15 Mistakes Everyone Makes With S'mores

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Forget watermelon, popsicles, and ice cream sandwiches; s'mores are the iconic treats of summertime. While the feeling of diving into this small, sweet sandwich is absolutely divine, there's something magical and uniquely nostalgic about the experience of making a s'more — from carefully sticking the marshmallow into the fire, to hurriedly pulling it out once it reaches the desired stage of doneness, to sliding it off the stick and licking the melted chocolate off your fingers. 

However, for every positive experience we have with making and eating s'mores, we also have equally unpleasant ones. We've lost countless marshmallows to the flames of a roaring bonfire, spent far too much time overthinking what roasting stick to choose, and bit into s'mores when the chocolate wasn't quite melted enough. To help counteract some of your s'mores woes, we've created a list of some of the most common mistakes people encounter with this campfire classic, as well as ways to ensure that your next s'mores session goes off without a hitch. 

Using lackluster marshmallows for your s'mores

We shouldn't have to state that the marshmallow is the most important part of the s'more — but here we are. You can swap out your graham crackers with something else, or opt for a wacky type of chocolate instead of the Hershey's bar that has long been buried in your pantry. But without marshmallows, your s'more is just a forgettable, sugary sandwich. 

The integral nature of the marshmallow in the s'more makes it an important ingredient that you can't skimp on. While bags of cheap marshmallows at the grocery store may entice you, you should always opt for a high-quality confection when making s'mores. Our favorite marshmallow brand for s'mores, which happens to be entirely plant-based, is Dandies. But, if you like the pliable, plush taste of a classic marshmallow, you can't go wrong with the classic Jet-Puffed lineup. The brand even sells square marshmallows that are specifically designed for building s'mores. 

If you want to spend some extra dough, you can also opt for artisanal marshmallows. Our personal favorites include dulce de leche marshmallows from the Vermont Marshmallow Company; just be sure to save the extras for your next cup of hot chocolate. 

Thinking that you have to use chocolate

The formula for s'mores is simple. You get two graham crackers, molten marshmallow, and a piece of chocolate, and you squeeze it all together in one neat little package. While this recipe sure is timeless, it's about time that your s'more got a facelift by using something other than chocolate. 

We have two primary issues with chocolate on a s'more. The first is that it never melts evenly with the marshmallow, which means you get some bits of melted chocolate on your tongue while other pieces are too solid, and require you to bite down with your molars. The other issue is that the chocolate may not always mesh well with other delights that you add to your s'more. Luxury ingredient additions that take s'mores to the next level include fancy fruit jam, freeze-dried fruit, and even luxury cookies, none of which pair particularly well with chocolate. So, you may missing out on intriguing new flavors if you insist on sticking that piece of chocolate in your s'more. 

If you are a devout chocolate lover who wouldn't dream of eating a s'more without it, try swapping it with a chocolate sauce, or even hot fudge. You won't have to worry about uneven melting, and you'll still get that quintessential cocoa flavor. 

Roasting a cold or stale marshmallow

There is perhaps nothing worse than eating a stale marshmallow. Unless, of course, that something is attempting to roast a marshmallow that's past its prime. 

Marshmallows are one pantry ingredient that tends not to keep well. We recommend always buying a fresh bag when planning to make s'mores; you won't have to worry about struggling to put hard marshmallows on a stick. 

That said, there are some ways to hack your 'mallow storage and extend the life of these sugary treats. The absolute best way to keep marshmallows fresh is to place them in an airtight bag with a slice of bread. The bread will absorb the moisture that would otherwise turn your marshmallows hard. Alternatively, you can freeze the marshmallows in an airtight container; just be sure not to pile them on top of one another, or they may stick together. When s'mores-making time is near, pull the marshmallows out of the freezer so that they can properly defrost. A cold marshmallow won't cook as quickly as a fresh one — and no one wants to wait even longer for a molten marshmallow to come out of the fire. 

Using a plain skewer

There are some merits to using a wooden skewer or stick to roast your s'mores. It's usually predictable in size and shape, and is a relatively effective tool for toasting marshmallows over an open flame. But wouldn't it be cool if there was a way that you could eat your s'mores stick when you're done with it? 

There is. The hack you need to know next time you make s'mores is to opt for a Pocky stick instead of a real stick. This elongated Japanese snack food comes in several different flavor varieties, from the classic chocolate-covered stick to matcha to banana. So, when you're done roasting 'mallows with your stick, you can dispose of it ... in your mouth. 

It's important to note that size matters when it comes to Pocky sticks and an open flame, considering that each edible stick is only a little over 8 inches long. So, be very careful not to burn your hand if using a Pocky stick as a roasting tool. 

