Are Marshmallows Vegan? Exploring the Ingredients and Alternatives

As the popularity of plant-based diets continues to rise, many people are seeking vegan alternatives to their favorite foods. Marshmallows, a classic treat often enjoyed around a campfire, brings up an interesting question: Are marshmallows vegan?

Marshmallows primarily consist of sugar, water, and gelatin, which provides the chewiness and structure. Gelatin, an animal-derived product, is extracted from the collagen in the bones, skin, and connective tissues of animals, typically cows and pigs. This means that traditional marshmallows are not vegan. However, there are alternatives available for those wishing to adhere to a vegan lifestyle.

Key Takeaways

  • Traditional marshmallows contain gelatin, making them non-vegan.
  • Vegan marshmallow alternatives exist, using plant-based ingredients to replace gelatin.
  • Brands and recipes are available for vegan marshmallows, allowing for a variety of vegan marshmallow desserts.

Understanding Marshmallows

Ingredients of Marshmallows

To understand if marshmallows are vegan, we must first examine their ingredients. The primary components in traditional marshmallows are sugar, water, corn syrup, and gelatin. Sugar provides sweetness, while water and corn syrup aid in achieving a smooth and homogeneous texture. The key ingredient that raises concern among vegans is gelatin.

Gelatin is an animal-derived protein made from collagen found in the skin, tendons, and bones of animals, primarily pigs and cows. This protein is vital in the marshmallow making process as it stabilizes the mixture and gives it the distinct, fluffy texture. Consequently, traditional marshmallows are not vegan due to the presence of gelatin, an animal byproduct.

However, there are vegan alternatives to gelatin available, such as agar powder and carrageenan. Both are plant-based thickeners and stabilizers that can be used to create vegan-friendly marshmallows.

Production Process

Now that we’ve established the ingredients, let’s delve into the production process of marshmallows. The first step involves dissolving sugar, corn syrup, and water in a large saucepan and boiling the mixture until it reaches a specific temperature. Meanwhile, the gelatin is soaked in cold water to soften it.

Next, the gelatin is melted and whisked into the sugar syrup mixture, and then the entire mixture is beaten for an extended period, usually 10-15 minutes, until it achieves the desired fluffy texture. The marshmallow mixture is then poured into a pan or mold and allowed to set before being cut into individual pieces.

When making vegan marshmallows, the process is similar. We replace gelatin with a vegan alternative such as agar powder or carrageenan. These plant-based thickeners must be mixed with water and heated before being added to the sugar syrup. The mixture is then beaten and set as with traditional marshmallows.

One final point to consider is the use of bone char in sugar production. Some sugar refineries use bone char, a product derived from animal bones, to filter and whiten sugar. Although bone char is not present in the final sugar product, its use in the refining process may be a concern for some vegans. To avoid this issue, it’s essential to choose a sugar brand that specifically states it’s vegan or Bone Char free when making vegan marshmallows.

Why Traditional Marshmallows are Non-Vegan

Traditional marshmallows are not considered vegan because they contain gelatin, an animal-derived product. In this section, we will discuss the role of gelatin in marshmallow production and why it classifies marshmallows as non-vegan.

Role of Gelatin

Gelatin is a protein derived from the collagen found in the skin, bones, and connective tissues of animals, primarily cows and pigs. It acts as a gelling agent and provides the distinctive texture and bounce of marshmallows. When gelatin is heated and mixed with sugar syrup, it creates a stable matrix that traps air, resulting in the desired light and fluffy texture.

The process of obtaining gelatin involves boiling the aforementioned animal parts until the collagen is broken down into a gel-like substance. This gel is purified, filtered, and dried into a powder form, making it easily incorporated into various foods and products, such as marshmallows.

Since gelatin is derived from animals, it is considered non-vegan. Consequently, traditional marshmallows containing gelatin cannot be classified as vegan-friendly. In order to cater to vegan and vegetarian diets, alternative gelling agents, such as agar agar, must be used in place of gelatin to create vegan marshmallows.

Now that we understand the role of gelatin in traditional marshmallow production and its non-vegan implications, we can make informed decisions about the types of marshmallow products suitable for specific dietary preferences.

Vegan Alternatives to Gelatin

Gelatin is a common ingredient in marshmallows that is derived from animal collagen. As a result, marshmallows are not typically considered vegan. However, there are vegan alternatives to gelatin that can be used to make marshmallows suitable for a plant-based diet. In this section, we will discuss three popular vegan alternatives to gelatin: agar-agar, carrageenan, and aquafaba.


Agar-agar is a vegan gelatin substitute derived from red algae. It is commonly used in Asian cuisine and can be found in many health food stores. Agar-agar has a firm, jelly-like texture and can be used as a vegan alternative to gelatin in marshmallows. Some advantages of using agar-agar include:

  • It sets at room temperature, making it ideal for use in various recipes.
  • It is free of additives and does not have a strong flavor, allowing it to blend well with other ingredients.
  • It is rich in fiber and has minimal calories, making it a healthier alternative to gelatin.

To use agar-agar in marshmallows, we can mix it with water, sugar, and the desired flavoring before heating it in a saucepan. Once the agar-agar has dissolved and thickened, the mixture can be poured into a mold and allowed to cool until it sets.


