13 Luxury Ingredient Additions That Take S'mores To The Next Level

No night spent sitting by the campfire is complete without s'mores. These classic American treats are simple and made with a few ingredients that are easy to find in North American grocery stores, like graham crackers, milk chocolate, and puffy marshmallows. But just because s'mores have been made with these relatively inexpensive ingredients since the first recipe was published in 1927 doesn't mean they will always be relegated to this humble existence. 

There are many ways to dress classic s'mores into something more refined and sophisticated. Granted, there's nothing wrong with the experience of watching your perfectly cooked marshmallow ignite over a campfire or using your sooty fingertips to try (and unsuccessfully) pry open the Hershey bar wrapper. But these new, high-end s'mores pairings allow us to relish in the versatility and customizability of the dessert. Here are some unique ingredients you should try adding to a fancy version of this campfire staple.

Lemon curd

Whenever we think of lemon curd, we immediately associate it with a fine British tea party, complete with elaborate kettles and an array of baked goods. Lemon curd might give off the impression that it's quite fancy, but really, it's just a thick spread made with lemon juice, eggs, butter, and sugar. It has the consistency of custard but with the undeniable brightness of lemon. The curd is cooked over very low heat until it's perfectly thick and spreadable, allowing you to easily add it to many different recipes. And perhaps the best part about it is that while you can make it at home, you can just as easily find it in the jams and jellies section of your local grocery store.

Once you have a jar of curd in hand, you can shake up your s'mores game with this summery schmear. Add a generous coating of curd to the inside of the graham cracker (and both sides, if you're a fan of all things sweet and sour), add your marshmallow, and squish everything down. Lemon is a relatively light ingredient, so it would be best if you paired it with vibrant flavors rather than dark ones, like chocolate. You can counteract some of the sharpness of the curd by rolling your gooey, marshmallow-packed treats in freeze-dried raspberries or by swirling the curd with another fruit jam. 

Charred fruit

Want to make any piece of produce sound more upscale? Grill it. Seriously, have you seen how much people will pay for a salad made with charred romaine? Grilled peaches and pineapple rings are some choice charred fruits that will upgrade your s'mores. A bit of time on the grill or over the campfire (which is likely already roaring for your marshmallows) will bolster the sweet flavors of the fruit and contribute to a crisp caramelized coating. Meanwhile, the inside of the fruit will turn delicately soft and juicy. Depending on the fruit's time over the fire, as well as what type of wood you use, you may notice an undeniably complex, smoky flavor, too — which will both balance out the sweetness and add complexity. 

If you're making s'mores without a campfire, you can still get a good char on your fruit. Just use a culinary torch or a cast iron grill pan to get those satisfying grill marks. If you have the space for a campfire, try puncturing the fruit with s'more sticks. Then, hold them over flame until your desired color is reached. 

It's important to note that not all fruit is good for s'mores. You'll want to avoid anything soft or mushy that would otherwise fall into the fire. Pair your fruits with the appropriate chocolate (or skip it altogether), grab your graham crackers, and enjoy this fruity twist on a divine dessert. 

Boozy chocolate

We would be remiss if we didn't include a boozy chocolate as a suggested gourmet s'mores topping. The fine dining experience often concludes with a digestif and a square of fine chocolate or an elaborate dessert, so why not fuse the two together?

There are tons of alcohol-infused chocolates on the market to choose; they represent a wide array of cocktails, spirits, and even wine. La Goulue Chocolatier is one brand that makes gourmet, filled Belgian chocolate bars in flavors like milk chocolate with malbec and dark chocolate with cabernet. The filled chocolates are an excellent way to keep the wine filling contained so that when you bite into it, you'll have the experience of the boozy filling spilling out onto your marshmallow and graham cracker.

The key to finding a boozy chocolate for your s'mores is to stick to a bar-shaped chocolate rather than a truffle. The latter are round and difficult to stack and compress into a sandwich. Moreover, the texture of these truffles is more fudge-like, which can alter the overall eating experience for the worse.

Fancy nut butters

Peanut butter is a surprising ingredient you should start adding to your s'mores because it adds a salty element to your otherwise sweet sandwich. While you could just substitute your chocolate bar for Reese's cup or some other bougie alternative, adding a swipe of peanut butter to your cracker allows you to play with flavors and textures more than using a candy-fied version of it.

