Marshmallow Crispy Treats, but Darker, Nuttier & Better

A few tricks from the internet—and a good splash of bourbon—take the childhood classic to new heights.

November 15, 2019
Photo by Julia Gartland. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis.

The original Rice Krispies Treats recipe is a classic for a reason—but there’s room for improvement. I've always found that the standard ratio of one bag of marshmallows to six cups of cereal produces treats that are too dry and overly firm. Sure, they taste good, but Rice Krispies Treats have so much more potential and the base recipe is yearning to be improved upon.

So in an attempt to elevate them to their full potential, I decided to reformulate the classic. To kick off my development and search for inspiration, I turned as ever to the internet.

The first upgrade I came across was from Smitten Kitchen. Her trick? Browning the butter. This added a wonderful nutty flavor and wasn’t all that difficult to do—a few extra seconds was all it took.

While this yielded treats that were rich with toasted dairy flavor, I wanted to see just how far I could push it. I doubled the amount of butter her original recipe called for, swapped sweet cream butter for a salted variety (because salt makes everything better), added a heaping tablespoon of vanilla extract, and finished them with a generous glug of bourbon to highlight the complex brown-butter flavor as much as I possibly could.

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Top Comment:
“How do I make my rice krispie treats? Err - like this from now on! Genius. I love your writing for Buzzfeed by the way, and every article you've published here so far. :)”
— Christine B.

It was no longer just sweetness—it was sweetness with a depth of smoky caramel flavor. I loved where the recipe was going (it was a clear step in the right direction), but I wanted to push it even further.

The second trick I came across was via The New York Times and involved caramelizing the marshmallows. To do so, you melt them as usual but push it a step further until the mixture starts to darken in color and caramelize.

While the technique was genius, and the marshmallows did slowly transformed into a thick golden caramel, the thing about cooking sugar is that it hardens. (Just think about how hard melted sugar gets when it cools.) The flavor was caramel-like with dark toffee notes, but the treats no longer had a pleasant marshmallowy texture. They were too hard.

To get around this, I added an additional bag of uncooked marshmallows right at the end to compensate for the overly firm texture. Finally, both the texture and flavor of the treats were everything I knew they could be. They had reached their potential and my job was done.

So yes, my final updated formula uses three bags of mini marshmallows, four times the amount of (now salted) butter, and a seemingly excessive amount of both vanilla extract and bourbon—but it’s not without merit! These strategic extra steps help the childhood classic reach its true potential, and the adult you will be glad you took the time.

How do you make your crispy treats? Let us know in the comments below.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Food Writer & Recipe Developer


Sandra F. November 17, 2019
I make the traditional recipe... but rather than letting it cool and cutting it into squares, I serve it warm —as a topping for vanilla ice cream.
Mark Z. November 15, 2019
This sounds amazing, going to give this a shot for the holidays. Since caramelization seems to be the theme, what about gently toasting the cereal prior to inclusion?
Eric K. November 16, 2019
Very interesting idea. I wonder too.
Christine B. November 15, 2019
How do I make my rice krispie treats? Err - like this from now on! Genius.

I love your writing for Buzzfeed by the way, and every article you've published here so far. :)
Jesse S. November 16, 2019
Thanks so much for the kind words!