Homemade Marshmallow Spread: Simple steps with simple syrups

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So, my friends, instead of telling stories or sharing jokes this time around, let’s talk science. Specifically, let’s talk a little bit about the science of simple sugar syrups and their effects on egg whites.

Oh, dear reader, please note that this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to egg and sugar science. Consider it just a lick and a promise to get you started.

As you probably know by now, marshmallow is basically egg whites, sugar, and air, plus maybe a little flavoring. Not very complicated ingredients, but definitely a confection that relies heavily on the reactions that happen when sugar is cooked rather than raw. Let’s break it down a bit.

The structure of egg-based food and confections is based on the ability of the egg proteins to trap air in little bubbles and keep it there. Take scrambled eggs, for example. It’s nothing more than whipping eggs with air and cooking it to solidify the egg proteins before those bubbles burst. Result? Fluffy light scrambled eggs. No whipping in of air? Fried eggs.

Now, if you’ve ever overcooked scrambled eggs, you’ll know how tight and rubbery they get. What’s up with that? When your delicate little egg proteins are heated, they begin to tighten up. The hotter they get, the tighter they get. Make them too hot and they become a dense, rubbery mess from which there is no return.

But we can use this tightening to our advantage with the use of a hot sugar syrup. It will sweeten our whipped egg whites AND help them tighten up enough to make sturdy bubbles that will grab together and provide great structure. One thing that adding hot syrup to egg whites will not do is cook them over the recommended safe temperature of 160°F. To be safe when using eggs that are raw or not fully cooked, use pasteurized eggs.

Get ready – here’s how we’re going to make Homemade Marshmallow Spread.

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In a medium-sized heavy saucepan, combine 1/3 cup water, 3/4 cup sugar, and 3/4 cup corn syrup*. Bring to a boil and set a candy thermometer for 240°F.

The temperature will hover in the 220°F range for a long time, and then slowly creep up to the 230°F range. Once it reaches 230°F, it will go fairly quickly for the last 10 degrees.

*Honey can be used instead of the corn syrup; it works just fine.

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When the sugar temperature reaches about 225°F, place 3 egg whites and 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar in the bowl of your mixer. Start off at medium speed until you build up a foamy base, then increase the speed to high until the whites reach soft peaks.

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By now the sugar syrup should be at 240°F. With the mixer running, slowly pour a steady stream of syrup along the inside of the bowl. The whites will deflate somewhat as the hot syrup hits, but keep whipping.

Remember, the hot syrup will heat the egg proteins. The proteins will begin to tighten up and a firmer structure will begin to develop. The structure will capture even more air than the whites alone, giving you billowy fluffy goodness.

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Take good care as the bowl is quite hot at this stage. I borrowed my husband’s handy dandy infrared thermometer to check the temperature. Sorry for the blur, but it’s pretty darn hard to hold both this and the camera steady at one time.

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Whip the spread for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until the it’s thick and white and fluffy. The bowl will cool noticeably as well. When the spread is fairly well cooled, add 1 teaspoon vanilla and whip for another minute.

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Pour the barely warm spread  into an airtight bowl. Oh yes, it’s a bit of a sticky job, but oh so fun!

I don’t know about you, but I’m about ready for lunch. Care to split a sandwich?

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Please make, rate, and review our recipe for Homemade Marshmallow Spread.

Print just the recipe.

 

MaryJane Robbins
About

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...

comments

  1. Paul from Ohio

    PERFECT. I love a Marshmallow Sauce ribbon in homemade chocolate ice cream, or on top as a sundae. Haven’t done it till now because I didn’t want to use store bought Marshmallow. But I’m not sure I can make this because I don’t have a stand mixer nor a candy thermometer that can be set?! Shucks. Good job as always MJ….and would love to share your sandwich!!!!
    Mi sammich es su sammich? Shannon isn’t here to teach me the proper interpretation. :). If you have a hand mixer, you should still be fine, and you’ll just need to keep a close eye on the candy thermometer. I set mine to beep just before the temperature I want, and watch it cruise up the rest of the way. So, you could give that a try. I must say this is A.Mazing on chocolate ice cream. ~ MJ

    Reply
  2. Teresa

    Should there be a change in the temperatures for altitude, for instance, 5280 ft.?
    Hi Teresa,
    From the resources I’ve read, at higher altitudes, subtract 1° F from every listed temperature for each 500 feet above sea level. Hope this helps! ~ MJ

    Reply
  3. Justin

    So this is basically Divinity? Just a lower temperature and never beaten to a thicker consistency? Same taste I assume?
    Hi Justin,
    Divinity tends to be stiffer and more sugary in texture, and in my opinion it’s much sweeter. This cream is well, creamy, almost milky tasting even though it contains no milk. ~ MJ

    Reply
  4. CarrieM

    May I assume that this will work just as well as the bottled kind in the never-fail fudge recipe that I make for the holidays?
    Hi Carrie,
    If the recipe calls for marshmallow cream, or creme, it should be a perfect substitute. If it calls for Marshmallow Fluff, your fudge may come out softer. ~ MJ

    Reply
  5. bobette

    I have a pie recipe that calls for marshmallow cream. Will this homemade version be stiff enough that it will set up the pie solid enough to cut the slices? Sounds wonderful to me.

