Copycat Star Crunch

As a child, who didn’t love to sink their teeth into a Little Debbie Star Crunch? As an adult, it’s still one of my favorite treats so I decided to experiment and come up with a copycat star crunch recipe.

close up of a star crunch cookie with a bite taken out of it


 

If you’re not familiar, the original Star Crunch is a chewy cookie consisting of rice enveloped in chocolate that’s infused with gooey caramel. It’s simultaneously creamy and crunchy and layered with sweet flavors. 

If you like Rice Krispies treats, you’ll likely love these. They incorporate the rice cereal and marshmallow, but also offer a hefty dose of chocolate and caramel flavor. As you can see here, homemade are more fulfilling.

side-by-side homemade star crunch versus little debbie version

The next time you’re craving a sweet treat in cookie form, check out this homemade star crunch. You might be surprised by just how much this copycat recipe tastes like the real thing — and it may just become one of your favorite recipes to cure that sweet tooth.

homemade star crunch cookies

Why You’ll Love Them

What’s not to love about these timeless treats? They’re crunchy and filled with layers of sweet flavor, but here are a few other reasons you might enjoy them.

  • Simple – This one-pot dessert requires only a few ingredients and has a fast prep time. Plus, since it’s a one-pot recipe it makes for a quick cleanup, too. 
  • Tasty – Chocolate is married with marshmallows and caramel — what could be better? Also, the crunchy cereal is a perfect pairing with the creaminess of the chocolate that envelops it.
  • Portable – These cookies are great to pile on a plate for kiddos to grab for an after-school snack. However, they’re also perfect for parties, picnics, or to toss in a lunch box.
  • Convenient – You’ll likely have a lot of the ingredients on hand but if not, they’re easily accessible at most grocery stores (or online).
hand holding close up bite shot of a star crunch cookie

Ingredients

Pair these easy-to-find ingredients with just a minimum amount of time and you’ll have a surprisingly decadent dessert to serve (or just snack on, on your own).

  • Salted butter – While typically recipes for baked goods call for unsalted butter, do use salted for this one. It has just enough salt to perfectly balance and bring out the sweet flavors.
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder – Make sure to use unsweetened cocoa powder. There’s plenty of sweetness from the other ingredients.
  • Espresso powder – This ingredient brings a depth of flavor to the cookies and helps to bring out the chocolate flavor.
  • Sweetened condensed milk – Condensed milk adds to the creaminess of this cookie. Regular milk adds too much moisture to the mixture.
  • Soft caramels – I used Werther’s brand but you can use any brand that’s convenient.
  • Mini marshmallows – Buy the mini marshmallows so that they mix in more quickly and evenly.
  • Crisp rice cereal – You can buy the brand name Rice Krispies or you can use any generic brand instead.
  • Vanilla extract – Vanilla really rounds out the flavors in these cookies, but you can always swap it out for another extract. Almond and espresso are two good options but for a really unique and somewhat savory flavor you can try just a bit of annatto extract.
Platter of homemade star crunch cookies

How To Make Copycat Star Crunch

  1. Add the butter, cocoa powder, and espresso powder to a large pot. 
  2. Stir the ingredients occasionally while the butter melts. Be sure to scrape the bottom so that the ingredients do not stick and so that all ingredients become incorporated.
  3. Using a whisk, mix in the sweetened condensed milk. Ensure that all ingredients are fully combined.
  4. Next, add in the caramel candies. It is important at this step to stir constantly until all of the caramels have completely melted — the mixture should be silky smooth.
  5. Then, add the marshmallows to the caramel mixture until they are also fully melted and incorporated.
  6. Once the marshmallows are melted and the mixture is completely smooth, remove the saucepan from the heat and quickly stir in the vanilla extract. 
  7. Then, gently fold in the crispy rice cereal. The cereal should be evenly coated with the chocolate/caramel/marshmallow mixture.
  8. Next, use a large cookie scoop to portion out the cereal mixture onto the baking sheets prepared with parchment paper and cooking spray.
  9. Place the cookie sheets in the refrigerator and allow them to set.
  10. Serve these straight out of the refrigerator or allow them to come to room temperature.
close up side angle shot of a little debbie star crunch cookie

Variations

While these cookies are outstanding on their own, this is just the standard recipe. Try your own add-ins to make them special. 

