Are marshmallows gluten and dairy-free?

Marshmallows are a popular confectionery treat that many people enjoy snacking on or using in recipes. However, if you have food allergies or intolerances like celiac disease or lactose intolerance, you may be wondering if marshmallows are safe for you to eat. The ingredients and manufacturing process of marshmallows determine whether they contain gluten from wheat and dairy ingredients like milk products.

Do Marshmallows Contain Gluten?

The primary ingredients in marshmallows are sugar, corn syrup, and gelatin. None of these contain gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley, and rye that causes issues for those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. However, some marshmallows may have other ingredients that are sources of gluten.

Many marshmallows contain vanilla extract, which may be made with alcohol distilled from gluten grains. There is also a potential for cross-contamination during manufacturing if gluten-containing grains are processed in the same equipment. Some brands may include wheat starch as an ingredient. Finally, marshmallows with inclusions like graham crackers will likely contain gluten.

So are marshmallows gluten-free? The answer is maybe. Some brands and products will be while others that contain wheat-based ingredients, use shared equipment, or have direct gluten cross-contact will not be.

How to Find Gluten-Free Marshmallows

If you need to avoid gluten, look for marshmallow brands that are certified gluten-free. Products labeled as gluten-free must contain less than 20 parts per million of any detectable gluten. Here are some tips for finding gluten-free marshmallow options:

  • Check ingredient lists for wheat, barley, rye, malt, and problematic flavorings.
  • Look for trusted gluten-free seals from organizations like GFCO, NSF, and 1Degree.
  • Contact manufacturers directly to ask about testing and gluten-free status.
  • Shop gluten-free brands like Dandies, Campfire, Sweet & Sara, and Chicago Vegan Foods.
  • Avoid marshmallows with mix-in cookies, crackers, or other gluten grains.

Are Marshmallows Dairy-Free?

In addition to gluten, marshmallows may contain milk-derived ingredients that should be avoided by those with milk allergies or lactose intolerance. Conventional marshmallows are not vegan or dairy-free due to one key ingredient – gelatin.

Gelatin is a protein substance derived from collagen extracted from animal bones, skins, and tissues. Unless otherwise specified, gelatin likely comes from pigs. Primarily, gelatin is sourced from pig skins. Gelatin gives marshmallows their characteristic soft, squishy texture.

Besides gelatin, some marshmallows also include milk powder, whey, butter, cream, or milk protein concentrates in the ingredient list. These all indicate the presence of dairy. However, a few vegan marshmallow options are made without any animal-derived ingredients.

Finding Dairy-Free and Vegan Marshmallows

Fortunately, there are now more dairy-free and vegan marshmallow choices available:

  • Look for products made with agar flakes or carrageenan instead of gelatin.
  • Search for dairy-free or vegan marshmallow labels.
  • Opt for brands like Sweet & Sara, Dandies, Chicago Vegan Foods.
  • Make homemade marshmallows substituting agar powder for gelatin.
  • Check ingredient lists thoroughly for milk, whey, casein and other dairy products.

Are Specific Marshmallow Brands Gluten and Dairy-Free?

It can be tricky trying to determine if specific brands of store-bought marshmallows are free of gluten and dairy. Product formulations often change. Let’s take a look at some popular marshmallow brands and their common ingredients:

Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallows

  • Contain corn syrup, sugar, modified food starch (corn), and gelatin (pork).
  • Not certified gluten-free or dairy-free.
  • Produced on shared equipment with milk and wheat.
  • High risk of cross-contamination.

Campfire Marshmallows

  • Ingredients are corn syrup, sugar, gelatin, natural and artificial flavor.
  • Certified gluten-free and Vegan.
  • Uses agar instead of gelatin to replace egg whites.
  • Dairy-free and kosher.

Peeps Marshmallow Chicks and Bunnies

  • Contain sugar, corn syrup, gelatin, and yellow dyes.
  • Not certified gluten-free or dairy-free.
  • Produced on equipment shared with milk and wheat.
  • High risk of cross-contact.

Trader Joe’s Marshmallows

  • Ingredients are sugar, corn syrup, modified food starch, agar, carrageenan.
  • Labeled gluten-free and dairy-free.
  • Uses plant-based gelling agents instead of gelatin.
  • Vegan and kosher certified.
Brand Gluten-Free Dairy-Free
Kraft Jet-Puffed No No
Campfire Yes Yes
Peeps No No
Trader Joe’s Yes Yes

This table summarizes whether some popular marshmallow brands are gluten and dairy-free based on typical ingredients. As formulations change, always carefully read labels for allergens. Contact the manufacturer directly with any questions. For those with food intolerances, it’s safest to choose brands that are certified gluten or dairy-free. Homemade marshmallows can also be modified to suit dietary needs.

What About Homemade Marshmallows?

Making homemade marshmallows allows you full control over the ingredients. Traditional homemade recipes call for gelatin, corn syrup, sugar, water, and vanilla. To make them gluten-free, use pure cane syrup instead of one possibly made from wheat. Opt for gluten-free vanilla. Avoid adding mix-in cookies or other gluten grains. Use equipment solely dedicated to gluten-free cooking.