    Yes, that should work out just fine. Enjoy! ~ MJ

    Reply
  6. klsmizener

    Do you think brown rice syrup would work instead corn syrup?
    To be honest, I don’t have any personal kitchen experience with brown rice syrup. That being said, if you have used it successfully in other recipes calling for corn syrup or honey other than as a simple sweetener, it should work. If you do give it a try, please let us know how it goes. ~ MJ

    Reply
    1. Barbara

      Wow! Please keep me posted on brown rice syrup trial. I use it to make my own ‘wet walnuts’ and there’s no hypoglycemic crash after eating it.

  7. Alison T

    Yippee! Going to try it. Will it work with reconstituted powdered egg whites? And will it work in sweetening whipping cream (a trick I learned from KAF a few years ago)?
    Yes, it will work with fresh powdered egg whites, and I used it in frosting, so it should work just fine in the whipped cream. ~ MJ

    Reply
  8. susanmca

    The recipes says it makes about 3 cups. Do you know approximately what size jar of Marshmallow Fluff this would be equivalent to?
    I’d say it’s closer to the larger jar than the smaller jar, but those are packed by weight not by volume. Hope this helps. ~ MJ

    Reply
  9. Carol

    My marshmallow squares recipe calls for gelatin, not egg whites. This keeps it from becoming “flat” and there is no worry about using uncooked egg. It also prolongs the shelf life. Can this recipe be altered to use gelatin? I would love to make it to give as gifts for the holidays as I have the marshmallows.
    Gelatin will make this spread stiff, like actual marshmallows instead of a soft creamy spread. You can certainly experiment with various amounts of gelatin to change the texture. ~ MJ

    Reply
  10. Michele Moffit

    Can this be made using powdered egg whites?
    Powdered eggs whites that are fresh should work just fine. Skip the meringue powder, as it has flavorings and sugar already added. ~ MJ

    Reply
  11. Ambrosia

    Can you use meringue powder in place of the raw egg whites?
    Powdered eggs whites that are fresh should work just fine. Skip the meringue powder, as it has flavorings and sugar already added. ~ MJ

    Reply
  12. Meg

    How would you make this without the eggs? My son would love this, but he is allergic to eggs. Any ideas?
    Unfortunately, egg is key to the recipe so for now I’d say it would need to be a pass. ~ MJ

    Reply
    1. Suzanne

      Late to posting this, Meg, but you should do a search for “vegan marshmallow creme” and you’ll get ideas for an eggless option.

  13. Keri in FL

    Yes, honey works too! I made two batches of marshmallows last year, one with white sugar, and one with honey from our bees. The recipes made a ton of marshmallows, and we found that the honey ones had a much better shelf life, I assume due to honey’s antimicrobial properties.

    Reply
  14. Joni M

    I have a chocolate pie recipe that calls for 24 marshmallows that you have to quarter and melt with the chocolate–sheesh, this is probably the solution to that pie we absolutely love but I hate to make! Ohhhhhh, so many recipes to try and so little time…

    Reply
  15. Samantha

    is the only difference between marshmallow cream and marshmallow the absence of gelatin?
    Yes, the gelatin the differing ingredient. ~Amy

    Reply
  16. Donna

    I have a recipe I like for Whoopie pie filling that calls for Marshmallow Fluff. Would this home made version work ok?
    Sure! I think this would work great for whoopie pies! ~Amy

    Reply
  17. Celeste

    How long will it keep before it hardens or gets sugary? Should it be refrigerated or stored at room temp? Thx!

    Reply
  18. leafyeb

    I would love to give this as a gift. Will it keep for a while, or should it be used right away? Would a glass canning jar work?

    Reply
  19. Jaime

    How should this be stored, and how long will it keep? Can I just leave the jar at room temperature? It seems like it would probably turn into a rock if I refrigerated it. If I make a large batch and put it in a couple of jars, will it be safe in the pantry?
    Please see comments below for storage. ~Amy

    Reply
  20. sharon k.

    this sounds like something my kids will love. But how do I store it- I am assuming it needs to be refrigerated? And how long will it stay fresh?
    Thanks!
    Please store for 2 weeks at room temperature. ~Amy

    Reply
  21. BarbS

    I would be careful substituting this marshmallow for any commercially prepared versions. This recipe looks very similar to a fluffy egg white frosting, or a meringue. Most commonly available marshmallows and fluffs use gelatin as the base.

