Food

How to Make S’mores – The Best Methods for Making S’mores, Tested

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In Absolute Best Tests, Ella Quittner destroys the sanctity of her home kitchen in the name of the truth. She’s boiled dozens of eggs, mashed a concerning number of potatoes, and seared more Porterhouse steaks than she cares to recall. Today, she tackles s’mores.


I used to think there was no such thing as a bad s’more.

Summoned into the American lexicon in the early twentieth century by the Girl Scouts, s’mores—sandwiches of roasted marshmallows, chocolate bars, and graham crackers—have since become a staple of summer.

And I have eaten many of them, very happily. (Even a “raw s’more”—an untoasted marshmallow and a wedge of chocolate, in between two grahams—is delicious.)

So cocky was I on the topic of s’mores that for this latest installment of ABT, I decided to branch out beyond the standard SEO-bait—beyond “roast over an open fire” and “microwave,” to “broil” and “cigarette lighter.” “Deep fry,” I mused to myself as I put together the list for my editor. “Wouldn’t that be fun.”

It was not.

More specifically…

Controls

For each test, unless otherwise noted, I used a single Honey Maid graham cracker broken into two equal squares*, three squares of Hershey’s Milk Chocolate, and a single Jet-Puffed marshmallow.

For my ABT trials, I stuck mostly to the classic cracker-choc-mallow composition for consistency, but you can and should riff at home. A few ideas…

Swaps and Additions

  • White chocolate
  • Dark chocolate
  • An entire candy bar, such as a Snicker’s or a Twix
  • A Reese’s cup
  • Nutella spread
  • Raspberry jam
  • Tahini
  • Peanut butter

*Except for the blasted instances in which the grahams would break unevenly, which made me want to be shot directly into the sun.

Equipment


All with graham crackers, milk chocolate, and store-bought marshmallows as controls.

1. Roast (Open Flame)

  • 1 graham cracker broken into two equal-size square halves
  • 1 cracker-sized chunk of milk chocolate
  • 1 marshmallow

Arrange chocolate on one of the graham crackers, and set aside within arm’s reach.

Skewer marshmallow on a stick or any flame-proof implement that will allow you to keep a safe distance from the fire. Over an open flame—say, a campfire, or one in your fireplace—roast your marshmallow turning every minute or so, until you achieve a golden-brown exterior.

Carefully use the graham crackers to sandwich the marshmallow and slide it off the stick.

Findings:

Roasting a marshmallow over an open flame obviously makes a delicious, superior s’more. It offers a number of benefits, including the ability to control the degree of browning (unless you’re distracted by, say, reaching behind you for another beer) and the flavor enhancement offered by campfire proximity. The downsides are that it is not always possible to build a campfire, and that if you do become distracted, your marshmallow can go from perfect to carbon in mere moments. Also, while it is possible to roast multiple marshmallows at once over an open fire, the risk that you will ruin at least one is higher than with, say, the oven-bake method, or the air fryer.

2. Bake

  • 1 graham cracker broken into two equal-size square halves
  • 1 cracker-sized chunk of milk chocolate
  • 1 marshmallow

Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Lay out one of the graham crackers on a parchment-lined baking sheet. On the cracker, place the chocolate, then the marshmallow.

Bake for about 4 to 5 minutes, until the marshmallow is golden and puffed up. Remove from oven, top with other graham cracker, and serve.

Findings:

I was skeptical of the oven-baked s’more, because on paper it sounds extremely lame. But the method turned out to be efficient, foolproof, and effective, producing consistently golden-brown marshmallows with molten centers in minutes. The clean-up was painless, thanks to the parchment paper. Because the oven is less hot than an open fire, there was also more wiggle room in the way of forgetting to take out the toasting marshmallow before it burned. One additional advantage of the oven method was that it allowed me to decide whether or not I wanted the chocolate melted onto the graham cracker completely, or just softened. Finally, the oven-bake method proved to be especially useful at scale, as when I made ten s’mores at once for dinner party guests.

3. Broil

  • 1 graham cracker broken into two equal-size square halves
  • 1 cracker-sized chunk of milk chocolate
  • 1 marshmallow

Heat broiler.

Set an oven rack about 6 inches below the broiler.

Lay out one of the graham crackers on a baking sheet. On the cracker, place the chocolate, then the marshmallow. Broil for about 1 to 2 minutes, watching closely, until the marshmallow is golden and puffed up. Remove from oven, top with other graham cracker, and serve.

