How to Make Marshmallow Cereal Treats
Marshmallow Cereal Treats can be made with any cereal you like and are such a quick and easy dessert to share with a crowd!
- Difficulty Level: Beginner
- Techniques Used: Folding
Rice Krispie Treats are the most common type of marshmallow cereal treats, and for many people, they bring back a lot of memories of childhood. But I wanted to share with you the easy formula I use to come up with endless varieties of cereal treat bars.
I love working from customizable recipes and master formulas. It’s such a great way to get creative in the kitchen. And since these are so easy to make, this is a great way to involve kids to come up with their own flavors!
How To Make Marshmallow Treats
Marshmallow treats at the most basic level are a combination of melted butter, melted marshmallows, and cereal. This mixture is pressed into a pan and allowed to solidify before slicing.
What makes these treats so fun is that you can easily customize the flavors and make so many different varieties! Butter can be browned to make more of an adult version! Or it can be replaced with peanut butter to make a saltier version.
This formula also lends itself well to adding flavorings and mix-ins! Add crushed Oreos for a Cookies and Cream Cereal Bar, or add some cake mix and sprinkles for a Birthday Cake version!
Customize the Flavor of Your Marshmallow Treats
The chart below lays out some possibilities of ways to build your own flavor of marshmallow treat! This is not a comprehensive list, but it can give you some ideas of flavors to use!
You must decide on a fat and a cereal (or a combination of a few!) in order to build your bar. The flavorings and mix-ins are optional. Those give you an opportunity to get extra creative! See the note section in the recipe card for ideas of flavor variations!
CHOOSE A FAT
- Butter (salted or unsalted)
- Brown Butter
- Non-Dairy Butter
- Peanut Butter
- Almond Butter
Choose a Cereal (or a combination of a few!)
- Rice Krispies (regular or cocoa)
- Corn Flakes
- Cocoa Puffs
- Cinnamon Toast Crunch
- Fruity Pebbles
- Any other favorite cereal!
CHOOSE FLAVORING (optional)
- Vanilla Extract (1 teaspoon)
- Almond Extract (1/2 teaspoon)
- Cinnamon (1 teaspoon)
- Cake Mix (1/3 cup)
CHOOSE A MIX-IN (optional, up to 1 cup total)
- Mini Marshmallows (so you have some in tact marshmallows throughout)
- Chocolate Chips (any flavor)
- M&M’s (or other candies)
- Pretzel Pieces
- Crushed Cookies
Step 1: Melt the Fat & Marshmallows
Start by melting the fat you choose. I love browning the butter for more of an elevated flavor, but you can’t go wrong with any of the options! Then add in the marshmallows to melt over low heat. If you are using any flavorings, you would also add them here. It is important that the marshmallows do not get too hot during this process or the treats can become too hard once cooled.
This can be done on the stovetop (my preferred method) or in the microwave. If using the microwave, combine the fat and the marshmallows in a large bowl and heat in 20-second increments, stirring in between.
Step 2: Combine Melted Marshmallow with Cereal
As soon as you have a liquid marshmallow mixture, quickly stir it together with your cereal of choice. Rice Krispies are the classic choice, but I personally love the texture of corn flakes! These treats are so quick and easy to make, try a few different kinds of cereal!
The mixing process is a bit tricky and sticky! But keep with folding the mixture over itself until everything is evenly distributed.
Note: I find it easiest to add the cereal into the pan with your melted marshmallow mixture, but if your pan isn’t big enough you can pour the marshmallow into a bowl with your cereal to mix.
Step 3: Fold in Mix-Ins (optional)
If you chose to add in solid mix-ins, fold them in quickly after you have combined the cereal. I always wait to do this until the cereal has been thoroughly mixed so they don’t melt too much if it is chocolate.
Step 4: Press into Pan
Transfer the marshmallow treat mixture to the pan. I like to line the pan first with parchment paper so that I can easily pull the treats out to slice.
Make sure you don’t press the mixture down too firmly. I typically use an oiled offset spatula or you can grease your hands a bit and press down with your hands. But compacting the cereal too much will make the treats really firm and dry.
Step 5: Let Cool & Slice
I find letting the treats cool for about 2 hours before slicing is helpful so they are firm enough. You can also pop them in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or so to help speed up the process.
The Best Rice Krispie Treats
After trying many different variations I have landed on the combination that I find makes the very best Rice Krispie Treats! Here is the formula:
- Brown the butter
- Add in 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract if you prefer)
- Fold in 1 cup of mini marshmallows at the end!
- And don’t forget the salt!
How to Prevent Treats from Getting Hard
Make sure you melt the marshmallows over a medium-low heat so that the mixture doesn’t get too hot. If it does get too hot, it will make the treats hard and dry. Also don’t pack the mixture into your pan too firmly!
Can You Use Marshmallow Fluff?
I did test this recipe with marshmallow fluff and it does work! You can use a 7-ounce container of it in place of the mini marshmallows. I found I didn’t prefer the texture of this version as much, but it works and is still delicious!
How Should You Store the Treats?
I like to put them in an airtight container at room temperature and find they last for 3-4 days before getting too stale. You can also individually wrap them in plastic wrap if you want to share them. They will keep 2-3 days with this method.
- 70 grams (5 tablespoons) fat (butter, brown butter, non-dairy butter, peanut butter, or other nut or seed butter)
- 297 grams (10.5 ounce bag)mini marshmallows
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional, omit if using salted butter or peanut butter)
- 120 grams (about 5 cups) cereal of choice
- flavorings and mix-ins if desired (see the flavoring chart in the above post for ideas)
- Line an 8-inch (20 cm) square baking dish with parchment paper.
- Measure out all of your ingredients. This process moves quickly and you need everything to be ready to go so the marshmallow doesn't set before everything is added.
To Make the Marshmallow Treats:
- In a large pan over medium-low heat, melt your fat of choice. Alternatively, you can place it in a large microwave safe bowl, and melt it in the microwave.
- Add the marshmallows to the pan and stir continuously with a silicone spatula until they are completely melted. Don't turn the heat up during this process as the final marshmallow treats can get hard if the marshmallow gets too hot. Alternatively, you can add the marshmallow to the bowl and microwave in 20 second bursts, stirring in between until fully melted.
- If using the salt and any flavorings, add them in with the marshmallow mixture here and stir to combine fully.
- Pour the cereal into your pan or bowl (if it isn't big enough you can pour the marshmallow into the cereal) and stir until fully combined. It will be very sticky and a bit difficult to stir, but stick with it!
- Fold in any solid mix-ins if using here.
- Transfer the mixture to your prepared dish. Lightly oil your hands or a silicone spatula and gently press the mixture evenly into the dish. IMPORTANT: Do not press it down too firmly, be very light. This will keep the treats nice and soft!
- Let sit at room temperature for 2 hours before slicing, or pop in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Remove from the dish and slice into 16 squares (or 9 if you want very large treats)
- Store leftover treats in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.
Flavor Variation Ideas
- Best Rice Krispie Treats: Use regular Rice Krispies as the cereal. Brown the butter, add 1/2 teaspoon or almond extract, and fold in 1 cup of mini marshmallows at the end
- Cookies & Cream Treats: Use Cocoa Krispies as the cereal. Fold in 1 cup of broken Oreos at the end.
- Birthday Cake Treats: Add 1/3 cup dry cake mix to the marshmallow mixture. Fold in 2 tablespoons sprinkles and 1/2 cup white chocolate chips.
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Corn Flake Treats: Use Cornflakes as the cereal. Use peanut butter as the fat. Fold in 1 cup regular M&M's at the end.