Are there dairy-free marshmallows?

Quick Answer

Yes, there are dairy-free marshmallows available. Many traditional marshmallows contain gelatin, which is derived from animal collagen. However, there are a variety of dairy-free marshmallow options made without gelatin for those with dietary restrictions or preferences.

What are Marshmallows Typically Made of?

Traditional marshmallows are made from just a few ingredients:

  • Sugar – Provides sweetness and structure
  • Corn syrup – Adds moisture and chewiness
  • Gelatin – Derived from collagen in animal bones and skin; provides elastic texture
  • Water
  • Flavorings like vanilla

Gelatin is the key ingredient that gives marshmallows their familiar soft and squishy texture. It is made by boiling animal skins, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones. Most gelatin comes from pigs or cows.

For people avoiding animal products, the gelatin in marshmallows can be problematic. Vegans do not consume any animal-derived ingredients, while lacto-vegetarians avoid dairy products but may eat eggs and gelatin. People with certain religious dietary practices, like kosher or halal, also require gelatin-free marshmallows.

What Makes Dairy-Free Marshmallows Different?

Dairy-free marshmallows swap the traditional gelatin for plant-based gelling agents. Common replacements include:

  • Pectin – Found naturally in fruits like apples and citrus
  • Starches – From sources like tapioca, potato, or corn
  • Gums – Derived from seeds, grains, seaweed, or bacteria
  • Soy protein isolate
  • Agar agar – Made from algae

These plant-based thickeners mimic the texture provided by gelatin, allowing for stretchy and fluffy marshmallows without any animal products. The exact blend of gelling agents varies by brand.

The other ingredients in dairy-free marshmallows are generally the same as regular marshmallows. Sugar and corn syrup create sweetness and moisture. Natural flavors like vanilla are often added. The marshmallow base is whipped into a fluffy foam and shaped into pillowy cubes or rounds.

Are Dairy-Free Marshmallows Nut-Free?

Dairy-free marshmallows themselves are generally nut-free, as typical ingredients do not contain nuts or nut derivatives. However, many dairy-free marshmallows are produced in facilities that also process nuts, so there is a risk of cross-contamination. Always check labels for allergy warnings if nut allergies are a concern.

Some dairy-free marshmallow recipes may use nuts like almonds or cashews to achieve the desired texture, so homemade versions may contain nuts. Check ingredient lists carefully if avoiding nuts.

Where Can I Find Dairy-Free Marshmallows?

You can find dairy-free and vegan marshmallow options in most major grocery stores, health food markets, and online:

  • Health food stores like Whole Foods, Sprouts, or Trader Joe’s
  • Natural food sections of regular grocers
  • Online retailers like Amazon, Thrive Market, Vitacost
  • Direct from manufacturers’ websites

Look for popular brands like Dandies Vegan Marshmallows, Sweet & Sara, Trader Joe’s, and Campfire. Comparison shop across stores and sites to find the best prices.

You can also make homemade dairy-free marshmallows using plant-based gelatin alternatives. Find recipes online or in vegan cookbooks.

Are Dairy-Free Marshmallows Healthier?

Dairy-free and vegan marshmallows allow people with dietary restrictions to enjoy the sweet treat, which is certainly healthier for them than consuming regular marshmallows. However, they are not necessarily healthier overall.


Some potential benefits of dairy-free marshmallows include:

  • Allow people with allergies or intolerances to eat marshmallows
  • Contain no cholesterol
  • Offer an ethical choice for vegans/vegetarians
  • May have less saturated fat than gelatin-based
  • Offer important nutrients from plant gelling agents

However, it is important to note that both regular and dairy-free marshmallows are still considered junk food with minimal nutritional value.


Some drawbacks to keep in mind:

  • High in sugar and simple carbs
  • Low in protein, nutrients, and fiber
  • Often contain artificial colors and flavors
  • Not a significant source of vitamins and minerals
  • High calorie density

All types of marshmallows, whether gelatin-based or dairy-free, should be enjoyed in moderation as an occasional treat. They provide little nutritional value beyond calories and sugar.

Do Dairy-Free Marshmallows Taste the Same?

The taste and texture of dairy-free marshmallows can vary compared to traditional gelatin-containing versions, but many provide a close imitation. Key differences include:

  • May have a slightly harder, chewier texture
  • Can be sticky or gummy rather than melt-in-your-mouth soft
  • Some products have an oily or gritty mouthfeel
  • May lack the distinctive mellow sweetness
  • Differences between brands in taste, quality, and accuracy

However, technology and techniques continue to improve. Many brands now offer dairy-free marshmallows nearly indistinguishable from regular in terms of fluffiness, sweetness, and pillowy texture.

