Marshmallow Treats from the Eighties

You’ve probably suspected this, and it’s true. The recipe for marshmallow treats has changed over the years. These days, the recipe on the side of the box has less butter and a different proportion of marshmallows to cereal. How do I know this? Because I have a recipe from the early ’80s right here.

cereal treats book.jpg

The composition is not radically different. The earlier recipe had 4 tablespoons of butter and 5 cups of cereal. The current version has 3 tablespoons of butter and 6 cups of cereal. I find the difference noticeable and plan on using the higher butter recipe from now on. I’ve also turned these into brown butter rice krispies treats by browning the butter.

brown butter rice krispies treats

Marshmallow Rice Krispies Treats From the Eighties — aka Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats

4 tablespoons butter (salted) or use unsalted butter and add a pinch of salt when melted
1 (10 oz ) package big marshmallows or 4 cups of the small type
1/4 cup peanut butter (optional)
5 cups Rice Krispies cereal

Have ready an 8 inch square metal pan. In the past I’ve used a 9 inch or 13×9 inch, but I like the look of tall krispie treats, so these days I use an 8 inch pan.

Rub a large saucepan or Dutch oven with butter to prevent sticking. Set over medium heat and melt the butter completely until it just starts to brown. This will happen at a different rate of speed depending on your stove. If it starts browning quickly, remove from heat, swirl the pan, and put the butter back on at a very much reduced heat. Be careful not to burn it.

Stir in the marshmallows and reduce heat to low. Stir marshmallows until they begin melting. When melted, add the peanut butter (if using) and cereal and stir until coated.

Transfer mixture to pan. Let the treats cool completely then lift them out of the pan, place the slab on a cutting board and score into giant size squares.

Brown Butter Rice Krispies Treats

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  1. says

    You’re right, everybody loves these and they disappear instantly.

    I think that Reese’s Pieces would be the most appropriate topping when one considers the popularity of E.T.

    So, what is the difference between this version and the other version. Will you tell us or will I have to make this and find out for myself?

  2. says

    Hi Abi,
    I’m sorry if you had to go look this up yourself. If were a better blogger, I would have checked my comments from vacation. Anyway, what’s different is basically there’s more butter. The bars just have more umami.

    Randi, I am working on a scratch version and will send it to you if it pans out.

  3. says

    I have now made these for my office three times. I brown the butter and leave out the peanut butter (darn allergic people). I didn’t say anything to my officemates, but multiple people commented on how these were the best rice krispy treats they’d had in a long time.

  4. Healthy says

    Oh Please. Is there a reason why people like you insist on promoting fats? Aren’t Americans fat enough already?

    You can make this recipe healthy by omitting ALL of the butter and replacing it with 1 teaspoon of butter flavoring or extract (which is fat free) and add a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Also get rid of the candy pieces unless you are a kid.

    I even go a step further and replace some of all of the Rise Krispies with Quick Cooking Oatmeal. Makes a healthy treat with lots of fiber.

  5. says

    Thanks for your suggestions, Healthy. As I’ve said many times, my personal preference is to make things full fat and eat small portions…but that’s just me. I can’t control all other Americans, but suspect a lot of us eat too much unhealthy fast food.

    That said, I like experimenting with low fat options an will give your version a try. Sounds interesting.

  6. kellymo says

    I’ve used this proportion a number of times since you’ve posted it, and there really is a difference! We always include the peanut butter, and to make them totally decadent for the daughter & her friends, we ice them with chocolate frosting and press peanut butter M&Ms into the top. Yum…

    (And by the way, Anna, that was an extraordinarily nice reply to a nasty, condescending scold. Well done – you are a better woman than I.)

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