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The Secret, Surprising Ingredient in These Tasty Recipes? Breakfast Cereal!

Did you know there's a lot more you can do with cereal besides just slurping it out of a bowl with milk?

Erica Silverstein


You can’t win the cereal wars. Buy the healthy store-brand cereal, and the whole family takes one bite and turns up its collective nose. Buy the sugary stuff as a treat, and you all binge for a few days until the artificially dyed marshmallows lose their appeal. What do you do with all that unwanted cereal? Get creative and work those flakes, crisps, and puffs into tasty dinners and sweet desserts. Try these 12 surprising recipes using breakfast cereal to avoid waste and brighten up the week’s meal plan.

1. Cornflake-Crusted Chicken Tenders


Natalie's Health

Cornflakes are the most versatile cereal to cook with because they make a great crunchy topping. Use them instead of bread crumbs to turn plain chicken or fish into crispy nuggets. Natalie’s Health shares a family-friendly cornflake-crusted chicken tender recipe, complete with honey dijon sauce for dipping.

2. Raisin Bran Muffins


Cheese Curd in Paradise

Bran cereal is a hard sell, even with sugar-coated raisins. But turn that Raisin Bran into muffins, and suddenly your family members are asking for seconds. Cheese Curd in Paradise’s Raisin Bran muffin recipe is a great way to liven up your morning meal — or use up that generic-brand cereal you bought on sale, only to realize your family will only eat the Kellogg’s version.

3. Muddy Buddies


Brown-Eyed Baker

Rice Chex is on the healthy end of the cereal spectrum — making Muddy Buddies its evil snack-time alter ego. And when we say evil, we mean devilishly delicious. Muddy Buddies (also known as Puppy Chow) douses the angelic Chex with chocolate, peanut butter, and powdered sugar to create a sinful temptation. It pairs well with movie night and sleepover parties.

4. Cranberry-Orange Mini Meatballs


Binky's Culinary Carnival

Meatballs are usually a crowd-pleaser, but you’ll definitely win dinner when you serve ground beef mixed in a fruity sauce. Binky’s Culinary Carnival’s cranberry-orange mini meatballs not only use Chex (rice or corn) as a secret ingredient, but they’re gluten- and dairy-free, too. They’re perfect for potlucks or parties when you don’t know if guests have food allergies.

5. Grape Nut Pudding

grape nut pudding copy

Barth Bakery

Grape Nut pudding will transport you to New England in the fall, when the maple is running and you’re yearning for a bite of something comforting in a local diner. The dish was invented in the late 19th century, which means Grape Nuts are practically an ancient breakfast cereal. The Grape Nuts form the crust for the custard pudding on top. For true New England flavor, don't sleep on adding a dollop of maple whipped cream.

6. Fruity Pebbles Greek Yogurt Popsicles


We Are Not Martha

Wise families have long known that fruity cereals make some of the best fro-yo toppings. Take that idea to the next level with We Are Not Martha’s Fruity Pebbles Greek yogurt popsicles. The kids will think ice pops are a decadent dessert because they’re made with sugary cereal. But parents will know that these frozen treats contain healthy Greek yogurt and no additional sugar — making the popsicles less of a cavity nightmare than many sweets.

7. Crab Cakes


Life Is But a Dish

Marylanders wax poetic about the joys of the perfect crab cake. And that ideal dish might just use Corn Flakes instead of bread crumbs as a flavorful binder. Kids intimidated by the thought of eating — gulp! — Sebastian might relax when presented with a familiar patty shape laced with cereal crumbs and a mayo-based sauce for dipping.

8. Special K Bars (or Scotcheroos)


Celebrating Sweets

When I imagine a Scotcheroo, my mind conjures up an image of a wallaby in a plaid kilt. In actuality, Scotcheroos, according to Celebrating Sweets, are dessert bars made with Special K and peanut butter then topped with a frosting of melted chocolate and butterscotch chips. The six-ingredient, no-bake Special K bars are a great choice for a family baking activity.

9. Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cake


Baking Beauty

Cinnamon-sugar might be the spice that best evokes childhood. Why stop with using it on toast or in snickerdoodle cookies when you can have a whole cake devoted to cinnamony-sweet decadence? Baking Beauty’s cinnamon cake is a showstopper for birthdays, Mother’s Day or any day with its cinnamon-vanilla cake layered with cinnamon buttercream and crushed up Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal.

10. Cheese Cookies

Savory-Cheese-Cookies copy

Crayons and Cravings

Cheese cookies are sneaky in many ways. They look like a cookie, but taste like a savory cheese snack. They have a mild-mannered appearance (like Clark Kent) that belies their spicy personality. And their secret ingredient is Rice Krispies cereal. Try Crayon and Cravings’s devious dish as a side for soup, a party-platter favorite, or a snack on the run.

11. Lucky Charms Milkshake


Lemon Tree Dwelling

The difference between a bowl of Lucky Charms and milk and this Lucky Charms milkshake from Lemon Tree Dwelling is basically calories. Dump your cereal in a blender with ice cream and marshmallow fluff, and you’re in for the sugar rush of a lifetime. Your family will thank their lucky stars (and green clovers and blue moons) whenever they’re allowed to have a dessert like this one.

12. Cereal-Crusted Pork Chops

BCC Pork Chops Hero 1

Living the Gourmet

Berry cereal and pork chops are not the obvious match made in heaven, but hey, we hear opposites attract. If your family likes their dinner plate as colorful as a rainbow, then Living the Gourmet’s cereal-crusted pork chops recipe needs to be added to your meal plan. Dredge your pork chops in Berry Colossal Crunch cereal for a hint of sweetness and a lot more color than tired ol’ bread crumbs.