat until combined.
  • REMAINING INGREDIENTS: Stir in the quick oats, old-fashioned oats, miniature chocolate chips, and coarsely chopped pistachios. (If the pistachios and peanut butter you are using aren't salted, add a scant 1/4 teaspoon salt here, too.) Mix until thoroughly combined. If needed, knead the mixture with your hands to get a well-combined and incorporated mixture.
  • FORM INTO BARS: Transfer the mixture into the prepared 8x8-inch baking pan and very firmly press the mixture into an even layer. Use the bottom of a flat 1 cup measuring cup to help firmly press. Set aside.
  • OPTIONAL CHOCOLATE TOPPING: In a large, microwave-safe bowl, combine the chocolate chips and coconut oil (measured when the oil is in a hardened state). Microwave in bursts of 15 seconds, stirring in between each burst for 15 seconds, until melted and smooth. Pour melted chocolate evenly over the bars, and tip the pan around to create an even layer of chocolate on top. Cover and refrigerate until the chocolate is completely set.
  • CUT INTO BARS: Using the parchment paper overhang, remove the bars from the pan and cut into equal-sized bars. Store leftover bars in the fridge, covered, for up to 1 week.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Here's where to find dates in the grocery store. I typically use Sunsweet® or Natural Delights® dates. I like Deglet Noor best, but also like Medjool -- both work great in these granola bars. Make sure the dates you're using are pitted. The dates should be soft enough that you can easily squish them, or pull them apart to remove the pit by hand. If they aren't this soft, you'll want to soak before using in this recipe. 
How to soak dates: soak them in warm water until they are soft enough to remove the pit by hand (from  30 minutes  to 2 hours). Make sure to drain well and remove any excess water before using in Granola Bars.
Note 2: For extra flavor (without extra effort), use roasted and salted nuts in these Granola Bars. If you only have raw nuts, you can quickly toast them in the oven (toast the oats while you're at it!). Add the nuts (and oats) to a lined sheet pan and bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees F, stirring once. The nuts and oats should smell fragrant, but not burned. If you aren't using salted nuts, add a scant 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt to these bars.
Note 3: If you'd like to keep these bars completely free of refined sugar, make sure to use sugar-free chocolate chips. Alternatively, swap out the chips for a different ingredient (use the same quantity and chop finely).

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 12bars | Calories: 161kcal | Carbohydrates: 25.8g | Protein: 5.4g | Fat: 12.6g | Cholesterol: 3.2mg | Sodium: 42.9mg | Fiber: 2.9g | Sugar: 14.6g

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A healthier Chewy Dipps copycat granola bar that is naturally sweetened, no baking required, and absolutely delicious!

Peach Lemonade

Only 44 calories for a glass of this mega-refreshing and delicious PEACH LEMONADE! via chelseasmessyapron.com

This Peach Lemonade is so delicious and refreshing! This easy-to-make drink requires only four ingredients: water, ripe peaches, fresh squeezed lemon juice, and sugar!

Image of Peach Lemonade with sliced peaches for garnish.

Peach Lemonade

This sweet-tart drink is our favorite summertime cool-down beverage. It’s ultra-refreshing and such a fun twist on plain lemonade. We love making variations on lemonade — this sparkling blueberry lemonade or sparkling raspberry lemonade are two of our favorites.

How to make Peach Lemonade from scratch

  • Chop peaches: No need to remove the skin! Give two or three ripe peaches a quick, coarse chop to get 2 full cups of chopped fruit.
  • Simmer: Add water, chopped peaches, and sugar to a pan and heat (Instead of making simple syrup separately, we combine the process here!). Stir to dissolve the sugar into the water and tenderize the peaches. Once the water is boiling, cover and simmer until the peaches are soft.
  • Blend: Allow the mixture to cool slightly before transferring it to a blender. Blend until smooth.
  • Press through a fine mesh sieve: Press the mixture through a sieve and discard (or save) the few remaining solids. (Those solids can be added to a breakfast smoothie like this mango smoothie)
  • Add in freshly squeezed lemon juice: Then chill the mixture.
  • Serve: Pour the chilled mixture over a glass with thinly sliced peaches and lots of ice. Enjoy this delicious Peach Lemonade!

Process shots: Combine water, chopped peaches and sugar; simmer until peaches are soft; blend the mixture; pour through a strainer; add fresh lemon juice to the mixture; pour over ice.

