Homemade Honey Marshmallows
Updated: Jun 3, 2021
This homemade marshmallow recipe uses no processed sugar or corn syrup. Its sweetness comes entirely from delicious pure honey.
I love marshmallows. Toasted, melted in coffee or cocoa, or even browned in the oven and cooled to a delicious golden crisp. Something about that fluffy sweetness takes me straight back to my childhood and imparts an instant smile.
Because of this, learning how to make marshmallow from scratch was a high priority for me. I have tried and tested MANY homemade marshmallow recipes. This includes natural marshmallows, honey marshmallows, marshmallows using actual marshmallow root (which is healthy and fun), marshmallows without corn syrup, marshmallows with corn syrup, marshmallows with agave, and basically any "how to make homemade marshmallow" recipe I could find.
The following recipe for homemade marshmallows combines the best results from all these culinary experiments into one easy version.
Here are some of the things I've learned over many many marshmallows.
Honey Beats Sugar (and Corn Syrup)
If you've ever made caramel (or watched the Great British Baking Show), you know that cooking sugar can be tricky. Because it's made of crystals, it has a tendency to return to that form, whether you want it to or not. When heating sugar (or sugar water) on the stove, you have to be very careful not to agitate the mixture too much, or it'll all spontaneously seize up. Then you're left with a pot of hot, grainy sugar, instead of the smooth syrup you need.
Because of this, most conventional marshmallow recipes call for the addition of corn syrup. Corn syrup stabilizes your sugar, making it much easier to heat it to the soft ball stage without seizing.
There are many valid reasons to avoid corn syrup where possible. It's not good for your body. It's not good for the environment. Also, you already consume it in nearly every single processed food you eat. Why would you add it to a home recipe when you don't need to?
Pure honey serves the exact same function to keep your sugar syrup from crystallizing. Though my preferred recipe uses all honey, a blend of honey and sugar is another very tasty option.
My primary reason for using all honey instead of a honey-sugar blend is flavor. The honey gives the marshmallows a subtle richness that I love. It's a hint of caramel that raises the bar above anything you'll find in a supermarket.
I also prefer the health benefits of pure honey over processed sugar. They're both still sugars and should be enjoyed in moderation, but if I'm going to have sweets, I'll take the natural form with the trace minerals and antioxidants. Knowing I'm using something with minimal processing, rather than a highly-processed super-crop, makes me happy.
Always make sure you buy "pure" honey. Lots of honey brands in the supermarket actually throw in lots of additives (usually a ton of corn syrup!) to make their product cheaper to produce. They still call it honey, so check your labels carefully. Don Victor Pure Honey is 100% the real stuff. No fake corn nonsense.
Gelatin = Volume
Gelatin is the body of a marshmallow. It's also the one ingredient that I change my quantities from batch to batch.
Three pouches (3 tablespoons) of gelatin make a firm marshmallow. It stands up well to cookie cutters if you want to make cute shapes. This is the version I used for the star shapes in my pictures. They're strong enough to hang on to your stick for good toasting over a fire.
This would also be the number to use if you're interested in piping shapes (like peeps or Christmas trees or ghosts) with your marshmallow mixture.
It whips up with lots of volume to a pure white color.
Two pouches (2 tablespoons) create a more delicate marshmallow that melts easily in your mouth. It doesn't whip up quite as high and it keeps a bit of an off-white color.
Since these are softer, they don't hold up quite as well if I'm going to take them camping or decorate them.
However, I find the gentle texture more luxurious and almost decadent. These are my favorites. If I don't need them to be extra sturdy, I go for two pouches.
I go into a little more detail about which recipe is best for which activity, below the recipe.
Give Yourself Space
Make sure you have a big enough pot to boil your sugar. It bubbles up very high and the LAST thing you want is molten sugar on your range. Two quarts is the absolute minimum pot size for this recipe. Three would be better.
The same idea is true for your mixing bowl. The marshmallows grow a lot, plus you're using a mixer. Use a nice big bowl to give yourself room to work.
Whip it Good
The length of time it will take to whip your marshmallows depends on a few factors.
More gelatin incorporates air slightly faster, so the two-pouch version takes a bit longer to thicken than the three-pouch version.
