Sesame Butterscotch Rice Krispies Treats

January 21, 2021

The classic recipe on the back of the Rice Krispies box has survived generations and hundreds of variations. In this version, take this childhood favorite and transform it into something that’s a bit more elegant, but retains the original feel. Next time you need a simple yet delicious dessert for kids or yourself or anyone, Sesame Butterscotch Rice Krispies treats are your new go-to.

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Is there anything more nostalgic than a Rice Krispies treat? I have so many memories from childhood of snacking on one (or more!) of these sweet squares during Girl Scout troop meetings, on bake sale days, or after a gymnastics meet. They are just so simple and yet perfectly gooey and delicious.

In this recipe, I wanted to elevate that classic snack with a few fun alterations. First, the entire sheet of treats sits on top of a layer of chewy homemade butterscotch. Then, the treats themselves are made using the nutty, but nut-free, flavors of brown butter and tahini.

What You Need to Get Started

You can easily find all of the ingredients for these butterscotch Rice Krispies treats at your grocery store. You can also order online using Amazon Pantry, or try Amazon Fresh for grocery delivery.

How to Make Homemade Butterscotch

Butterscotch is one of my favorite flavors ever. And the nut-like flavor, but with a different sweetness than caramel, pairs perfectly with the earthy bitterness of tahini. Before you get started making it, line your pan with parchment paper so your treats will be easier to remove later.

Then prep all of your ingredients for the butterscotch. Having the milk and butter ready to go can make the difference between perfect butterscotch and burnt toffee. Start melting both sugars together in a medium saucepan with water.

At first, stir gently until the sugar has dissolved. But once it’s all mixed in, stop stirring. Let the mixture continue cooking until it’s fully boiling, and the bubbles begin to get bigger and lazier. At this point, the temperature should be around 230°F.

That’s when you add in the butter and salt. Stir these into the sugar until the butter has fully melted, then add in the heavy cream. It may seize and sputter a bit, but that’s okay. Just step back for a moment and then stir to combine. Continue cooking until the temperature reaches 255°F.

This is what’s called the “hard ball” stage of candy. You can double check that it’s correct by dropping a bit of the butterscotch syrup into some cold water. It will form into a hard ball that doesn’t change shape unless you put some pressure on it.

That’s a good way to double check that your butterscotch is done. At this point, turn off the heat. Then, pour the hot butterscotch syrup into the prepared pan, and set it aside while you make the Rice Krispies treats.

Let’s Make Sesame Rice Krispies Treats

Now it’s time to make what might be the dessert with the best ratio of difficulty to taste: Rice Krispies treats. Seriously, these are super easy on their own. So of course I had to add in a step to brown some butter.

I always suggest using a light-colored saucepan or pot when you are browning butter. I like white ceramic pans, but stainless steel will work too if your kitchen has good light. Add the butter and cook it over medium-high heat, letting it fully melt and then bubble and pop.

Once the popping subsides, watch the butter carefully until the solids sink to the bottom of the pot and begin to turn a light golden brown. You will notice a nutty aroma. Turn the heat down to low, and immediately add in one cup of the marshmallows and the tahini, and stir until the marshmallows have melted.

Tahini is a paste that kind of looks like a creamy nut butter. However, it is generally made only from toasted sesame seeds. It can be used in sweet or savory applications, such as mixed into hummus or drizzled over fresh fruit. In this recipe, it adds another layer of nuttiness for extra rich flavor.

Add the rest of the marshmallows and stir until the entire mixture is melted and gooey. Then it’s time to add the cereal. Doing this in batches makes it easier to stir, so add the Rice Krispies two cups at a time, mixing in each batch thoroughly until coated before adding the next batch.

Once thoroughly combined and all of the Rice Krispies are coated in deliciously sticky and stringy marshmallow, you can transfer in to the baking pan. The butterscotch will likely have started to set slightly on the top layer, but it will still be quite soft.

Use your hands to spread the Rice Krispies treats evenly throughout the pan, while gently pressing the Rice Krispies treats into the butterscotch. If you’d like a little bit of extra flair, sprinkle the whole pan with some white sesame seeds.

These need to fully set before you can cut them, so cover the entire pan with plastic wrap and let it sit overnight at room temperature. You can make these in advance, and I recommend it. I think they only get better with a couple days’ rest, and they will keep easily for 3-4 days.

If you really need them to cool faster, you can place the pan in the fridge until it’s set. However, I suggest letting the treats warm up to room temperature before cutting and serving.

Use the parchment to remove the treats from the pan, and then use a large, serrated knife to slice into thirty-two bars (an 8×4 grid), or as many as you’d like. When I make these for a party, I like to cut a few different sized pieces on purpose so everyone can grab the perfect treat for themselves.

A twist on a classic: this Rice Krispies treat variation combines brown butter, tahini, and homemade chewy butterscotch for a totally nut-free nutty flavor and fun snack for all!

Is Butterscotch the Same as Caramel?

It’s one of the great mysteries of the universe – what’s the difference between butterscotch and caramel? But I’m here to tell you that they are quite different, despite having similar flavors and applications. Could you replace the butterscotch in this recipe with caramel? Absolutely. But they aren’t the same.

