An easy no-bake dessert recipe, these lemon crispy rice treats are a great dessert to make with the kids, add to a dessert platter, or just enjoy on their own! Make with gluten-free rice cereal for an easy no-bake gluten-free dessert too!
One of the easiest desserts to make, and most versatile, is the marshmallow cereal treat! The ingredient list is minimal, you can create a ton of variations in flavors – like these lemon crispy rice treats. And the recipe always *always* turns out. I absolutely love this gourmet cereal treat variation and am thrilled to be sharing it on the blog with you today!
This recipe started as a trial run of my mother’s birthday “cake”. Last year, I made my mom a creative rice crispy treat recipe when she came to visit us, and posted another on her birthday. This year is extra special though because I will be with my mother on her birthday!
I can’t remember the last time that happened, but it’s been at least 6-7 years. This year the timing worked out perfectly though because her birthday falls on the same weekend as our half marathon, so we’ll meet them and spend a few days together.
I told my mom I would bring her a birthday “cake”, whatever she requested and I could transport safely. She wanted lemon rice krispie treats or lemon crispy rice treats… whatever you want to call them. Marshmallow cereal squares???
How do I make lemon crispy rice treats?
These really couldn’t be any easier to make. If you’ve never made marshmallow cereal treats, I’ll walk you through the process here. And I’ll try to answer any questions. The directions in the recipe card are edited for brevity.
There are 2 ways to make marshmallow cereal treats. The first way is on the stovetop and the other is using the microwave. I’m partial to the stovetop method, but have used both. In a minute, I’ll explain the reasoning behind the preference…
I make them using a big pot on the stovetop. Take a stockpot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the marshmallows and melt. Mini marshmallows work best because they are smaller and melt faster. Larger marshmallows take a little more time. You’ll stir pretty often to make sure the heat is evenly distributed and the marshmallows melt as evenly as possible. Once the marshmallows are completely melted, turn off the heat. Stir in the lemon zest and/or extract, and your cereal. Mix until well coated and press into a dish to cool.
When I lived in the dorms in college, I used a huge bowl and microwave. Learn from me! Marshmallows expand in the microwave, and if you try to melt them at full power, they’ll probably explode. Then you’ll have to clean the microwave. I recommend melting the butter and marshmallows starting at 1 minute 60-70% power, then adding 30 second intervals from there, stirring after each. It may seem a little tedious, but no mess is worth it! Add your lemon zest after the marshmallows and butter have melted, stir in the cereal, press into a dish to cool.
How do I add the lemon flavor?
Use the fine side of a box grater to zest a lemon, add the fresh lemon to your treat mixture, and you’ll have just the right amount of lemon flavor to brighten the dish and add a fun twist!
If you don’t have any fresh lemon or lemon zest around, you can add a 1/2 teaspoon of lemon extract.
What kind of dish do I need for the treats to set?
I use a 9×13-inch casserole dish. I spray it lightly with nonstick spray and *liberally* spray the spatula I intend to use to press the marshmallow mixture into the pan. Your hand with a food-safe glove also works. Just be sure to spray the glove because the mixture is sticky!
If you don’t have a large casserole dish. Another fun option is to take a cookie scoop and make treat balls! I recommend a smaller cookie scoop so the treats end up easy to bite through.
I hope you love this easy gourmet cereal treat recipe, darlings! Enjoy!
- 6 cups crispy rice cereal
- 6 cups mini marshmallows
- 4 tbsp salted butter (see notes)
- zest from 1 fresh lemon (see notes)
- Use the wrapper from the butter or nonstick spray to coat the inside of a 9x13" pan. Set aside.
- If you haven't already, zest the lemon and set the zest aside.
- Place a large pot over medium heat and melt the butter.
- Add the marshmallows and stir constantly until they have completely melted. Remove the pot from the heat.
- Working quickly, stir in the lemon zest. Then add the rice cereal and stir until completely coated in marshmallow mixture.
- Press the treat mixture into your prepared pan and allow to cool and set.
- Cut into squares and serve! Will keep up to 1 week in an airtight container at room temperature.
- If you don't have salted butter, use unsalted butter and add 1/4 teaspoon salt to the recipe
- This yields about a tablespoon of lemon zest. If you don't have a lemon on hand to zest, you may use 1/2 teaspoon of lemon extract for a subtle lemon flavor, a whole teaspoon for a bold lemon flavor.
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