Rice Krispie Treats Recipe

5 from 6 votes
↓ Jump to Recipe 7

This post may contain affiliate links | disclosure policy

Learn the essential tips and tricks for making thick, chewy Rice Krispie treats! Using the proper ratios for the butter, marshmallows, and cereal is critical to ensuring soft and crispy bites.

The best rice krispie treat recipe to serve at a party.

Recipe Science

  • Melting marshmallows heats the gelatin within, causing it to act as a sticky binder that holds the Rice Krispies together once cooled.
  • Gently pressing the mixture into the pan, rather than compacting it firmly, ensures the treats remain airy, light, and crisp.
  • Cooling the mixture ensures that the sugar, butter, and gelatin solidify, forming a sliceable, chewy, and cohesive bar.

Why It Works

Chewy Rice Krispie treats are one of the most iconic desserts for kids. The little squares can easily be themed for any type of party. What’s not to love about crunchy cereal coated in gooey melted marshmallows and butter? When made right, there are never any leftovers.

This no-bake dessert uses only five simple ingredients, and the technique is crucial. It is made on the stovetop for quick and easy preparation. After lots of testing, I’ve found just the perfect ratio of ingredients for delightfully tender and crisp bites. The most common mistake is making them too hard. Don’t worry. I’ll share all of my secrets for success.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Ingredients to make homemade rice krispie treats.
  • Puffed Rice Cereal: I use the classic blue box of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies cereal that “snaps, crackles, and pops!” Generic crispy rice cereal brands can be used, but the size of the pieces may differ. You’ll need 10 cups, or 10 ounces, in a regular-sized box. When measuring, make sure the cereal is level and not heaping. Too much grain will make the bars taste dry.
  • Marshmallows: I use miniature marshmallows because they melt quicker than the larger size. You’ll need 20 ounces (two 10-ounce packages) or 10 cups. Keep the package sealed to retain its moisture. Once exposed to air, the surface gets dry, making them less soft.
  • Butter: I use unsalted butter, then add salt later to control the sodium. It helps keep the crispy rice treats soft and less sticky. If using salted butter, omit the added salt.
  • Vanilla: Adds baked notes and flavor dimension.

See the recipe card below for all ingredients and measurements (US and metric).

Ingredient Substitutions

  • Cereal Options: To switch up the taste, rice cereal comes in many flavors, like cocoa, cinnamon sugar, frosted, or festive holiday colors.
  • Using Large Marshmallows: Larger pieces contain more moisture, which builds in more buffer to ensure the treats are soft. It helps to cut them in half for quicker melting. The key is to work quickly, reducing water loss from the ingredients when melted on the stovetop.
  • Substituting Butter: Margarine or plant-based butter can be used to make the treats dairy-free.
  • Flavoring: Try almond, banana, caramel, lemon, orange, coconut, peppermint, maple or banana extract. Add ground cinnamon, nutmeg, or cocoa powder. Make brown butter for a gourmet taste. Drizzle with dark or white chocolate.
  • Color: For a festive appearance, use liquid or gel colors in the melted marshmallow. Add colorful sprinkles, rainbow confetti, sanding sugar, or round nonpareils on top.
  • Mix-ins: Nuts, crushed pretzels, chocolate chips, or dried fruit. Stir in nut butter like my peanut butter recipe or almond butter recipe.

How to Make Rice Krispie Treats

Step 1: Prepare the Pan 

Use a 13×9-inch baking dish with 2-inch high sides. Line it with parchment paper or wax paper. The cereal mixture is slightly sticky when warm, so if you like, you can apply a light coating of cooking spray or melted butter to the bottom of the liner. Skip this step if using wax paper.

Pro Tip: It’s easy to halve the recipe and use a square or round 8×8-inch or 9×9-inch pan. They will still be at least an inch tall.

Slices of butter melting in a large pot.

Step 2: Melt the Butter

Use a large saucepan or Dutch oven with high sides. Work quickly to retain moisture from the ingredients, which prevents a dry and hard bar. Melt the butter over medium heat, then turn it down to low.

Several mini marshmallows added to a large pot.

Step 3: Melt the Marshmallows

Add the marshmallows and stir until completely melted. They will turn into a thick, fluid, and sticky consistency.

Stirring a pot of melted marshmallows with a spatula.

It’s okay if you see a few lumps; it’s better not to overcook them. Immediately remove from the heat! This is crucial. Otherwise, the sugars will continue to cook and harden over time, just like making candy.

Close up of a vanilla and salt added to a pot with white sugar mixture.

Step 4: Add the Cereal 

First stir in the vanilla extract and salt into the warm marshmallow mixture. This will dissolve the granules and bloom the flavor for a more robust aroma.

Stirring rice krispie cereal in a sticky mixture of melted marshmallows.

Then stir in the cereal until evenly coated with the molten marshmallows. Don’t wait too long. As the sugars cool, the mixture becomes extremely thick, making it difficult to mix. Don’t forget the scrape the bottom of the pan!

Experimentation Encouraged: If you like extra gooey bites, this is a good time to sprinkle in some extra marshmallows, about 1 to 2 cups, then stir.


Gently patting down rice krispie treats in pan to give a smooth surface.

Step 5: Shape the Treats

Quickly spread the cereal mixture into the lined pan with damp fingers or a greased spatula. Smooth the surface as evenly flat as possible. Do not press down on the mixture too hard! The more air in between, the better. Let it cool for about an hour to reach room temperature.

Pro Tip: Have a small bowl of water nearby to dip your fingertips lightly to prevent sticking. It makes pressing the mixture into the corners and sides much more manageable.

