Classic Vanilla Marshmallows

December  7, 2015
14 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Makes about 3 dozen large marshmallows
Author Notes

Marshmallows are magic! Granulated sugar turns into a syrup, which then is whipped to light, airy perfection. They're great toasted. Or in hot cocoa. Or toasted in hot cocoa. —Erin Jeanne McDowell

What You'll Need
  • Nonstick spray, as needed
  • 1/2 cup cool water, divided
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons granulated gelatin
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • confectioners' sugar, as needed for finishing
  1. Lightly grease a quarter sheet tray (9 by 13 inches) with nonstick spray. Line with parchment paper and spray the parchment with nonstick spray. Have an offset spatula and a heat-safe Silicone spatula ready, both sprayed with nonstick spray.
  2. Pour 1/4 cup of the water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin on top. Allow to bloom for 5 minutes undisturbed. It’s best not to stir, as the gelatin can form globs, and some of the gelatin on the interior of a glob may not come in contact with water, which can lead to an unpleasant graininess in your end product. The gelatin should be fully hydrated —no visible dry granules.
  3. In a small pot, combine the remaining 1/4 cup water, sugar, corn syrup, and vanilla. Heat the pot over medium-high heat. Stir the mixture until it comes to a boil, then stop stirring completely: Agitating a boiling sugar syrup can encourage crystals to form, which can lead to disaster. Once you stop stirring, brush any visible sugar crystals away from the sides of the pot with a damp pastry brush.
  4. Once the mixture begins to boil, fasten a candy thermometer to the side of the pot. Continue to boil until the temperature reads 245° F.
  5. Pour the syrup into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add the vanilla and let the mixture cool to 220° F.
  6. While the syrup cools, melt the bloomed gelatin, either in the microwave (15 to 20 seconds) or over a double boiler, until it is fluid.
  7. When the sugar syrup has cooled, gradually working your mixer up to medium speed. Once the mixer is running, add the melted gelatin (and any extracts, if using). Whip the sugar on medium speed until the bowl feels almost entirely cool to the touch and the sugar is opaque white and very fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. It should hold stiff peaks. Try not to stop and restart the mixer multiple times, just keep whipping steadily for 4 to 5 minutes.
  8. Pour the marshmallow into the prepared pan, using the greased Silicone spatula to help you get it out of the mixer bowl. Working quickly, use the greased offset spatula to spread the marshmallow into an even layer inside the pan. You must work fast because as the mixture cools, the gelatin is setting.
  9. Let the mixture cool completely inside the pan, at least 45 minutes and up to overnight (if you leave it overnight, cover the surface with greased plastic wrap).
  10. Fill a large, shallow bowl with confectioners' sugar. Grease the blades of kitchen shears with nonstick spray and cut the marshmallow into 1-inch wide strips.
  11. Holding each strip over the bowl of confectioners' sugar, cut into 1 inch wide squares, letting the pieces fall into the sugar. Toss each piece in confectioners' sugar to coat and repeat until all pieces are cut and coated.
  12. Store finished marshmallows in an airtight container at room temperature. Add some extra confectioners’ sugar to the storage container to keep the 'mallows in a sugar bath at all times. They should last for up to 3 weeks at room temperature. Like many candies, the enemy of marshmallows is moisture, including humidity. Prolonged exposure to heat can also make them melt or otherwise deteriorate.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Tilly Cooper
    Tilly Cooper
  • Amy LeVien-Kalinova
    Amy LeVien-Kalinova
  • Sioban Bowyer
    Sioban Bowyer
  • Mj Matsushita
    Mj Matsushita
  • darksideofthespoon
I always have three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's wrapped in a pastry crust. My newest cookbook, Savory Baking, came out in Fall of 2022 - is full of recipes to translate a love of baking into recipes for breakfast, dinner, and everything in between!

