Homemade Marshmallows

A huge number of my favorite family traditions revolve around food items and certain holidays. My own children are young and I’m constantly trying to think of new, fun things we can incorporate into our holiday celebrations to help them create fun memories just like I have of my own childhood. This past Halloween I decided a new family tradition would be making yeast doughnuts every fall. After an entire day of experimenting with that and I crossed it off the list. The doughnuts were amazing, but I knew I wouldn’t be repeating the day-long experience every year. (Although I think I might try cake doughnuts which look much easier!) When homemade marshmallows started popping up everywhere a couple of years ago I thought that it might be a fun new tradition and I finally got around to trying them out this year. I was pleasanty surprised that while the actual process takes a little time, the individual steps are so simple that this little project is totally doable, and the results are worth it. I’ve made several batches this year and I think it’s safe to say that it will be an official family Christmas tradition! My kids love helping with the kid friendly steps (cutting shapes with cookie cutters, dusting with powdered sugar) and they love eating them even more. And I have to say, that not being much of a marshmallow fan- I did too!

Homemade Marshmallows
adapted from Alton Brown, variations by Our Best Bites

3 packets unflavored gelatin
1 C ice water, divided
1 1/2 C sugar
1 C light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 C corn starch
1/4 C powdered sugar

9 x 13″ pan
non stick spray

Optional for variations:
cocoa powder
peppermint extract
food coloring
dipping chocolate
crushed candy canes

Place the contents of the gelatin packets into the bowl of a stand mixer. (Yes, you’ll want a stand mixer, or someone to trade off holding a hand mixer with you- but don’t blame me if you blow out the motor of your hand mixer, you’ve been warned!) Add 1/2 C of the ice water.

Stir gently to combine and then set that bowl aside.

In a small saucepan combine: remaining 1/2 C water, corn syrup, granulated sugar, and salt. Stir mixture to combine and bring it to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and then clip a candy thermometer onto the pan. And seriously, if you don’t have a candy thermometer you can grab one for less than 3 bucks at Walmart or even sometimes in the baking isle at the grocery store. It’s well worth the little investment!

The sugar mixture needs to remain on a simmer and come to a temperature of 245 degrees F. It may take 20 minutes or so, so just stir the mixture every once and a while and keep an eye on the temp.

After the mixture reaches 245 degrees, remove from heat. This is where you need to be very careful so you don’t end up cursing my name while treating the third degree burns on your forearms. While your mixer runs on low speed, you need to slowly pour the sugar mixture into the bowl with the gelatin. Now I don’t know about you, but half the time when I try to pour something directly out of a pan (especially when I’m trying to pour slowly) it ends up spilling down the side of the pan and off the bottom and onto the counter, etc. So I choose to dirty one more dish and ladle the sugar mixture into something with a pour spout, like so:

After you add the entire sugar mixture to the gelatin turn the beater speed up to med-high. Continue to whip for 12-15 minutes, adding the vanilla in the last few minutes of beating.

*Also, immediately put your sticky pan and utensils from the sugar mixture into very hot, soapy water. The quicker you get it soaking the quicker the goo will come off!

While your sugar goo is magically transforming into soft, fluffy marshmallows, prepare your pan.

Combine the cornstarch and powdered sugar in a small bowl. Spray a 9 x 13″ pan with non stick spray and coat the bottom and sides with the cornstarch mixture. Tap excess out and save it.

When your marshmallows are done beating the mixture should be thick and white and luke warm, like this:

It’s kind of like jarred marshmallow cream at this point. Grab a spatula and scrape the marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan. The stuff is sticky and gooey and it might put up a fight. Show it who’s boss. And don’t worry about getting every last gooey drop because you won’t! Just pull out what you can and then immediately put that dirty dish in the sink with hot soapy water. I found it helpful to spray my spatula with non-stick spray. Once the marshmallow mixture is all in the pan you’ll need to spread it out. A lot of recipes tell you to dip an angled knife into cold water first, but I found it much easier to spray the back of a large spoon with non-stick spray and spread it that way. It will be kind of lumpy, but just keep spraying and patting and get it as smooth as you can. (You can read my notes on variations later in the post to see why my marshmallows are two-toned)

Let the pan sit at room temp for about an hour (to form a dry layer on the top) and sprinkle a couple spoonfuls of the corn starch mixture over the top. Cover with a sheet of plastic wrap and let it sit overnight. Technically, you could cut the marshmallows after 4-5 hours, but I think they work better after sitting overnight.

When they’re ready to cut, just pull the marshmallowy sheet out of the pan. It should pop right out. The bottom side will be much nicer looking than the top side!

At this point you could use cookie cutters if you want some cute little shapes. I think hearts would be adorable for valentines day and stars are darling for Christmas time. If you do use cookie cutters, you can use a pair of kitchen shears to snip the scraps into mini marshmallows so you don’t waste any.