Taste and personal preference will also play a role, as people have different opinions on the comparability. Try a few options to find your favorite.

How Do I Use Dairy-Free Marshmallows?

Dairy-free marshmallows can be used in place of regular marshmallows in any recipe or food item. Popular uses include:

  • Hot chocolate or cocoa
  • S’mores
  • Rice Krispie treats
  • Rocky road candy
  • Marshmallow cookies
  • Ambrosia salad
  • Sweet potatoes or yams
  • Whipped topping
  • Cereals and oatmeal
  • Roasted over the campfire

Be aware that dairy-free marshmallows may melt and get sticky differently than traditional in high heat applications like campfires or baking. Some trial and error may be needed to perfect recipes and techniques.

Look for recipe ideas specifically using dairy-free marshmallows. Avoid recipes calling for gelatin, as plant-based substitutes will not set up the same way. With the right techniques and expectations, you can enjoy dairy-free marshmallows in all your favorite treats!

Can I Make My Own Dairy-Free Marshmallows?

Yes! Making homemade dairy-free marshmallows is totally doable. It requires more effort than buying pre-made, but allows you to control the exact ingredients. You’ll need:

  • Sugar
  • Corn syrup
  • Water
  • Flavorings like vanilla
  • Plant-based gelatin replacement like agar powder

The basic process is:

  1. Bloom your gelatin replacement in water.
  2. Make a sugar syrup of water, sugar, and corn syrup.
  3. Whip the syrup and gelatin mixture to incorporate air.
  4. Add flavors and colors as desired.
  5. Pour into a pan to set.
  6. Coat with starch and powdered sugar to keep from sticking.
  7. Cut into cubes and enjoy!

It takes some trial and error to get the ratios and temperatures right. Be prepared for a sticky mess until you get the hang of it. Refer to vegan marshmallow recipes for tips and instructions.

Common Brands of Dairy-Free Marshmallows

Some top brands for dairy-free and vegan marshmallows include:


  • The original vegan marshmallow, free of gelatin and all animal products
  • Non-GMO, kosher, gluten-free
  • Fluffy texture close to regular marshmallows
  • Multiple flavors like vanilla, pumpkin spice, and peppermint

Trader Joe’s

  • Affordable vegan marshmallows
  • Smooth, light texture
  • Classic vanilla flavor
  • No artificial flavors

Sweet & Sara

  • Vegan and gluten-free
  • GMOs not used
  • Variety of flavors like strawberry, peach, and chocolate
  • Smaller “vegan marbits” size


  • Specifically designed for roasting over fire
  • Stays fluffy when heated
  • No artificial colors
  • Certified gluten-free

Dr. Oetker

  • German brand, available internationally
  • Halal and kosher certified
  • Contains no eggs or egg derivatives
  • Closely mimics traditional marshmallow texture

There are lots of options out there, so try a few until you find your new favorite!

Are Homemade Dairy-Free Marshmallows Safe to Eat?

Homemade marshmallows are generally safe if prepared properly, with a few precautions:

  • Use recipes from trusted sources, not random internet ones
  • Ensure ingredients are from unopened packages and not expired
  • Accuracy in measuring ingredients is important
  • Cook sugar syrup properly to reach temperature guidelines
  • Allow marshmallows to set fully before cutting for food safety
  • Refrigerate for storage and consume within 1 week for best quality

Contamination risks are higher with homemade. Be meticulous about kitchen hygiene, equipment sterilization, and storage.

Homemade marshmallows last shorter than store-bought. Eat within a few days and inspect for any mold growth before consuming.

When prepared carefully using good practices, homemade dairy-free marshmallows can be a safe alternative. Be extra diligent since preservatives are not present like in manufactured brands.


Dairy-free marshmallow options allow everyone to enjoy the sweet treat, regardless of dietary restrictions. Swapping gelatin for plant-based gelling agents provides a convincing substitute for traditional marshmallows. While not much healthier, dairy-free versions allow more people to take part in beloved recipes like s’mores, ambrosia salad, and rocky road candy. With some trial and error, homemade recipes can also craft custom creations. Just be diligent about proper preparation and storage when making your own. All in all, dairy-free marshmallows provide a delicious way for people with allergies or ethical concerns to join in the fluffy fun.

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