Crispy Cereal Marshmallows · GF (a lifetime supply)

I originally shared this recipe for my column on Serious Eats. Read that post, How to Make Lucky Charms at Home, to see more photos and read an in depth analysis of the tragedy of Lucky the Leprechaun.

The secret to crispy marshmallows is homemade corn syrup; it’s quite prone to crystallization, especially when not freshly made, and it also has a corn flavor that gives these marshmallows that “I’ve been hanging out for months in a box of cereal” flavor. You will not get good results with commercial corn syrup.

To make this gluten free, omit the oatmeal and skip the initial simmering/steeping step; just use 8 ounces of water and add in the vanilla bean in with the corn syrup, sugar, etc.

crispy crunchy cereal marshmallows

I know it seems like a crazy mix of high brow flavoring agents in this, but all I can say is you have to believe me. Don’t screw with any of the ingredients if you want this recipe to turn out!

1 3/4 ounce gelatin
8 ounces cold water
2 ounces old fashioned oats (omit for gluten free)
1 Tahitian vanilla bean, split and seeds reserved
16 ounces water
12 ounces homemade corn syrup
30 ounces sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon orange flower water
2 small drops of almond extract (1/8 tsp)

optional: food coloring

Have two lightly greased cookie sheets standing at the ready.

Combine the gelatin and water together in the bottom of a stand mixer bowl. Set aside.

In a largish, heavy bottomed pot, combine the water, vanilla bean and oats. Bring to a simmer and cook for about ten minutes. Shut off the heat and strain out the solids. Discard the solids (or um, have a bowl of oatmeal?) and combine the vanilla oat-water, corn syrup, sugar, salt, and vanilla bean scrapings. Set over medium heat and stir gently until the mixture starts to simmer.

Keep cooking, undisturbed, until the mixture reaches 240° on a candy thermometer. You may notice the mixture beginning to crystallize a little around the edges, but that is a good thing. When it does, shut off the heat and let it stand until it cools to 210°. This is important.

Once the mixture has cooled to 210°, and taking a goodly amount of caution as this mixture is still super hot, pour all of it into the mixing bowl with the awaiting gelatin. (Again, if you notice the mixture is crystallized, don’t worry!) Fit the bowl with the whisk attachment and crank it up to medium-high speed.

You are gonna let this thing whip it, whip it good until the mixture has really increased in volume. Also add in the vanilla extract, orange flower water, and almond extract. If you’ve made marshmallows before, you’ll notice it may not seem as fluffy as normal and has, perhaps, a grainy texture. That’s all fine.

Shut off the mixer. If you’re just making white marshmallows, simply put half of the fluff onto each sheet pan, then spread it as thinly as you can with a spatula.

If you’d like to make different colors, simply divide the mixture into as many bowls as you’d like colors and stir food coloring into each. Then just spread each color across a patch of the cookie sheet; it’s okay if the colors touch each other, you will separate them when it’s time to cut the marshmallows.

Set the trays of marshmallows in a dry, well ventilated location where you feel safe leaving them, uncovered, for twenty four hours. No powdered sugar on top. No plastic.

You now have two choices and two different courses of action. To either cut the marshmallows into shapes with a cutter, or to cut them into squares or diamonds with a knife.

powdery bone dry marshmallows

To cut into shapes

After the marshmallows have dried for 24 hours, peel the big sheet of marshmallows up from the cookie sheet. Use a cookie cutter to stamp the marshmallows into shapes; it’s easiest to punch the cutter through the slightly damp side, not the crusty side. Transfer the marshmallow cut outs to a parchment lined cookie sheet, damp side up. Allow them to dry for another 24 hours or up to 48. The longer you let them dry, the crisper they will become. They’re ready when you are.

To cut into squares or diamonds

After the marshmallows have dried for 24 hours, peel the big sheet of marshmallows up from the cookie sheet. Flip the marshmallows over and allow them to dry another 24 hours.

At that time, transfer the marshmallow sheet to a cutting board and use a sharp knife to cut into your squares, diamonds, or into irregular bits. Bear in mind, cereal marshmallows are smaller than you think.

