Can people with celiac eat marshmallows?

Quick answer

The answer is yes, people with celiac disease can safely eat marshmallows, as long as the marshmallows are gluten-free. Most major brands of marshmallows, including Marshmallow Fluff, Kraft Jet-Puffed, Campfire, and Lundberg organic marshmallows are all gluten-free. However, some artisanal or homemade marshmallow brands may contain gluten from barley malt or wheat-derived ingredients. So it’s important for those with celiac to double check the ingredients before eating marshmallows from a brand they haven’t had before.

What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. When people with celiac disease eat gluten, their immune system attacks the small intestine, damaging the villi which are small finger-like projections that line the intestine. Villi are responsible for nutrient absorption. When they are damaged, nutrients cannot be properly absorbed, leading to symptoms like diarrhea, nutrient deficiencies, abdominal pain, and more.

People with celiac disease must follow a strict lifelong gluten-free diet, meaning they avoid foods and drinks with wheat, barley, and rye. Even small amounts of gluten can cause issues. There is no cure for celiac disease, only treatment through diet.

Are marshmallows gluten-free?

Marshmallows are a classic gluten-free and celiac-safe treat. Traditional marshmallows have just a few basic ingredients: sugar, corn syrup, water, gelatin, and flavorings like vanilla. None of these contain any gluten. Here’s a breakdown of the common ingredients:

  • Sugar – Beet or cane sugar, both gluten-free.
  • Corn syrup – Made from corn, gluten-free.
  • Water – Gluten-free.
  • Gelatin – Typically from animal sources like pigs, gluten-free.
  • Vanilla extract – Gluten-free.
  • Colors or flavorings – Usually gluten-free.

Major marshmallow brands like Jet-Puffed, Campfire, Lundberg Farms, Marshmallow Fluff, and Walmart Great Value all specifically state their regular marshmallows are gluten-free. So there are many easily accessible celiac-safe options.

Are all marshmallows gluten-free?

While main-stream mass-produced marshmallows are gluten-free, artisanal or homemade marshmallows may contain gluten. Here are some examples of when marshmallows may not be gluten-free:

  • Some artisanal marshmallow brands replace corn syrup with barley malt syrup, which contains gluten.
  • Home recipes may use wheat-based ingredients like wheat dextrin or flour to replace some corn syrup.
  • Flavorings like malt vanilla are not gluten-free.
  • Some marshmallows are dusted with wheat flour after.

So while major brand name marshmallows are reliably gluten-free, it’s still important to check labels and ingredients on less common marshmallow products before eating them.

Cross-contamination risks

Even if the marshmallow ingredients themselves are gluten-free, cross-contamination during manufacturing can be a concern. Cross-contamination happens when gluten-containing grains come into contact with the gluten-free food.

Many major brands take steps to avoid cross-contamination. For example:

  • Jet-Puffed states their facilities are routinely cleaned and rice flour is used to avoid wheat dust.
  • Lundberg Farms notes they audit and require documentation from co-packers.
  • Marshmallow Fluff uses dedicated equipment isolated from wheat production.

Companies like Kraft do not make any guarantees about avoiding cross-contamination. So those who are very sensitive should opt for brands that explicitly state precautions.

A few gluten-free marshmallow options like MadeGood and Enjoy Life specifically state they are certified gluten-free, meaning they are tested to below 10 parts per million of gluten. This very low level gives added assurance for those with celiac disease.

Are chocolate covered marshmallows gluten-free?

Chocolate covered marshmallows may or may not be gluten-free. It depends on the particular ingredients.

The marshmallow center is generally gluten-free. But the outer chocolate coating can be a concern. Here are some things to look out for:

  • Malt flavoring – Chocolate may be malted, which contains gluten.
  • Barley malt – Can be an ingredient in chocolate.
  • Cross-contamination – Most chocolate facilities also process products with wheat and barley.

Brands like Campfire state their chocolate marshmallows are gluten-free. But as always, it’s safest to check the label each time, as formulations can change.

Are marshmallows vegan?

Traditional marshmallows are not considered vegan, because they contain gelatin derived from animals. Gelatin is a protein obtained by boiling skin, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones of cows or pigs.

