We all find ourselves preparing a sweet and light dessert or snack that calls for something fluffy and creamy, but we need an acceptable substitute for marshmallows.
Maybe you don’t like the taste of marshmallows, perhaps you’re allergic to something in them, or you don’t have any in our pantry, or maybe you’re just looking to mix up an old recipe.
Whatever the case may be, you’re in the market for a marshmallow alternative that is equally delicious and binding.
While marshmallows are unique in their makeup, you can still achieve the cloud-like confectionery quality they offer without the classic pure white buoyant cylinders.
We’re here to offer our guidance and expertise when selecting the best substitute ingredients for a marshmallow’s job.
We’ll walk you through what to use and how to use it and even provide a few tips and tricks that might save a recipe or two.
Whether you’re making rice crispy treats, cookies, cheesecake, or fudge, the options on this list will provide you with the marshmallow magic you know and love.
The point is, we’ve got your back.
What are marshmallows made out of?
Marshmallows may seem like a culinary mystery, but they’re pretty simple.
They are made of sugar, corn syrup, water, and gelatin.
There’s nothing extraordinary about this combination of ingredients.
Still, when you cook them together and whip the mixture into a frenzy, you create one of the most special candied concoctions.
Making marshmallows is pretty straightforward.
First, cook the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a saucepan and bring it to a boil.
When the mixture reaches temperature, the gelatin is added, and the syrup is whipped vigorously.
This part of the process helps the marshmallows set up.
When marshmallows are mass-manufactured, the mixture is run through tubes that make a marshmallow rope.
This is then sliced into the heavenly puffs found in bags and stuffed between graham crackers and chocolate.
Learn to properly store your marshmallows so you can enjoy the best possible version of these delectable treats for longer!
Substitutes for marshmallows
We’re well aware that some occasions call for a marshmallow substitution as professional food lovers.
While there’s nothing that quite emulates the taste and texture of mallow, there are several options for bypassing the traditional squishy delight.
These substitution possibilities are pretty close to the real deal, and some are entirely different.
Still, we’re confident that there is at least one alternative to marshmallows on this list that will suit your needs, taste, and any dietary restrictions you may have.
1. Marshmallow Cream
Marshmallow cream is the not-so-distant cousin of a marshmallow; they taste essentially the same, but their textures couldn’t be more different.
Marshmallow cream is made with corn syrup and sugar (like marshmallows) but also contains xanthan gum, cream of tartar, and egg whites.
Because of marshmallow cream’s sticky but creamy texture, you can spread it on sweetbreads or desserts like brownies or bars.
In recipes, it’s also an excellent replacement for marshmallows; you can substitute ½ cup of marshmallow cream for eight regular-sized marshmallows.
2. Marshmallow Fluff
Marshmallow fluff is very similar to a regular marshmallow, but fluff doesn’t hold the same shape, and it also contains a couple more ingredients: salt and vanillin.
Marshmallow fluff is often used to top sweets like cakes, ice cream, brownies, and even some mousses.
And while it’s hard to imagine that anything could take the place of a traditional marshmallow atop a steaming hot cup of hot chocolate, marshmallow fluff will blow your mind in this capacity.
When swapping recipes, replace 1 cup of marshmallows with ½ cup of marshmallow fluff.
3. Gelatin-Free Marshmallows
According to the recipe, gelatin is the ingredient that allows marshmallows to puff up and set.
It allows them to become the squishy candies that adorn so many classic desserts.
But gelatin isn’t everyone’s thing.
Gelatin is an animal product, which means those who consume a strictly plant-based diet cannot eat foods made with it – like marshmallows.
Luckily, you can find anything on the interwebs, including gelatin-free marshmallows.
Many gelatin-free marshmallows are made with agar, a plant-based substitute for gelatin that achieves the same jiggly goals.
Agar does give marshmallows a different texture, remarkably when they’re melted, so be advised that they’re not an especially great choice for, say, a marshmallow-swirled fudge brownie.
You can replace whole marshmallows with gelatin-free marshmallows at a 1:1 ratio.
4. Sugar-Free Marshmallows
You can find just about anything in a sugar-free variety; marshmallows are no different.
Whether you’re living with diabetes, scaling back on your sugar intake, or prefer sugar-free versions to the original, you can still enjoy decadent desserts.
Sugar-free marshmallows are a fantastic substitution option for these reasons and more.