Recipe tips

  • Use ripefresh peaches for best results. If the peaches are not ripe, you’ll likely need a bit more sugar to compensate.
  • My sister, who makes Peach Lemonade often, swears by adding a few slices of fresh peaches to the drink –it’s a great garnish, but also a nice flavor boost and delicious to eat after drinking the lemonade. 
  • If you make a lot of citrus drinks, I recommend a good juicer; we have this one and love it! It will get you a cup of lemonade in minutes, making the prep for this recipe that much easier.
  • Other tools that make this recipe easy to make: a fine mesh sieve, and a funnel for transferring the liquid!

QUICK TIP

How do you know if your peaches are ripe? Give the peach a firm yet gentle squeeze. If there is a little bit of give, the peach is likely ripe or close to it. Next you want to check the color. The perfect ripe peach will be deep golden/yellow, not pale. Lastly, look for the texture of the peach. A ripe peach will have shriveled skin around the stem. The wrinkles are a great sign of a ripe peach. Don’t forget to use your nose, as well: a ripe peach will smell very peachy.  The riper the peaches, the better this peach lemonade will taste!

How to cut a peach in half

To cut a peach, run a knife around the natural seam of the peach from end to end and then twist the peach to open. Remove the pit by scooping it out with a spoon or pinching the pit with two fingers and pulling it out.

If the peaches aren’t ripe enough to twist in half, cut around the pit the best that you can, to get 2 cups for this Peach Lemonade.

More refreshing drinks

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Peach Lemonade

0 from 0 votes
This Peach Lemonade is so delicious and refreshing! This easy-to-make drink requires only four ingredients: water, ripe peaches, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, and sugar!
Print Recipe

Peach Lemonade

0 from 0 votes
This Peach Lemonade is so delicious and refreshing! This easy-to-make drink requires only four ingredients: water, ripe peaches, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, and sugar!
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Keyword peach lemonade
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Chilling Time 20 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 6 -8 glasses
Calories 117kcal

Ingredients

  • 4 cups (930g) water
  • 2 cups (300g) coarsely chopped (and peeled) peaches
  • 3/4 up to 1 cup (195g) white, granulated sugar (See Note 1)
  • 3/4 cup (167g) lemon juice (from freshly squeezed lemons)
  • For serving: lots of ice, lemon slices or additional peach slices, fresh mint

Instructions

  • In a small saucepan, bring 4 cups water, 2 cups coarsely chopped peaches and sugar to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 2-4 minutes or until peaches are tender. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. Carefully transfer mixture to a blender. Blend until smooth and then press the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl or pitcher (discard any solids or save the solids to add to a smoothie). Pour in the freshly squeezed lemon juice. Cover tightly and chill for 2-3 hours or until thoroughly cold.
  • To serve, fill glasses with ice and pour the Peach Lemonade over. Add fresh lemon slices or additional peach slices to glasses. If desired, garnish with mint.

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Add sugar, depending on how sweet the peaches are. We typically add 1 cup sugar, but decrease it to 3/4 cup if the peaches aren't overly sweet.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 117kcal | Carbohydrates: 30.2g | Protein: 0.4g | Fat: 0.2g | Sodium: 0.5mg | Fiber: 0.6g | Sugar: 28.8g

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Mini Brownie Bites with Rolos

CREAM CHEESE BROWNIE CARAMEL BITES! An easy and ultra fudgy brownie base filled with a chocolate caramel candy. Pure caramel chocolate bliss in an easy to make dessert! via chelseasmessyapron.com

Mini Brownie Bites with Rolos® make the perfect finger food dessert. These poppable treats are rich, fudgy, and ultra-chocolate-y. 

These mini brownie bites come together very quickly; we use a brownie mix as a short-cut! And if you want to make these from scratch, I’ve included directions for how to do that as well.

Mini Brownie Bites with Rolos®

It’s no secret we’re about as brownie obsessed as it gets; from brownies for breakfast (in the form of these brownie batter overnight oats) to the most decadent and rich brownie treat (like this edible brownie batter), the more brownies, the better!

These Mini Brownie Bites With Rolos are one of my favorite last-minute desserts to bring to a party or share with a crowd. Last minute because they really don’t take much time to make and it makes a lot of mini brownies. Enough for plenty of guests! Rolos are a brand of caramel-filled chocolate candy. If Rolos aren’t available, you can substitute another similar candy.

Process shots for making Mini Brownie Bites With Rolos: cream butter and cream cheese; add vanilla and egg; add pudding mix and flour; add brownie mix; mix to form a stiff dough; scoop by tablespoonfuls; roll into balls, add to greased muffin tins; bake and cool slightly; add Rolo candy to the tops.