One of our favorite brands of luxury peanut butter is Fix & Fogg. It's not even on the same planet as the cheap jar of Jif you keep in your cabinet. Its thick, plain nut spreads stick to the roof of your mouth and also come in an array of flavors and textures for you to experiment with. This New Zealand-based brand makes Everything Butter with sesame, chia, sunflower, flaxseeds, and pumpkin seeds. Every bite is crunchy and diverse, which can easily make your basic s'mores a bit more exciting.

You also don't have to look beyond the nut butter aisle of your grocery store to find something creative to add to your s'mores. There are so many brands of almond butter, cashew butter, and even hazelnut butter that can add unexpected richness to your s'more and add more creative possibilities for pairing with chocolates and artisan marshmallows.

Candied bacon

Bacon is a blue-collar food. You'll find it in diners and most grocery stores and on breakfast sandwiches across the country. But if you want to elevate it to a gourmet level, you have to switch things up. Making candied bacon is just one way to elevate this humble protein into something more fitting for a luxury s'more.

Coating your bacon with a maple-cinnamon glaze will encourage the meat to harden — which offers a delightfully crunchy, candy-like contrast to the softness of a perfectly cooked marshmallow. Bacon and chocolate are also a luxurious combination that will satisfy your itch for something sweet and something savory at the same time. The cinnamon in the glaze will also mesh well with the notes of the graham cracker (or fancy cookie alternative) and make for a well-rounded sandwich.

You don't have to add something sweet to your bacon, either. You can also make millionaire's bacon by coating your thick-cut slices in a spice blend of cayenne, brown sugar, and pepper. This spice blend has fun, flavorful notes that piggyback on one another and transform this childhood favorite into something more mature.

Gold leaf

If you're attracted to all things glitz and glam, the idea of adding a sheet of edible gold to your s'mores may be right up your alley. These sheets are made of actual gold (often along with silver) and are perfectly edible. You probably won't want to order a whole plate of this gold leaf to snack on, though, because it lacks any flavor and just passes through the human digestive system. If anything, its only real utility is to make your dessert look like it came straight out of a Michelin restaurant.

When it comes to edible gold, it's important to remember that less is more. If you want to add a shimmery coating to the outside of your melted marshmallow, carefully roll the whole dessert in ground-up gold leaf. The flecks will easily adhere to the sticky marshmallow. You can also carefully plate your s'mores with a bit of gold leaf on top as a garnish; just be sure to use an artist's brush or tweezers, as the gold leaf will stick to everything.

Freeze-dried fruit

There has been much movement in recent years to curb the use of artificial dyes in food due to potential linkages between them and adverse health complications, like higher instances of cancer and hyperactivity in children. Powder made with freeze-dried fruits, like raspberries and strawberries, has emerged as a colorful alternative to artificial dyes — and a more flavorful one, too. While it may be more expensive than conventional dyes, it adds a herbaceous essence to your dessert sandwich and will complement a high-quality dark chocolate well.

Freeze-dried fruit adds a delightful crunch to your s'mores and is notably much easier to store than fresh fruit. You can gently press your freeze-dried fruit into your molten marshmallows or chocolate or take the more colorful approach of rolling the entire square around in it. If you want a fruity taste that's infused into your s'mores, you may also try to find a marshmallow made with freeze-dried fruit or make your own with fruit powder, gelatin, and corn syrup.

Bananas Foster

Bananas Foster is dessert and a show all in one. It's ostentatious, thanks to the caramel rum sauce flambéed onto the fruit. Ice cream is a common pairing for this fiery fruit because it can easily soak up the richness of the rum sauce and bring the texture of the bananas to the forefront. But why not take it a step further and sandwich your fiery dessert between two graham crackers and allow your fluffy mallow to soak up the flavorful, boozy sauce?

The key to adding your bananas Foster to your s'mores is to very carefully stack the entire dessert in between the crackers (or cookie alternative). Then, once you've prepared your bananas and sufficiently cooked off the alcohol, you can spoon them onto the graham crackers — just be sure to get some of that caramel sauce in there, too. Another way to step up this dessert is by swapping out your standard chocolate bar with one infused with caramel. Each bite will give you a balance of fruity banana, decadent chocolate, and soft caramel. You could also cheat and abandon the s'mores construction entirely, simply adding marshmallows and chocolate to bananas Foster and topping with some graham cracker crumbs. It wouldn't be a surprise if this sweet mashup starts making its way onto more fine dining menus. 