Power makes a difference. If you have a stand mixer and set it to high, your marshmallow may be ready in about ten minutes.
I don't have a stand mixer. With my little double-beater hand mixer, it takes anywhere between 15 and 20 minutes for me to get the consistency I want. It just doesn't have as much power.
I did try whisking marshmallows by hand a few times before I got an electric hand-mixer. It was difficult, and I wasn't really happy with the results. The marshmallows tasted good, but I just didn't get enough air into them for a light, fluffy texture. I used them to melt in hot drinks, but they weren't a nice texture to eat by themselves.
On the other hand, I have heard that you can over-whip marshmallows. I have never experienced this. One day I may just keep going for the sake of science, but I certainly don't worry about it when I'm whipping up a batch. I imagine it's a greater danger if you have a stand mixer and lose track of the time.
You're looking for a few signs to know it's whipped to perfection.
It should be cool.
You pour boiling sugar into your mixing bowl, which makes it quite hot to start. Before you're ready to pour it into the pan to set, the sugar and gelatin want to be completely cool. This allows them to hold on to the air you're adding. You can tell by feeling the outside of your mixing bowl. My bowl is usually cool long before I stop whipping.
It should be doubled in size.
This one can be harder to gauge, and the version with more gelatin whips up larger than the version with less, but it should be roughly twice as fluffy in your bowl before you stop whipping.
It should be glossy and opaque.
The hot sugar syrup and gelatin are mostly clear, but the millions of tiny air bubbles you're whisking in start bouncing around the light until it can't travel through the mix anymore. Thus, it becomes a nice smooth white (or slightly honeyed off-white).
It should hold a visible ribbon for several seconds.
Some recipes recommend whipping your marshmallow until it gets soft peaks, but I prefer a slightly softer texture. If you lift up your beater and drip a little ribbon of marshmallow across the rest of the mixture, that ribbon shouldn't melt back in immediately. You should be able to see it for at least ten to twenty seconds.
Once you've met these stages, your mallow is ready to pour into its pan!
Remember Your Flavorings
This one is a bit silly, but I find that I often forget to add my flavorings. A lot. Like, one time out of three.
This happens because most flavorings go in right at the end. I get so involved with my 15 minutes of whipping while watching for the right volume and texture (to know when they're ready to pour), that I completely forget to add the final ingredients before pouring it into my pan.
I'll get it all nicely spread and then see my vanilla, cocoa, or zest sitting there innocently on the counter.
Luckily, these marshmallows are delicious with no extra flavoring at all, even the vanilla. As mentioned above, the honey gives them a light but slightly rich flavor. So, a batch without extra flavoring is still a great batch!
Leave them Alone
Marshmallows take a while to dry. They need at LEAST four hours to set, but overnight is my preferred length of time. You can leave them sitting in the pan even longer if you need. Just don't try to work with them too early. If they haven't completely set when you try to cut them, you and your counter will end up a giant sticky mess.
Once they're set, they come easily out of the pan, hold their shape while you cut them, and are easy to toss in corn starch or cocoa.
Give them time and they'll reward you.
Homemade Marshmallow Recipe
1 1/4 cups water, divided
2 Tablespoons (2 packets) powdered gelatin, or 3 for firmer marshmallows
1 cup Don Victor Pure Honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or other desired flavoring)
1 dash salt
Coconut oil as needed for oiling pan and tools
3 Tablespoons corn starch for tossing
Lightly coat a 9-inch square pan and a silicone spatula with coconut oil. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan with overlap on two sides. Set aside.
Put 3/4 cups of water in the bottom of your mixing bowl. Add powdered gelatin and stir briefly to make sure all the powder is moistened. Set aside to bloom during the next step.
Bring 1/2 cup water, 1 cup pure honey, and a dash of salt to a boil on the stove. Turn heat down to medium and keep boiling until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage, 238-240°F.
When the sugar syrup is hot enough, pour it carefully into the mixing bowl with the bloomed gelatin.
Whip on medium to high speed for 10-20 minutes, until the mixture is opaque white (or off-white), has doubled in size, and the sides of the bowl are no longer warm. Add the vanilla and any additional flavorings once the mixture has cooled and continue whipping to thoroughly combine. The mallow should be stiff enough to see ribbons for several seconds, but not too stiff to pour and spread into the pan.
