Over time, marshmallows tend to go stale – especially if they’re not stored properly.
But this doesn’t mean you should chuck them out.
There are quite a few ways to restore them to their former soft, gooey texture.
Whether they’re cold or just a little old, this article addresses different ways to soften stubborn marshmallows.
In a rush? Here’s the short answer.
The best way to soften marshmallows is in a hot water bath. Transfer your stale or cold marshmallows into an airtight freezer bag. Submerge them in a bowl of warm water, holding them under so they don’t float. After approximately a minute, the marshmallows will be soft and pliable.
A note on my experiment
I always have marshmallows in my pantry, especially during winter, for days when I feel like hot chocolate or smores.
That being said, I tend to forget about them until I come across a half-eaten packet while searching for a seldom-used spice.
This has led me to experiment with different ways to soften marshmallows, including:
- Using bread
- In a hot water bath
- Using the microwave
The bread method is great for rehydrating marshmallows, but it’s not an instant fix.
Using a hot water bath is super effective and works quickly.
There’s also nothing wrong with using the microwave, as long as you’re very careful.
Note: some people recommend the freezer as a way to soften marshmallows.
I tried this, and it didn’t work.
The freezer was great for keeping the marshmallows soft but not for softening already hard ones.
How to soften marshmallows using bread
Place a slice or two of fresh bread in an airtight container or zip-lock bag along with your dried-out marshmallows. Leave to stand for 12-24 hours, and then check if your marshmallows have softened. If not, leave for another day. Swap your bread for a fresh slice after a maximum of 2 days.
Marshmallows turn stale when they lose moisture and essentially dry out.
This trick works because the freshness and moisture from the bread will transfer to the marshmallows, hydrating and softening them.
You can use fresh orange peel or apple slices instead of bread, but these will impart flavor to your marshmallows, giving them a slightly different taste.
Alternatively, you can invest in a brown sugar bear.
A clever clay device traditionally used to keep brown sugar from clumping.
It has a similar effect on marshmallows, keeping them hydrated.
You must use fresh bread, as stale bread is already devoid of moisture and won’t be effective.
On that note, also keep an eye out for mold and swap your bread after two days, or you’ll end up with nasty bacterial growths.
The bread method is very effective but does take some time and won’t soften your mallows instantly.
I also found a few bread crumbs stuck to my marshmallows which wasn’t the most appetizing thing!
How to soften marshmallows in a hot water bath
Transfer your stale or cold marshmallows into an airtight freezer bag. Submerge them in a bowl of warm water, holding them under so they don’t float on the surface. Alternatively, run them under warm water from the faucet. After approximately a minute, they should be soft.
Your warm water should be just above tepid, so manageable for your hands.
Much hotter than that, and you may end up melting your marshmallows.
The same is true for keeping them submerged for too long – one minute should suffice.
If you don’t feel like setting up a warm water bath, you can try leaving your marshmallows in another warm place, like close to a sunny window.
Tip: if your marshmallows start sticking together, dust them with icing sugar.
This is a great way to soften marshmallows and works quickly.
However, there is a slight risk of melting them, so I recommend testing one or two first before softening the whole lot.
I would also only soften the marshmallows you’re going to eat right away and use the bread method for the rest.
How to soften marshmallows in the microwave
Spread your stale or cold marshmallows out on a microwave-safe plate. Place the plate in your microwave alongside a cup of water. Heat on medium (50% power) in 5-second increments until soft. Use immediately, as they’ll go hard again upon standing.
The steam created by the cup of water helps to re-moisturize your marshmallows.
You need to work VERY slowly and carefully, or you risk melting or burning the marshmallows.
It’s also good to stick to a lower heat setting and let hot air escape every five seconds to prevent over warming.
Remove them fon the microwave as soon as they are soft enough for you.
This is a great short-term option if you want your marshmallows in a hurry.
But you will need to use them immediately, as they go hard again quickly.
Sitting on them – one to avoid
While sitting on gummies or jellies might serve as a good way to warm them up and soften them, the same is not true for marshmallows.
Unfortunately, all you’ll end up doing is squishing your mallows and destroying their shape.
How to separate sticky marshmallows
If your marshmallows are starting to stick together in storage or while you wait for them to soften, add a bit of cornflour or icing sugar to the bag and shake them around until they loosen.