Guessing when your marshmallow is done

We're always impatient when it comes to food — whether it's pondering when to flip our pancakes or groaning in frustration when the pasta water takes a little too long to boil. Marshmallows are no different. It's always hard to wait by the fire, impatiently pulling our marshmallow back and forward to decipher when it's reached the perfect stage of doneness. If you pull it out of the fire too early, you may risk the outside of your marshmallow coming out perfectly cooked, while the inside is too hard and rubbery. But, if you leave it in the flames for a moment too long, you soon might not have a marshmallow on your stick at all. 

The key to determining when your 'mallow is done is to give it a little pull with your fingers to see if it moves from the stick or not. If the marshmallow is underdone, the inside will still stay clenched to the skewer. You'll also be able to see if the marshmallow moves around far too much, which could be a sign that it will face a fiery demise if not removed immediately. 

Choosing a flimsy skewer for roasting marshmallows

An essential part of the s'more experience is walking around aimlessly in the woods at dusk while searching for the perfect roasting stick. You're missing out on that if you get your skewers from the local Walmart, or if you opt for an industrial-grade marshmallow-roasting tool. But, these shortcuts do have their merits — after all, these implements are specifically designed to withstand the flames, and the weight of your marshmallow. 

When you're selecting a marshmallow-roasting stick in the woods, you'll want to make sure of two things. The first is that the stick is long enough to keep your hands far away from the fire while roasting. Ideally, the roasting stick should be about the length of your arm, as this will give you proper control of the marshmallow while also allowing you to maintain a safe distance from the heat. It will also be easier to insert and remove the marshmallow if the tip is pointed. 

You should select a stick that's lying on the ground, rather than yanking it off a tree that's still alive. Aim for sticks from trees without sap, and drench the stick in water before adding your marshmallow to prevent the wood from catching fire. 

Forgetting to rotate your marshmallows

One of the biggest mistakes that people make with marshmallows is letting the fire cook one side, and only one side, of the marshmallow. The key to making a delicious roasted marshmallow is to gently rotate it over the fire to ensure that all sides cook evenly. You don't need to whip the marshmallow around in circles, as this may just cause it to fall off the end of the stick and into the pit of flames below. 

Instead, twist the marshmallow a quarter turn at a time to ensure that it cooks evenly and thoroughly. For quality control, try resting your stick on a log or rock to ensure that it stays the same distance from the fire during the entire cooking time. 

The ideal marshmallow roast takes time, and will depend on how close you are to the fire and how hot it's burning. Most standard-sized 'mallows will be finished cooking in about four to five minutes. 

Holding your marshmallow too close to the fire

If there's any statement that's going to make people mad when it comes to this article, it's this one: Roasting a marshmallow to the point of smoldering is absolutely disgusting. It's a sign that you're not only impatient when it comes to roasting marshmallows, but that you have failed to master the perfect cooking technique. 

The trick to making perfect s'mores is to keep the marshmallow away from direct flames, and instead cook it near (not over) the fire. The hot coals, rather than the flame, is ideally what you want as the heat source for cooking your 'mallows. This heat will ensure that the inside of your marshmallow cooks at the same rate as the outside, and also prevent having charred hunks on the outside of your marshmallow. But if you like the taste of burnt, acrid sugar, by all means, set your 'mallow aflame. We'll just roast our own, thank you very much. 

Using a chocolate bar that's too thick

Let's face it: Hershey's is not one of the best-ranked chocolate brands out there. The bars have a heavy taste of sugar, so you can kiss any complex cacao notes goodbye. But, the one thing we can give Hershey's credit for is that it melts better than most. This is because classic Hershey's milk chocolate melts at a relatively low temperature, and the thinness of these bars is more conducive to melting than if you're attempting to make s'mores with a thicker candy bar.

Also, using fancy chocolate for s'mores can be a mistake, because the concentration of high-quality cocoa solids aren't always conducive to melting. Dark chocolates and varieties that are especially rich have more cocoa solids than the humble milk chocolate bar, which means that a premium bar will remain solid while your marshmallow is already molten. Hershey's may not be the most artisanal or high-end bar, but it does the trick for this campfire favorite. 

Sticking with sweet flavors for s'mores

The classic campfire s'more tends to lean sweet — from the cloying vanilla marshmallows and the honey graham crackers to the slice of cheap chocolate in the middle. But, you can experiment with different salty flavors to give your fireside treat a bit more balance. 

The first way to add more savory flavors to your s'more is to switch up the base. For example, you can make s'mores with Cheez-Its for a sweet and savory twist. Cheez-Its are much smaller than standard graham crackers, so you'll want to use mini marshmallows for this variation — or pair the extra-large version of these crackers with a standard-sized 'mallow. A less cheesy alternative is to use Saltines for your s'mores. The flavor is a bit more neutral, so this will mesh well with both the chocolate and the molten marshmallow. 