However, there are some vegan marshmallow options made using plant-based gelling agents like agar agar or carrageenan. Vegan marshmallow brands include Sweet & Sara and Dandies. Homemade fluff made from chickpea water and aquafaba can also be used as a substitute.

Note that vegan marshmallows may have a slightly different texture than traditional gelatin-containing marshmallows. But they can still provide a safe option for those avoiding animal products.

Gluten-free marshmallow recipes

In addition to eating marshmallows straight from the bag or in s’mores, there are many gluten-free dessert recipes that incorporate marshmallows. Here are some celiac-friendly marshmallow recipe ideas:

Marshmallow Crispy Treats

Making rice krispie treats with gluten-free marshmallows and rice/corn cereals is an easy gluten-free twist on the classic.

Marshmallow Fudge

Marshmallow, butter, cocoa powder, and powdered sugar come together to make rich gluten-free marshmallow fudge.

Marshmallow Fruit Dip

Whipping marshmallows into cream cheese makes a light, fluffy fruit dip perfect for apple slices.

Marshmallow Popcorn Balls

Popcorn balls coated in melted marshmallow are fun gluten-free treats for Halloween or parties.

Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows

Top your dairy-free hot cocoa with mini marshmallows for an indulgent yet celiac-friendly treat.

No-Bake Marshmallow Cookies

These kid-friendly cookies have just 3 ingredients: chocolate chips, marshmallows, and gluten-free cereal.

Marshmallow Sweet Potato Casserole

For Thanksgiving, top sweet potato casserole with marshmallows instead of gluten-containing bread crumbs.

Are marshmallows Keto?

Regular marshmallows are not considered Keto-friendly, due to their high carbohydrate content. A 1 oz serving (about 32 mini marshmallows) contains 24g of carbs, 20g of which are sugar.

However, there are some low-carb marshmallow options made specifically for the Keto diet. Brands like SmartSweets use sugar alcohols like erythritol to create Keto marshmallows with just 3g net carbs per serving.

Note that sugar alcohols can cause digestive issues in some people when eaten in excess. So it’s best to enjoy Keto marshmallows in moderation.

Risks of marshmallows for celiacs

While gluten-free marshmallows are generally considered safe for those with celiac disease, there are some potential risks and drawbacks to keep in mind when consuming them.

Nutritional value

Marshmallows have very little nutritional value. They are almost pure sugar, with minimal protein, nutrients, or fiber. While fine in moderation, relying on marshmallows as a dietary staple could lead to nutritional deficiencies for those with celiac who are already at risk.

High glycemic index

The glycemic index measures how quickly a food causes spikes in blood sugar. Marshmallows have a very high glycemic index of 82. Large amounts may cause unstable blood sugar in some people.

Choking hazard

Marshmallows can expand and stick in the throat. Parents should cut them in quarters for small children. Avoid giving marshmallows to toddlers under 2 years old.

Dental cavities

With their high sugar content, marshmallows can promote tooth decay. Be sure to brush after eating them. Limiting marshmallows may be wise for those prone to cavities.

Healthier marshmallow alternatives

For those looking to limit sugar or add more nutrition, there are some alternatives to regular marshmallows:

  • Mini marshmallows – Less sweet than large marshmallows.
  • Homemade marshmallows – Can cut added sugar by 25%.
  • Marshmallow fluff – Lighter and fluffier texture.
  • Marshmallow fruit dip – Mix in Greek yogurt for protein.
  • Rice malt balls – Made from brown rice syrup.
  • Yasso frozen Greek yogurt bars – Contain marshmallow swirls.

Enjoying marshmallows in moderation along with a balanced diet is the healthiest approach for those with celiac disease looking to enjoy an occasional sweet treat.


Marshmallows can be a delicious and nostalgic gluten-free treat thanks to their simple ingredients. Major brand name marshmallows are reliably safe from gluten, while artisanal or homemade versions may require more caution. Those with celiac disease should still check labels for gluten-containing ingredients each time before eating marshmallows. While not the most nutritious choice, enjoying marshmallows in moderation can provide a satisfying way for those with celiac disease to partake in beloved traditions like s’mores by the campfire.

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