Making the brownies from scratch

Not interested in using a brownie mix or don’t have access to one? No problem! This homemade brownie bites recipe is the perfect replacement for the brownie mix in this recipe. 

Follow that brownie bites recipe with the exception of pressing the chocolate bar into the center of the brownie bites; this time you’ll press a Rolo in (after baking)!

Bring cream cheese and butter to room temperature quickly

It’s important that both these ingredients are softened to room temperature before making these brownie bites. Below are a few short-cuts to bring them to room temperature.

  • Cut cream cheese and butter into small cubes and spread out on a plate. Allow to sit out at room temperature for 15-20 minutes.
  • Fill a large bowl with hot water. Empty the water, quickly dry out the bowl, and place that bowl over the cubed cream cheese and butter. Let stand for 5-10 minutes.
  • Remove cream cheese completely from all packaging. In a large bowl, microwave in 10-second bursts, flipping each after each burst, for about 30 seconds in total (add butter for the last 10-15 seconds; we don’t want the butter to be melted at all.

Close-up view of Mini Brownie Bites with Rolos; one is cut in half to expose the gooey, melty insides.

Mini Brownie Bites with Rolo tips

  • Grease the muffin tin. Grease the pan well before adding in the brownie batter.
  • Measure brownie batter. Use a 1 tablespoon measuring spoon to portion exactly how much brownie batter goes into each cavity of the muffin tin.
  • Make sure to get the right-sized brownie mix. To ensure the recipe works perfectly, the brownie mix needs to be 18.4 ounces.
  • Love salty and sweet? Add a tiny sprinkle of sea salt flakes right after pressing the Rolo into the center.

QUICK TIP

Number 1 tip: Use a good nonstick miniature muffin tin: I had problems for years with miniature brownie cups until I invested in a really great muffin tin. I can’t say enough good things about this muffin pan; these mini brownie bites always come out perfectly!

More desserts

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Mini Brownie Bites with Rolos

5 from 1 vote
Mini Brownie Bites with Rolos make the perfect finger food dessert. They're rich, fudgy, and ultra chocolate-y. 
Print Recipe

Mini Brownie Bites with Rolos

5 from 1 vote
Mini Brownie Bites with Rolos make the perfect finger food dessert. They're rich, fudgy, and ultra chocolate-y. 
Course Dessert, Snack, Vegetarian
Cuisine American
Keyword Mini Brownie Bites with Rolos
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 48 miniature brownie bites

Ingredients

  • 4 oz. (113g) full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 package (3.9 oz.; 110g) instant chocolate fudge pudding mix (dry)
  • 3 tablespoons white flour
  • 1 package (18.3 oz. 519g) fudge brownie mix (Note 1)
  • 1 bag (10.6 oz.; 300g) Rolos chocolate candy (Note 2)

Instructions

  • PREP: Set out cream cheese and butter to get to room temperature. (If cream cheese isn't softened to room temperature it will create unpleasant chunks; I like to set it out for 45 mins to an hour in a warm place). See Note 3
    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a goo- quality miniature muffin tin by generously greasing with non-stick spray.
  • BROWNIE: In a large bowl (or a stand mixer), cream together the cream cheese and butter until completely smooth. Beat in the large egg and vanilla extract. Add in the dry pudding mix and flour. Beat to combine. Add in the brownie mix and beat again. It will be EXTREMELY thick and takes a while to get a dough to form.
  • BAKE: Using a 1 tablespoon measuring spoon, scoop the dough and roll into balls; place in the miniature muffin tin. Repeat to fill up all the cavities of the pan. Bake for 13-16 minutes. Err on the side of slightly under-baking for soft brownie bites.
  • ADD ROLOS: Remove and allow brownies to cool for about 3 minutes. Gently press unwrapped Rolos into the centers of the brownie bites.
  • REMOVE: Using the tines of a fork, gently coax the brownie bites out of the muffin tin. Brownie bites are best enjoyed warm!
  • STORAGE: Store in an airtight container. These are best when eaten within 1-2 days; after that they get a bit hard.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Make sure you have the right size brownie mix before starting these treats. Mix should be 18.3 ounces.
Note 2: You will have leftover Rolos, but I prefer buying them in a larger bag instead of individual candy bars.
Note 3: To get the butter and cream cheese to room temperature quickly: remove cream cheese completely from all packaging. In a large bowl, microwave in 10 second bursts, flipping each after each burst, for about 30 seconds in total (add butter for the last 10-15 seconds; we don't want the butter to be melted at all).

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