You can also impart more savory notes to your campfire sandwich by adding a salty ingredient inside of it. The surprising ingredient you should be adding to your s'mores is peanut butter, giving the treat a nutty twist. You could also experiment with other nut butters as well to make your s'mores unique. 

Not utilizing your oven when making s'mores for a crowd

If you attempt to roast marshmallows for a crowd, chances are that you will be sitting by the fire for a very long time — and even longer if you're only roasting one at a time on your stick. If the weather turns sour or you need an alternative for a large batch of s'mores, consider turning on your oven. Oven-baked s'mores are so easy to make, and will give you the same nostalgic flavors — all without having to build a fire. 

You'll want to start out by lining your baking sheet with a layer of parchment paper. Marshmallows are notoriously sticky, and you don't want them to burn on the baking sheet. When you're ready to assemble the s'mores, place your graham crackers on the sheet; adorn half with chocolate and the other half with just the marshmallow. This method ensures that both the chocolate and the marshmallow will come out equally gooey. The tray only needs about five to seven minutes in the oven; you'll know it's ready to pull when the marshmallows are puffy and slightly golden on the outside. 

Discounting your air fryer

The air fryer can do many things. Not only can you use it to cook fries and chicken nuggets to perfection, but there are quite a few desserts you can make in your air fryer. One of these sweet treats can be s'mores. All you have to do is pop some marshmallows in the air fryer to savor s'mores all year round

Like the oven-baking s'mores-making method, you'll want to line the basket of your air fryer with parchment paper before you put in your graham crackers and toppings. Since the air from the appliance is super hot and concentrated, you may only need to cook these s'mores for a few minutes before they're ready to be pulled. 

The important thing to know about this technique is that you don't need to air-fry the chocolate and the top graham cracker. Instead, save these for when you're ready to assemble your s'more. If you like your chocolate to be extra molten, you can always return the entire s'more back into the air fryer for about 15 seconds to encourage the chocolate to melt further.

Not trying a toaster for making s'mores

Cooking marshmallows over a toaster seems a bit desperate, and possibly downright dangerous. Anyone who has struggled to pull a piece of toast from this tabletop appliance knows that toasters can get quite hot, and things can go haywire if anything molten touches the burners. So, you'll need to utilize caution if you use this simple hack for delicious indoor s'mores

Instead of depositing the 'mallows into the toaster slots — which will, at best, ruin your appliance, and at worst set your kitchen aflame — you'll want to use the indirect heat coming from the top of the toaster. You can hold the marshmallows above the toaster to allow them to brown; just be sure to rotate them throughout the cooking process to ensure that every side of each 'mallow cooks equally. Then, you can carefully transfer the marshmallow to your chocolate and graham cracker, and enjoy. 

Skipping the spread

Spreads offer a simple-yet-tasty way to switch up your s'mores routine from something bland and boring to something positively decadent. The best thing about this is that you can take a gander in your fridge or pantry and find all of the spreads that your taste buds are craving. One of our favorite options for a spread is to use lemon curd as a chocolate substitute on s'mores. This ingredient pairs with the marshmallow similarly to how meringue and lemon curd combine in a pie. Pair this duo with a lemon cookie (or even a ginger snap) for a s'more that you surely won't forget. 

Fruit lovers will also appreciate adding jam to s'mores for a touch of sweetness. Blackberry, strawberry, and fig jam are all fair game. 

Of course, there are many other non-fruit spreads that can make your s'more taste uniquely delicious. Try using one of your favorite caramel sauce brands, and drizzle this on your cracker before building your s'more on top of it. Chocolate spreads like hot fudge and Nutella can also add more chocolatey undertones to either accent your chocolate bar or replace it entirely. 

Not keeping your s'mores accompaniments organized

S'mores are messy — there's no way around it. To calm the disorder of children screaming "Where's my chocolate?" at the top of their lungs and fumbling with pesky graham cracker wrappers, we recommend preparing all of your s'mores accoutrements ahead of time on a plate or board. Those stylish charcuterie boards are not only hip and trendy, but they will save you a ton of time and mess. 

You'll want to ensure that you have all the standard ingredients — including the graham crackers (preferably pre-split), marshmallows, and unwrapped chocolate — ready to go. Then, you can pile on the fun stuff. Adding Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (or even better, Reese's Thins), spreads, and different cracker bases can allow your s'mores-party participants to get creative with their toppings. 

As always, make sure to be mindful of allergies or dietary restrictions among your guests. Separating kosher marshmallows and anything containing nuts from the rest of the ingredients will ensure that everyone has an enjoyable s'mores experience.

Static Media owns and operates Tasting Table, Daily Meal, and Mashed.