11 Tips For Upgrading Your S'mores

There's nothing better on a cool, crisp evening than snuggling up under a blanket with friends around a fire — especially when you're roasting marshmallows and making s'mores. You know, that nostalgic, extra-sweet treat we all made at summer camp? The one that involves competing to see whose marshmallow can get all melty without burning to a crisp? It's the dessert that's all about getting those marshmallows a nice, toasty brown and then smushing them between two graham crackers with a big, fat bar of milk chocolate. It also happens to be one of the easiest desserts out there. And it's so darn good you'll always want "some more." Be honest — have you ever been able to eat just one? We certainly haven't.

While the gooey dessert, which first appeared in a Girl Scouts guidebook in 1927, is usually saved for summer camping trips, there's nothing to stop you from enjoying them all year long, especially if you give them an upgrade. Don't get us wrong, we'll take the classic s'mores any day (or night) of the week, but adding fruit, dark chocolate, or even peanut butter takes the confection to new heights. It gives the creator a chance to try something a little different, and in the process find a new favorite way to enjoy those roasted pillows of bliss. 

1. Change up your chocolate

The classic s'mores recipe calls for graham crackers, a toasted marshmallow, and chocolate. The original chocolate bar was a Hershey's for two reasons. First, it was easy to carry, but more importantly, thanks to Milton S. Hershey's chocolate press, the bar was segmented, and so easy to break into perfect two-inch squares, the same size as those graham crackers. While there's nothing wrong with the classic milk chocolate bar, these days there are plenty of other chocolates out there.

Dark chocolate will give you a more bitter-sweet flavor. But if you prefer a sweeter s'more, white chocolate is the way to go. And if you want to change things up completely, go with a different brand altogether. Cadbury, Scharffenberger, Ghirardelli, and Lindt are just some of the companies that make segmented chocolate bars in milk, dark, and white. Some brands even have a range of dark chocolate from semi-sweet all the way up to 92% cacao depending on how sweet you like your chocolate. 

Then there are those bars that have stuff inside. Of course, there are the ones that are full of nuts, but there are also a few brands, Ghirardelli especially, that have bars with everything from caramel to raspberry jam inside. Because each bar has a different flavor, it will change the overall flavor of the s'more, making each sandwich more interesting than the next. 

2. Add some fruit

Who doesn't love a chocolate-covered cherry or strawberry? That sweet tang of fruit covered in deep, rich chocolate makes for the ultimate decadent treat. So, if it works so well on its own, why wouldn't it work with some marshmallows and graham crackers? Now you don't just have sweet on top of sweet. Thanks to the fruit, there's a nice sour pop of flavor to make for a more interesting experience. 

While strawberries and pitted cherries are the obvious choices, you could add any berry, from boysenberry to raspberry. But you could also use orange sections and even sliced apples or bananas. As a matter of fact, you can use whatever's in season: apples and pears in the fall, citrus in the winter, berries in the spring, and stone fruits during the summer. Can't decide on your favorite seasonal fruit? Set out a plate with a variety from which to pick. That way you can have a different fruit with each and every sandwich. Or you could even mix it up and use two or three and create a fruit salad s'more. The options are endless ... as long as you have enough marshmallows and chocolate.

3. Use cookies instead of graham crackers

If you've ever made s'mores, you know the classic campfire treat uses graham crackers as the bread for this marshmallow and chocolate sandwich. But there's no rule that says you have to use the sweet cracker. A cookie would work just as well. Cookies as the bread give you yet another opportunity to change the flavor profiles of this sweet delight. 

While a chocolate cookie might seem like the obvious choice since chocolate is already one of the ingredients of this dessert, that's not your only option. As a matter of fact, if you use chocolate chip or chocolate wafers instead of graham crackers, you could ditch the chocolate altogether. (Not that we'd ever do that because a s'more just isn't a s'more without melted chocolate dripping all over your fingers.)

As with all these tips, there's never just one choice. Shortbread is a nice buttery alternative if you're looking for something simple to go with that after-dinner coffee. Ginger snaps would add a nice spicy bite, while fruit-filled thumbprint cookies give you that fruity twist without slicing and dicing. But our favorite? The homemade cookie. It doesn't matter if it's chocolate chip, sugar, or oatmeal. Homemade cookies tend to be soft and chewy which will give the entire treat a more homey feeling.

4. Substitute savory crackers for the graham crackers

Although cookies definitely up the sweet quotient of your s'mores, if you prefer cheese plates over flourless chocolate cake, swap out those graham crackers for something a little more savory. Ritz, Wheat Thins, or even water crackers are all great. but salty crackers aren't your only option. Pretzels, Cheez-Its, or even potato chips are also fantastic alternatives. By choosing these saltier substitutes, you get that wonderful combination of salty and sweet all in one bite. 

But we're not the only ones to come up with this idea. Ritz, which has been around since 1934, has been producing variations on their classic buttery cracker for almost as long as the cracker has existed. Some options include chocolate-covered Ritz as well as those popular mini sandwiches. While both the peanut butter and cheese versions have been around for decades, Ritz recently rereleased their S'mores Ritz Bits because they know just as well as we do that chocolate and marshmallows go with everything.

5. Flavored marshmallows provide a nice twist on the classic dessert

We've all gone to the store and bought that giant bag of marshmallows for both hot chocolate and s'mores. But have you ever made your own? There's no comparison! Homemade marshmallows are light and fluffy and so amazing — once you've had one you'll never go back. But the fluffiness isn't the only reason marshmallows make a great project for home bakers. If you whip up your own batch, you can add whatever flavor you want. 