Caramel is what happens when sugar is heated to high enough temperatures that it begins to brown and turns into a delicious liquid. With butterscotch, you work with brown sugar instead of white. This means that instead of pure sugar, there is also molasses in the mix.

The extra molasses causes the resulting candy to be brown and have a similar depth of flavor, but it never actually reaches that caramelization temperature. If you did heat your butterscotch that high, it would be very dark and taste bitter. But just a little bit higher than this recipe, you’ll end up with another delicious treat: toffee!

How to Serve These Rice Krispies Treats

First of all, eat them by the stack. But if you are looking for a little variety instead of turning an entire meal into dessert, I understand that as well. These definitely make a great post-dinner treat or afternoon snack.

Serve them with some fun cocktails. A birthday cake martini is a great way to incorporate some extra whimsy. Or accentuate the flavor with a chocolate turtle martini. For something a bit lighter, pair these with a brûléed grapefruit brown derby.

You can also put these on a cookie tray. Try including them with miso peanut butter cup cookies, cherry chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal cream cheese cookie sandwiches, and plum jam newton-style cookie bars.

Use Up Leftover Ingredients

  • Rice Krispies: I love enjoying these as a quick breakfast, with milk and banana slices; or tossing into some yogurt with granola.
  • Mini marshmallows: Make some hot cocoa of course! Try a boozy peanut butter cup or an alcohol-free chai white hot chocolate.
  • Tahini: Mix a spoonful with some soy sauce, sesame oil, and sriracha to taste and use it as a sauce for drained ramen noodles.

Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Sesame Butterscotch Rice Krispies Treats

The nuttiest tasting nut-free rice krispie treats you'll ever try! These gooey favorites are upgraded with a base of butterscotch and the added flavors of brown butter and tahini for a toasty, nutty experience.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Resting Time8 hrs
Total Time8 hrs 35 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 32 treats
Calories: 135kcal

Ingredients

Butterscotch

  • ¾ Cup Granulated Sugar
  • ¾ Cup Brown sugar
  • ½ Cup Water
  • ½ Cup Unsalted Butter cut into 1 tbsp pieces
  • ¼ tsp Salt
  • ¼ Cup Heavy Cream

Sesame Rice Krispies Treats

  • ¼ Cup Unsalted Butter
  • 2 Tbsp Tahini
  • 4 Cups Mini marshmallows
  • 6 Cups Rice Krispies cereal or similar
  • 1 tsp Sesame Seeds optional

Instructions

Butterscotch

  • Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper and set it aside.
  • In a medium saucepan, combine both sugars and the water, and cook over medium heat. Stir gently until the sugar has dissolved. Then stop stirring but let the mixture continue cooking until it boils, and then until the bubbles begin to get bigger and lazier, checking the temperature occasionally
  • When it hits 230°F, add in the butter and salt. Stir these in until the butter has melted. Then add in the heavy cream. Stir to combine, and continue cooking until the temperature reached 255°F. Turn off the heat.
  • Pour the hot butterscotch into the prepared pan, and set aside while you make the Rice Krispies treats.

Rice Krispies Treats

  • In a large, light-colored saucepan or pot, add the butter and melt over medium-high heat. Continue cooking, swirling the pan occasionally, as the butter boils and pops. Once the popping subsides, watch the butter carefully until the solids sink to the bottom of the pot and begin to turn a light golden brown.
  • Turn the heat down to low, and Immediately add in one cup of the marshmallows and the tahini, and stir until the marshmallows have melted. Add rest of marshmallows and stir until the entire mixture is melted and gooey
  • Add in the Rice Krispies cereal, 2 cups at a time, mixing in each batch thoroughly until coated before adding the next batch. When you get to the end, it may be more difficult to stir, so use a folding motion.
  • Once thoroughly combined, turn off the heat and transfer to the baking pan, gently pressing the Rice Krispies treats into the butterscotch, and evenly spreading the treats throughout the pan. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and allow the treats to sit at room temperature until cooled and the butterscotch has set, about eight hours or overnight. To cool faster, you can place in the fridge until set. Use the parchment to remove the treats from the pan, and slice into bars with a serrated knife.
  • Serve, or store tightly wrapped at room temperature for 3-4 days.

Notes

  • Make these gluten-free: Rice Krispies brand cereal contains malt, so it is not gluten-free. However, some generic versions are, so be sure to check the ingredients and labels. 
  • Make ahead tip: These can be made up to 3 days in advance, and stored at room temperature tightly wrapped, either before or after cutting. 
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8 thoughts on “Sesame Butterscotch Rice Krispies Treats

  1. These look delicious! Even though I still like the original Rice Krispies treat, I think I will love this version more.

  2. Wow! I love the idea of homemade butterscotch and tahini with rice krispie treats! Your explanation is very thorough, which I appreciate. This has been added to my list of must-try recipes!

  3. Oh wow, I’m going to have to try these ASAP! I LOVE butterscotch and sesame! Never thought of putting them together in such a fun and delicious way. Thank you for this wonderful idea and recipe, Kait! 🙂

  4. These sound great. I love rice krispies but putting a twist on them definitely steps it up. I also didn’t realize how similar butterscotch and caramel (and toffee) are in terms of ingredients! That was really interesting.

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