15 Creative Ways To Use Breakfast Cereals

Cereal bowl, chicken, and coffee
Cereal bowl, chicken, and coffee - Static Media / Shutterstock

There's something deeply personal about sitting at the kitchen table and dipping your spoon into a bowl of cold milk and crisp cereal. It transports us back to childhood Sunday morning cartoon sessions with pajamas and Cinnamon Toast Crunch in tow. Each spoonful is a bite of nostalgia and transports us back to a time when things were so much simpler, and all that mattered was finding a new toy hidden in the bottom of your cereal box.

While life might be entirely different now, you can always have your favorite sugary breakfast cereal to fall back on. But you'll find that cereal isn't just for eating for breakfast. In fact, there are tons of different uses for this comfort food in meals throughout the day. The crunchy texture and sheer amount of flavor (often sweet) packed into each morsel make breakfast cereal a valuable ingredient to have in your pantry. Here are some of our favorite ways to make use of your Corn Flakes, Fruit Loops, and more.

Read more: 25 Best Ice Cream Brands Ranked

Swap It For Graham Crackers In Your Pie Crust

Cheesecake with crumb crust
Cheesecake with crumb crust - Vladislav Noseek/Shutterstock

Every baker should know how to make a crumb crust -- and also know where to locate a pre-made one in their local grocery store. After all, there's always the chance that your graham crackers come out of the box stale and too soft to put in your food processor. In a pinch, you can make an extra-tasty pie crust with sugary breakfast cereal. The process is just as simple as a homemade crumb crust; just add your cereal to the processor with a little bit of melted butter. However, you won't have to add any extra sugar to your crust to give it flavor since your breakfast cereal is likely already sweet enough. If you're using a no-bake pie crust, be sure to stick your crust in the oven for a little bit to harden.

The options for what kind of cereal to add to your crust are seemingly endless. If you're making a caramel cheesecake, we recommend going with a Cinnamon Toast Crunch, while a fruity custard may benefit from a more mild and balanced Corn Flakes crust.

Infuse It Into Milk For A Coffee Pick-Me-Up

Cornflakes in bowl with cereal
Cornflakes in bowl with cereal - Ac_bnphotos/Getty Images

If you're like us, you can't think of any other way to start your morning besides with a cup of coffee in hand. But instead of just going for plain milk, bring some whimsical notes to your beverage with cereal-infused milk. It's important to note that we're recommending that you infuse your milk -- rather than blend it with your cereal -- so it won't alter the mouthfeel and consistency. Pop a handful of your favorite breakfast cereal, whether it's Cinnamon Toast Crunch or Fruit Loops, into the bowl with milk and give the cereal time to get soggy. If you're strapped for time, mix your cereal with warmed milk to speed up the infusion. Once your cereal is strained, it'll be ready to add to your coffee.

You can also take your cereal a step up by toasting it in the oven before adding it to your bowl. Or, accent your milk (or dairy-free version) with a splash of almond, rum, or vanilla extract to provide a surprising depth to your beverage. Not only does cereal milk make a great addition to plain coffee, but you can also steam it for a latte or drink it warm as a steamer.

Crush It Up As A Base For Your Muffins

Bran muffins in tin
Bran muffins in tin - voyager_human/Shutterstock

No bakery visit is complete without a muffin for the road. But let's be honest: Not all muffins make the cut for texture or flavor. Nothing is more disappointing than taking a bite and being unable to detect anything remotely discernable. But your stale, forgotten cereal is the ingredient you need to take your muffins to the next level and give them some much-needed depth.

Muffins don't discriminate if your cereal is not as crunchy as it should be, and it makes a great replacement for some of your flour. One of the easiest additions is bran cereal, which you can separate from any raisin pieces before grinding it up in a food processor. You can also swap in a box of Cheerios that has seen better days or go for a Rice Krispies remix. You can also add in sweetened cereal, like Cocoa Puffs or Cinnamon Toast Crunch, but you may have to tweak other sweet ingredients in your recipe to make sure your muffins don't come out more like cupcakes.

Stir It Into Your Cookie Dough

Corn flake cookies on plate
Corn flake cookies on plate - Muklis_7/Shutterstock

We are definitely people who get very excited about cookies -- in any and all varieties. That includes sugary treats that have been accented with the touch of breakfast cereals. One way to use this ingredient is to top your cookies with cereal for some extra crunch. The more bland cereals, like Corn Flakes and Cap'n Crunch, will add a pop of crunch without necessarily shifting the entire profile of your cookie. Meanwhile, you can make a Lucky Charms sugar cookie bound to impress any eaters under the age of 10 -- and, of course, adults who are young at heart.

Your cereal doesn't just belong on top of the cookie. It's also an easy way to upgrade your chocolate chip cookies when mixed into the dough itself. In order to keep the cereal as intact as possible, stir in your crunchy cereal when you add your add-ins, like chocolate chips and nuts. You should also be aware that these cookies are designed to be eaten within a few days of baking since the cereal will stale faster than the cookie.