Yes, believe it or not, flavored marshmallows are a thing and they're even better than the classic vanilla version we all grew up with. Marshmallows have become so popular, in fact, numerous candy companies have added marshmallows to their list of confections. But they don't just sell vanilla — each company has several flavors to choose from. There's chocolate, coffee, strawberry, and lemon just to name a few. If you like a little booze in your sweets, there's even amaretto or Guinness marshmallows. The options are endless. So, imagine how amazing that s'more will be if you added a flavored marshmallow to it, and in so doing, you can stick to three ingredients and still get that inventive flavor bomb we all dream about. 

6. Saltiness works beautifully in a s'more

We mentioned one way to make savory s'mores is to replace those sweet graham crackers with salty crackers instead. But if you just can't imagine a s'more without graham crackers, simply add salt to the filling. While you could easily sprinkle a little fleur de sel over that roasted marshmallow for a fancier s'more, why not go all out? 

Bacon would be a nice touch and get you a little protein at the same time. We know it may sound like a weird choice, but candied bacon has been a popular food concoction for as long as we can remember and is the ultimate sweet and salty combo. So, if it's spectacular with a little brown sugar or maple syrup on it, we're sure that bacon will be just as amazing covered in gooey marshmallows and chocolate. If bacon isn't your thing, however, you could also use potato (or tortilla) chips, pretzels, or even cheese to create the ultimate sweet and savory s'more. 

7. Lose the chocolate altogether

We love chocolate. We'll eat it year-round at any time of day or night. But once in a while that chocolate, no matter what color, is just too rich for our palate. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, all we want is something fruity. We're not sure why, but that sour tang is the perfect alternative to a fat bar of chocolate. It's for this reason that a fruity curd or jam is sometimes a better choice for your s'more. 

Just like chunks of fruit, the options are endless when it comes to fruity spreads. A lemon curd turns that s'more into a mini lemon meringue pie, while strawberry or raspberry jam gives the camping treat a distinct summer feel. Plus with jams and curds, there's no real risk of melted chocolate dripping all over your fingers and clean clothes. Of course, if you like licking your fingers once the s'more is gone, just add an extra dollop or two of the fruity spread, then watch it ooze out the sides as you add the top cracker. Even though you could absolutely make your own curd or jam, if you want to take the easy route, simply pick up a jar (or two) of your favorite spread at the grocery store and go wild.

8. Spread peanut butter or Nutella on your crackers

Peanut butter and chocolate is one of those classic flavor combinations that's been around forever. There are several beloved candy bars with that combination, and for good reason. So, why not spread your graham crackers with this surprising ingredient? Adding peanut butter achieves that perfect sweet and salty combo we mentioned earlier. And if you're heading to your favorite campsite for the weekend, packing a jar of peanut butter means you also have an easy lunch option — who doesn't love a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich? And if you're not up for adding another layer to your s'more, just use a peanut butter cup and kill two birds with one stone. It's perfect!

While peanut butter is the classic spreadable choice, you could also use almond butter, sunflower butter, or Nutella. You could even combine all the butters for one amazing, super deluxe nutty s'more. If you're allergic to nuts though, tahini is a great substitute. The sesame butter gives you a nice nutty flavor without any of those awful allergic reactions. 

9. Sprinkle some herbs or spices over the top

If you want to take your s'mores to a whole new level, try sprinkling some spices or fresh herbs over the chocolate and marshmallows before you top them with a graham cracker. Adding spices to chocolate goes all the way back to the Mayans, who started adding peppers and vanilla to the bitter cocoa bean to give it more flavor. But chiles and vanilla aren't the only spices that go with chocolate. There are actually several that mix well with the candy.

Cinnamon may be the obvious go-to, but you could add allspice, cardamom, or nutmeg for more bite. Prefer a little burn with your chocolate? Sprinkle in some cayenne pepper for a little extra kick. Just be careful as a little cayenne goes a long way. If, on the other hand, you fancy something slightly more herbal, go with fresh herbs like mint or rosemary. Rose petals, lavender, and violets will provide a more floral bent. If you're concerned those fresh herbs or spices will ruin the texture of your s'more, there are plenty of chocolates and marshmallows available that have those flavors mixed in.

10. Drink your S'mores

There's nothing better at the end of the day than a nice cocktail ... unless that cocktail is served by a roaring fire. The only way that drink could get any better was if dessert was served with it. But what if you combined the two? What if instead of enjoying a martini with that s'more, you mixed them together and drank it instead? By combining the classic campfire treat with your favorite liquor you get a dessert and drink all in one.

Not sure of what liquor to use for your s'mores martini? Almost any of them would work, though the best choices are bourbon or vodka. With bourbon, you get those caramel and vanilla notes that go so well with chocolate and marshmallow, while vodka gives you a fresh, clean canvas to which you can add any flavor you'd like. You can even smoke the glass first to really bring that outdoor, woodsy feeling all the way home. If, however, you still want to roast marshmallows, we won't stop you. As a matter of fact, we can't think of a better garnish.

11. Turn them into a dessert that will serve a big group

Whenever we go camping, we usually go with friends or a few families. Nothing compares to sitting around a roaring fire with those you love, especially if s'mores are involved. While pulling out a tray with all the s'mores fixings is always a good time, sometimes it can be a hassle. What if you don't have enough skewers on which to roast your marshmallows? What if you misjudged the number of people and just don't have enough chocolate or graham crackers? There's an easy solution. Batch them into a dessert that feeds a large group. 

Not sure what to make? The easiest is a giant s'mores skillet. Simply put chocolate and marshmallows in a cast iron pan, stick it in the oven, and then use the graham crackers as chips and dip away. If you're looking for something a little more casual that you can drop in your picnic basket, make a batch of s'mores bars. On the other hand, a more formal affair requires something stunning, so turn that toasty treat into an ice cream cake. No matter which way you go, you still get to enjoy all those toasty marshmallows and luscious melted chocolate — only now you can share.