If you've never tried homemade marshmallows, you're in for a treat! If you have tasted homemade marshmallows, you already know why they're worth the effort: They're light, airy, fluffy, and rife with fresh vanilla flavor that most store-bought marshmallows simply cannot match.
With our step-by-step directions, handcrafted, homemade marshmallows can become a specialty of your house -- an exquisite food gift your friends and family will remember long after they've savored the treats. But be sure to keep some for yourself: Homemade marshmallows are simply divine in a cup of hot chocolate in winter or tucked into s'mores to enjoy around the campfire in summer.
What Are Marshmallows?
Originally, marshmallows were sweet treats made from the root of a marshmallow plant. However, the confections now are generally made from corn syrup, gelatin, egg whites, sugar, and flavorings such as vanilla. Commercial products may also include thickeners and stabilizers -- ingredients you won't need in fresh, homemade versions.
Equipment for Making Homemade Marshmallows
You likely already have most of the items you need for making marshmallows. The only specialty item required is a candy thermometer -- it's the most accurate way to ensure that your candy mixture has reached the temperature specified.
Tip: If you're purchasing a new candy thermometer, choose one that is easy to read and that clips to the side of the pan.
Here are the items you'll need:
- 13x9x2-inch baking pan
- Plastic wrap, waxed paper, or parchment paper
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Large metal or heatproof bowl
- 2-quart heavy saucepan
Tip: Be sure to use this exact size of saucepan. If your pan is too large, the candy mixture can spread too thin in the pan; if the pan is too small, the candy mixture can boil over and cause dangerous spills.
- Candy thermometer
- One large and one small mixing bowl
- Electric mixer
- Heatproof spatula for spreading mixture
- Cutting board
- Chef's knife or slicing knife
- Resealable plastic bag
- Airtight container for storage
How to Make Homemade Marshmallows
1. Gather the Ingredients
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 2 envelopes unflavored gelatin (4-1/4 teaspoons)
- 3/4 cup cold water
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup light-color corn syrup
- 1/3 cup refrigerated egg white product or 2 pasteurized liquid egg whites
Tip: Be sure to use a product that is only egg whites -- no yolks. We do not recommend
using fresh egg whites, because in this recipe, they will not reach a high enough temperature (160 degrees F) to ensure food safety.
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
2. Prepare the Pan
- Line a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with plastic wrap or line the bottom of pan with waxed paper or parchment paper. Coat the plastic or paper with nonstick cooking spray; set pan aside.
3. Soften the Gelatin
- In a large metal or heatproof bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup of the cold water; set aside.
4. Prepare the Candy Mixture
- In a 2-quart heavy saucepan stir together the remaining 1/4 cup cold water, 1-3/4 cups of the granulated sugar, and the corn syrup until combined. Bring to boiling over medium-high heat.
- Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan. Cook, without stirring, over medium-high heat until the thermometer registers 260 degrees F, hard-ball stage (12 to 15 minutes total).
Tip: Because the actual temperatures of the heat settings among stovetop models may vary, adjust the temperature as necessary. The mixture should cook at a moderate, steady rate (bubbles should form over the entire surface of the mixture).
- Remove from heat; pour the candy mixture over the gelatin mixture in the bowl and stir well to combine (mixture will foam and bubble up in the bowl).
5. Beat the Egg Whites
- While the candy mixture is cooking, in a clean mixing bowl, beat the egg whites, vanilla, and salt with an electric mixer on high speed until foamy. Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight).
6. Combine the Gelatin Mixture and Egg Whites
- With the mixer running on high speed, gradually add the gelatin mixture to the egg white mixture, beating for 5 to 7 minutes or until thick (the consistency of thick, pourable cake batter). Quickly and gently the spread marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan.
- Coat another piece of plastic wrap with nonstick cooking spray; place, coated side down, over marshmallow mixture in pan. Chill at least 5 hours or until firm.
7. Cut the Marshmallows
- In a bowl combine powdered sugar and cornstarch; sprinkle about one-fourth of the mixture evenly onto a large cutting board.
- Remove plastic wrap from the top of the marshmallows. Run a table knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the sides of the marshmallow mixture. Carefully invert the marshmallow mixture onto the cutting board.
- Remove plastic wrap or paper. Sprinkle the top with some of the remaining powdered sugar mixture.
- Using a chef's knife or a slicing knife, cut marshmallows into about 1-inch squares.
Tip: If the knife sticks, sprinkle it with the powdered sugar mixture.
Storing Homemade Marshmallows
Store marshmallows between sheets of waxed paper or parchment paper in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer up to 1 month.
Variations on Homemade Marshmallows
- Prepare as directed, except sprinkle 1-1/2 cups toasted flaked coconut in the bottom of the 13x9x2-inch pan after coating the pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- Add 1/4 teaspoon coconut flavoring to the egg whites with the vanilla. Sprinkle the top of the marshmallow mixture in the pan with an additional 1-1/2 cups toasted flaked coconut.
- Cover and chill as directed in Step 6.
- Omit powdered sugar and cornstarch. Invert marshmallows onto a large cutting board and cut into squares.
- Place several squares at a time in a large resealable plastic bag. Add 1-1/4 cups toasted flaked coconut.
- Seal bag and shake to coat all sides of marshmallows with coconut.
Orange Cream Marshmallows
Prepare as directed, except stir 1 envelope unsweetened orange-flavor soft drink mix into egg whites with the vanilla.
- Prepare as directed, except sift 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder over the stiffly beaten egg whites in Step 5.
- Gently fold cocoa powder into the egg whites with a large spatula before adding the hot gelatin mixture.
- Continue as directed in Step 6, adding the hot gelatin mixture and chilling.
- Reduce the powdered sugar to 1/2 cup and add 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder to the powdered sugar-cornstarch mixture. Continue as directed in Steps 7 and 8 to cut and coat the marshmallows.