After cutting, they will need yet another 24 hours to dry (they require extra dry time because less of their surface area has been exposed to the air). You may find, depending on temperature and humidity in your kitchen, they take more or less time to dry.

blue diamonds and orange stars!

Store the marshmallows, indefinitely, in a plastic bag or airtight container. If you’d like to store them for eternity, do so in the freezer.


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Any questions?

Oct 31, 2011 ·  1:21 AM

such a cool thing to make! so creative!

 · Michelle  ·

Nov 01, 2011 ·  1:15 AM

WHAT. Jaw, floor.

 · Cathy @ Savory Notes ·

Nov 05, 2011 · 11:10 PM

@Michelle, Hope you make a bunch, they’re so nostalgic!

@Cathy, haha, right? You should have seen me dance around the kitchen when these turned out for the first time. It was shameful.


Nov 10, 2011 ·  6:55 AM

This is an awesome idea!! These look amazing!

 · Sweet and Savvy ·

Dec 12, 2011 ·  2:34 PM

This is real? Oh man, I’m sooo making these. ASAP. I think your hot cocoa recipe with marshmallows will have to be one of my holiday gifts! Yum.

 · Rachel @ Bakerita ·

Dec 12, 2011 · 10:29 PM

@Rachel, you wouldn’t believe my shock when I finally made these successfully. I force-fed them to the entire restaurant staff, “look! They’re crunchy!” I just couldn’t get over it. Snap some pix of your cocoa gifts, they’ll look so adorable all packaged up!


Jan 17, 2012 ·  1:37 AM

Oh my gah, HOW DID I MISS THIS!? I will be making these, stat. Lucky Charms is my favorite cereal, ever. And my daughter’s favorite thing about hot cocoa is those little crunchy marshmallows. I will be her hero!

 · bethany actually ·

Jan 17, 2012 ·  1:11 PM

I love this! My kids will be amazed if I make the marshmallows is such cute shapes for them. And now that I have an amazing kitchen scale…

 · Anna ·

Jan 17, 2012 ·  7:02 PM

@bethany, that’s me, flying under the radar! Let me know if you make ‘em!

@Anna, what a great new use for your scale!! You could do hearts for Valentine’s Day since it’s just around the corner…


Jan 18, 2012 · 10:58 PM

I make homemade marshmallows every holiday season. I like to cut them up into 1cm cubes and toss them in the dehydrator on low. I normally use Martha’s recipe. One year I dipped dehydrated marshmallows in chocolate and gave it as presents. Decadent!

 · heather ·

Jan 19, 2012 · 11:51 AM

@heather, how cool! I don’t have a dehydrator, so I’ve never tried that. So glad to hear that works too. Awesome!


Feb 08, 2012 ·  3:16 AM

How on EARTH did you come to realize they need orange flower water?

 · Dylan ·

Feb 08, 2012 · 10:36 AM

@Dylan, I figured it out making macarons, actually. I made orange macarons, but forgot the orange oil and used orange flower water (I normally use both). They really reminded me of cereal marshmallows, with this vaguely fruity flavor and kind of aromatic, floral business. In moderation, it really does the trick; too much and they just taste like perfume, haha.


Mar 08, 2012 · 12:18 PM

OMG! Just found you thru cupcake project and am your newest follower. I try too make everything from scratch and your site is AWESOME!

 · Gramma · 

Mar 09, 2012 ·  9:52 AM

@Gramma, thank you so much! Anyone who is all about making everything from scratch is awesome in my book, so right back atcha!


Mar 22, 2012 ·  2:07 AM

So, I noticed that you wrote “Don’t screw with any of the ingredients if you want this recipe to turn out”. I’ve been searching for a way to eat vegetarian Lucky Charms forever, but unfortunately for the cereal and your recipe, they both have evil gelatin in it. Seriously, I wouldn’t eat gelatin even if I wasn’t vegetarian… Besides, who wants meat in their cereal? Anyways, do you think it’s safe to use something like Agar-Agar as an alternative?

 · Commodore Crush ·

Mar 22, 2012 ·  7:42 AM

Living in Australia, I have never eaten Lucky Charms, but a really want to try this. It sounds amazing.

