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There are plenty of different trail mixes to choose from at the store, but homemade trail mix is definitely more fun! Because a trail mix recipe is mostly just a case of combining ingredients, you can make your own trail mix in just a few minutes using all your favorite ingredients. It’s great for hiking, for taking on road trips or simply for munching on when you’re hungry between meals. Discover how to build a trail mix and you’ll always have a tasty snack to munch on.

Hands Cupping Homemade Trail Mix.
Photo credit: Hannah Green Photography/Shutterstock.

Homemade trail mix is always a special treat. Making your own means you have full control of what goes into it and can create your dream trail mix recipe!

More easy snack ideas include fruit muffins, nut brittle or one of these recipes using cereal. These are easy to bring if you’re camping or hiking.

Why You’ll Love It

Easy: Learning how to build a trail mix is no more difficult than simply tossing together a few different ingredients!
Handy: This portable snack is suitable for hikes, road trips, to nibble on if you get stuck in traffic, and to keep in your purse in case you or the kids get hungry and need a snack. You don’t have to keep it chilled or frozen and it lasts for weeks.
Customizable: There are all kinds of wonderful ingredients you can mix and match when making homemade trail mix, and you can include all your favorites in the proportions you prefer and exclude anything you don’t especially like.

A woman holds various dried fruits and nuts in her hand. Sits on the green grass in the forest. Snack during the hike, walk.
Photo credit: Zapylaiev Kostiantyn/Shutterstock.

Dried fruit: Dried fruit can give you an energy boost. Choose from dried mangos, raisins, dried blueberries, dried apricots, dried pineapple, crunchy banana chips, dried cranberries, goji berries, and dried strawberries. Choose from unsweetened or naturally sweetened (these are healthier than the high-sugar ones).
Nuts: Any type of nuts are delicious in trail mix, so choose from hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, almonds, peanuts, coconut chips, or any others. I prefer unsalted, but salted nuts are great, too.
Seeds: Unsalted raw seeds are a healthy component in trail mix, as they boast iron, magnesium, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds are just a few examples.
Cereals: These add crunch and contrast. Chex and Cheerios are always good, or you could add a handful of your favorite granola to the mix.
Candy: Feel free to add some fun stuff to your homemade trail mix recipe, such as milk chocolate or dark chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, yogurt covered raisins, semi sweet chocolate chunks, white chocolate chips, or anything else you want.
Other: Popcorn, pretzels, roasted chickpeas or roasted fava beans, chopped jerky, and coconut flakes work too. You can also add a pinch of salt (unless you’re using salty ingredients already) and maybe even some cinnamon and nutmeg, or cayenne pepper or smoked paprika.

Top down view of various nuts, seeds and dried fruit used in making trail mix against a white background.
Photo credit: Toasted Pictures/Shutterstock.

How to Make Trail Mix

All you have to do is toss the ingredients together in a large bowl and then transfer it into individual Ziplock bags or reusable silicone bags (my fave here), or into a large container like a mason jar (my fave here). Some ingredients you may want to roast and you can even add some seasonings. Now you know how to build a trail mix easily, you’ll definitely want to make it often!

3 Top Tips for Tasty Trail Mix

Contrasting ingredients: If your mix has only crunchy textures or only soft textures, it isn’t going to be as interesting as a mixture using both. The same applies to flavor, and you won’t want something with salt as the only flavor, when combining sweet and salty flavors can work so well!
Buy in bulk: Do you plan on eating a lot of trail mix? Do you also like to make recipes like homemade granola? It’s worth purchasing your nuts, cereals, dried fruits, and other trail mix ingredients in bulk, as it works out cheaper that way and they’ll all get used up.
Get creative: Don’t be afraid to try new combinations. The more healthy trail mix you make, the more confident you’ll be about mixing and matching different flavors and textures. And it’s so much fun coming up with new blends!

How to Store Trail Mix

Store: Keep trail mix in an airtight container such as a mason jar, somewhere dry and cool. I like to keep mine in individual reusable zip bags to make snacking on the go super-simple. Depending on the ingredients, snack mix stored in this way should last up to a month. If you’re adding something like broken chips or popcorn, it will only keep for a couple of days before those components become soft.
Freeze: Don’t freeze it because the crunchy ingredients will soften and the soft ones become mushy.