    Reply
  22. kathy hodson

    Could this be used to frost a cake? Or, is it way too sweet? If ok for frosting, should the frosted cake be stored in the fridge?
    I would say this is definitely too sweet to use as a frosting and I would not recommend refrigerating it. ~Amy

    Reply
    1. Maggie

      I used it to frost a chocolate sheet cake a couple of weeks ago. I left the cake in the pan and cut pieces directly from the pan. It was great! I don’t know if it would work as well on a free-standing cake, it might slide off the sides. Then again, I live near the water and the air is very humid. In a drier atmosphere, maybe in a house with a/c, it might just work.

      Food & Wine had a cake with such a frosting about 10 – 15 years ago, topped with silver dragees.

  23. Anna

    Can I substitute the required amount of meringue powder and water for the egg whites? I have a hard time finding pasteurized eggs.
    Powdered eggs whites that are fresh should work just fine. Skip the meringue powder, as it has flavorings and sugar already added. ~ MJ

    Reply
  24. Jake Sterling

    I don’t think you need to worry about egg safety with this recipe, first the sugar syrup at 204° cooks the egg whites, at least somewhat, but more important is the incredibly hight sugar content. Sugar solutions at this concentration (like honey or concentrated salt) kills bacteria including Salmonella. The technical explanation goes back to what you learned in high-school biology class. Highly concentrated sugar solutions are hygroscopic: that means they attract water. The water inside the cell of a bacterium is actually pulled out of it by the power of osmosis. The poor bacterium doesn’t have a chance; it dies of dehydration.
    Thanks for sharing Jake. It’s always good to have more info to help folks decide how they want to proceed when eggs are involved. ~ MJ

    Reply
  25. Trish

    Amazingly delicious…. Except mine marshmallow had a slight burnt taste.. I did nit stir while cooking but had on medium heat using gas stove. How many minutes should it take to get to 240 degrees? I used a candy thermometer and removed from stove at 240 degrees… Where did I go wrong? Thankyou for the incredible recipes!!!!
    Hi Trish,
    It may be that your thermometer is running a bit low. Another clue to when the syrup is done is that the bubbles will make a little *snap* when they pop. I’d say double check your thermometer and look for the snapping bubbles too. ~ MJ

    Reply
  26. jspondike

    I have two questions.
    First: Isn’t this similar to making an Italian meringue?
    Second: Instead of corn syrup can I use an agave syrup or golden syrup?
    Yes, this is the base for many different meringues and icings. Good thing some chef tasted it one day and decided it would be great as is! I’ve heard that golden syrup makes a great spread, but I don’t have any info on agave. ~ MJ

    Reply
  27. Rhonda Hunter

    My grandmother taught me to make this, using a hand (rotary, manual) mixer.
    She cooked the syrup while I beat the egg whites.It could take me 20 minutes to get the whites ready with that hand mixer! (I was about 7 years old). It sure tasted good when we were done. She used the same method to make cake frosting. I didn’t realize until later that you had to cook the syrup to a higher temperature to get it to set right.
    Hi Rhonda,
    What a delightful memory, thanks for sharing. Sugar syrups are so magical, it is amazing the difference in confections that a little water, sugar and heat can make. ~ MJ

    Reply
  28. Char Girardi

    I saw someplace, where someone made this just by melting marshmallows and adding corn syrup. Have you tried this method?
    This is also similar to 7 minute or Italian frosting. Nice! I love how precise the instructions were!
    Hi Char,
    I haven’t tried that method, but I’m definitely putting it on my list to try. I bet it would be a good way to “reclaim” an older bag of marshmallows. ~ MJ

    Reply
  29. Shari G

    Do the egg whites become adequately cooked with this method to kill any possible bacteria? Could one use egg white powder, such as Just Whites, instead of raw egg whites to make this?
    Hi Shari,
    The eggs whites do not get over the recommended 160°F, so use pasteurized eggs or fresh egg white powder. ~ MJ

    Reply
  30. Cath

    Very amused that this recipe was included in the email with the survey on healthy baking. Have to work on getting some whole grains into this sauce somehow. Very easy to spin my survey results to make it sound like I’m all into healthy baking. Not sure the flax I add to my homemade bread is going to make up for slathering marshmallow fluff on it ;-)
    Too funny Cath! ~ MJ

    Reply
  31. Doug Smith

    My grandmother made this and called it Sea Foam Icing. She baked dark devil’s food chocolate cake layers that had more unsweetened chocolate than normal. That touch of bitterness makes an extraordinary combination with the sweet marshmallow icing. If you like chocolate cake, you should give it a try.
    Oh my,that sounds amazing! Thanks for sharing, Doug. ~ MJ

    Reply
  32. Janan Henry

    I love having not only the scientific basis for what we do, but the practical application with photos, as well. Good for seasoned cooks as well as the newbies.

