Sugar free marshmallows are a great alternative for people looking to reduce their sugar intake. Traditional marshmallows are made mostly of sugar, corn syrup and gelatin. Sugar free marshmallows swap out the sugar for low calorie sweeteners, allowing people with diabetes, weight concerns or other health issues to enjoy the light, fluffy texture of marshmallows without all the added sugar.
The main ingredients in sugar free marshmallows are:
Sugar alcohols like maltitol, sorbitol, xylitol or erythritol are commonly used to replace the sugar in traditional marshmallow recipes. These sweeteners provide the sweet taste but contain fewer calories and carbs and do not spike blood sugar as much as regular sugar. Some brands may also use stevia or sucralose (Splenda).
Gelatin gives marshmallows their characteristic soft, squishy texture. It acts as a binder and thickening agent. Gelatin is derived from collagen in animal bones and skin. For vegetarian options, agar agar derived from seaweed may be used instead.
Water hydrates the marshmallow mixture and allows the other ingredients to blend properly. Some recipes may use fruit juice or non-dairy milk instead for extra flavor.
A small amount of cornstarch is often added to help absorb moisture and maintain the smooth, short texture.
Sugar free marshmallows are often enhanced with vanilla, almond extract or other natural flavorings. Unsweetened cocoa powder may be blended in for a chocolate variety.
Cream of tartar, baking powder or egg whites give marshmallows their puffy foam structure by trapping tiny air bubbles during mixing.
A bit of acid like lemon juice or citric acid helps stabilize the egg foams and gelatin mixture.
Sugar free marshmallows are made using a similar process to regular marshmallows:
The sugar substitute, gelatin, cornstarch and flavorings are measured out. The gelatin is typically bloomed in cold water first to allow it to hydrate.
The sweetener, acid, and water or fruit juice are combined in a large pot or mixer. The mixture is heated to 115°F to dissolve the ingredients and activate the gelatin.
Once heated, the gelatin solution is transferred to a stand mixer outfitted with a whisk attachment. Egg whites or cream of tartar are added and the mixture is beaten on high speed for 12-15 minutes. This incorporates air and makes the marshmallow fluffy.
The marshmallow fluff is allowed to rest briefly so the bubbles can set. Flavorings like vanilla or cocoa may be folded in at this stage.
The mixture is scooped out or poured into molds, pans or packaging, then left undisturbed to firm up fully. This may take 2-4 hours at room temperature.
For marshmallows with a dry, powdery exterior, cornstarch is tossed with the shaped marshmallows before cooling. This prevents stickiness.
Once completely set, marshmallows are cut into cubes or other shapes with lubricated cookie cutters or knives. They may be dusted in more cornstarch to keep them separate after cutting.
Benefits of Sugar Free Marshmallows
Sugar free marshmallows offer several advantages:
- Lower in sugar and calories – Sugar substitutes save 70-90% of the calories compared to regular sugar.
- Less impact on blood sugar – The sugar alcohols used won’t spike blood glucose levels.
- Tooth-friendly – With less fermentable sugar, sugar free marshmallows are less likely to cause cavities.
- Guilt-free indulgence – People restricting carbs or sugar don’t have to miss out on the sweet, pillowy texture.
- Kid-friendly – The sweet flavor appeals to kids without the sugar overload.
For people with dietary restrictions like diabetes or those simply watching their sugar intake, sugar free marshmallows are a tasty way to enjoy a classic treat. The minimal carbs and sugar allow them to be enjoyed in moderation without disrupting blood sugar or weight loss goals.
Here is a nutrition comparison between traditional marshmallows and sugar free marshmallows (using maltitol as the sweetener):
|Nutrition Facts||Regular Marshmallows (10 large)||Sugar Free Marshmallows (10 large)|
As you can see, sugar free marshmallows contain significantly fewer calories and carbs, and no sugar at all. The sugar is replaced by sugar alcohols, which contribute fewer calories and have less impact on blood sugar.
