How can you tell if marshmallows are gluten free?

Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. For people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten can cause serious health issues. When buying packaged foods like marshmallows, it’s important for gluten-free consumers to check the label for gluten-containing ingredients.

Do marshmallows contain gluten?

Many marshmallows are gluten-free, but some contain ingredients derived from gluten-containing grains. The main ingredients in marshmallows are sugar, corn syrup, and gelatin. Gelatin is made by boiling animal bones and skins which does not contain gluten. However, some marshmallows include barley malt as a flavoring, which does contain gluten. Additionally, marshmallows can pick up traces of gluten during manufacturing if they are produced on shared equipment with other gluten-containing products.

Reading the ingredients list

To determine if a marshmallow is gluten-free, check the ingredients list on the packaging. Avoid marshmallows with ingredients like:

  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Malt extract or malt syrup (usually contains barley)
  • Dextrin (may be derived from wheat)

Safe, gluten-free marshmallow ingredients include:

  • Sugar
  • Corn syrup
  • Gelatin
  • Natural and artificial flavors
  • Coloring agents like Red 40 or Blue 1

Checking for “gluten-free” labeling

The easiest way to identify gluten-free marshmallows is to look for a “gluten-free” label somewhere on the packaging. Manufacturers may voluntarily label foods “gluten-free” if they contain fewer than 20 parts per million of gluten.

You may also see labels like:

  • “Free of wheat, barley, rye”
  • “No gluten ingredients”
  • “Manufactured in a gluten-free facility”

Terms like “wheat-free” don’t necessarily mean a product is gluten-free, because it could still contain barley or rye. Look for the specific word “gluten” to ensure the product meets gluten-free standards.

Calling the manufacturer

When in doubt, call or email the manufacturer to ask about their gluten-free status. Here are some questions to ask:

  • Are your marshmallows gluten-free?
  • What type of facility do you produce them in?
  • Do you process other gluten-containing ingredients on the same equipment?
  • Have you implemented procedures to prevent cross-contamination?

Reputable manufacturers should be able to address any concerns you have about their gluten-free commitment and practices.

Purchasing gluten-free specialty brands

Many mainstream marshmallow brands don’t explicitly label their products as gluten-free. Several specialty brands manufacture gluten-free and vegan marshmallows:

  • Dandies Vegan Marshmallows
  • Chicago Vegan Foods S’mores
  • Sweet & Sara Vegan Marshmallows
  • Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Ricemellow Creme Marshmallows

These brands often state “gluten-free” directly on the packaging and may note additional details about shared equipment and facility practices. Purchasing from a brand that specializes in gluten-free foods can provide added assurance.

Avoiding cross-contamination

Even gluten-free marshmallows could potentially contain traces of gluten due to cross-contamination during production. Here are some tips to avoid exposure from cross-contact:

  • Avoid bulk bins, which have a high risk of cross-contamination from scoops.
  • Check that the bag or container is properly sealed.
  • Purchase marshmallows manufactured in dedicated gluten-free facilities when possible.
  • Contact manufacturers and ask about gluten testing protocols.

Companies that regularly test products and implement careful allergen control procedures are less likely to have issues with cross-contamination.

Homemade marshmallows

Making homemade marshmallows is a foolproof way to avoid gluten exposure. Most recipes call for just gelatin, sugar, water or corn syrup, and vanilla extract. Be sure to use certified gluten-free oats if you are making rice cereal treats with marshmallows. You can also customize the flavor by using gluten-free extracts or cocoa powder.

Common marshmallow brands

Here is an overview of whether some popular marshmallow brands are gluten-free based on product research and contacting manufacturers:

Brand Gluten-Free Status
Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallows Gluten-free
Campfire Marshmallows Not gluten-free due to manufacturing process
Peeps Marshmallows Gluten-free
Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme Gluten-free
Hershey’s S’mores Kit Not gluten-free due to graham cracker ingredient
Marshmallow Fluff Gluten-free

Are marshmallows dairy-free?

Gelatin is the ingredient that gives marshmallows their fluffy texture. Gelatin is derived from collagen in animal bones and skins, most commonly from pigs or cows. This means traditional marshmallows are not considered dairy-free or vegan.

There are some specialty marshmallows made with plant-based gelatins like agar or locust bean gum. These are viable alternatives for people who eat a dairy-free or vegan diet. When buying marshmallows for dietary needs, be sure to check the ingredient list for the source of gelatin or any milk-derived ingredients.

Are marshmallows egg-free?

Most marshmallows do not contain egg ingredients, making them egg-free. The main exception would be homemade marshmallow recipes, which sometimes include egg whites. Packaged marshmallows only require sugar, corn syrup, gelatin, and flavorings to achieve their texture.

People with egg allergies or following a vegan diet should still check the ingredients list for any hidden egg ingredients. But most major brands of marshmallows do not contain eggs or egg byproducts.

Are marshmallows nut-free?

Plain marshmallows without mix-ins do not contain nuts or nut-derived ingredients, making them nut-free. People with tree nut or peanut allergies should still check the label closely for any warning statements.