To make dairy-free and vegan homemade marshmallows, swap the gelatin for agar powder or guar gum plus xanthan gum. Agar comes from seaweed and mimics the gelling properties of gelatin. Guar gum helps with the chewy texture while xanthan gum thickens the syrup. The rest of the ingredients remain the same. You can flavor them without dairy by using non-dairy milk, coconut cream, or nut milks.

Vegan and Gluten-Free Homemade Marshmallow Recipe

Here is a simple recipe to make easy vegan marshmallows at home without gelatin or gluten:


  • 3 Tablespoons agar powder or 2 tablespoons agar flakes
  • 3⁄4 cup cold water
  • 3⁄4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1⁄4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon xanthan gum (for chewiness)
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting


  1. Bloom the agar by mixing with cold water. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  2. In a saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt and agar mixture. Whisk together.
  3. Heat over medium stirring frequently until come to a boil. Cook while whisking for about 8-10 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat. Whisk in xanthan gum, vanilla, and any food coloring if using.
  5. Pour the marshmallow mixture into parchment lined pan greased with oil. Smooth the top.
  6. Let set uncovered at room temperature for at least 6 hours.
  7. Coat a knife with oil and cut into squares. Toss in confectioners’ sugar to coat.

This basic recipe can be modified in many ways by adding other flavors, juices, nut butters, or swapping the sugar. Play around with the proportions to achieve your preferred texture. Stored in an airtight container, the marshmallows will keep for up to 3 weeks.

What About Marshmallow Fluff?

Marshmallow creme or fluff is another popular marshmallow product used in sandwiches, desserts, and candies. Traditional marshmallow fluff contains corn syrup, sugar, dried egg whites, vanilla, and preservatives. The egg whites act as the foaming and gelling agent. Name brands like Marshmallow Fluff contain eggs and are not dairy-free or vegan.

However, there are egg-free, gluten-free, and vegan marshmallow fluff options available. Making fluff at home is also an option. Look for recipes using aquafaba (the liquid from canned chickpeas) or xanthan gum as the foaming agent instead of eggs. Brands like Sweet & Sara offer vegan marshmallow cremes. Check labels carefully if avoiding dairy, eggs, and gluten.

Marshmallow Fluff Ingredient Considerations

  • Sugar – Opt for brands using only cane sugar to avoid gluten.
  • Corn syrup – Check it’s not made from wheat. Look for gluten-free brands.
  • Dried egg whites – Avoid for dairy-free/vegan diets. Substitute aquafaba.
  • Vanilla – Use pure gluten-free vanilla extract.
  • Thickeners – Brands may use xanthan gum or vegan gelatin.
  • Preservatives – Look for natural options without sulfites.

Are Marshmallows Safe for Special Diets?

Here is an overview of whether marshmallows can fit into some common special diets when following a gluten-free and dairy-free diet:

Keto and Low Carb Diets

Most marshmallows are high in sugar and corn syrup, making them too high in carbohydrates for strict keto and low-carb diets. A serving of mini marshmallows equates to roughly 22 grams of net carbs. However, there are a few low-carb marshmallow options made with sugar alcohols or alternative sweeteners that reduce the carbs.

Paleo Diet

Marshmallows made with refined sugar and corn syrup are not paleo-friendly ingredients. However, there are modified paleo marshmallow recipes using honey, maple syrup, or coconut sugar. Choosing gelatin over agar flakes also fits paleo diet guidelines.

Whole30 Diet

The added sugars and sweeteners in regular marshmallows are not compliant with the Whole30 diet. But maple syrup can be used to make modified Whole30 marshmallows at home. Brands like Yumfields use Whole30 approved ingredients.

Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

Vegans must use brands made without gelatin or other animal ingredients. Look for marshmallows made with agar or fruit pectin instead. Vegetarians that eat eggs and dairy have more flexibility, but egg-free is still recommended.

Are Marshmallows Safe for Kids?

Marshmallows can pose some risks and concerns when it comes to kids:

  • Choking hazard – Marshmallows can become lodged in small throats. Supervise young kids when consuming.
  • Tooth decay – The high sugar content is bad for developing teeth.
  • Hyperactivity – Artificial colors may contribute to hyperactive behavior in sensitive children.
  • Allergies – Contained allergens like dairy, eggs, and gluten can trigger reactions in allergic kids.

To enjoy marshmallows more safely:

  • Avoid brands with artificial dyes.
  • Choose mini marshmallows for easier chewing and swallowing.
  • Buy allergy-friendly varieties if needed.
  • Limit marshmallow treats to occasional desserts, not daily snacks.
  • Have kids brush teeth after eating marshmallows.


Marshmallows can be enjoyed in moderation by most people. But for those with food intolerances like celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, lactose intolerance, or vegan diets, it’s important to read labels carefully and look for specialty products.

Many conventional marshmallows contain gluten sources and dairy ingredients like gelatin. However, there are more gluten, egg, and dairy-free options available than ever before. Leading gluten and vegan brands of marshmallows include Dandies, Chicago Vegan Foods, Sweet & Sara, and Campfire. Always contact manufacturers with any questions regarding allergens.

Making homemade marshmallows also allows you to control exactly what goes into them. Substituting the gelatin for agar powder or xanthan gum, and using gluten-free ingredients lets you create marshmallows tailored to your dietary needs. With a few swaps, marshmallows can be enjoyed safely by almost everyone.

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