Simple, no-thermometer method for light, fluffy, homemade marshmallows. Mmmm . . . (Skip to recipe.)
If you've never made marshmallows, you're in for a treat.
A surprisingly easy-to-make, melt-in-your-mouth, I-can't-believe-you-made-these-yourself! old-fashioned treat.
I should have known when I read the recipe in my mother-in-law Mabel's cookbook that these marshmallows were a no-fail project. After all, she's been making them for over 65 years, and was turning out batches of them as special treats for her seven children in a time when wood-burning stoves were the heat source, electric mixers were rare, and candy thermometers were for city folk. My husband's sister remembers the children sitting in the farmhouse kitchen and passing the bowl from one to another to take turns whipping these marshmallows by hand.
Whew. I am glad we have electric mixers nowadays.
Every homemade marshmallow recipe I could find online or in my cookbooks involved a candy thermometer and getting the syrup to the exact candy-temperature stage, then pouring it carefully in a thin steady stream over the dissolved gelatin while beating. Most recipes involve corn syrup as well as sugar, and some include egg whites. Many of them have alarming lists of all the different reasons why your marshmallows could fail/not set/stay sticky/get gummy/curdly/clumpy/weepy.
Yikes. Homemade marshmallows sounded like a project for the not so faint-of-heart cooks.
Until I found these. An old Canadian prairie recipe. So easy that anyone can make them. Even me. Even you.
They turn out wonderfully every time. If you make them with sugar they taste just like the store-bought ones. If you want a slightly healthier, refined-sugar-free option, try them with honey. We love them that way.
Roll the pillowy cubes in icing sugar, or potato starch, or toasted coconut or chopped nuts.
Let them melt into lusciousness on top of hot chocolate.
Or just pop them in your mouth and squish the sweet fluffiness with your tongue.
They get swiped by (almost) invisible hands as fast as I can make them.
* * * * *
Kitchen Frau Notes: Mabel's homemade marshmallow recipe uses 2 packages of gelatin (like Knox brand) and they are soft and fluffy. For the version using honey, I increased the gelatin to 3 packages to compensate for the extra liquid provided by the honey.
For a delicious variation, try these lovely pink Raspberry Honey Marshmallows made with raspberry juice.
Easy Old-Fashioned Homemade Marshmallows
From Mabel Johnson
- 1 cup (240ml) water, divided
- 2 packages gelatin (7 grams each) or 4½ teaspoons loose gelatin powder
- 2 cups (420gms) sugar
- 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- icing sugar to dust the pan
- icing sugar, *toasted coconut (about 1¾ cup), or **finely chopped toasted pecans (about 1½ cups) to roll the marshmallows in
Sprinkle the gelatin on top of ½ cup (120ml) of the cold water in a small bowl or measuring cup. Stir lightly with a fork. Let it 'bloom' for at least 5 minutes, until it is all moistened and softened. It will be very thick.
Meanwhile, heat the sugar and the remaining ½ cup of water in a medium-sized saucepan until the sugar is dissolved. Add the dissolved gelatin to the sugar syrup, using a spatula to get every bit of gelatin out of the bowl.
Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil. (It will get foamy and you can't stir down the bubbles.)
Remove the saucepan from the heat. Let sit until lukewarm (about 20 to25 minutes).
Pour the syrup into the bowl of a mixer. Add the vanilla and salt. Beat with a stand mixer (using the whisk attachment) on high speed until thick and tripled in volume - about 7 to 8 minutes, or with a rotary hand mixer, which will take a bit longer - maybe 10 minutes.
While it is beating, prepare a 9 x 13" (23x33cm) pan, by lightly greasing it and dusting it with icing sugar. Tip the pan over and knock out any excess icing sugar.
When the marshmallow mixture has finished whipping, scrape it into the prepared pan, and use a wet spatula to smooth the top.
Allow to set until cold, about 4 hours (or less if placed in the fridge) or up to overnight.