 · Teapixie · 

Mar 22, 2012 · 10:54 AM

@Commodore Crush, Are you kidding? Meat cereal is my favorite! Agar may work, but having not experimented with it in this recipe, I can’t recommend a specific dosage. Agar sets up much more rapidly than gelatin and I don’t know how or if that would interfere with the crystallization or final texture. Sorry I can’t be of more help! I have many vegan friends, so figuring out a solution is a long term goal for me. I will be sure to update this recipe when that day comes.

@Teapixie, it’s…an acquired taste. I freaked all my friends in Japan out with a dose of Lucky Charms. Adults tasting it for the first time may be at a loss. But who knows, perhaps it will be love at first bite!


Apr 01, 2012 · 12:03 AM

Commodore, Stella, let me know if you ever find a vegetarian alternative to the gelatin! I really really want to make these but can’t bring myself to buy and actually use gelatin, it’s just… ick.

 · heckthecat · 

Apr 01, 2012 · 10:19 AM

@heckthecat, I will give agar a shot as soon as I can! I recently figured out how to make a vegan marshmallow fluff for oatmeal cream pies, so I do have the extra agar laying around. I’ll dash you an email if I have an agar success story for you!


Apr 25, 2012 ·  4:34 AM

I came here from another page, so excited to see homemade Lucky Charms, and just crossing my fingers and HOPING that it would be gelatin-free. I am on the veggie boat as well— I actually stopped eating gelatin long before I stopped eating meat— it just gives me the willies.

I have tried some more “traditional” vegan marshmallows, but boy, do i miss lucky charms from my younger years. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one So please, if anyone has success in making this reciepe vegetarian, please do share!

 · J · 

Apr 25, 2012 · 11:49 AM

@J, I will keep you posted on my progress with a vegan-version! Thanks for raising your voice; I’m always so interested to know what readers like.


May 15, 2012 ·  3:07 PM

Stella, have you had any luck with agar? I haven’t had Lucky Charms since my jr. high photography teacher told the class how gelatin is made. Sweet & Sara marshmallows are so good, but they’re not that weird, crunchy Lucky Charms texture. :p

 · MeowAllieCat · 

May 15, 2012 ·  6:30 PM

@MeowAllieCat, I haven’t had a chance to try an agar version yet, I’m afraid. I will post as soon as I do!


May 20, 2012 ·  5:10 PM

This recipe is amazing! I’m planning to make these to use in hot cocoa, and I’m going to play around with flavourings like mint, cinnamon, etc., instead of almond and orange water. I found you by accident, but you’re now one of my favourites!

 · Bunny · 

May 21, 2012 · 10:52 PM

@Bunny, what a happy accident! These are great in marshmallows! They look cute stirred into the mix (see a photo here), but they will dissolve pretty fast, so I’ve found it’s better to add them at the end as a garnish. Have fun experimenting!


May 24, 2012 ·  2:57 AM

can’t you use GF oats?

 · pmitten · 

May 24, 2012 · 10:05 AM

@pmitten, absolutely. When I wrote that, I was mostly thinking of the dangers of someone making it with regular oats but thinking it was “GF” and then sharing with a friend. I’ll update to be more accurate!


Jul 13, 2012 ·  4:24 PM

Hi, Stella!

I’m going to try this recipe out real soon — but I just had one question: when you say, “not get good results with commercial corn syrup”, are you talking flavour-wise or texture-wise? I’m after the crunchy texture, but not too particular about the these-just-spent-forever-in-a-box-of-cereal flavour.

Thanks for any advice you can give me! I know you’re super busy.

 · Christine ·

Jul 13, 2012 ·  7:02 PM

@Christine, I’m definitely talking about texture. If you use regular Karo corn syrup, the marshmallows won’t ever get crunchy. When making your own corn syrup though, you don’t have to steep in the corn (which is just a step for flavor) if you want to simplify the process, though. Happy baking!


Aug 31, 2012 ·  2:52 AM

I love all your nostalgic desserts! How long does it take you to develop these recipes and is there a lot of trial and error? You are so creative!