  • Salt – If you like a salty/sweet combination try sprinkling these with coarse Kosher salt or pink Himalayan salt just before placing in the fridge.
  • Heat – Sometimes heat just goes well with sweets. Try adding in just a pinch of cayenne or some crushed red pepper flakes to spice these cookies up. 
  • Chocolate chips – Try adding some dark, milk, or semi-sweet chocolate chips to the mix for even more chocolate flavor and richness. Or, melt some white chocolate chips in a double boiler (or in the microwave, in a microwave safe bowl) and drizzle the melted white chocolate over the top.
  • Nut butters – Experiment with adding a dollop of peanut butter (or your preferred alternative) to the chocolate mixture. Or, try melting it and drizzling it over top.
  • Maple syrup – For an extra sweet star crunch, try spooning a small amount of maple syrup over the cookie or adding just a bit to the chocolate mixture.
  • Spices – Make your star crunches seasonal by adding spices like pumpkin, nutmeg, or cinnamon.
  • Nuts – Try folding in some of your favorite nuts to add even more texture. Crushed peanuts, pistachios, walnuts, almonds, or cashews will all work well.
  • Caramel chips – Melt them to use as a garnish before refrigerating or add some to the chocolate mixture for extra caramel flavor.
  • Date caramel – If you want to make an even healthier version, try using date caramel instead of typical caramel.
Platter of homemade star crunch cookies

Storage and Freezing

Storage: You can serve these cookies immediately or store them in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Freezing: While freezing these cookies could affect the consistency of the rice cereal, they can be safely frozen. Wrap each cookie individually in plastic wrap then place in the freezer for up to 2 months.

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Platter of homemade star crunch cookies

Copycat Star Crunch Recipe

5 from 6 votes
Just like the childhood Little Debbie's treat, this no bake Copycat Star Crunch recipe is simple to make with less than 10 ingredients!
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Chilling Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 22

Ingredients

Instructions

  • In a large pot, add the butter, cocoa powder, and espresso powder. Melt over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Whisk in the sweetened condensed milk until combined.
  • Add in the caramels and stir until completely melted and smooth. Add in the marshmallows and mix unit melted and smooth.
  • Remove from the heat and quickly stir in the vanilla extract. Add in the cereal and fold until the cereal is evenly coated with the mixture.
  • Line 2 baking pans with parchment paper and use a large cookie scoop to scoop out the cookies onto the parchment and gently press down into a flatter shape.
  • Place in the refrigerator and allow to set for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Serve immediately or place in an airtight container for up to three days.
  • If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or ratings!

Nutrition

Calories: 199 kcal, Carbohydrates: 34 g, Protein: 3 g, Fat: 7 g, Saturated Fat: 4 g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2 g, Trans Fat: 0.2 g, Cholesterol: 18 mg, Sodium: 122 mg, Potassium: 127 mg, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 24 g, Vitamin A: 604 IU, Vitamin C: 5 mg, Calcium: 68 mg, Iron: 2 mg
Calories: 199
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: copycat star crunch
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
collage of homemade star crunch cookies with text overlay
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and chef behind Savory Experiments. You might see her on the Emmy- nominated TV show Plate It! or on bookshelves as a cookbook author. Jessica is a Le Cordon Bleu certified recipe developer and regularly contributed to Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal and more!

Read More About Jessica

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Recipe Rating




Questions and Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    These star crunches really remind me of my childhood! I have to admit though, I like these a lot better than the original 😉 Great recipe!

  2. 5 stars
    Wow – this is a fantastic dessert! Chocolate, rice crispy cereal, marshmallows – everything we love all in one package!

  3. 5 stars
    These were always my favorite snack as a kid, and I love this homemade version so much! It’s even better than the original but it still has all that nostalgia that’s almost as delicious!