Cereal can be so many things: nourishment, comfort, a quick fix, nostalgia, even art. It can also transcend meal times, and not just in the way that eating a bowl doused in milk is occasionally an acceptable—even necessary—supper. There are other, far more inventive guises in which to consume cereal for breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks, and dessert, and there’s no better day than today (National Cereal Day!) to try one of them.
Admittedly, the sweet options far outnumber the savory, but there are several dinner-worthy cereal applications too, primarily using cornflakes, but sometimes Shredded Wheat or even Cheerios (Honey Nut breaded pork chops, anyone?). When it comes to the sugary end of the spectrum, though, there’s much more flexibility, so if you practice cereal monogamy, feel free to swap in whatever childhood breakfast treat still has your heart.
Just leave the bowl in the cabinet for a change, and try something a little different. But feel free to cue up some Saturday morning cartoons for old times’ sake.
Why not start the day off with donuts? They’re perfect topped with cereal of all sorts; you can simply use it as a garnish on basic yeast donuts to lend color, crunch, and extra flavor, or if you prefer cake donuts, try infusing the batter with cereal milk that matches the topping of choice, as in these Fruity Pebbles beauties. (And what better way to wash them down than with cereal milk lattes?) Get the recipe.
Try crusting your French toast with cereal for extra texture. Pretty much any kind should work (Cap’n Crunch is a classic and Cinnamon Toast Crunch would be deliciously meta), but this version uses Honey Bunches of Oats and eschews syrup for a drizzle of golden honey. Get the recipe.
This straddles the line between indulgent breakfast and light-ish dessert, but either way, it sounds like a perfect match for coffee. Get the recipe.
Using cornflakes as a crust on fried or baked chicken is a time-honored tradition, and probably the most common savory cereal move. The principle works on all sorts of other proteins (for instance, our Breakfast Sausage and Cornflake Scotch Eggs), but for a classic, easy dinner, these perfectly crunchy chicken tenders are great. Get the recipe.
If you’re looking for more of a snack but still skewing savory, you can use Shredded Wheat for a twist on the usual Chex Mix. (It can also serve as coconut shrimp coating, zucchini fritter binder, and streusel topping for squash, but this turn is a bit more familiar.) Crispy, buttery, cheesy, and garlicky, you may end up eating enough of these for it to count as a meal anyway. Get the recipe.
When you’re ready to unwind with a drink at the end of the day, cereal can come into play again. Cereal milk martinis and similar cocktails abound, so you can definitely find a way to drink your fave, but this milk punch infuses the booze itself: Honey Nut Cheerios are steeped in rum, to be exact, then shaken with honey syrup, milk, and pie-inspired bitters. Get the recipe.
If you require something even richer, these Lucky Charms milkshakes are just the ticket, and if you’re only serving them to adults, feel free to slip in a little booze for good measure. They won’t let you do that at Burger King. Get the recipe.
We all know Rice Krispies Treats, and while they still hold up, they do start to seem a little boring next to these rainbow-bright confections. The recently revived, artificially neon-colored, original-recipe Trix is the most striking choice for these treats, but you can use the same formula to showcase any kind of not-just-for-kids cereal you can’t get enough of. Get the recipe.
On the other end of the color spectrum, there is this endearingly beige Grape-Nuts pudding, which is actually a classic New England dessert, and ultra comforting even if you’re not normally a fan of the much-maligned grain-pellet cereal. Get the recipe.
Cereal milk ice cream started with Christina Tosi, but the brilliant idea has since been adapted by countless other cooks. In this case, Count Chocula is used to infuse the milk that becomes the no-churn ice cream base, and chocolate-coated Muddy Buddies made with more Count Chocula are mixed in for crunch. There’s also marshmallow cream, of course. If you can’t find monster cereal, try using Cocoa Puffs, Cocoa Pebbles, or Cocoa Krispies instead. Get the recipe.
Basically super-easy snickerdoodles with crunchy cereal bits that complement the soft crumb, these call for Cinnamon Pebbles, but you could also use Cinnamon Toast Crunch. You’re probably gonna want milk with these, but at least it’ll be in a glass for a change. Get the recipe.
Puns and pretty colors? Not to mention a no-bake filling and the always-satisfying contrast of creamy and crunchy textures? This is a legitimately adorable dessert. Get the recipe.
These are a mouthful in every which way, but who would have thought Apple Jacks (which, as every commercial obnoxiously reminded you, don’t actually taste like apples) could ever be so sophisticated? The addition of a very grown-up applejack brandy caramel swirl, and the chewy ginger-molasses cookies that sandwich the cinnamon-scented ice cream make it clear that this is cereal that has gone way outside the box. Get the recipe.