Cut into squares with a knife dipped in water between each cut. If the top of the marshmallow mixture has dried out too much to stick well to the coconut, wet your fingers and smooth a thin slick of water over the top to moisten it again.
Roll the marshmallow cubes in either the icing sugar, toasted coconut, or chopped nuts. Shake off excess if using icing sugar. Press down firmly into the coconut or nuts if using them, so they stick to the marshmallows.
Place on a rack and allow to air dry for 3 to 4 hours, then store in an airtight container at cool room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
Makes about 70 homemade marshmallows.
*If using coconut to roll the marshmallows in, toast it first by heating it in a skillet over medium heat. Stir constantly once it starts to brown, since it can burn easily. Toast to the depth of brown you'd like it.
**To toast pecans, place them on a cookie sheet in a 350°F oven for 10 minutes, until they are fragrant and golden. Chop very finely so they stick to the marshmallows.
Easy Honey Marshmallows
- 1 cup (240ml) water, divided
- 3 packages gelatin (7 grams each) or 2 tablespoons plus ¾ teaspoon loose gelatin powder
- 1 cup (240ml) liquid honey
- 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- potato starch or other starch to dust the pan
- potato starch or other starch, *toasted coconut (about 1¾ cup), or **finely chopped toasted pecans (about 1½ cups) to roll the marshmallows in
Make recipe as above, replacing the sugar with the honey.
To keep the marshmallows refined-sugar-free, roll them in potato starch or other starch, toasted coconut, or finely chopped nuts, and use starch to dust the pan.
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Thank you for the recipe! I just wanted to make sure that it's the paddle attachment on the mixer and not the whisk? Thanks!
Hi Mabel, you actually need to use the whisk attachment for the mixer in order to get the gelatin beaten nice and fluffy. Hope you have fun with it! 🙂
I made these today with gingerbread tea instead of water. They are setting now. Can hardly wait to devour them! Thank you!
What a brilliant idea for getting holiday flavour into the marshmallows! Now you're making me hungry to try that, too!
Such a lovely , easy recipe. I did have a problem with the last stage though. The volume somehow was not as much as it should have been. They turned out a bit dense... Any ideas as to what went wrong?
Love from India,
Hi Nola, how cool to hear from someone on the other side of the world! Too bad the marshmallows didn't turn out as fluffy as they could have. I wonder if the gelatin mixture had gotten too cold, or maybe it should have been beaten for a longer time? I wonder if maybe the gelatin you can get in India is a different strength than what we get here - maybe you need to use a bit more (like maybe an extra package)? Those are all just guesses, since I haven't had that problem here. I hope one of those works for you if you try them again. Best of luck to you. I'll think of you making marshmallows in the sunshine, since we are receiving our first winter snowfall here, and it's getting colder by the day...brrrrr.
Hehehe! Well, it's winter here too. North India has it's share of cold days too. No snowfall in my city. We got smog, dust, vehicular exhaust and other exciting stuff in our skies. Who needs snow, right? 😉
Will def. try it again. I guess the mixture got too cold before I whipped it up.
Keep you posted about my next attempt.
Love n warm hugs
thxs for the recipe! i have made it before with corn syrup and normal white sugar. was looking for a healthier option. just made it great cant wait til tomorrow! honey does give a slight sour taste... all good cause hopefully is better for u.
You're so welcome! Honey does have a bit of a tang to it - but if you like it, like we do, then it's a good thing. Hope you enjoy the marshmallows - a sweet treat always makes the day better! Thanks for visiting. 🙂
Thank you so much for this recipe! I'm not a cooking connoisseur and don't have too many cooking tools like a cooking/candy thermometer. But I made these just now and I was worried that the syrup wouldn't thicken but they fluffed up after 10 minutes with my old hand mixer! I'm really happy to know I can continue to make these at home without having to spend extra on upgrading my cooking technology, so thank you again!