Trail Mixes for Hiking

Trail mixes are great for hiking for a bunch of reasons. They are something that I always pack when I head off on the trails.

  • They’re lightweight and easy to carry, which is a big plus when you’re lugging around all your gear.
  • They’re also packed with energy-boosting nuts and dried fruits, so they’ll keep you going when you’re out on the trail for hours. No one likes hiking when they are hungry!
  • Plus, they’re super convenient – no need to stop and cook up a snack, you can just grab a handful and keep on trekking.
  • Trail mixes also provide a good mix of protein, healthy fats, and carbs, which is exactly what you need to fuel your body on a long hike.
  • And last but not least, they’re tasty and satisfying and perfect for sharing with fellow hikers.

Tips for Making Trail Mix That is Better For You

When making trail mix at home, there are a few simple tips you can follow for a healthier snack on the go. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Choose unsalted or lightly salted nuts and seeds to reduce sodium intake.
  2. Opt for dried fruits without added sugar to lower the overall sugar content.
  3. Add in some dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs for a dose of antioxidants and a hint of sweetness.
  4. Consider incorporating whole-grain cereals or puffed grains for added fiber and crunch.
  5. Use portion control to avoid overeating, as nuts and dried fruits are calorie-dense.

By keeping these tips in mind, you can create a healthier trail mix without sacrificing flavor.

Trail mixes typically contain a combination of nuts, dried fruit and seeds, ingredients that are packed with healthy unsaturated fatty acids, protein, vitamins and minerals. Additionally, these ingredients are rich in fiber, which can help with healthy digestion and may help with weight management.

When making your own, I recommend opting for a variety of nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashews and pumpkin seeds for a protein and healthy fat boost. Next, add in dried fruit– good options include raisins, apricots, cranberries and gogi berries for natural sweetness and fiber. Look for options without added sugar or oils. For extra flavor and nutrition, add in a small amount of extras like dark chocolate chips, coconut flakes, or granola clusters.

Creating your own trail mix allows you to control both the ingredients and the proportions, ensuring a healthier snack option.

Alex Caspero, Registered Dietitian at Delish Knowledge

Homemade Trail Mix FAQs

Is trail mix healthy?

It depends what’s in it. Trail mix from the grocery store isn’t usually a healthy option. The dried fruit is full of sugar, the seeds and nuts are roasted in hydrogenated oils and you don’t know how old the trail mix is. For this reason, knowing how to build a trail mix yourself is always best! You will get energy from the dried fruit, antioxidants and healthy fats from the seeds and nuts, and plenty of flavor besides! Kids love to eat trail mix and, so long as they don’t pick out the candy from it and leave the rest, it can be a nutritious snack for them.

Do you have to toast nuts before adding them to trail mix?

With trail mix, nothing is compulsory. However, you might want to toast your nuts first to bring out their flavor. The easiest way is to heat them in a dry (no oil!) skillet, tossing often, until fragrant. Don’t take your eyes off them because they will scorch if you do! You can also bake them in the oven on a baking sheet.

Is there a National Trail Mix Day?

Yes there is, and it’s on August 31! Depending where you live, this day might be too hot for a long hike, but you can always munch trail mix by the pool or sea, or inside where it’s cool!

Learning how to build a trail mix means you can make the perfect snack to take with you wherever you go. Trail mix is ideal for lunch boxes, camping, hiking, movie night, and whenever you just want a great snack that’s nutritious as well as very tasty. Store bought trail mix can be expensive and you don’t get to choose the ingredients in it, so make your own and you can make a well-balanced, healthy and fun mix in very little prep time. This snack is a great idea if you want something tasty, portable and universally loved by absolutely everyone!

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Bella Bucchiotti

Bella Bucchiotti is a Canadian-based syndicated food, travel, and lifestyle writer, photographer, and creator at xoxoBella. She founded xoxoBella in 2015, where she shares her love for food, dogs, sustainability, fitness, crafts, outdoor adventures, travel, and philanthropy to encourage others to run the extra mile, try new recipes, visit unfamiliar places, and stand for a cause. Bella creates stress-free and family-friendly recipes for weeknight dinners and festive feasts.


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