Jet-puffed marshmallows on the left, homemade on the right

Marshmallows are not something that I often eat plain, but they do figure prominently in two of my favorite wintertime treats:  hot cocoa and s’mores.   Hot cocoa is not really complete without a marshmallow floating on top, in my opinion.  I always start seeing lots of recipes for homemade marshmallows around the holidays and I finally decided to give them a try this year.  As I have a compulsive need to tweak and experiment with recipes, I decided to put my own twist on a classic marshmallow recipe by adding honey and vanilla to the mix.  Many of the recipes I looked at had no flavoring at all, but I thought substituting honey for some of the corn syrup and adding a shot of vanilla extract would make the marshmallows extra flavorful.

Marshmallows turned out to be one of the most fun things I have made in a long time.  I love how the mixture puffs up almost instantly as the hot syrup is added to the gelatin.  This would be a great recipe to make with kids!

Honey Vanilla Marshmallows

Makes about 3 dozen


3 envelopes unflavored gelatin (about 2 1/2 Tablespoons)

1/2 cup cold water

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup honey

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar

1.  Place the gelatin in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.  Pour the 1/2 cup cold water over the gelatin and set aside to soften for at least 15 minutes.  Line a 9 X 9-inch pan with plastic wrap, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides, and spray lightly with cooking spray.

2.  In a medium saucepan, stir together the sugar, corn syrup, honey, salt and 1/4 cup water.  Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves completely (test for this by cooling a drop of syrup on a plate and then rubbing it between two fingers.  If it feels gritty, continue to cook a few minutes longer until no gritty sugar remains).  Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and raise heat to high.  Bring mixture to a boil and continue to boil, without stirring, until syrup reaches 244 degrees F.  Immediately remove pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

3.  Turn mixer on low speed and carefully add hot syrup to the gelatin.  Once all syrup is added, turn speed up to high and continue to mix until mixture turns white, thickens and doubles in size, about 10 minutes.

4.  Pour marshmallow mixture into the prepared 9 X 9 inch pan, spreading out with a rubber spatula.  Wet the fingers on one hand and use damp fingers to smooth the top of the marshmallow mixture in the pan. Sprinkle the top of  the marshmallows with confectioners sugar.  Set marshmallows aside to cool, at least 2 hours.

5.  To cut marshmallows:  Pull the plastic wrap out of the pan and then turn marshmallows over onto a wooden cutting board, sugared side down (they seem to stick more readily to plastic than wood).  Coat a very sharp knife with confectioner’s sugar and use this knife to cut the marshmallows into 4 strips, then cut each strip into 10 smaller squares.  Dip all sides of each marshmallow in confectioner’s sugar, finely chopped nuts, or colored sprinkles. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Homemade marshmallows are certainly not quick and easy to make but, as I mentioned earlier, it is a very fun process and the finished product is worth the effort!  When we tasted these homemade marshmallows next to large Jet-Puffed brand, the homemade variety won hands down.  My husband said the store bought marshmallows tasted like styrofoam when compared with homemade and I completely agree.  When eaten right next to each other, the store bought marshmallows seemed dry and flavorless while the homemade ones were soft, pillowy perfection.  I’m sure I won’t be making homemade marshmallows all that often (the cleanup alone would prevent that!) but they are a very fun, tasty treat and one case where homemade is vastly superior to store bought!

Bottom Line: While store bought marshmallows are certainly the most convenient (and cheapest), homemade marshmallows were much more flavorful and had an appealing, soft texture.  Homemade marshmallows are a fun cooking project to make with kids and would make an extra special gift this holiday season!

Prices based on 3 dozen marshmallows.

Homemade Honey Vanilla Marshmallows Jet-Puffed Marshmallows
Cost: $2.50 Cost: $1.29
Time: 3 hours Time: None