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.
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.