Add Crunch To Your Cake Pops

Pink cake pops on sticks
Pink cake pops on sticks - EugeniaSh/Shutterstock

Although it takes quite a bit more time and energy to make homemade cake pops than it does to buy some from the Starbucks display, it's still a recipe worth trying at home. And once you've mastered making a batch at home, you can move on to try more flavorful and texturally diverse variations.

One way to achieve this recipe upgrade is to add cereal to your cake pops. The crunchy cereal will replace any sprinkles or colored sugar that you would have otherwise used as a colorful -- but not necessarily palatable -- addition. Instead, the cereal can complement the other flavors in your pop and potentially buffer some of the residual sweetness in the cake, frosting, or chocolate coating. The key to making sure that your cereal sticks to the base is to roll it in the chocolate or candy melt coating when the coating is still liquid. Cocoa Krispies can provide a subtle flavor on a chocolate cake base, while crumbled Cinnamon Toast crunch perfectly complements a spiced cake and cream cheese frosting cake pop.

Make Your Ice Cream Crunchy

Cereal with ice cream cone
Cereal with ice cream cone - Christine Surya/Shutterstock

We don't want to say that ice cream is a catch-all base for every crunchy topping, but it kind of is. Not only can you load up your ice cream with toasted nuts, crunchy Oreo cookie pieces, and even potato chips (if you're feeling adventurous), but you can also make a whimsical dessert with the help of breakfast cereal.

Alex Guarnaschelli pairs cereal with ice cream and milk for a take on the sundae, but you can also use it for a plain ice cream topping, too. There are endless opportunities to play with different textures and flavors, like pairing a decadent chocolate ice cream base with a peanut butter or almond butter cereal. If your ice cream is rather complex, such as one made with bits of caramel, toffee, or pretzel, you can add a sprinkle of Corn Flakes to add extra crunch but not take away from the other flavors and consistencies in your ice cream.

Coat Your French Toast In It For Optimal Crunch

Plate of French toast
Plate of French toast - Haha21/Getty Images

We're always looking for ways to create a flawless fusion between ingredients. One of the most ingenious examples of this is to combine the crunchiness of breakfast cereal with another morning staple: French toast. You can add cereal to your French toast by dredging each of the slices in the crushed breakfast cereal before continuing with your cooking process.

The key to making this recipe work in your kitchen is to crumble the breakfast cereal into evenly sized pieces, either by hand or with a food processor. It's also important to note that the cereal tends not to stick well on the bread if you cook it in a skillet since the constant movement causes the cereal to fall off into the pan. Instead, we recommend baking your pieces in the oven once they've been dredged on both sides.

You must be somewhat selective about what type of cereal you use for your recipe. Marshmallow pieces, like those in Lucky Charms, undergo significant chemical changes when cooked and can taste goopy -- or worse -- burnt. Rather, a Cinnamon Toast Crunch, bran flakes, or Corn Flakes may be a better option with a less overt flavor.

Use It As A Cheap Cake Garnish

Decorated cake with sprinkles
Decorated cake with sprinkles - Sandor Mejias Brito/Getty Images

Cake decorating is always something that sounds much better in theory than it actually is in practice. It's always a pain to artistically arrange edible flowers or make some professional-looking sugar art. Instead, you can grab the box of cereal that's been hanging around in your pantry to quickly and easily add a pop of texture or flavor.

Fruity cereal is all you need for effortlessly decorated cakes -- especially those geared at younger audiences or folks who have fond memories of Sunday morning cartoons and breakfast cereal. You can take a methodical approach and carefully alternate the colors of your Fruit Loops. Or, take an avant-garde approach and just press your colorful cereal around the base of your cake. Alternatively, you can also make a sand-like accent for your cake by crumbling the cereal in a food processor before distributing it on top of your frosting layer. It's beautiful, inexpensive, and much easier than a conventional cake topping.

Play With Flavors In Your Rice Krispies Treats

Rice Krispies treats on plate
Rice Krispies treats on plate - Elena Veselova/Shutterstock

If you were brainstorming what to do with cereal, particularly in the dessert realm, your brain probably immediately went to Rice Krispies treats. These crunchy marshmallow bars are a classic addition to a child's lunchbox, and they're an especially fun recipe to customize with your favorite flavors. Although the name implies that the rice cereal is the only option for your bars, you can swap out the standard cereal for the fruity or chocolate version without altering the classic texture too much.

If you feel like taking a walk on the wild side, you can also swap out the rice cereal entirely for coarser cereal. Fans of marshmallows will love the sugary boost from Lucky Charms and the diverse cereal shapes. You can also opt for square Golden Grahams, which play off the marshmallow notes equally as well, or even go for a Chex cereal for a backdrop for other flavorful additions like caramel and chocolate.

Add It To A Sweet And Salty Snack Mix

Salty snack mix with Chex
Salty snack mix with Chex - Lynne Mitchell/Getty Images

Snack mix doesn't start and end with Chex cereal. The sheer number of breakfast cereals will open the door to experimenting with sweet, salty, and even umami flavors in your bowl. You'll want to aim for cereal pieces that you can easily pick up with your fingers rather than a smaller option like Rice Krispies or Fruity Pebbles. If you want to take a walk on the sweet side, you'll find that numerous varieties shift the needle slightly to that end of the spectrum -- but also don't make it too overwhelming to pair with complementary sweets like chocolate-covered pretzels or glazed nuts.

