This is a variation of our trail mix base recipe. As dietitians, we get a lot of questions about how to eat healthy during the holidays; this holiday trail mix recipe is our go-to recommendation for snacking during one of the busiest times of the year. Trail mix is lightweight, temperature-stable, energy-providing, and well-balanced. Have this simple trail mix on hand when running errands, attending holiday activities, or even snacking at home!
Must Know Cooking Skills
For recipe success, learn how to:
Culinary Tips for Making this Easy Trail Mix Recipe
This trail mix recipe doesn’t need a lot of ingredients and requires just one simple step, so it’s a great recipe to customize to your taste!
Trail mix is a great recipe for kids to help make. They love stirring, mixing, and shaking the ingredients together!
- Cranberries: substitute any dried fruit. Look for unsulfured and sugar-free varieties. Some sour or bitter fruits such as cherries and cranberries have some added sugar, and that’s okay. Avoid artificially-sweetened varieties. Dried apples, apricots, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, dates, figs, mangoes, prunes, and raisins are all good substitutions. Purchase or chop into bite-sized pieces for a more uniform texture.
- Dark Chocolate Chips: substitute cacao nibs or semi-sweet chocolate chips. Although white chocolate chips would add a pretty color, they are not the most healthful choice, so we don’t recommend using them.
- Almonds, Cashews, & Pistachios: substitute any nut or combination of nuts. Buy roasted nuts or toast nuts for best flavor. Hazelnuts, macadamia, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts are all good options too.
- Coconut Flakes: substitute equal weight unbuttered popcorn for a similar “snowy” color. We do not recommend substituting shredded coconut, as this would be difficult to eat.
- Pumpkin Seeds: substitute sunflower seeds, but note that you will lose some of the pretty green color! We don’t recommend using tiny seeds, such as chia, flax, hemp, or poppy seeds.
Trail Mix Recipe Variations
Do you want to make a sweet, salty, or sweet and salty trail mix recipe? Adding extra ingredients can satisfy all of your snack cravings! Here are some of our favorite trail mix recipe additions:
- Spices: sweet (allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, ginger, nutmeg) or savory (chili powder, chipotle powder, cumin, garlic powder, salt, turmeric) toasted with the nuts
- Popcorn: air-popped or a low-sugar kettle variety, add right before serving or it will stale
- Granola: homemade or a low-sugar variety
- Pretzels: break into bite-sized pieces if large
Want to make trail mix without nuts? Replace the nuts with the same volume of other add-ins, such as dried fruit, granola, seeds, pretzels, or popcorn.
Want to make this recipe your own? Use our trail mix base recipe as a guide, then use your creativity to customize to your taste!
You just need a few pieces of kitchen equipment to make this recipe come together!
Is Holiday Trail Mix Healthy?
A lot of store-bought trail mixes aren’t super healthy and often contain lots of sugary candies and artificial ingredients, especially during the holidays. Building your own trail mix at home allows you to choose your own ingredients, which certainly means that it can be a healthy snack! The featured ingredients in this healthy homemade trail mix recipe are dried fruit, dark chocolate, nuts & seeds, and coconut.
Dried fruit contains carbohydrates, vitamins, and antioxidants. Cranberries provide a festive red color during the holiday, but they do contain added sugar. That’s okay; without it, they would be way too tart! Balance the added sugar by consuming a variety of naturally sugar-free ingredients and other dried fruits of your choice such as raisins, dates, and figs year round.
Cocoa is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The darker, the better. You will receive the most nutritional benefits by consuming dark chocolate with more than 70% cocoa solids.
Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds of all varieties contain plant-based protein, fiber, and healthy fats. These nutrients help you feel satisfied until your next meal.
Coconut is rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. While coconut is classified as a saturated fat, research suggests that not all saturated fats share the same health concerns. Coconut contains medium-chain fatty acids which are absorbed differently than other saturated fats and contains several health benefits including potentially delaying the onset of early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Choose coconut flakes without added sugar. (1)
What can you do with Trail Mix?
What is a serving of trail mix?
One serving of trail mix is about ¼ cup or 2 ounces. If you need help with portion control, divide the trail mix into small, reusable containers in 2-ounce portions.
Trail Mix Storage Suggestions
How long does homemade trail mix last?
We recommend storing trail mix for about one month. Nuts might start to go rancid after that point.
Want more healthy snack ideas?
Check out our other favorite snack recipes:
Holiday Trail Mix
- 1 pound (~3 cups) cranberries
- 12 ounces (~2 cups or 1 bag) dark chocolate chips or chunks
- 10 ounces (~2 cups) roasted cashews
- 3.5 ounces (~¾ cup) almonds
- 3.5 ounces (~¾ cup) pistachios
- 2 ounces (~1 cup) unsweetened coconut flakes
- 2 ounces (~½ cup) pumpkin seeds
- Place all ingredients in a large bag or container and stir or shake to mix. Enjoy!