Findings:

The broiled s’more was, put lightly, a nightmare. The marshmallow turned to a pile of smoldering black ash in less than a minute. I suppose if I had been watching it more closely, I could have pulled it out at, what, the twenty-seven second mark? But if you have a broiler, it stands to reason that you also have an oven, so, just use that. The few minutes you could save is not worth the risk of encountering an over-broiled marshmallow.

4. Grill

  • 1 graham cracker broken into two equal-size square halves
  • 1 cracker-sized chunk of milk chocolate
  • 1 marshmallow

Heat grill to medium-high.

Lay out one of the graham crackers on the grates. On the cracker, place the chocolate, then the marshmallow. Close grill, and cook about 2 to 4 minutes, checking intermittently, until the marshmallow is puffed up and molten.

Remove from grill, top with other graham cracker, and serve.

Findings:

The grill method didn’t exactly toast the marshmallow so much as it melted it onto the graham cracker. The result was a s’more that was still delicious, sweet and melty and soft, and which tasted most like the open-flame s’more. That said, I would only recommend this method if you’re already grilling, because it was a pain to set everything up just for a s’more, and a s’more that didn’t brown at that.

5. Microwave

  • 1 graham cracker broken into two equal-size square halves
  • 1 cracker-sized chunk of milk chocolate
  • 1 marshmallow

Lay out one of the graham crackers on a microwave-safe plate. On the cracker, place the chocolate, then the marshmallow. Microwave on high about 30 to 60 seconds, until marshmallow is puffy and molten. Remove from microwave.

Remove from microwave, top with other graham cracker, and serve.

Findings:

Microwaved s’mores were a journey! At the 30 second mark, my marshmallow was puffy and gooey and exciting, a swollen pillow of promise. I put it back in for another 30, hoping to achieve a bit more cook on the exterior, and when I went to retrieve it, the marshmallow had developed a smoking black hole in the center, as though it had been shot with a twentieth century rifle. Somehow, even the graham cracker had begun to smolder and smoke in that 30 second lapse. I love my microwave for certain things (see: frozen meatballs), but s’mores are not one of them. I would, however, turn to this method and keep a very close eye if I didn’t have access to an oven or open fire.

6. Roast (Handheld Lighter)

  • 1 graham cracker broken into two equal-size square halves
  • 1 cracker-sized chunk of milk chocolate
  • 1 marshmallow

Arrange chocolate on one of the graham crackers, and set aside within arm’s reach.

Skewer marshmallow on a stick or any flame-proof implement that will allow you to keep a safe distance from the fire. Use a handheld lighter to carefully toast the exterior of the marshmallow until golden all over.
Carefully, use the graham crackers to sandwich the marshmallow and slide it off the stick.

Findings:

This worked, but it bummed me out. It worked in the sense of many things that I don’t recommend, but which technically “work,” like putting on jeans right after lotion. Also, my thumb may never recover from all the sparking, which totally sucks.

7. Deep-Fry

  • 1 graham cracker broken into two equal-size square halves
  • Canola oil
  • 1 cracker-sized chunk of milk chocolate
  • 1 marshmallow

Fill a saucepan about halfway with canola oil and bring to a temperature of about 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Arrange chocolate on one of the graham crackers, and set aside within arm’s reach.

Skewer marshmallow on a stick or any oil-proof implement that will allow you to keep a safe distance from the pot. Submerge marshmallow in hot oil, turning every so often, and cook until golden brown on the outside. You will have to hold it in place, because it will want to float to the surface. (Note: Marshmallow will burst a bit but should mostly stay together.)

Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate for a quick drain, then carefully, use the graham crackers to sandwich the marshmallow and slide it off the stick.

Findings:

Of all of the methods I tested, deep-fry is the one I regret most. Once submerged in the oil, the marshmallow first did a sort of shocking and cool thing where it unspooled into a puffy, bubbling mass of fluff (enticing, fun), and then it did a sad thing where it shrunk into a greasy pile (upsetting, existentially triggering). It tasted odd, sweet with an oil-soaked texture, and by the time it had cooled enough for use in a s’more, it was unpleasantly chewy, like old gum.

8. Air-Fry

  • 1 graham cracker broken into two equal-size square halves
  • 1 cracker-sized chunk of milk chocolate
  • 1 marshmallow

Heat air fryer to 370 degrees Fahrenheit.