Otherwise, grab a pizza cutter, or a sharp knife if you don’t have a pizza cutter, and cut the marshmallow into cubes. It helps to dust your cutting implement with the cornstarch-sugar mixture. Especially after it gets sticky stuff on it.

Once they are cut, dust each marshmallow lightly with the remaining cornstarch mixture. This makes them easy to handle and keeps them from sticking together.

After cutting you’ll want to keep these in an air tight container or they will dry out just like store-bought ones do. They’ll be good for a couple of weeks if stored well.

So you probably noticed that half of mine are light brown in color. I played around with some flavors and came up with a cocoa marshmallow that’s awesome. They are also yummy with peppermint extract. These particular brown ones are peppermint-chocolate flavored (one of my all-time favorite flavor combos) and they were a big hit. Here’s some notes on my variations:

— Add all flavorings and colorings in the last few minutes of beating.
For Cocoa Marshmallows: add in 3-4 tablespoons of unsweetened cococa powder. If you make cocoa marshmallows, add a spoonful or two of cocoa powder to your cornstarch mixture as well.
For Peppermint Marshmallows: add in 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
For Colored Marshmallows: add food coloring in the last few minutes of beating (think colored fruit flavored marshmallows!)

Another fun thing to do is chocolate dipped marshmallows. Melt 1/2 C chocolate chips (I prefer semi-sweet or dark because you’re basically dipping sugar squares into it) with 1/2 tablespoon shortening and combine until smooth. The cornstarch coating on the marshmallows makes it a little hard sometimes to have the chocolate stick, so just work slowly and it should work just fine. I sprinkled crushed candy canes on too for extra Christmas cheer!

Think how yummy (and completely adorable) it would be to dip these in chocolate and then sprinkle with crushed graham crackers. Or put a marshmallow between 2 graham crackers and dip the whole thing in chocolate.

Eat them plain or pop them in a hot cup of cocoa. Either way you’ll close your eyes and say mmmm….. these make a super cute gift!


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Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. I'm sooo sad… I made these last night and decided to make peppermint marshmallows so I added 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract and it was waaay too strong. I was disappointed. I will try them again tonight with just vanilla and hopefully they will be edible! Boy, I can't believe how sticky that stuff is, it doesn't wipe off anything without water.

  2. Hi! Just wanted to say we made your sweet potato fries and they were amazing! We posted them here

    Impressive homemade marshmallows!

  3. These look sooo so good! I am so afraid I am not that talented to make them turn out right, haha.. Yummy!

  4. Just finished my marshmallows! I am waiting for the chocolate to harden. I did taste a couple and boy are they good. They are almost too sweet for me. I am looking forward to having them with some hot chocolate!

  5. I am so in love with these. If I had clear gelatin at home, I would totally be trying these.

    Uh oh – the brain got thinking – I have strawberry gelatin. Hmmm…chocolate covered strawberry marshmallows. Oooo…that sounds good. Have you tried flavored gelatin? Does it work?

  6. Thanks so much for posting! I realized this morning at 8:30 that I was supposed to bring 2 dozen treats to an exchange at 9:30, and I had no butter and no eggs!

    I kicked my husband into the kitchen and we had peppermint marshmallows in no time! (Although I admit he used his own recipe and there was no time to do the chocolate. But he piped them with a flower tip and they looked great that way too!)

  7. Katship- don't even worry about getting every last drop out of the pan. That goes for both the hot sugar mixture, and the marshmallow mixture itself after it's done whipping. It's sticky and gooey and just not worth the fight! Just get what you can and then *immediately* put your dirty dishes into hot soapy water. After a little soak the goo should come right off without a hitch!

  8. I took the marshmallow leap this evening and they are resting overnight like the recipe suggests.

    I have a question or suggestion. First, do not even try this recipe with a hand mixer because I have a Cuisinart 10 cup stand mixer and she huffed and puffed a bit!

    Second,Sara can all the contact utensils and mixing bowl be lightly sprayed to prevent such challenging sticking? I ask because I slowly poured the hot mixture into the gelatin mixture but there was allot of sticky clear mixture that never got into the 15 minute medium whip cycle…and the clean up was a challenge to say the least…

    I thought about the cornstarch and powdered sugar mix that needed to be spread over the marshmallow once it cooled and crusted a bit would be much easier to spread nicely by using a pastry brush and it was!

    I have to admit that my first batch didn't spread out nice and even like Sara's picture so I am going to rename mine "cloud marshmallows"!

    One last comment. I was thinking of trying the little left over pieces in the Hot Fudge Recipe I made earlier to see if it would kinda be like rocky road…

    I will re comment when I finish the cutting and decorating if they get that far because the 10yr. autistic girl down the street came in to play with my rescue cat and found out I was going to make marshmallows…now the whole block will be at my door for a sample!

