During my growing up years in Africa, we used to make our own marshmallows. I thought it was one of those “Little House on the Prairie-type” recipes, interesting–but unique to another era. I included it in my first cookbook (O Taste & See Some More!) only on the back of a divider page entitled “Recipes from My Childhood”. What a surprise I had, several years ago, when I saw that Barefoot Contessa and Alton Brown–two of my favorite Food Network chefs–were making Marshmallows! Yes, real, honest-to-goodness Homemade Marshmallows!

So, when I recently found myself out of marshmallows–a really tough spot to be in if you need marshmallows because I don’t think there’s any substitute for them–I went looking for my childhood recipe. I compared it with Alton and Ina’s, and I actually found (sorry Alton and Ian) that my recipe was easier and tasted just as good. So I stuck with my recipe. Here’s how I made them…

First I got my pan ready.  Line a 9X13-inch (23X33 cm) pan with plastic wrap…I chose to just oil the pan…

…and dust it with powdered sugar…

You can use other size pans…if you want smaller marshmallows, you’d probably want a jelly roll pan so the mixture would be thinner, like mini marshmallows.

Now, let’s make the marshmallows…  Marshmallows are made primarily with plain gelatin–and lots of sugar. You can use either packets of powdered gelatin like this…

Powdered gelatin seems to be more commonly used in North America. I’ve never seen powdered gelatin in Europe; just these clear sheets of gelatin…

I found a very helpful article online that tells you everything you ever wanted to know about gelatin. One thing I learned is that gelatin keeps forever. So if you live in the part of the world where you can’t buy gelatin, pick some up next time you’re in North America or Europe and take it home! It’s inexpensive. It’s lightweight–always helpful in these days of limited luggage. And next time you want to make marshmallows, you’ll be good to go.

If you’ve mixed up a package of Jell-O lately, you might think that you would put the gelatin in boiling water. No. Instead, the gelatin needs to be dissolved in cold water. I poured the cold water right over the sheets of gelatin which I placed in the large bowl I planned to beat the marshmallows in later…

I added a little vanilla…bet you could add mint, or maple…get creative if you’d like!

I left the gelatin to soften while I made my sugar syrup…

In a medium saucepan, I poured 1/2 C. water over 2 C. of sugar and a little salt…

I brought the mixture to a full, rolling boil…

…and let it boil good and hard for about 2 minutes…

Now, remember the gelatin softening in the mixing bowl? I gave that a stir…

…then I began to drizzle in the hot sugar syrup while I beat it

Once the syrup is all drizzled into the gelatin, I left it to whip for 10-15 minutes!

…until the mixture was stiff and dry…

If you don’t have a stand mixer (like this), you may want to get someone to help you hold the bowl while you drizzle in the syrup. I think it might be a bit challenging to keep the bowl steady, drizzle in the hot syrup and beat it. I guess that would be called multitasking, until the whole thing twirled off onto the floor. Then it would be called “a mess”.

I can’t believe we used to make these with a hand rotary beater in Africa! But we did. So it can be done, though I wish for you a stand mixer. Makes the job much easier!

Once the mixture is stiff and dry, I poured it right into the prepared pan…

…smoothing the mixture with a spatula…

The marshmallow mixture will be stiff and dry…but it will also be sticky. Very sticky! But don’t get frustrated with your spatula sticking to the mixture…just dip it in a glass of cool water occasionally. It will make the process a lot easier!

Next I covered them with some plastic wrap and set them aside (just on the counter; not in the fridge) to dry and firm up…at least two hours. Four hours would be better. And the next day, cutting would be even easier. Dipping the knife in a glass of cool water makes the cutting smoother and easier. I begin by going around the edges… (BTW, my pan looks a big ragged or dirty around the edges…it’s just old. Thought I should explain. Guess I’m due a new one soon…)

Then, I cut rows first one direction…then the other…

I know. You can’t see where I cut! But that’s not important. You can cut them as big or little as you want…then just lift them out…

The edges will be sticky after they’ve been freshly cut. To “cover up” the “stickiness” you can roll them in plain or toasted coconut…

(I rolled them in plain coconut as well…but let’s just say that white coconut on a white marshmallow didn’t show up too well in photos!)

Or, you can roll them in powdered sugar, if you’d like. Yes, this covers up the sticky sides…but I found them to be too sweet this way. I tried them every way I could think of, but I found that just setting the plain marshmallows on a plate–not touching–until they’d dried out for just a few hours, was easiest and gave me the most flexibility in using them later for other recipes. After they’d dried out a bit, I put them away in an air-tight container…and just stored them in the kitchen, unrefrigerated…

…until they were ready to be enjoyed!

I made a few batches at the same time, so I could test a couple of recipes. I spread one batch in a plastic-wrap-lined pan. I really liked how easy those were to just dump out of the pan and cut. No edges of the pan to work around….

Another option is to spread the marshmallows right over baked brownies. That’s what we usually did with them in Africa. Brownies are good. But Marshmallow Brownies are even better!

So that wasn’t hard, was it? While I won’t be making them every week, I have to say that the flavor makes me want to make them every time I need marshmallows. Supposedly Kraft Marshmallows are “America’s Favorite”…but that’s just ’cause they haven’t tasted mine!

Enjoy! Ciao!


Homemade Marshmallows

Yield: One 9X13-inch (23-33 cm) pan

Homemade Marshmallows


  • 2 C. sugar
  • 1 C. (250 ml) water (divided)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 T. dry gelatin (or 8 sheets which are approx. 3-inches X 5-inches)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 C. cornstarch
  • 1/4 C. powdered sugar


  1. Soak 2 T. gelatin in 1/2 C. cold water with 1/2 tsp. vanilla in a large bowl.
  2. Bring 2 C. sugar and 1/2 C. water to a boil. Add 1/4 tsp. salt.
  3. Drizzle the hot sugar syrup into the dissolved gelatin beating constantly. Continue beating until stiff and dry; 10-15 minutes.
  4. Combine the cornstarch and powdered sugar in a small bowl. Dust the bottom of a 9X13-inch (23X33 cm) pan with the mixture. Shake extra back into your small bowl.
  5. Pour the marshmallow mixture right on top of powder-dusted pan. Smooth out with a greased spatula and sprinkle remaining cornstarch/powdered sugar on top. Chill and cut.
  6. Alternately the marshmallow mixture can be spread on top of baked brownies.


  1. 1-28-2016

    Hi! I love your recipe of marshmallows! Since I live in Europe(actually in italy) i was searching for a recipe with gelatine sheets! DO you think I can substitute corn syrup with honey?

  2. 1-28-2016

    Oh sorry i read corn syrup instead of corn starch

    • 5-28-2016

      Did you try making the marshmallows? Quite a lot of work–but definitely unusual and better flavor!

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