Alcohol-infused marshmallows

If you make marshmallows yourself, you might already know that they are a relatively easy confection to tinker with. You can play with different extracts or herbal infusions to take your squishy mallow to the next level. Since the marshmallows only really have a vanilla flavor, more dominant flavors — like liqueur — can come to the forefront. Rum and bourbon are two of the best and most versatile spirits that you can use for your marshmallows because they both pair well with the classic cinnamon graham cracker and won't conflict with your chocolate of choice. You can also play with tequila or mezcal — but those flavors just don't carry over well into a s'more. Regardless of your spirit, you'll want to dissolve your alcohol directly into the bloomed gelatin sheets for the best flavor.

There are many ways to use your boozy marshmallows besides just adult s'mores. Slap a piece on top of your hot chocolate, or serve your soft mallows with chocolate fondue.

Salted caramel sauce

The easiest way to transform your s'mores from good to gourmet is to add salted caramel sauce to the party. This decadent sauce is as versatile as it is delicious, which means you can pair it with different marshmallows, chocolate, and cookies to find a flavorful combo that works for you. The best part about a good salted caramel sauce is that you don't have to make it yourself; there are many different store-bought brands to choose from that taste like they just came out of a fine confectionary shop.

A high-end caramel sauce should have a silky flavor that glides across your tongue. It's not necessarily sweet but has a buttery, brown sugar profile subdued by the salt. The salt is as equally as important as the caramel here. Before you smear this sauce on the inside of your graham cracker, give it a taste to see if it's salty enough. If you don't detect any piquant flavors, grab a container of bougie salt –- like Maldon salt — and sprinkle the sauce with it.

Fig spread

You're more likely to see s'mores adorned with fig spread at a Michelin-star restaurant than you are at someone's backyard barbecue, which is ultimately why it made this list. Fig spread is made of ripe, juicy fruits that tend not to store well for long-distance shipping, which is why many people put them into a jam or spread. You can find fig spreads flavored with primarily sweet ingredients, including vanilla bean pods and sugar. Or you can make one yourself and play with the sweet and salty flavors with the help of chili and balsamic vinegar.

Fig spreads often have a sublime caramel flavor, which quickly latches on to the sweetness of the chocolate and the plush vanilla notes of the marshmallow. This fruit spread is also a great pairing for sophisticated Mediterranean herbs like thyme and lavender, which can be infused into marshmallows or crackers. Although prosciutto rarely finds its way into your s'mores, you can emulate the refined pairing of this salty meat and fig spread by using pieces of bacon instead.

Herby shortbread cookies

Graham crackers are, by no doubt, a staple when it comes to s'mores. It may even seem instinctual to reach for a box of Honey Maids — even if they are bordering on the edge of staleness. But if you want to add a more refined touch to your s'mores, you should consider grabbing a shortbread cookie instead. This lightly golden cookie is prized for its short, buttery texture. When you bite into a high-quality shortbread cookie, it should crumble in your mouth. Another defining characteristic of shortbread is that it isn't sweet, meaning that more gentle flavors, like herbs, can easily influence it. 

One of the easiest ways to make your shortbread more lavish is to take a trip to your spice cabinet. Baking herbs and spices in the cookie will mellow out the flavors, making them more conducive to pairing with chocolate and marshmallows. Sumac is one vibrant, tart spice that will add an unexpected complexity to your cookies. This Mediterranean spice has a unique, citrusy undertone that accentuates and balances out high-quality dark chocolate. If you're going for a chocolate-less s'more, consider adding lavender to your cookie dough. It will give this shortbread a herbaceous, floral flavor and make for an elegant plate of s'mores perfect for serving at your next fancy tea party. 

Smoked salt

Salt is an underutilized spice in the kitchen. Although a ton of different sweet and savory recipes call for salt, most home cooks reach for the plain, iodized version. But, if you want to give your favorite dishes, including desserts like s'mores, a luxury twist, find ways to integrate smoked salt into your recipe. The salt crystals are infused with a smoky flavor from real wood, which varies based on the type of wood that's used. You'll find mesquite, applewood, and other smoked salt varieties from barbecue vendors or the specialty section of your grocery store. While it is pricier than regular salt, the flavor you get from this premium product is well worth it.

The biggest benefit to using smoked salt on your s'mores, specifically, is that it will replace those fresh-from-the-fire flavors of a classic marshmallow. Because let's be real, if you're being served a s'mores at a five-star restaurant, it's probably singed with a brulée torch rather than cooked over a campfire. You can add a sprinkle of smoked salt to your slightly molten chocolate or sauce of choice to help the flakes stay on your dessert sandwich.