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Are Marshmallows Vegan?
+ Best Dairy-Free Brands You Can Have

Heather Turner
Published by Heather Turner
Fact checked by Markus Oliver, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: February 15, 2021

If you’re a fellow vegan, you may be wondering — Are marshmallows vegan? Read on to find out!

“Life is a marshmallow, easy to chew but hard to swallow.” — Francis Bacon

What are Marshmallows?

marshmallows in a cup

This tasty treat comes from the mallow plant, which was the inspiration for the name. Ancient Egyptians used it in 2000 BC and mixed it with fruit and nuts [1].

Fast forward a couple of thousand years into the future, French confection makers started making marshmallows we all know and love somewhere around the 1800s.

Now they're one of the best vegan camping foods - if they' don't contain mallow plant sap, egg whites, and sugar, and pour it into molds.

They'd also add gelatine to help the candy keep its form. And this reveals why vegans are confused about whether marshmallows are vegan.

Nowadays, most marshmallows are made from a combination of corn starch, corn syrup, sugar, water, and gelatin.

Are Regular Ones Vegan?

No, most regular marshmallows aren’t vegan. There are some vegetarian marshmallows, but you should always check the label.

As I mentioned, French confectioners started adding gelatin so a marshmallow could keep its shape. But that’s not the only ingredient that makes marshmallows non-vegan. Most store-bought aren’t vegan-friendly, and here are just a few reasons.

3 Problematic Ingredients

egg whites and gelatin

A significant number of ingredients could make marshmallows not vegan. I’d advise you to pay attention to the ingredient list to be sure.

1. Gelatin

When used, gelatin usually comprises 2.5% of a marshmallow. It usually creates a rubbery, elasticky marshmallow. Some companies use fish gelatin to ensure their marshmallows are halal and kosher.

While this is excellent news for certain religious groups and pescatarians, it isn't great for vegans.

2. Egg Whites

Higher quality marshmallows typically contain egg whites. The whites create a fluffier and lighter marshmallow. Once again - not suitable for vegans.

3. Sugar

Thankfully this doesn’t happen that often today, but some white sugar is still processed with animal bone char [2]. So, only go for marshmallows that are clearly marked as vegan, because you can never know how the sugar was processed (unless the manufacturer discloses the info).

8 Best Vegan-Friendly Brands

Luckily for all my fellow vegans, there are some amazing vegan marshmallow brands.

  • 1. Dandies Vegan Marshmallows aren’t only vegan, they’re also non-GMO certified. They contain tapioca syrup, cane sugar, tapioca starch, carrageenan, soy protein, natural vanilla flavor, and filtered water.
  • 2. Trader Joe’s vegan marshmallows aren’t only gelatin-free, but also gluten-free. I noticed an interesting thing about Trader Joe’s vegan marshmallow edition — the ingredients are the same as for the Dandies Vegan Marshmallows. Coincidence?
  • 3. Funky Mello vegan marshmallows also don’t contain gelatin. These vegan marshmallows are also gluten and soy-free. They’re also available in different flavors.
  • 4. Ananda Foods vegan marshmallows are a British brand. Nevertheless, they’re available online.
  • 5. Suzanne’s Specialties Ricemellow Creme is the first vegan marshmallow creme. It’s a marshmallow fluff in a tub? Do I need to say more?
  • 6. Freedom Confectionery offers two flavored options: vanilla and strawberry. And there’s also the classic one.
  • 7. Smucker’s has a fantastic marshmallow topping you can put over ice cream, in hot chocolate, or eat straight from the jar. Who am I to judge?
  • 8. Sweet and Sara Dried Cereal Marshmallows are just as delicious as they sound. The brand also offers straight vegan marshmallows.

Bonus: Homemade Vegan Marshmallows Recipe

baking

If you want to be 100% sure your marshmallows are vegan, you should make them yourself. It’s super simple and easy, and I’ll share one of my favorite recipes with you.

You’ll need:

  • ½ cup aquafaba (chickpea water)
  • ½ tsp cream of tartar
  • ⅔ cup water
  • 1 tbsp agar agar (powder, not flakes)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (make sure it’s vegan)
  • ½ cup powdered sugar (plus more as needed)

You'll also need baking/parchment paper, a standing or hand mixer, a large bowl, a small pot, and an 8x8 baking pan.

Instructions:

  • First, you'll want to line the pan with baking paper and powder it with sugar. Make sure to be generous with that sugar.
  • Get a large bowl, combine the aquafaba and cream of tartar and mix on high for 5–6 minutes or until it becomes fluffy and white. You’ll know the mixture is ready when it forms stiff peaks. You could also add a flavor at this point. I usually go for vanilla. If you add some, beat the mixture for another couple of minutes to combine well.
  • Next up, take that small pot, combine water and agar agar, and put them over medium heat. Bring to a boil, while mixing frequently to prevent agar agar from sticking to the pot. Cook until thick (about 3 minutes) and add the sugar. Boil lightly for another 3 minutes and don’t forget to stir frequently.
  • Now add this to the aquafaba mixture, beating on low. Mix it for some 30 seconds or until the two mixtures combine completely.
  • Pour the mixture into the lined and sugar-dusted baking pan, sprinkle it with more powdered sugar, cover tightly, and chill for 3 hours.
  • After, sprinkle an additional layer of sugar and dust your knife with sugar before you start cutting. Slice the marshmallows however you like and coat each piece in powdered sugar.
  • You can store them in the fridge for up to 5 days. Although I'll doubt they'll last for more than an hour as they taste amazing!

Are Marshmallows Vegan? The Final Verdict

Rejoice! These fluffy pieces of heaven are vegan!

Well, some of them are. As usual, I recommend you pay extra attention to the label when buying marshmallows.

Or, to be sure you're eating vegan marshmallows, make your own! If you've already mastered this tasty treat, share your recipe in the comments!

References:

  1. https://candyusa.com/marshmallows/#:~:text=Ancient%20Egyptians%20were%20the%20first,that%20grows%20wild%20in%20marshes.
  2. https://www.peta.org/about-peta/faq/are-animal-ingredients-included-in-white-sugar/#:~:text=Bone%20char%E2%80%94often%20referred%20to,in%20other%20types%20of%20sugar.

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