Step 6: Slice into Pieces

Cutting the rectangular bar into 20 pieces will yield about 2 1/2-inch squares, about 1 1/2-inch thick. I’ve further cut them into triangles to make 40 pieces, which is still a generous serving.

Pro Tip: Lightly grease the knife with cooking spray to reduce stickiness. Cut straight down instead of dragging across for the cleanest cuts. Alternatively, cut into strips, mini pieces, or shapes using cookie decorating tools.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are my homemade Rice Krispie treats hard?

There are several reasons: 1) Not using the proper ratio of ingredients -my recipe uses ½ cup of butter, 20 ounces of marshmallows, and 10 ounces of cereal. 2) Too much moisture evaporated, or the sugar was cooked too long and started to crystallize. 3) Too much grain was added, drying out the texture. 4) The cereal was pressed down when shaping -spread into an even layer, do not compress!

How long should I wait to cut Rice Krispie treats?

Wait for about 1 hour before cutting. This gives the melted sugar and butter time to firm up. This makes them easier to slice and hold their shape better.

How long will homemade Rice Krispie treats stay fresh?

It will keep for about five days at room temperature in an airtight container. When wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored in a resealable plastic bag, it can be stored in the freezer for one month.

How do you cut Rice Krispie treats neatly?

Let the bars cool to room temperature first! Lightly grease a chef’s knife and make straight-down cuts for the neatest shapes.

How do I make brown butter rice krispie treats?

For a butterscotch flavor, you can make brown butter. This only takes a few extra minutes to cook the milk solids until golden in hue. The lactose and proteins cook, adding a nutty aroma and sweeter taste. I recommend adding 1 tablespoon of water back to the pan after browning since more moisture is evaporated in the process. This prevents the cereal treats from becoming hard.

More Tasty Treats

If you tried this Rice Krispie Treat Recipe, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the 📝 comments below!

Rice Krispie Treats

Learn how to make the best rice Krispie treats with soft and crispy bites. It's the perfect shareable dessert for a party.
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time1 hour 10 minutes
Cook Time5 minutes
Total Time1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 20 servings
Course Dessert
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, sliced into 8 pieces
  • 20 ounces mini marshmallows, 12 cups
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt, kosher, or sea salt
  • 10 cups rice krispies cereal, 10 ounces

Instructions 

  • Prepare the Pan – Line a 13×9-inch baking dish with parchment paper or wax paper. This makes it easy to lift out. If desired, lightly coat the liner with nonstick spray or melted butter.
  • Melt the Butter – Melt the sliced butter in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once melted, immediately reduce the heat to low.
  • Melt the Marshmallows – Add the marshmallows. Use a greased spatula to stir the mixture continuously until just melted, about 3 to 4 minutes. It's okay to have some unmelted pieces. Turn off the heat and move the pan to a cold burner.
  • Add the Cereal – Stir in the vanilla and salt. Quickly stir the cereal in being careful not to crush the pieces.
  • Shape the Treats – Immediately pour the cereal mixture into the prepared baking dish. Gently spread into an even layer using a greased spatula or lightly dampened hands. Do not firmly press down! Let it cool and set for about 1 hour.
  • Slice – Lift the cereal mixture out of the pan and transfer it to a cutting board. Use a lightly greased chef knife to cut into 20 pieces.

Recipe Video

YouTube video

Notes

  • Recipe Yield: 20 pieces
  • Adding More Marshmallows: Evenly sprinkle in 1 to 2 cups of mini marshmallows after mixing the marshmallows and cereal. Gently stir to combine.
  • Using Large Marshmallows: Use 20 ounces of large marshmallows.
  • Using Brown Butter: Heat the butter until it turns lightly brown. Add 1 tablespoon of water to the brown butter after cooking.
  • Storing: Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
  • Freezing: Wrap in parchment or wax paper and store in an airtight container for up to 1 month—Defrost before eating.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 20 servings
Calories 185kcal (9%)Carbohydrates 35g (12%)Protein 2g (4%)Fat 5g (8%)Saturated Fat 3g (15%)Polyunsaturated Fat 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0.2gCholesterol 12mg (4%)Sodium 126mg (5%)Potassium 21mg (1%)Fiber 0.1gSugar 18g (20%)Vitamin A 1073IU (21%)Vitamin C 9mg (11%)Calcium 3mgIron 4mg (22%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

Tried this recipe?

Tag me on Instagram. I'd love to see how it turns out!

Tag @jessica_gavin

Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

Quick & Easy Meals in Under 30 Minutes!
Get 25 simple meals your whole family will love.
Jessica Gavin standing in the kitchen

You May Also Like

Reader Interactions

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




7 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Judy Caywood says

    Hi Jessica,
    I haven’t made these since our kids were little. Yesterday I got a box of Rice Krispies cereal as I was thinking of making them for the next get together at church. Then today here is your recipe. Thank you. When I made them for the kids sometimes I would melt a 12 oz package of semi sweet chocolate chips together with a 12 oz package of butterscotch chips. Very hard to resist!
    xo. Judy

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You are so wonderful and kind, Judy! I love the idea of frosting the rice crispies with chocolate and butterscotch chips. I’m sure my kids would love that version too!

  2. Katie Kruse says

    Thanks Jessica for all the tips. They were perfect and easy to throw together using your great recipe. Perfect for the holidays.

  3. Cyndi says

    Growing up it one of the few desserts my mom made because 1: she was a terrible, terrible cook 2: rice krispies was cheap and 3: my father worked at cabot creamery so he received free products. They had 4 of us ranging from 5ft 11in to 6ft 8in so we ate a lot of food. Can’t wait to try your version.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I love learning more about you, Cyndi! That’s so neat that your dad worked for cabot creamery! I hope you enjoy the recipe, I can’t wait to hear what you think about the rice krispie treats.