    I plan on packaging these with two mugs and powdered cocoa mix for a nice little gift!

  9. I love you so much for posting this!! I can't wait to make them! My kids are allergic to all the preservatives in store bought marshmallows and they miss them so! Thank you for posting the pictures of the ingredients too!! Very helpful to me! 🙂 Merry Christmas!!

  10. Whoa! How could I have not heard about you guys before today?? I came over via a link to your little pies-in-a-jar and spent waaaaay too much time here. Part of that was spent making your chicken pot pies (which are baking away in the kitchen at this very moe) so may be it's not all so bad after all. Love your site and I will be stalking..err I mean following you from now on.

    Tomorrow morning: Overnight cinnamon rolls! yay!

  11. You know, we've gained 5 lbs each since I found your website! *Everything* we've tried has been fabulous… and I can see that this will be no exception! We're sending out the carmel corn and the peppermint bark popcorn (both are wonderful) to family, and I'll add these to the list! LOVE YOU BOTH!

  12. Glenda- I'm glad we pulled you out of lurkerdom!

    Jeanette- I hear ya, I used to be scared too, but believe me- these aren't hard at all!

    Linda- thanks for the fun recipe!

    DLS- you are completely right. I just pulled some out of the broiler and they are amazing!! I need to take some pictures and add them to this post.

    Lolly- Stromboli, check.

    Everything Pink- Kate and I both use KitchenAids so that's what we know. I know I love mine. Although everyone I know who has a bosche loves it too. I don't think you can go wrong with either!

    jfb- email us at general {at} ourbestbites {dot} com and we'll give you some ideas!

  13. Have you ever made the Martha Stewart recipe for marshmallows? Way too complicated! Thanks for sharing this one.

    I have a request – do you have any good ideas for Christmas breakfast? Make the night before would be best, or super quick to pull together in the morning. Now the tricky part … Eggs cannot be the primary ingredient. My husband is allergic, so all those great egg-type casseroles are out. thanks!

  14. oh you two are just the best.

    i really want to try this but am sooo scared.

    i burned out my kitchen aid making pretzles a year ago and have been using a hand held mixer for too long.
    this may motivate me to finally bit the bullet and buy one.

    any thoughts on a bosch vs. kitchen aid???

  15. Sara!
    I am delighted you shared this recipe!
    I dream about homemade marshmellows! I sooo want them in my cozy cups of hot chocolate!
    And they look so easy when you show the steps in pictures!
    Thank you!
    You're fabulous!

  16. I've been looking for an *easy* not too tedious recipe for these. You've done all the work for me, right down to the peppermint! THANK YOU! I am going to use my Christmas tree cutter and then dip them in the colored candy melts from Wilton and sprinkle some non-parails for the lights. I may crush up some candy canes and roll some square shaped ones too. What a great post!

    Ally @ High Heels & Aprons

  17. I made homemade marshmallows (out of the Martha Stewart magazine) about 5 years ago, and I swore I'd never make them again. But yours turned out so great, and this looks like a much better recipe. I might try it! 🙂

  18. Your marshmallows look wonderful. I've been wanting to make some homemade marshmallows this year… hopefully I'll find the time!

  19. Soooooo glad you posted this recipe! I have wanted to try this forever!!!!! I cannot wait till I am off work. I have a LOAD of recipes to try.

    Oh and I have a request. Can we (meaning you guys) post a stromboli how to. Pretty prease?

  20. I like your post but you are missing out on the #1 way to eat a marshmallow imo! You put a few finished marshmallows in a baking pan & broil them under the broiler to "toast" them. There you will see why you went to all the trouble of making them to begin with as all the flavor is just amazing when toasted. Try it!

  21. Wow, this sounds neat….my kids are now in college, but maybe we'll just try this one of those days they are home 🙂

    I did want to share a "quicky" cheater doughnut "recipe" for a quick fun time with the kiddos. Just use the biscuits in the tubes from the grocery store, split apart, cut out the hole in the middle with the center of your doughnut cutter, deep fry in your fry daddy or in oil in a skillet on the stove top. Turn after a brief time in the hot oil, remove, drain on paper towels…toss with sugar, powdered sugar or whatever you imagination comes up with…yummy 🙂

  22. I know this is supposed to be easy but I am scared of marshmallows! Is there a program for me? LOL

  23. Homemade marshmallows have been on my "to try with kiddo" list for a couple years. Your post makes it sound more doable than any other "homemade marshmallow" post I've read! I love the variations you listed.

    You know, I bought a pour shield for my Kitchen Aid several years ago. I don't use it often, but it sure is handy to have when I need it. I bet it'd work great for this recipe.

    By the way, I'm a longtime lurker — don't think I've ever commented before. Love your blog!!