Brown Butter Rice Krispies Treats

These brown butter rice krispies treats are a glammed-up version of the kid classic made with brown butter, whole as well as melted marshmallows and a sprinkle of sea salt.

Nine brown butter rice krispies treats next to a glass of milk.

These are the big, fat, chunky rice cereal treats that you see for sale at bakeries and coffee shops, only these are so much better because they’re fresh, buttery and full of both swirls of melted marshmallow and pockets of marshmallow pieces. Take your time with the brown butter to make sure you get the deepest flavor, but don’t take a phone call or multitask because browned butter goes from perfect to burnt in a matter of seconds. I also like a little hit of maple extract here to complement the browned butter, but it’s optional!

Don’t skip the bit of sea salt on top for an elegant finish. Also, this might seem a little fussy, but I do think the best treats come from an unopened box of cereal and very fresh marshmallows that aren’t sticking together in the package. I know, I know, it’s fussy, but I think you’ll be pleased if you make them just right.–Erin Mylroie

Brown Butter Rice Krispies Treats

  • Quick Glance
  • (2)
  • 20 M
  • 1 H, 50 M
  • Makes 24
5/5 - 2 reviews
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Slick your pan with butter. If you prefer thinner rice krispies treats, use a jelly roll pan. If you prefer thicker rice krispies treats, use a 9-by 13–inch (23-by 33–cm) pan, preferably one that has straight sides and not rounded corners.

Place 1 bag of your miniature marshmallows in the freezer. It’ll be in there for less than 10 minutes.

Tester tip: This isn’t the time to use up that old bag of marshmallows lurking at the back of the pantry that are all stuck together. Fresh marshmallows will be easier to distribute throughout the treats.

In a large pot over low heat, melt the butter. Increase the heat to medium-low so the butter melts, then foams, then turns a medium golden brown with brown specks. This should take somewhere in the vicinity of 4 minutes. Watch the butter carefully because you don’t want any burned black specks.

Turn off the heat and add the room-temperature bag of marshmallows. Stir until the marshmallows are smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. If the marshmallows don’t fully melt, return the pot to very low heat and stir until fully melted.

Stir in the vanilla extract and, if using, the maple extract. Then stir in the salt. Quickly add the rice cereal and stir until well blended. Remove the marshmallows from the freezer and quickly stir them into the mixture. You want the frozen marshmallows to melt just a little but remain mostly intact.

Using slightly damp hands, gently press the treats into the prepared pan.

Tester tip: If you happen to have a second pan that’s the same size as the one you used for the treats, slick the bottom with butter and use it to evenly press the treats into the pan.

Sprinkle the top with a little sea salt. Let the treats rest for at least 90 minutes at room temperature so they have a chance to firm. Spray your knife with cooking spray or slick it with butter before cutting the treats into squares. Leftover treats (if there is such a thing) can be individually wrapped and frozen.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

This is a great riff on the traditional rice krispies treats. The addition of the brown butter and sea salt gives it a touch of complexity while still being familiar and fun and something that would appeal to both adults and kids. These are just so simple to come together for anyone who wants to make a tasty treat with minimal effort with the additional benefit of no oven necessary.

The cold marshmallows did melt a little but very much remained intact. My one issue with this recipe was the amount of whole marshmallows added. Perhaps I just wasn't working fast enough, but I found it difficult to incorporate the amount of marshmallows into the rice krispies mix and it led to large clumps of whole marshmallows throughout the mixture. After setting, the areas with more whole marshmallows was softer than those without. If I were making again, I would use either half or three quarters of the whole marshmallows. I made 12 large squares but could definitely make 24 smaller squares for a treats table or if you want to share more

Why, oh why, did I not think of using brown butter in rice krispie treats before now??? I LOVE it in my brownie recipe so why not where it will shine in the relatively bland cereal treat?!? I think I will never look at a rice krispies treat the same way again! And the frozen marshmallows that ensure you get chunks of real marshmallowey goodness in each bite? Genius! And, of course, that small hit of sea salt crunch before the sweetness kicks in is just the topping on this already decadent treat.

I would advise that if you have the chance, get FRESH marshmallows from the grocery store right before making these. I happened to have a couple bags in my pantry that I decided to use but they were somewhat sticky. For the melted ones, it didn't matter so much but the frozen ones were a bit tricky to evenly spread into the mixture and would have benefitted from being from a new bag.

I used a half-sheet pan for my treats and utilized a second (identical size) pan with the bottom sprayed with vegetable spray to press the treats into the pan. This worked very well (and is something I have used in the past with larger sheet pans). Start to finish, hands-on time for this was about 15 minutes, so it’s a very quick recipe.

I was afraid that there wouldn’t be enough melted mixture to coat the cereal, but after adding the frozen marshmallows it was the perfect amount of gooey. After 90 minutes the treats were still soft but set enough to cut. After cutting (and eating one!) I did allow them to set overnight (about 8 hours) before separating them the rest of the way and putting them into a container.

They were a huge hit with my family and with the local sheriff's department who we shared them with and will definitely be on my "quick make" treats list!


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