Pour the marshmallow into the prepared pan, using the oiled spatula to help clean it out of the bowl and spread it evenly into the corners and edges.
Let it sit at room temperature and dry for at least four hours, to overnight.
Prep corn starch in a shallow bowl.
Lightly oil a knife with coconut oil and cut marshmallows into large squares. Re-apply coconut oil between each cut.
Toss marshmallows in corn starch to coat. Tap off excess powder.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Makes 36 marshmallows in a 9"x9" pan, or 48 thinner mallows in a larger pan.
Coconut oil is very effective for keeping the marshmallow from sticking to the pan or knife. Liquid oils don't stay in place, but the solidity of coconut oil at room temperature keeps it where you want it. The parchment paper is useful for easy maneuvering but isn't required.
For cute shapes instead of cubes, use a 9"x13" pan (or similar size) so the marshmallow forms a thinner layer as it dries. Use oiled cookie cutters to cut out your desired shapes. Re-apply coconut oil to the cookie cutters between every single cut or things will start to get sticky.
The oddly shaped bits from around your pretty shapes make for excellent melting in a hot drink.
The corn starch has a slightly awkward texture (I think) right after it's applied, but within a day it will have softened and you won't know it's there anymore. Powdered sugar, on the other hand, seems nicer for the first ten minutes, but then melts away to nothing and is ultimately useless in keeping the marshmallows from sticking to each other.
S'mores and Summertime Sweets
Homemade honey marshmallows behave slightly differently than the store version when toasted. It's important to make the right recipe to get the perfect results.
As mentioned above, if you're toasting marshmallows using a fork or a stick over a fire or grill, use the three tablespoon recipe. The extra gelatin is needed to keep them sturdy on your stick while toasting. Surprisingly, it also seems to help them brown. The delicate recipe (2 Tablespoons) melts into sweet goo before browning, but the sturdy recipe browns beautifully. It turns deep golden and starts to bubble slightly on the surface, while still staying put on your stick.
Unlike store marshmallows, honey marshmallows don't harden or get crunchy after they've been toasted. This is brilliant if you're looking to make a s'mores cookie recipe or toast your s'mores in the oven.
For oven s'mores, simply layer a graham cracker with a square of chocolate and a honey marshmallow on top. I always do these on parchment paper or a baking mat, as they can spread. Toast them under the broiler until the top of the marshmallow is golden brown. My oven only takes 2-3 minutes, but be sure to watch yours closely.
Your marshmallow choice for these cookies will depend on aesthetics. If you want an ooey-gooey delicious mess, use the delicate recipe. If you want your marshmallow shape to stay defined on top of your chocolate square, but get a beautiful brown top, use the sturdy recipe. Both will be soft and delicious to eat.
They also stay soft and delicious after toasting, unlike store marshmallows. That makes them the perfect choice if you want to serve s'mores at your dinner or party, but don't want to have a fire or hot sugar flying around. You can bake them ahead of time and serve picture-perfect s'mores all day long. The sturdier recipe definitely makes for tidier party food.
Handmade Holiday Treats
In cooler weather, most of my marshmallows go into hot steamy drinks. Pure honey marshmallows melt quickly and easily, forming a layer of delicious marshmallow foam on top of your mug. It's divine. The delicate recipe is best for melting on cocoa, coffee, or topping a pumpkin spice latte.
I try most of my interesting flavor combos during fall and winter. A pumpkin or gingerbread latte reaches new heights with cinnamon marshmallow foam topping it off.
Chocolate and peppermint marshmallows are another of my favorite flavor combos. You can either mix cocoa straight into the marshmallow or make pure peppermint marshmallows and dip them in dark chocolate. It's Christmas in one lovely bite.
These make great homemade gifts for the holidays. Pair them with some hot cocoa mix or gingerbread cookies for a present that everyone will love.
Give these delicious and surprisingly easy marshmallows a try before your next summer cookout or hot cup of cocoa! They're so good you'll never go back to store-bought.
Tell us your favorite flavor combination in the comments, below!
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For more delicious desserts and sweet treats, check out these other recipes:
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