Carrageenan is another gelatin substitute derived from red seaweed. It has been used as a thickening and stabilizing agent in food products for decades and can provide a similar texture to gelatin when used in marshmallows. Carrageenan comes in three forms: kappa, iota, and lambda, with kappa being the most commonly used for its gelling properties. To use carrageenan as a vegan alternative to gelatin, we can:

  • Mix the carrageenan powder with water, sugar, and flavoring in a saucepan.
  • Heat the mixture until it reaches the desired consistency.
  • Pour the mixture into a mold and allow it to set.


Aquafaba is the liquid obtained from cooking legumes, such as chickpeas or white beans. This water contains proteins and starches that can mimic the thickening and gelling properties of gelatin. To use aquafaba in a vegan marshmallow recipe, we can:

  • Whip the aquafaba using an electric mixer until it forms stiff peaks, similar to egg whites.
  • Combine the whipped aquafaba with sugar and the desired flavoring.
  • Pour the mixture into a mold and allow it to set.

In conclusion, agar-agar, carrageenan, and aquafaba are three viable vegan alternatives to gelatin for making marshmallows. Each option has unique characteristics, but all can provide the desired texture and consistency for a vegan marshmallow recipe.

Vegan Marshmallow Brands

There are several vegan marshmallow brands available on the market today that cater to those looking for a gelatin-free and animal-friendly marshmallow option. In this section, we will discuss six popular vegan marshmallow brands: Dandies, Freedom Mallows, Mallow Puffs, Goodland Farms, Trader Joe’s, and Yümmallo.


Dandies is a popular brand well-known for producing delicious vegan marshmallows. Made with non-GMO ingredients and free from gelatin, these marshmallows have a similar taste and texture to traditional ones. We can easily find Dandies marshmallows on Amazon and in various stores nationwide.

Freedom Mallows

Freedom Mallows offers a diverse range of vegan and gelatin-free marshmallow products. Available in various flavors like vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate, these marshmallows provide a delightful treat. They can also be found on Amazon and many specialty food stores.

Mallow Puffs

Mallow Puffs is a unique vegan marshmallow brand that has a Belgian chocolate coating on their marshmallows. Available in several flavors such as vanilla, raspberry, and caramel, these marshmallows make a tasty and exciting treat. You can purchase them on Amazon and in various specialty food stores.

Goodland Farms

Goodland Farms specializes in large vegan marshmallows that are perfect for s’mores, hot cocoa, and other marshmallow-centric recipes. These marshmallows are non-GMO and free from gelatin, making them a perfect option for vegans. You can find Goodland Farms Large Vegan Marshmallows on Amazon and at select retailers.

Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe’s offers their own line of vegan marshmallows that are gelatin-free, making them suitable for a vegan lifestyle. With a taste and texture similar to traditional marshmallows, these marshmallows are a great addition to any recipe. They can be found exclusively at Trader Joe’s stores.


Yümmallo is a fun and colorful vegan marshmallow brand, offering tiny, multicolored marshmallows that are perfect for decorating desserts and adding a pop of color to your treats. These mini marshmallows are also gelatin-free and can be found on Amazon and select specialty food stores.

Homemade Vegan Marshmallows

Vegan marshmallows can be a tasty treat for those looking to enjoy marshmallows without animal-derived ingredients. One way to ensure your marshmallows are cruelty-free is by making them at home. In this section, we will provide a simple vegan marshmallow recipe.

Vegan Marshmallow Recipe

To make approximately 25-30 vegan marshmallows, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup water, divided
  • 3 tablespoons agar powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract or peppermint extract (optional)
  • 3/4 cup aquafaba (chickpea brine)


  1. In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of water with the agar powder. Let it sit for about 5 minutes to allow the agar to soften.
  2. In a separate large mixing bowl, combine the aquafaba and xanthan gum. Use an electric mixer to whip the mixture until it forms soft peaks.
  3. Add the cream of tartar to the aquafaba mixture and continue to whip until it forms stiff peaks. This will help to stabilize the foam.
  4. In the saucepan with the agar, whisk in the sugar, corn syrup, and remaining 1/2 cup of water. Bring it to a boil over medium heat while constantly stirring. Once it reaches a boil, let it continue to cook for 7-8 minutes without stirring.
  5. After 7-8 minutes, remove the saucepan from heat and gradually pour the hot agar mixture into the aquafaba, while continuing to whip with the electric mixer on low speed. As you pour, the mixture should begin to thicken.
  6. Once the agar mixture is fully incorporated, add the vanilla extract or other flavorings, if desired. Continue to whip until the mixture is thick, fluffy, and has a marshmallow-like consistency.
  7. Transfer the marshmallow mixture to a pan lined with parchment paper and dusted with powdered sugar or cornstarch. Smooth the top of the mixture and let it set for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  8. Once the marshmallow mixture is set, use a sharp knife to cut it into squares or other desired shapes. Dust the cut marshmallows with more powdered sugar or cornstarch to prevent them from sticking together. Enjoy your vegan marshmallows!