As for savory or neutral cereals, we recommend going with Cheerios for your base. Honey Nut Cheerios provide a subtle bit of sweetness that pairs well with almonds, while plain Cheerios could be easily amped up with a savory sprinkle of ranch seasoning or Tajin.

Use A Neutral-Cereal As A Breading

Cornflakes on fried chicken
Cornflakes on fried chicken - DronG/Shutterstock

It's hard to say no to fried chicken. But, the standard breadcrumb blend, no matter how well it's seasoned, doesn't always fit the bill for us. Honestly, it doesn't always do a lot for the succulent protein, which leaves us feeling underwhelmed and disappointed.

Instead, you can add cornflakes to the batter of your favorite fried foods to amp up the texture. We find that grinding up the cereal in a plastic Ziploc bag with our hands prevents the crumbs from turning to dust -- which always seems to happen when a food processor is involved. You still want discernable pieces of cereal on the outside of your chicken.

What if you don't have cornflakes? Bran cereal and rice cereal (like Rice Krispies) are both also viable options for coating your chicken and adding some extra crunch. Be sure to pair the cereal with a flavorful seasoning like cayenne, paprika, or garlic powder, since the pieces are otherwise pretty bland.

Add Texture To Your Layer Bars

Seven layer bars on wood
Seven layer bars on wood - MSPhotographic/Shutterstock

Layer bars are a treat that we occasionally forget exists, especially if it's overshadowed by a delicious cookie or fudgy brownie. These bars, otherwise called magic bars, have tons of different textures and flavors, including pecans, coconut, chocolate chips, and sometimes even pretzel pieces.

There are many ways to integrate your breakfast cereal into your magic bars recipe. You can add a basic Golden Grahams to the bar layers with your chocolate chips or nuts, or swap out the graham cracker base for one made with crumbled cereal and melted butter. Although it doesn't have the same profile as a classic breakfast cereal, you can also swap in a granola-based concoction, like Honey Bunches of Oats, for an extra crunchy yet still sweet flavor. Our go-to for the base of these treats is bran cereal because it has a fiber-rich and neutral flavor that doesn't take away from the sweetness of the other ingredients.

Mix It Into Your Candy Brittle

Peanut brittle in white bowl
Peanut brittle in white bowl - Davealan/Getty Images

We doubt that the old-fashioned Southern peanut brittle recipe originally contained breakfast cereal, but the surprising textural notes that the cereal offers make this candy upgrade a force to be reckoned with. For those unfamiliar, peanut brittle is a candy made with sugar and corn syrup that's been heated to the hard-crack stage, which renders the candy more like a bark than a sweet caramel. It often includes both peanut butter and whole peanuts. Peanut brittle, or other types of nut brittle, could benefit from the complement of other crunchy additions, such as your favorite breakfast cereal.

Corn Flakes are an excellent, hearty addition to your peanut brittle that will add crunch but won't distract from the other flavors of the candy. You'll want to add the cereal to the pot with your nuts and stir until well combined before spreading it onto a foiled baking sheet and waiting for it to harden.

Make Your Fruit Crisp Extra Crunchy

Fruit crisp in bowl
Fruit crisp in bowl - Imagesbybarbara/Getty Images

There's no better way to use up your leftover apples from the orchard than whipping them up into a warm crisp, topped with a generous scoop of cold vanilla ice cream. The same can be said about a surplus of blueberries in the late spring or peaches in the hazy summer months. Normal crisp is pretty buttery, and it's common for all of the toppings to seep into one floating blob of brown sugar and butter.

To create more definition and texture in your crisp, reach for a box of breakfast cereal. Honey Bunches of Oats, or a similar granola cereal, is an excellent option because it has both the flakes and the flavorful clusters filled with nuts, vanilla, and sugar -- all of which complement the fruit in your recipe. If you're looking for a recipe that you can tweak a little bit more, in terms of sugar and added ingredients, just stick to plain Corn Flakes.

Transform Your Milkshake Into Something Extra Special

Patroitic milkshakes in glasses
Patroitic milkshakes in glasses - Kolpakova Svetlana/Shutterstock

We are happy to note that the crazy shake trend is over -- at least for the most part. Our Instagram feed isn't photos of people stacking slices of chocolate cake onto gravity-defying glasses or building tiny cotton candy sculptures on freakishly pink beverages. But, if you still want to revisit the heyday of creative milkshakes, you can take the simple route and add breakfast cereal to your shake. This is one of the few occasions where you'll want to deploy a flavorful breakfast cereal to accent your ice cream base. Fruit Loops, Fruity Pebbles, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch are all flavor-forward options that will really complement your ice cream base and take your sweet drink to new heights.

If you want to add an extra level of visual appeal to your beverages, you can roll the glass rim in frosting and coat it with your breakfast cereal of choice. And don't forget to load up the whipped cream topping with extra cereal, too.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.