These anti-sticking agents will coat your marshmallows and reduce their clingy texture.
Any remaining mischievous marshmallows can be gently pulled apart and dusted with cornflour or confectioner’s sugar too.
Marshmallows get sticky because moisture infiltrates the minuscule holes that give them their pillowy texture.
The icing sugar or cornstarch blocks access to these holes and soaks up any moisture that’s already there.
How to store marshmallows and keep them soft
Once you’ve opened up a bag of marshmallows, the best way to store them is in the freezer. Place the opened bag in an airtight container or a zip lock bag. Remove as much air as possible and then freeze them for up to 6 months. They will soften quickly when you remove them from the freezer.
You can also keep them tightly sealed in the fridge.
But the air in the fridge is slightly more humid, so you need to coat the marshmallows with icing sugar or cornstarch before storing them. This will keep them from getting too sticky.
Marshmallows will last for 2-3 months in the fridge.
Finally, you can keep the marshmallows in an airtight container with a fresh slice of bread. Store them in a cool dark place (the pantry) and change the bread slice every few days.
Note: these instructions are for shop-bought marshmallows.
Homemade marshmallows should be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks. Not all homemade marshmallow recipes are suitable for storage in the fridge or freezer.
Check your recipe instructions if you’re not sure.
Do marshmallows go bad?
Marshmallows will never become dangerous to eat because they’re so high in sugar which is a natural preservative. But they can become very sticky or dry out (depending on how they’re stored). Marshmallows will usually last several months past their best before date.
Can you freeze marshmallows?
Marshmallows are great for freezing. In fact, it’s the best way to store them. The process is quick and straightforward, and marshmallows don’t freeze solid, meaning you’ll always have them ready and on hand. Once slightly thawed, they’ll be soft, moist, and good as new.
Marshmallows retain their best quality for six months in the freezer but will still be good to eat after.
How to freeze marshmallows:
- Transfer your leftover marshmallows into zip-lock freezer bags.
- Remove as much excess air as possible when sealing.
- Mark with the date and pop into the freezer.
- Use within 6 months.
As mentioned, they don’t freeze solid. To thaw the marshmallows, all you need to do is take them out of the freezer for 15-30 minutes.
If you’re going to slice the marshmallows, you don’t need to wait at all. They’re actually easier to slice when frozen!
Use a straw to remove the excess air from your freezer bags or submerge the open bag in water.
The water will force the air out.
Keeping the air out of the bag keeps the marshmallows fresher for longer and means no freezer burn.
Way to use up extra marshmallows
Have you opened the bulk bag of marshmallows, and now you’re unsure how to use them? Let’s look at some tasty and creative ways to get rid of your excess mallows.
- Cupcake frosting – If you’ve already gone to the effort of baking cupcakes, why bother making frosting too. Just pop a leftover marshmallow on top of each cake and broil them for the briefest moment for a sticky-delicious faux frosting.
- Marshmallow and Nutella toasty – Absolute indulgence is a grilled sandwich packed full of Nutella and melted marshmallows. Thank me later.
- Rocky road ice cream – If plain old vanilla isn’t doing it for you, you can jazz up your ice cream with some chopped-up marshmallows, nuts, and chocolate. Mix it all together, and you’re set.
- Say no ‘smore – For the traditionalists like me, there’s nothing like a ‘smore. For a creative take on this age-old treat, skewer your marshmallows, coat them in melted chocolate, and roll them through cookie crumbs. Delicious!
How To Soften Stale Marshmallows
- 1 portion marshmallows hard, old, stale
- 1 piece bread optional
Hot Water Bath
- Transfer your stale or cold marshmallows into an airtight freezer bag. Submerge them in a bowl of warm water, holding them under so they don’t float on the surface. Alternatively, run them under warm water from the faucet. After approximately a minute, they should be soft.
Softening With Bread
- Place a slice or two of fresh bread in an airtight container or zip-lock bag along with your dried-out marshmallows. Leave to stand for 12-24 hours, and then check if your marshmallows have softened. If not, leave for another day. Swap your bread for a fresh slice after a maximum of 2 days.
In The Microwave
- Spread your stale or cold marshmallows out on a microwave-safe plate. Place the plate in your microwave alongside a cup of water. Heat on medium (50% power) in 5-second increments until soft. Use immediately, as they’ll go hard again upon standing.