However, we suggest only substituting sugar-free marshmallows for recipes that do not melt them; because of the additional ingredients in sugar-free marshmallows, they do not dissolve in the same way or yield the same texture as a regular marshmallow.
So, if you’re using sugar-free marshmallows for your hot chocolate, you won’t be disappointed; if you’re using sugar-free marshmallows to make rice crispy treats, you may not be incredibly excited about the results.
While this is a bit of a bummer, it does make the substitution ratio pretty easy – a 1:1 ratio.
5. Homemade Marshmallows
Earlier, we discussed what marshmallows were made of and how they were made, so it makes sense that we’d include homemade marshmallows on the list of acceptable substitutes.
Making marshmallows at home from scratch is a solid option if you’re trying to limit the processed foods you consume or, of course, if you’re just interested in learning how to make marshmallows at home.
The best part is because you’re just making marshmallows, you can use them in the exact quantities and the same ways as you would use pre-packaged marshmallows.
To make homemade marshmallows, you’ll need:
- White sugar
- Agave syrup or corn syrup
- Candy thermometer
- Baking sheet lined with greased parchment paper
First, melt the gelatin; then mix the water, corn syrup, and sugar in a saucepan and boil it until it reaches 238°F.
Remove from the heat, then add the melted gelatin, whipping it until it becomes light and the foam sets.
Transfer the marshmallow to the greased parchment paper on the baking sheet and allow it to set further.
Use your homemade marshmallows in any way that floats your boat.
6. Honey and Peanut Butter
Honey and peanut butter make an excellent marshmallow substitute because, while very different, it is still a deliciously sticky-sweet concoction.
When heated or warmed, the mixture of peanut butter and honey becomes smooth and creamy, and it cannot also be whipped to achieve the fluffy texture of a marshmallow.
These abilities make this option great if you don’t particularly enjoy the taste of marshmallows or have a dietary restriction that doesn’t allow for marshmallows.
To substitute honey and peanut butter for marshmallows, use both ingredients in equal parts proportionally to the number of marshmallows you’re replacing.
Zefir is not a particularly well-known confection, but it’s a pretty darn close alternative when your goal is to replace marshmallows.
Like marshmallows, zefir is light and fluffy and holds its shape with the help of gelatin or other gelling agents; however, zefir whips pureed berries and other fruits with sugar and egg white, giving it a much more natural sweetness (as opposed to the corn syrup found in marshmallows).
Zefir is an old Russian dessert staple, which is why it’s also referred to as a Russian marshmallow – though it’s also been linked back to Greece.
The fruit component of zefir likens it to a meringue, but it’s incredibly close to a typical marshmallow.
So close that you can replace marshmallows with zefir in equal proportions and use them in the same ways.
8. Almond Butter and Maple Syrup
As a marshmallow substitution, Almond butter and maple syrup work similarly to peanut butter and honey.
The two new ingredients will incorporate different flavors, but they still combine and warm to create a uniquely balanced sweet yet savory binding merger.
This mixture is best suited to recipes for melted marshmallows, like fudge and cheesecake.
Portion your almond butter and maple syrup in equal parts to a proportional amount of the marshmallows that are called for to execute a successful substitution.
Tips and tricks
Substitutions aren’t always cut and dry, so we’ve thrown in a few handy pieces of advice to help you make the marshmallow switch.
- Use marshmallow cream, marshmallow fluff, honey, peanut butter, almond butter, and maple syrup in recipes for melted marshmallows.
- Use gelatin-free marshmallows, sugar-free marshmallows, homemade marshmallows, or zefir in place of whole marshmallows.
- Never melt gelatin-free marshmallows or sugar-free marshmallows.
- When making your marshmallows at home, heat them to exactly 238°F before adding the gelatin and whipping; this part of the process contributes to the puffed texture.
- When in doubt, go with your gut; if you’re unsure which option to go with, let your stomach decide.
Unlock this compilation of 30 Mini Marshmallows Recipes, including desserts, sides, and salads!
If you’ve searched for a suitable marshmallow substitute to complete a recipe, this list will serve as a comprehensive guide.
These alternatives will allow you to make the delectable treats you love without sacrificing texture or flavor; in fact, you may even prefer some of them over the real thing.
- Marshmallow cream
- Substitute ½ cup of marshmallow cream for eight regular-sized marshmallows.