The BEST Rice Krispie Treats – soft and chewy, with lots of sticky, gooey threads of marshmallows melting in your mouth. This recipe makes just a few modifications to the classic treat to create something extraordinary!
I suspect most of you remember pouring a bowl of cereal on some cartoon-laden Saturday morning and leaning quietly over the pool of milk to hear the not-so-elusive snap, crackle, and pop.
I also suspect many of you, like me, didn’t have that experience until AFTER biting into a chewy, crispy rice krispie treat and watching the little strings of sweet marshmallow stretch from your lips.
Rice krispie treats ingredients are few and almost embarrassingly easy to put together, but adding special touches can set your treats apart from the ones you can buy in the store (we’ve only been able to do that since 1995, by the way). I personally think the store-bought variety pales in comparison to homemade, subtle aftertastes of preservatives impacting the flavor of this classic treat.
The texture is also, sadly, all wrong when I think back to those first few rice krispies treats experiences.
Recipes for rice krispie treats always pop up around the holidays. At Christmas, they’re topped with green and red sprinkles; on Halloween, the insides are dotted with Reese’s pieces; and rice krispie treats Easter-style are shaped like eggs or baskets with a chocolate treat hiding inside.
It’s the texture of those treats (which are overly pressed to me) and the deviations from the original recipe that made me want to share mine. This recipe is my favorite formula – with only five ingredients – for how to make Rice Krispie Treats with perfect results.
They’re definitely worth taking a few minutes away from that soggy bowl of cereal to try at home!
Kellogg’s brand is probably the most well-known crisped rice cereal, and it was the home economics group at that company that first developed the treat recipe for a fundraiser. Any crisp rice cereal will work, just don’t confuse it with “puffed rice” that isn’t as crunchy and dry as you want for this recipe. (By the way, using rice cereal makes Rice Krispie Treats gluten-free, so it’s a treat that can satisfy even a gluten-sensitive sweet tooth!)
Ingredient number two is marshmallows, a 200+ year-old confection that gets its name from the “mallow” root that grows in salty “marshes.”
Sap from the mallow root was first used in candies over 2,000 years ago by the ancient Egyptians and for medicinal purposes in other cultures.
In the 1800s, thanks to the French, of course, the sap was whipped with egg whites to make unique, spongy candies. The sap was ultimately replaced with gelatin to support mass production of the squishy lumps of sugar we all know and love (and enjoy sandwiched between chocolate and graham crackers).
The melted variety produces that characteristic sweet and slightly sticky, delicate webbing that holds the cereal together in these Rice Krispie Treats.
There’s butter of course, then the two ingredients that make my Rice Krispie treats recipe unique – vanilla and salt.
Salt subtly enhances the flavor and sweetness of these bars, and vanilla really should be a required ingredient in every sweet treat! The result is marshmallow flavor on steroids. (Just be sure to use unsalted butter in this recipe to keep the treats from being overly salty – unsalted butter has a richer taste anyway.)
This recipe comes together so quickly, and it’s not something you’ll have to worry about storing for long!
Practically speaking they’ll keep at room temperature for a couple of days, but at my house they don’t stay around longer than a day. I suggest you try making these and see just how quickly they’ll disappear from YOUR kitchen!
Marshmallows: When you make these Rice Krispie Treats, don’t use an old bag you found in the back of the pantry you forgot about.
Old marshmallows dry out and won’t produce the gooey texture you want in this recipe. Grab fresh marshmallows at the grocery store and save the others for hot cocoa.
I also don’t recommend making these Rice Crispy Treats with marshmallow cream or rice crispy treats with fluff (cream and fluff are the same thing), because they’ll impact the moisture content. Cream has almost identical ingredients to marshmallows, but it uses egg whites to stabilize the mixture rather than gelatin (which helps marshmallows hold their shape).
This difference makes cream hold its naturally “fluffy” state which may not work well in my recipe but does make some pretty epic peanut butter cookie sandwiches!
Light touch: To create the requisite chewy gooey texture in these bars, whatever you do, do NOT press the mixture firmly into the pan.
That seems to be how everyone made these treats originally, but doing so makes them too hard, crushes the cereal pieces, and ruins the delicate, gorgeous, fluffy texture that takes these Rice Krispie Treats from ordinary to extraordinary!
Left Overs: If you happen to have any, store them in an airtight container. You can also add a sheet of wax paper between the layers to keep cut treats from sticking together.
Time saver: The butter and marshmallows can be melted in the microwave, but I generally prefer to make them on the stove top because everything can be made in one pot.
Who has a microwave-safe bowl large enough to melt the butter and marshmallows then toss 12 cups of cereal in without ending up with a huge mess?
I also find stovetop cooking lets me monitor the temperature more carefully. Scorched marshmallows = sadness.
Variations: There are so many rice krispie treats variations either driven by holidays, as I mentioned earlier, or the welcomed creativity of a rice krispie treat connoisseur.
There are chocolate rice crispy treats which just require adding about 12 oz. of melted chocolate to the marshmallow/butter mixture. You can also use cocoa-flavored rice cereal. Peanut butter rice krispie treats are just ½ cup of the creamy variety away, also mixed into the marshmallow/butter mixture. (I’d suggest stirring in ½ c. of mini chocolate chips after the mixture’s cooled a bit, right before you press it into the pan.)
M&M’s, Reese’s pieces, even another cup of mini marshmallows will all work in this Rice Krispies Treats recipe.
By all means, experiment away!
Just be sure to share your recipe! I’d love for you to post your pictures of your Rice Krispie Treats on my Face Book Page.
If you’d like to, just post Here as you would on your own page. <3
Craving more Treats?
Fluffernutter Rice Krispie Treats – These bars are sweet, rich, crunchy, and delicious!!
Easy Microwave Fudge Recipe – This candy is infused with chocolate flavor done in only a few minutes!
Cosmic Brownies – Amazing homemade, rich, fudgy topped with a wonderfully thick, chocolate ganache frosting.
Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons – Textured with flaky coconut and crunchy almonds with just enough chocolate flavor!
Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites – Cute treats with a perfect combination of crunch, saltiness, and peanut butter!
Source: Cookies and Cups
- Yield: Serves 12-24
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
The Best Rice Krispie Treats
- Butter - 10 Tablespoon
- Mini Marshmallow ~ Divided - 3 (10 Ounce) Bags~Divided
- Rice Krispies Cereal - 12 Cups
- Vanilla Extract - 1 1/2 Teaspoon
- Salt - 1/2 Teaspoon
- Line a 9 X 13 inch pan with aluminum foil, allowing 2-3 inches to extend over long sides. Spray generously with non stick cooking spray.
- Measure out 4 cups of marshmallows and set aside and reserve.
- In a large saucepan, over low heat, melt butter. When the butter is melted add the marshmallows (excluding the 4 reserved cups) and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until marshmallows are just melted. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and salt. Gently fold in cereal and coat evenly, then fold in the reserved 4 cups marshmallows.
- Spoon mixture into the prepared pan and gently press into an even layer. Let the mixture come to room temperature and set. Then cut and serve.