Lay out one of the graham crackers in the air fryer basket. On the cracker, place the chocolate, then the marshmallow. Air fry about 2 to 3 minutes, until the marshmallow is golden and puffed up. Remove from air fryer, top with other graham cracker, and serve.

Findings:

The air-fried s’more was extremely solid, and comparable to the oven-baked version. The only knock against this technique is that the marshmallow was less consistently gold all over than with the oven-baked technique, but do we care? I don’t think we care. It’s summer baby!


All using the Bake method and milk chocolate as controls, and unless otherwise stated in the below recipes, store-bought marshmallows.

1. Extra Big Cheez-Its

  • 2 Extra Big Cheez-Its
  • 1 Cheez-Its-sized chunk of milk chocolate
  • 1 mini marshmallow

Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Lay out one of the Cheez-Its on a baking sheet. On the Cheez-It, place the chocolate, then the marshmallow.

Bake for about 2 to 3 minutes, until the marshmallow is golden and puffed up. Remove from oven, top with other Cheez-It, and serve.

Findings:

Hell yes! But I would eat a spoonful of cat food off a Cheez-It, so I am biased.

The obvious downside here was that even Extra Big Cheez-Its are too small to comfortably house a regulation ‘mallow, but if you’re down to get crazy with minis, this path could be for you. (If, like half of the internet, you hate Cheez-Its, move right along.)

2. Ritz

  • 2 Ritz Crackers
  • 1 Ritz-sized chunk of milk chocolate
  • 1 marshmallow

Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Lay out one of the Ritz Crackers on a baking sheet. On the Ritz Cracker, place the chocolate, then the marshmallow.

Bake about 4 to 5 minutes, until the marshmallow is golden and puffed up. Remove from oven, top with other Ritz Cracker, and serve.

Findings:

The Ritz is a very viable alt to the graham cracker. The size turned out to be a perfect landing pad for the marshmallow, and the salty-sweet flavor complemented the chocolate beautifully. Ten of ten thumbs up. (I have five hands.)

3. Saltines

  • 2 Saltines
  • 1 Saltine-sized chunk of milk chocolate
  • 1 marshmallow

Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Lay out one of the Saltines on a baking sheet. On the Saltine, place the chocolate, then the marshmallow.

Bake about 4 to 5 minutes, until the marshmallow is golden and puffed up. Remove from oven, top with other Saltine, and serve.

Findings:

Saltines produced an acceptable and interesting s’more, though I suspect it would offend a traditionalist, and bore an adventurous palate. I got notes of salt. Lots of salt.

4. Homemade Marshmallow

  • 1 graham cracker broken into two equal-size square halves
  • 1 cracker-sized chunk of milk chocolate
  • 1 homemade marshmallow

Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Lay out one of the graham crackers on a baking sheet. On the cracker, place the chocolate, then the marshmallow.

Bake about 4 to 5 minutes, until the marshmallow is golden and puffed up. Remove from oven, top with other graham cracker, and serve.

Findings:

I wanted to like this best, but honestly, it tasted a little too plain. I missed the chemicals! The texture was delightful, though, melty and luscious, more like fluff than a hard-and-fast marsh. (I, too, hate myself.)

5. Choc-in-Marsh

  • 1 graham cracker broken into two equal-size square halves
  • 1 cracker-sized chunk of milk chocolate, broken into smaller pieces
  • 1 marshmallow

Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Lay out one of the graham crackers on a baking sheet. Take the marshmallow, and jam the broken shards of chocolate into its center. (You can use a paring knife to make a little pocket first, if you please.) Place the chocolate stuffed marshmallow on the cracker.

Bake about 4 to 5 minutes, until the marshmallow is golden and puffed up. Remove from oven, top with other graham cracker, and serve.

Findings:

I enjoyed the crunch of the piece of chocolate nestled most deeply within the marshmallow, in contrast to the meltier bits closer to the incision point. Overall, though, the ratio was off because I couldn’t stuff as much chocolate in as I would have been able to layer on the graham. I could see myself enjoying a choc-in-marsh with an additional choc-on-graham section.

  • Roast over an open fire, or, for a crowd, bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit or air fry at 370 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • When it comes to marshmallows, Ina Garten and I agree that store bought is fine.
  • Graham crackers are a classic for a reason, though it wouldn’t kill you to branch out. Ritz crackers are a pretty perfect swap, and Cheez-Its make for a delightful, if oddly sized, s’more swaddle.


What do you think is the perfect way to make s’mores? Tell us below!



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