Using this recipe, you can make delicious vegan marshmallows with a similar texture and taste to traditional marshmallows made with gelatin and egg whites. Agar powder and aquafaba act as effective replacements, allowing you to enjoy a guilt-free treat!

Vegan Marshmallow Desserts

Vegan S’mores

One of the best ways to enjoy marshmallows is by making vegan s’mores! All you need to do is replace the traditional marshmallow with a vegan one. Start by selecting high-quality vegan marshmallows and vegan chocolate. Then, sandwich them between two graham crackers and heat the s’more until the marshmallow is melted and the chocolate is soft. We recommend using vegan graham crackers as well, as some may contain honey or other non-vegan ingredients.

Vegan Rocky Road

Vegan rocky road is a delicious and satisfying dessert that combines chocolate, marshmallows, and nuts. To make it vegan-friendly, simply choose dark chocolate or vegan milk chocolate, vegan marshmallows, and your favorite nuts (we suggest almonds or peanuts). Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or microwave, and once melted, mix in the marshmallows and nuts. Spread the mixture on a parchment paper-lined tray or silicone mold, and refrigerate until set.

Other Dessert Ideas

There are many other ways to use vegan marshmallows in your favorite desserts. Here are some suggestions:

  • Pies: Create mouth-watering pies by adding vegan marshmallow fluff as a topping. Try this on sweet potato or pumpkin pies, for an extra decadent touch.
  • Brownies: Make your brownies extra gooey by folding in vegan marshmallows before baking. The marshmallows will melt inside the brownie and create a delicious surprise in every bite.
  • Milkshakes: Blend vegan marshmallows into milkshakes for a thicker, creamier texture. Choose complementing flavors by combining marshmallows with vegan ice cream and your favorite plant-based milk.

Don’t be afraid to get creative with your vegan marshmallow desserts. The possibilities are nearly endless and will surely satisfy your sweet cravings while keeping your treats cruelty-free.

Health Considerations

When it comes to marshmallows, it’s essential to consider the health aspects of this popular treat. Many people wonder if marshmallows are vegan, and the answer is not always straightforward. Traditional marshmallows are made using gelatin, which is derived from animal collagen, making them non-vegan. However, there are alternatives available, and we are here to guide you through the health considerations surrounding vegan marshmallows.

First and foremost, vegan marshmallows, like their non-vegan counterparts, are not considered a health food. They are still primarily composed of sugar and often contain high-fructose corn syrup. As we know, high sugar consumption can lead to various health issues like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. It is important to enjoy marshmallows in moderation, whether they are vegan or not.

In terms of dietary restrictions, vegan marshmallows can be a suitable option for people who follow specific guidelines. For instance, many vegan marshmallow brands are gluten-free, making them appropriate for individuals with gluten intolerance or celiac disease. Furthermore, some brands offer both kosher and halal-certified options, making vegan marshmallows accessible to those following religious dietary rules.

Consumer concern regarding genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has been growing steadily. As a result, numerous vegan marshmallow brands have started producing non-GMO options. This means that the ingredients used in these marshmallows are not genetically modified, providing consumers who prefer to avoid GMOs with a suitable treat.

Finally, we would like to remind that although vegan marshmallows are made without animal-derived ingredients, they should not be considered a nutritionally dense food. While they can be a fun addition to treats like s’mores or used as a topping for vegan hot chocolate, they should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced and healthy diet.

Frequently Asked Questions

What ingredients in marshmallows make them non-vegan?

Marshmallows typically contain gelatin, which is derived from animal collagen, making them non-vegan. Additionally, some marshmallows may contain other non-vegan ingredients such as egg whites or dairy-based additives.

Which brands offer vegan marshmallows?

There are several brands that offer vegan marshmallows. Some popular options include Dandies, Trader Joe’s Vegan Marshmallows, and Ananda’s Gourmet Marshmallows. These products use plant-based alternatives to gelatin, making them suitable for vegans.

How to make vegan marshmallows at home?

Making vegan marshmallows at home is possible by using agar-agar or carrageenan as a substitute for gelatin. These plant-based ingredients help provide the same texture as traditional marshmallows. Combine water, sugar, and a vegan-friendly binder, then whip the mixture until it becomes fluffy and holds its shape. Pour the mixture into a pan, let it set, and cut it into individual pieces.

Are all gelatin-free marshmallows considered vegan?

While gelatin-free marshmallows do not contain animal-derived collagen, they might still contain other non-vegan ingredients such as egg whites or dairy-based additives. When looking for vegan marshmallows, ensure they are free from all animal-based ingredients.

Can vegans eat Peeps?

Traditional Peeps candies contain gelatin, making them non-vegan. However, there are vegan-friendly alternatives available, such as those made by vegan confectionery companies. Always check the ingredients list to confirm whether a product is suitable for vegans.

What alternatives to gelatin are used in vegan marshmallows?

Vegan marshmallows use plant-based alternatives to gelatin such as agar-agar or carrageenan. These ingredients are derived from seaweed and provide a similar texture and mouthfeel to gelatin without using animal products. Additionally, some vegan marshmallows may use vegetable gums or starches for binding and texture.