 · Zashee · 

Aug 31, 2012 · 11:22 PM

Zashee, one miiiiiiilion years. Really. I probably make any given recipe a dozen times before I blog about it, some way more, and for the recipes that will be in the book I’m making them four or five dozen times. Fortunately baking is my job, so I can make the same thing six days a week for a month or two until I perfect it. Sometimes it’s insanely frustrating, but It’s really fun watching a recipe evolve and take shape and learning more and more about how ingredients interact. Thanks for all the comments lately, it’s nice to “meet” you.


Sep 02, 2012 ·  3:21 AM

Your welcome…I love your site! I had actually gone to culinary school studying pastries and worked as a chocolatier and pastry cook for a little while…but due to starting a family, went back to my previous career for better finances and less hectic schedule. I do make decorative cakes on the side…but reading your blog makes me miss being in the kitchen sometimes. You are very inspirational! Thanks!

 · Zashee · 

Sep 02, 2012 ·  9:54 AM

Oh, how cool, Zashee! Yeah, I often think how incredibly un-friendly my job is to a family. We don’t have kids yet, but the hours and demands are hard enough on us as a married couple. That’s amazing you had a back up career to fall back on, how fortunate. Miss the kitchen, but know the grass is always greener. I dream of an office job where I get to sit down all day in the air conditioning. Haha. It’s my version of nirvana…


Jan 13, 2013 · 11:39 PM

Hi, I am excited to find this recipe, can’t wait to try this out. I was wondering if I NEED to use orange flower water in order for the recipe to work? If I omit it will it make a huge difference?

 · aish ·

Jan 14, 2013 · 12:08 AM

Hi Aish! The OFW is by no means make or break for the recipe, it just adds a flavor that seems spot on to me. By all means omit it if you don’t have any on hand!


Jan 18, 2013 · 11:25 PM

Sorry…Just one more question…is gelatin supposed to smell? I have never used it before….the smell is just awful!

 · aish ·

Jan 19, 2013 · 10:04 AM

Hi aish! Yup, it’s pretty stinky. Some brands are worse than others, though. In any case, smell dissipates as you progress with the recipe, so no need to worry.


Feb 18, 2013 ·  5:07 PM

what the hell

 · mbg k · http://http/fzjacfqsh/happy

Feb 19, 2013 ·  5:53 AM

Stella and Everyone who asked about Agar-agar! Hi! I’m an American who has been living in Malaysia for a while, and out here they use agar-agar for all kinds of jellies and puddings. If you can’t get it in your country, try using caragheen instead. Both Agar and caragheen are vegetable gelatins derived from different types of ocean seaweed. If you’re only vegetarian, but not vegan, there is fish gelatin available that has been deodorized so it doesn’t smell like fish, and has been used in making marshmallows out here in Southeast Asia. Hope this helps! Email me for any further questions.

 · tvcmikey · 

Feb 19, 2013 ·  9:57 PM

Hi tvcmikey! Thanks for the extra info! I’ve had some success using agar in other marshamallowy recipes, but not this one. I’ve seen caragheen at the market before, but haven’t ever picked it up. I’ll have to give it a try, thanks for the recommendation.


Apr 08, 2013 ·  1:28 AM

O-M-G you’re a genius can’t wait to make these for my kids!

 · Bakaholic  · 

Apr 08, 2013 ·  9:11 AM

HI Bakaholic! They’d probably have a lot of fun helping out! Punching out the shapes is the hardest/most time consuming part. You could make quick work of it with an army of helpers!


Nov 07, 2013 ·  3:35 AM

Instead of 30 ounces of sugar, do you think (powdered) Stevia would work? Orrr not so much? I was looking to save some calories, and if I could swap out all that sugar, that’d be awesome… ;D lol

 · Kat · 

Nov 07, 2013 · 10:53 AM

Hi Kat! I don’t think stevia would work, because the sugar’s role in the recipe is not for sweetness, but for structure and texture. While stevia is good for sweetening in many cases, it’s unable to provide the sort of crystalline formations the marshmallows need to be whip and then turn crispy.

If calories are your only concern, I wouldn’t sweat it. The marshmallows are meant to be eaten like the ones from a cereal box, only a small handful sprinkled over something else. With a serving size like that, the calorie count is pretty low!


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 · maddog20 ·

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