There’s something undeniably powerful about making your own party mix. Sure, you could always put out a bowl of chips or cheese puffs for a party, or maybe arrange some cheese and crackers. But taking a bunch of plain nuts and transforming them into a gloriously crispy, salty, sugar-glazed snack? That’s a move that says, I have my shit together.
When Abigail Zielke, the chef at the Chicago wine bar All Together Now, began developing a recipe for party mix, she knew she wanted something easy and satisfying to go alongside good drinks. To her surprise and delight, the resulting mix — appropriately dubbed “Crunch Party” — became a phenomenon in its own right. Today, All Together Now ships bags of it nationwide. “It’s sometimes a little bit absurd how much we make,” Zielke says; in a typical week the restaurant sells upwards of 120 bags, though during the holidays that number can easily skyrocket past 300.
But there’s no need to place an order when you can make your own mix, which consists of nuts, crispy favas, and quicos (crunchy corn kernels). At the restaurant, Zielke simmers and fries whole blanched nuts, but her at-home recipe achieves a similar crunch with less work by roasting them with sugar and egg whites.
Zielke notes you can do plenty with the mix beyond just eating it straight. “I made a white chocolate bark and set some of the Crunch Party into it, then shaved a little bit of super-salty aged Gouda over the top, and it was super yummy,” she says. You could also use it anywhere chopped nuts are called for, as a salad topper, or to garnish baked goods (pumpkin pie!).
Then again, there’s absolutely no shame in eating this party mix plain, with or without wine. It’s basically granola, right?
Crunch Party Snack Mix Recipe
Makes about 5 cups
⅓ cup sugar
2 tablespoons beaten egg whites (1 egg’s worth)
3 cups mixed raw, unsalted nuts (almonds, pecans, cashews)
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary needles, chopped
1 teaspoon Maldon salt
1½ tablespoons demerara sugar
¾ tablespoon Aleppo pepper
1 cup crispy favas (Miticito brand, or similar)
1 cup quicos (preferably Miticito brand, or any other fried corn kernel, like Corn Nuts)
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Step 2: Combine the sugar and egg whites in a large bowl and beat until frothy. Add the nuts, rosemary, salt, sugar, and pepper and toss to combine.
Step 3: Arrange the nut mixture in an even layer on a silicone- or parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast for 15-20 minutes, until the nuts are golden brown and the egg white coating is starting to become browned.
Step 4: Remove the nuts from the oven, then add the quicos and favas and mix everything together. Allow to cool.
Step 5: Store in an airtight container or Ziploc bag in a cool, dry place for up to 2 weeks.
Dina Ávila is a photographer in Portland, Oregon.
Recipe tested by Louiie Victa and Ivy Manning