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The Science of Roasting the Perfect Marshmallow

Sure, anyone can roast a marshmallow.

All you’ve got to do is start a fire, grab a marshmallow, and find yourself a stick. Sit in front of the fire with some patience in hand, and roast that ‘mallow.

Or, you can throw patience to the side and let that marshmallow burn, baby burn.

And that’s how an amateur roasts a marshmallow.

We know you don’t want to be a camping amateur, so it is time to step up that roasting game and learn how to roast this camping favorite like a pro.

There is a method to this madness, so grab your lab coat and get ready to go into mad scientist mode to learn the science behind roasting the perfect marshmallow.

How to Reach ‘Mallow Perfection Every Time

First off, we must acknowledge that some people prefer their marshmallows a bit more on the burnt side.

And we are not ones to judge. Whether you like your marshmallow more raw, medium-rare, or well-done, this guide will help you reach your roasting goals because we all know this is an integral part of camping.

Let’s get into it.

Bowl of marshmallows on the wooden background

1. The roasting stick

You may think that any old twig will work to roast your marshmallow. If you want an average ‘mallow, then sure — you’re right.

However, if you’re looking to reach the level of ‘mallow master, then you’re going to need to put a bit more effort into your stick hunting.

While you can go all-out and buy one from a sporting goods store, you don’t need to spend your money as long as you do it right in the wild.

If you’re going the natural and free route, then you’ll want to find a stick that is the right thickness, and one that you can cut to about the length of your arm.

The stick work doesn’t end there. You don’t want to just throw your marshmallow on a bluntly-edged stick. You’re going to want to take a pocket knife and carve the end into a sharp point upon which the marshmallow will perfectly sit.

Just be sure to keep these DIY sticks in a safe place because those sharp ends are not friendly to feet.

2. The fire

Everyone loves a campfire with huge flames that makes for the perfectly ideal setting. However, a large flamed fire is a marshmallow’s worst enemy.

With flames like that, you’re guaranteed to have your ‘mallow go too quickly from raw to burnt to a crisp.

Rather, wait until the fire dies down a bit to where it is mostly just glowing coals. That is the heavenly glow that is ideal for roasting perfect marshmallows.

When you roast over glowing coals, the interior of the marshmallow gets cooked along with the exterior. If you’re trying to roast over a flaming fire instead, the outside will burn before the inside gets a chance to cook.

3. Positioning

The next integral part of the science behind roasting marshmallows is where you hold the marshmallow in relation to the fire.

Aim for somewhere around 6 inches above the coals to reach the perfect temperature and roasting conditions. Ideally you would have the coals shaped into almost a cave-like form that allows heat to equally reach the marshmallow from all side.

4. Rotating

Only an amateur would hold the stick in the fire and just let it sit there.

A true pro knows to keep the marshmallow moving. Think a rotisserie chicken — rotating slowly smoothly, and constantly.

You’ll want to keep it turning like this for about 5 minutes. We know that seems like forever, but trust us — it’s worth it.

Patience is one of the biggest secrets to a perfect marshmallow. The minute you get impatient and try to rush the process, you can kiss your heavenly fluff of perfection goodbye.

5. If it catches fire

If you make a mistake somewhere along the way and find your marshmallow catching on fire, don’t worry! Just pull it out of the fire and gently blow it out.

This harmless marshmallow can turn into a dangerous weapon when on fire, so be careful where you’re swinging this fire bomb around.

6. Eating

You’ve spent time finding the perfect stick, carving it to a perfect point; you’ve spent time waiting for the fire to reach peak roasting point, you’ve patiently roasted the marshmallow to perfection, and now you are finally ready to turn it into a s’more and eat the darn thing.

Now you’ve got a few options of what to do to make this marshmallow the delectable treat you deserve to have after all your hard work.

You can smoosh it between two graham crackers, throw some chocolate on top and have a good old fashioned s’more.

You can sandwich the marshmallow between two chocolate chip cookies for a hot take on an ice cream sandwich.

You can even throw some bacon in there to really mix things up.

Be sure to check out all our great s’mores recipe ideas, along with all the other great KOA camping recipes on our website.

Ready to try your hand at marshmallow roasting?

Book a stay at a KOA campground today and let’s get this roasting party started!


Leslie K Hughes

Leslie, a.k.a. Copy Girl, is a copywriter who gets butterflies from telling stories through words.

Her voice comes from a place filled with passion, dreams, and lots of sugar. “Cake over steak” is her go-to motto.

With over 10 years of experience in crafting words, and years of embarking on travels that have taken this Montana girl to some incredible places, Leslie love the adventures of both body and mind her writing takes her on.

Everywhere she goes, she takes this advice with her:

“Hold on to your divine blush, your innate rosy magic, or end up brown.” – Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

To see what Leslie’s up to in the writing world, visit her website here.


Roasting the perfect marshmallow is definitely a science where practice makes perfect. Follow our tips and tricks to ensure your marshmallow is perfectly roasted every time.

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