    Reply
  33. Valree Rogers

    I have a recipt for making homemaid fondant using mini marshmallow that you melt then add powdered sugar to. Could I use this marshmallow cream recipt for the mini marshmallows?

    The mini marshmallows likely have some gelatin to help them set or keep their shape. We fear that using the marshmallow cream (with no gelatin) could result in a fondant that’s too soft to work with. Irene@KAF

    Reply
  34. Susan

    Looks intriguing but I’m afraid I’m going to have to pass on this one.

    I am trying very hard to stay away from refined sugar. This would not make it as part of a low sugar snack.

    But thanks so much for asking me to review it. Susan

    Reply
  35. Bobbye Hager

    Haven’t made your spread yet, but I have all the ingredients – and the thermometer. I am reading Michael Pollan’s Cooked, working on his bread chapter now, where he digresses to discuss the importance of air in various foods. By the way, you’d probably love Cooked.

    Reply
  36. Tula

    Where does one get pasteurized eggs? I’m assuming you don’t mean that Egg Beater stuff. I’ve never seen such a thing in the grocery store.

    You’ll need egg whites for this recipe, not the blended egg products. Happy Meringue – Happy marshmallow cream! Irene@KAF

    Reply
  37. Eileen

    I was just looking up recipes for this a couple of days ago, but they didn’t have such useful pictures or temp targets for doneness. Thanks for another well-crafted recipe!

    Thanks for the compliment, please let us know what you think of the recipe!-Jon

    Reply
  38. Lauren Nunley

    Can you use this for a meringue on a pie? My children have never liked meringue except for this one little place that served lemon ice box that had a meringue that tasted just like marshmallow creme. I have wondered for years how they made it.

    This spread should be able to be used on a pie, though keep in mind that it will be quite soft to pipe.-Jon

    Reply
  39. Jo

    Holler up to Valree Rogers, I make marshmallow fondant with marshmallow fluff and confectioners sugar. Very tasty, but very sweet and not very stiff. We lay it over sugar cookies and it’s perfect. I’m not sure it would do well on a cake.

    Also, could this be used in those banana filled chocolate cookies? It would be like a bit-sized banana boat! Only better because I wouldn’t have to wait for the marshmallows and the chocolate chips to melt. Maybe I could dab it on top? Squash it between two fudge-y, banana-y cookies and make a sandwich?
    Well, not that I’ve picked myself up off the floor, I think the banana fudge cookies topped or sandwiched with the marshmallow spread would be amazing. You’d want to serve them fairly quickly, so that the filling doesn’t squoosh out the sides. FANTASTIC idea! ~ MJ

    Reply
  40. Becca

    Can I use this in place of the melted marshmallows in rice krispie treats? I never make them because I won’t buy marshmallows or marshmallow cream from the store, but I LOVE them! Thanks!

    I believe we spoke over chat! Please let us know how this works for you.-Jon

    Reply
  41. Cindi

    I’m so glad you mentioned that the temperature will hover at 220 for a long time!! Most recipes leave this fact out so I’m always thinking I’m doing something wrong, or worse, lose patience and turn the heat up – which can be a disaster. Of course, if you’re an optimist, it be changed to make caramel sauce instead.

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins , post author

      I’m glad it was helpful to you Cindi. I am not the most patient baker, and if I get impatient waiting, I know others will too. :) ~ MJ

    1. MaryJane Robbins , post author

      Hi Hannah,
      Sorry to hear of the difficulty. If the spread is too runny, you may not have cooked the syrup long enough, or you may need to whip it longer. Hope this helps! ~ MJ

    1. PJ Hamel

      Erin, I’m sure you’ll love these – and at the end of the day they’re really a “piece of cake.” ;) PJH

  42. Avanika {Yumsilicious Bakes}

    Will using honey affect the color of the fluff and make not so pristine white?

    Also, can this be used for RKTs instead of melted marshmallows… I make mine at home so it seems like an unnecessary extra step/

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel

      Yes, the honey will affect the color; it will be creamy/tan instead of white, I’d assume. Sorry, what’s an RKT? PJH

  43. Patrick Lyons

    Recipe says to not stir the sugar solution because it could form crystals. The corn syrup is what keeps it from from forming crystals so it is ok to occasionally stir it, especially at the beginning of the cooking process.

    Reply
  44. ruthcatrin

    Older post I know, but how does this freeze?

    I recently discovered that jelly doesn’t freeze solid, it just becomes to firm to spread, but can still be “sliced” with a spoon. I’m told its because of the sugar. Would this be similar? If so it’d be perfect for the winter when I want marshmellow in my hot cocoa…..

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins , post author

      We wouldn’t suggest freezing this spread, it will lose its airiness and become flat and wet and crystallized. ~ MJ

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