Holiday fluff: A gourmet marshmallow recipe

Sky-high prices of gourmet marshmallows bring out the bah-humbug in all of us. We put the fluff back in this classic holiday confection by turning our test kitchens into a gourmet marshmallow-making factory, producing a vanilla-kissed marshmallow worthy of gift-giving.  

Homemade marshmallow recipe

Marshmallows are confections that require heating sugar and corn syrup to a specific temperature and then whipping the hot sugar mixture with gelatin until it becomes light and fluffy. A candy thermometer seemed too fussy, but it proved to be our best friend in this simple candy making venture, producing a marshmallow with a creamy texture, just enough sweetness and a hint of vanilla.

toasted marshmallows

Our marshmallows melt like a dream (we topped our Thanksgiving sweet potato casserole with them last month), toast up perfectly for yuletide s’mores, and make hot chocolate an extra special treat.

By reducing the amount of gelatin to one packet, you can create marshmallow creme (fluff) that can be drizzled over ice cream, desserts or slathered between two pieces of bread and devoured.

The flavor profile can also be changed by incorporating different extracts into the marshmallow recipe: Use 1/4 teaspoon peppermint, coconut, lemon or orange extract in addition to the vanilla.

Homemade marshmallows

Serving size 16 to 20 marshmallows


  • 3 (7 gram) packages unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup cold water, divided
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower or canola oil


  1. In the bowl of a standing mixer with whisk attachment, add gelatin and 1/2 cup of the water; stir until all of the gelatin is moist, and set aside. Whisk powdered sugar and cornstarch together in a large bowl; set aside.
  2. Grease a 9-inch square pan with half of the oil. Fit a piece of parchment paper on the bottom of the pan; grease parchment with remaining oil. Add three tablespoons of the cornstarch mixture to the pan and distribute evenly on all sides by shaking the pan.
  3. In a medium saucepan with a candy thermometer fitted to the side, stir together remaining water, sugar, corn syrup and kosher salt. Heat sugar mixture over medium-high heat until the thermometer registers 245 degrees F, about eight minutes. Do not stir. Turn standing mixer on low speed.
  4. With the mixer running, pour the hot sugar mixture into the mixing bowl. Increase speed to medium; whip for three minutes. Add vanilla, increase speed to medium-high and whip until mixture doubles and is white and fluffy, about seven minutes.
  5. Using a rubber spatula, immediately transfer marshmallow to the prepared baking pan. Rub hands in the cornstarch mixture and smooth the marshmallow into an even layer. Sift 1/4 cup of the cornstarch mixture over the top of the marshmallows and place a piece of parchment over the top. Let stand two to three hours.
  6. To release marshmallows, run a rubber spatula around the edges of the pan; dust a clean cutting board with cornstarch. Flip the pan upside down onto the cutting board and gently pry the marshmallow out with the rubber spatula. Discard the parchment and dust the top of the marshmallows with additional cornstarch. Cut into squares using a pizza cutter or desired shapes with cookie cutters and dredge pieces in the remaining cornstarch mixture. Shake off excess before serving. Store in an airtight container for up to seven days.

More holiday recipes

Coconut creme brulee
Eggnog quick bread
Christmas cakes