These homemade marshmallow rice krispie treats are actually easier than making the iconic treats with packaged marshmallows. Plus, they’re naturally gluten free and made with the simplest pantry ingredients.
When my kids were younger, they used to beg me to make them rice krispie treats. Somehow they knew how simple the traditional recipe was, but I didn’t care. I absolutely hated making them, with all their super stickiness and my never having a package of marshmallows lying around.
These rice krispie treats are less sticky to make when the marshmallow is homemade, plus packaged marshmallows always go stale on me before I’m ready to use them. Ever try to make rice krispie treats with stale marshmallows? No bueno.
As long as you have powdered gelatin, rice cereal, sugar, and butter (or a substitute) when they beg you can say yes.
Fear not the cooking of sugar! Cooking sugar can really be done without any water at all, but it’s much more likely to burn. That’s hard.
Cooking sugar with a bit of water in the pan is easy, as long as you keep an eye ? on your instant read thermometer. I have a whole bunch of different thermometers, for use in bread-baking, candy-making and deep-frying of all sorts. But the simplest will do.
Even if you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can determine that candy has reached the “softball stage” the old-fashioned way: if it easily forms a ball when dropped into cold water, but flattens once it’s out, it’s in the softball stage, between 23°8 and 242°F. It’s just some sugar water, though. Nothing to worry about!
And there is no corn syrup in these treats. Corn syrup helps keep sugar from crystallizing, which will ruin marshmallows, but a dash of cream of tartar will get the job done, too. Let’s use that! If you don’t have cream of tartar but you do have light corn syrup, replace the cream of tartar with 1 teaspoon of light corn syrup added to the sugar as it cooks.
I am not anti-corn syrup (it’s not the same as high-fructose corn syrup, by the way), but I really wanted these to be simple. I also wanted them to be corn free, since that seems to come up relatively often.
And think of it this way – you’ll seriously never have to buy marshmallows again. Try making s’mores with fresh, homemade marshmallows. Oh, and our no machine marshmallow ice cream is a natural next step!
Why they’re better
Unlike rice krispie treats made with commercial marshmallows, these fresh ones are nice and crispy but not at all rock-hard when chilled. And chilling them makes them super easy to slice.
They literally set up in minutes even when they’re not chilled. Then, when your super nice neighbor invites you over for a last-minute barbecue for Memorial Day, you can pack ’em up and go! If you’re in a rush, just pop them in the freezer for a couple of minutes and slice away.
Substitutions, you say?
I know you love to know about substitutions. So here’s what I know, and what I don’t about how to make these homemade marshmallow rice krispie treats:
Dairy Free: Just swap out the butter for Earth Balance Buttery Sticks. Done.
Corn Free: Hahaha just kidding. They’re already corn free.
Sugar-Free: Well, that’s just not happening, since marshmallows are basically whipped cooked sugar with gelatin added. But you can make them refined sugar free by replacing the 2 cups of granulated sugar with 1 1/2 cups (504 g) honey. The honey will turn darker as it cooks to the softball stage. Stir to prevent burning.
Grain-Free: If you know of a grain-free cereal with small pieces, no bigger than the size of a cheerio, give it a try! But I know of no such cereal.
If you’re looking for a more traditional recipe for GF rice crispy treats with no cooking sugar required, plus a discussion of what brands of crisp rice cereal to try, I’ve got you covered there, too.
Homemade Marshmallow Rice Krispie Treats
2 tablespoons (14 g) unflavored powdered gelatin (if using packets, you’ll need 2)
1 cup (8 fluid ounces) cool water
2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
5 tablespoons (70 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
8 to 9 cups (240 to 270 g) crisp rice cereal (recommended gluten free brands: Erewhon, Nature’s Path Organic)
Line an 8- or 9-inch square (or 9-inch x 12-inch, for smaller treats) baking dish with heavy-duty aluminum foil, and grease the foil with cooking oil spray, and set it aside.
In a small bowl, place 1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) of the water, add the gelatin, and mix to combine well. Set the bowl aside and allow the gelatin to swell as it stands. Once the gelatin has swelled, transfer it to the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl to use with a hand mixer).
In a medium, heavy-bottom saucepan, place the remaining 1/2 cup water, sugar and cream of tartar, and whisk to combine well. Cook the sugar mixture over medium-high heat until it reaches the softball stage, between 238°F and 240°F, on an instant read thermometer. Remove the saucepan from the heat immediately, and pour the cooked sugar mixture down the side of the bowl of the stand mixer into the gelatin mixture. Whisk to combine and allow the mixture to cool briefly. It will bubble. Add the vanilla and salt, and beat the mixture on medium-high speed with the whisk attachment (or with a hand mixer) until the mixture is white, thick and glossy. It should nearly triple in size. It is ready when the mixture pours off the whisk (or beaters) very slowly when the attachment is raised. You made marshmallows!
Add the melted butter to the marshmallows, and beat again on medium speed until combined. The marshmallows will decrease in size a bit. Add 8 cups of the crisp rice cereal. Spray a silicone spatula with cooking oil spray, and use it to stir together gently the marshmallow mixture and the rice cereal. Add up to 1 cup more crisp rice cereal, depending upon how gooey you would like your treats to be.
Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan, and smooth the top with the oiled spatula. Place in the refrigerator until set (about 15 minutes), and slice to serve. Store in an airtight container either in the refrigerator or at room temperature.
Originally published on the blog in 2013. Recipe tweaked slightly but mostly unchanged, photos mostly new, video new, text mostly new.