I have a question about the honey version though. I have it setting right now but the leftovers I tasted from the bowl were quite sweet. If I wanted to reduce the amount of honey next time to make it less sweet, would the recipe still work and still fluff up? And would I need to readjust the amount of gelatin to go with it?
Hi Karen - so glad to know you liked the marshmallows! You know, I think they might work fine reducing the honey - I probably would keep the gelatin amount the same, and try reducing the honey by a quarter cup first. If that works, then you could even try reducing it more the next time. I'd love to hear how they turn out for you with the reduced honey, and I'm sure other readers would too. Thanks so much for commenting! Happy experimenting!
I broke my Candy thermometer a few months ago so had been avoiding marshmallows till I replaced it, till I found your very good and straightforward marshmallow recipe yesterday. The results were well received and children and adults loved them. Just one question how long do you leave the mixture at a rolling boil. The marshmallow did set but was very soft ,which people liked, just wondering if I boiled the sugar for longer would they have been firmer?
Hi Mairead, how nice to hear from across the ocean! I'm guessing your world is already bright and green with spring there! I've never boiled the syrup any longer than just bringing it to a rolling boil, since I'm worried that boiling it too long might break down the gelatin, and this way has always worked for me. However, if you'd like stiffer marshmallows, I'd suggest adding another package or two of gelatin (our packages here contain 2¼ teaspoons powdered gelatin). I have made it with one extra package and the marshmallows were somewhat stiffer, so adding two packages should make them even stiffer (though I myself haven't tried adding two packages, so can't say for sure). This gelatin mixture will be VERY stiff, then, when soaked in the water, but will all dissolve again when you add it to the hot sugar syrup. Good luck with that, and happy Spring to you!
Thanks for your reply, I will experiment with gelatine, to see if I can make it slightly firmer. It is always green here in Ireland save for a very rare snow day, but it is coming into late spring so getting greener and greener now the trees are starting to leaf.
I've stumbled upon this recipe, I'm pretty glad I did! I added pink colour and raspberry flavour. I've just put it in the fridge to set overnight, hopefully it will turn out good. It looked like the picture so I was amazed I'd managed that lol. Easier than any other recipe I've seen!
I love how easy this recipe is, too. And it always turns out for me, so yours should be fine too, if it got nice and fluffy while beating. It's such fun to eat these soft, squishy marshmallows 🙂 So glad you had fun making them!
Hi Margaret. Your marshmallows sound lovely. I have been trying for years to make successful marshmallows with vegetarian gelatine. Do you think it would work with your recipe? When I have tried other recipes, the mixture never increases in volume no matter how much whisking I do. Any tips please?
Hi Sarah, I'm sorry, but I've never worked with vegan gelatine, so I'm not sure at all how it would work in this recipe. (I'm not much help, am I?) Wishing you good luck with it, and let me know if it does work 🙂 Happy cooking!
Are these like the old-fashioned ones that roasted over hot coals to a gooey toasty brown if you were careful and made great some-more's? They came in a box and were firmer than the tasteless air-puffed ones you get in the stores now-a-days. The modern ones just melt or burn instead of toasting. I have a friend who wants to have a campfire party and make some-more's. I would like to make marshmallows as a Christmas gift for her.
Can they be frozen or refrigerated for longer storage?
Hi Linda, unfortunately these marshmallows don't toast so well. They melt beautifully in hot chocolate, but also melt off the stick when you try to roast them over a fire. I think you might have to try a recipe using a candy thermometer and boiling sugar syrup if you want to roast them , though I'm not totally sure.
These marshmallows are best for eating and melting into hot chocolate. I've never tried freezing them, but have kept them for over two weeks at room temperature in a sealed container, and they were still great, so I think they should keep even longer than that if refrigerated.
Thank you so much for posting this recipe! Will try the maple one next time but they came out great thanks to your clear directions. We raise our cocoa in a toast to you!
Aw, thanks, Mari. Glad you liked them. Not everyone wants to take the time to make homemade marshmallows, but they are so worth it, aren't they? Cheers back at ya!