15 Reviews

Tilly C. November 22, 2020
I have used this recipe successfully only be adding about twice the water to the gelatin as called for. Akai, the recipe says to add the vanilla in two places. I wait until the second time. I think boiling the vanilla will pretty much destroy the flavor. Lovely end product with these modifications.
Amy L. May 28, 2019
Crap recipe. Don’t try it.
Jessica December 23, 2018
These turned out great! I did need to add a full cup to the gelatin (I used Knox) and stir it to get all the powder to fully hydrate. Also, whipping the sugar/gelatin mixture took at least 15 minutes for me.
Jessica December 23, 2018
*I meant I had to add a full cup of water to the gelatin.
Sioban B. December 23, 2016
A keeper!

Made three batches - two vanilla, one peppermint-vanilla. Big vanilla fans, so we used 2-1/2 tsp extract. For the peppermint, we used 1 tsp vanilla + 1 tsp peppermint. We also added some red dye to the peppermint, only mixing 1-2 seconds, so it was swirly white and pink.

Couple of things we found:
(1) Gelatin didn't completely dissolve, so we added water. I think more surface area might fix that, so next time I would pour the water into a shallower plate or bowl. (Didn't have anything like at the time.). Adding more water didn't hurt anything. Neither did removing the chunks of undissolved gelatin after heating and before adding to sugar/corn syrup mix.
(2) ach batch varied a bit, but we mixed for 7 - 10 minutes. Consistency-wise, the finished products are identical.
Mj M. June 16, 2016
I ended up using 3smal bowls to bloom the gelatin, and more water then noted. and it took a lot longer to whip up. Eventually it worked .
Martin B. December 27, 2015
Hi Erin, I struggle with volume. True weight often varies with how coarse or fine a powder is ground. It can make a huge difference in recipes - like marshmallow - where precision can be important. Can you tell me how many grams your 3½ tablespoons of gelatin weigh?
darksideofthespoon December 21, 2015
I don't normally log in to post or comment anymore but this recipe really did not work for me and I tried it twice. I thought maybe my thermometer was off (it wasn't) or I had mismeasured something (I didn't) but both batches (the latter less so) were chewy like bubblegum and when I dropped one it made a loud thud on the floor.

So, I made my usual go-to recipe and they turned out perfectly. I threw these batches in the garbage. Sorry.
Martin B. December 27, 2015
After a little research, I discovered so much depends upon what grade gelatin is used. Gelling strength varies wildly between different suppliers and there is no industry standard. It is very hard to know if your gelatin matches that used in a recipe unless the author specifies manufacturer, grade, setting strength and time. Without that information we're all left having to, at best, experiment, or, at worst, just guess and hope for the best. It sounds like your gelatine is much better at gelling than Erin's and you need to use a lot less - see Diana's comment below - but then we've also no idea if her gelling strength matches yours or mine, or anyone else's.
For some reassurance that the fault is not yours, check out this post (via David Lebovitz):
It explains the problem but provides no easy solution. Perseverance and carefully noting the amount used is probably the only to solve this.
Diana T. December 20, 2015
I think the measure for gelatine is incorrect. It says 3.5 tablespoons and I think it should be teaspoons.
Erin J. December 20, 2015
Hi Diana! I know it sounds like a lot, but it is correct. Marshmallows are just whipped sugar, and the gelatin is responsible for maintaining the structure and giving them their signature chew!
Count M. December 21, 2015
I had difficulty with the amount of gelatin as well. I poured the 3 1/2 tablespoons over the 1/4 cup of water, and it didn't come close to hydrating it all. I had a thick disc of jelly with dry powder all over the top. I ended up adding almost another 1/4 cup of water to get it to work.
EmilyS1220 December 22, 2015
I found this to be true as well. Like I mentioned in a previous moments.. a few moments of panic.
EmilyS1220 December 22, 2015
EmilyS1220 December 15, 2015
Just a note: I had to whip the mix for at least double the time. I had a few moments of panic, but they came out beautifully!