Some flavored marshmallow varieties may contain nuts or be processed on equipment shared with nuts. For example, Rocky Road marshmallows have nuts mixed in, so those would not be safe for people with nut allergies.

Can you toast gluten-free marshmallows?

Yes, marshmallows labeled gluten-free can safely be toasted, roasted over a campfire, or used in s’mores. The gluten-free status applies to both uncooked and toasted marshmallows.

Toasting does not introduce any new ingredients – it simply heats and browns the existing gluten-free marshmallow. Take the same precautions to avoid cross-contact by thoroughly cleaning any cooking utensils and logs or sticks used in the process.

Making safe s’mores

With so many gluten-free marshmallow options, people who eat gluten-free can still enjoy classic campfire treats like s’mores. Here are some tips for assembling safe gluten-free s’mores:

  • Use certified gluten-free graham crackers or another gluten-free substitute like cookies or brownies.
  • Choose gluten-free chocolate bars or chunks.
  • Roast marshmallows on a clean stick or use gluten-free roasting forks.
  • Assemble over foil rather than directly on plates or tables that may have had gluten contact.

Making rice cereal treats

Rice cereal treats made with gluten-free marshmallows make a delicious gluten-free dessert. Be sure to check that the rice cereal is also certified gluten-free, as plain rice cereal is sometimes processed on machines shared with gluten-containing grains.

Some gluten-free brands of rice cereal include:

  • Barbara’s
  • Erewhon
  • Lundberg
  • EnviroKidz
  • Nature’s Path

Mix the rice cereal with gluten-free marshmallows and shape into bars or balls for a tasty and allergy-friendly snack.

Storing gluten-free marshmallows

Unopened packages of gluten-free marshmallows can be stored in a cool, dry pantry for 1-2 months. Once opened, they will start to dry out and absorb moisture, so seal the package tightly. For best quality and freshness, use opened marshmallows within 2-3 weeks.

Frozen or homemade marshmallows may last 6-12 months in the freezer in an airtight container. Allow frozen marshmallows to come to room temperature before use.

Avoid storing marshmallows in humid environments, which can cause them to become sticky or lose their fluffiness faster.

Traveling with gluten-free marshmallows

When traveling or camping, here are some tips for transporting gluten-free marshmallows:

  • Seal marshmallows in a plastic bag or airtight container to prevent squishing.
  • Pack in a cooler with ice packs to prevent melting.
  • Bring an extra bag for opening and roasting marshmallows.
  • Bring your own roasting sticks and cooking tools to prevent cross-contact.
  • Keep marshmallows away from other non-gluten-free food items.
  • Campfireidea: bring pre-made s’mores kits in sealed bags.

Marshmallow flavor ideas

Gluten-free marshmallows can be infused with different natural flavors or dipped in gluten-free toppings. Get creative with these flavor ideas:

  • Cocoa powder or melted chocolate
  • Shredded coconut
  • Chopped nuts
  • Crushed gluten-free graham crackers
  • Sprinkles
  • Extracts like vanilla, almond, peppermint
  • Food coloring
  • Cinnamon
  • Powdered sugar

You can also make flavored marshmallows at home by adding ingredients to the marshmallow recipe before whipping.

Marshmallow FAQs

Are Campfire® marshmallows gluten-free?

No, Campfire® brand marshmallows contain barley malt extract and are not labeled gluten-free. The manufacturer states they cannot guarantee Campfire marshmallows are gluten-free due to the manufacturing process.

Can you eat marshmallow fluff raw?

Yes, marshmallow fluff or creme is safe to eat straight out of the jar. It has a smooth, creamy texture similar to frosting. However, it is very sweet so it may taste best when paired with fruit, graham crackers, or incorporated into recipes.

Do you toast vegan marshmallows differently?

Vegan marshmallows can be toasted the same way as gelatin-based marshmallows. Hold them over the fire until warmed through and lightly browned on the outside. Vegan marshmallows may melt faster so watch them closely while toasting.

Can marshmallows be frozen?

Yes, freezing is a great way to extend the shelf life of opened packages of marshmallows. Place them in a freezer bag or airtight container, removing excess air. They will keep for 6-12 months in the freezer before drying out.

Should you refrigerate marshmallows?

Refrigeration can extend the shelf life of opened marshmallows slightly, but it is not required. The cold temperature in the fridge may impact their texture, making them harder and less pillowy. Storing tightly sealed at room temperature is best.

Can old marshmallows make you sick?

Marshmallows can grow mold if left sitting out too long. Stale marshmallows may be very stiff and lose their appeal, but they are unlikely to cause illness if the package was properly sealed. However, it is still best to discard old marshmallows that have changed in appearance or texture.

The bottom line

Checking ingredient lists, contacting manufacturers, and purchasing specialty gluten-free brands are the best ways to identify marshmallows that are gluten-free. With so many options now available, people following gluten-free diets can enjoy all the same marshmallow treats as anyone else.

Make s’mores, rice crispy squares, or flavored marshmallows using simple strategies to avoid cross-contamination. Feel confident toasted marshmallows and homemade recipes can also be safely gluten-free.

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