Some popular brands of sugar free marshmallows include:
- Russell Stover
- Marshmallow Soft Batch
- Stay Puft
These can typically be found in the baking aisle or specialty sweetener section of grocery stores. Online stores like Amazon also carry various brands. Be sure to compare ingredients, as some contain sugar alcohols that may cause GI upset in sensitive individuals.
Sugar free marshmallows typically cost a bit more than regular marshmallows:
|Brand||Regular Price||Sugar Free Price|
|Campfire Marshmallows||$2.50 (10 oz)||$3.99 (10 oz)|
|Russell Stover Marshmallows||$1.99 (7 oz)||$5.49 (7 oz)|
|Jet-Puffed Marshmallows||$1.48 (16 oz)||No sugar free option|
On average, sugar free marshmallows cost about $1-2 more per package. The price difference reflects the higher cost of sugar substitute ingredients compared to regular sugar. Many brands only offer sugar free marshmallows in smaller package sizes as well, which can increase the price per ounce.
Taste and Texture
Sugar free marshmallows are designed to mimic the light, fluffy texture of regular marshmallows. However, there are some slight differences in taste and consistency:
- Less sweetness – Without all the sugar, the sweetness level is more muted.
- Sugar alcohol aftertaste – Some brands have a cooling, bitter aftertaste from sugar alcohols.
- Grainier texture – Sugar substitutes don’t dissolve as well, so the texture may be less smooth.
- Fast melting – The sugar free versions tend to melt faster when exposed to heat.
That said, many brands do a good job minimizing the off tastes and differences from real sugar. Overall, sugar free marshmallows provide a similar sweet, pillowy eating experience for a fraction of the sugar and carbs.
Uses for Sugar Free Marshmallows
Sugar free marshmallows can be swapped into many classic treats:
- Hot cocoa – Add mini marshmallows for a sweet topping.
- Rice Krispie treats – Make the classic no-bake bars into a low sugar version.
- Rocky road – Toss marshmallows into chocolate bark with nuts.
- S’mores – Sandwich marshmallows and chocolate between graham crackers.
- Ambrosia salad – Fold into a creamy fruit salad.
- Marshmallow cream – Blend marshmallows with cream cheese for a fluff dip.
- Popcorn topping – Drizzle melted marshmallow over air popped popcorn.
Let the marshmallows come to room temperature before using for optimal texture. When cooking or heating, keep the temperature low to prevent excess melting.
Storing Sugar Free Marshmallows
To maximize freshness, store opened packages of sugar free marshmallows:
- In an airtight container at room temperature.
- In a sealed bag with the air pushed out.
- In the refrigerator to prolong shelf life.
- In the freezer for long term storage.
Unopened packages can be kept in a cool, dry pantry. Avoid temperature fluctuations and humidity. Check the best by date and consume within 8-12 months for best quality.
The sugar free formulations tend to dry out faster than regular marshmallows. Keeping them in an airtight container helps retain moisture and soft texture.
Are Sugar Free Marshmallows Safe?
Sugar free marshmallows are considered safe for most healthy adults in moderation. However, there are a few considerations:
- Gastrointestinal effects – Large amounts of sugar alcohols may cause bloating, gas or diarrhea in sensitive people.
- Blood sugar – Sugar free ≠ calorie free. Calories from other ingredients can affect blood sugar control.
- Allergies – Check labels for gelatin if allergic.
- Dental health – Stickiness can still damage teeth. Enjoy in moderation.
Pregnant women and children should minimize consumption of sugar free marshmallows until more research is available on sugar substitutes. People with diabetes should enjoy occasionally while monitoring carb counts and blood sugar response.
Overall, sugar free marshmallows are a tasty way for people to indulge their sweet tooth as part of a balanced, low sugar diet. Moderating portions is key to health benefits. Excess consumption may cause GI issues or weight gain despite the lack of sugar.
Sugar free marshmallows provide the delightful texture of classic marshmallows without all the sugar. Swapping sugar alcohols for regular sugar saves calories, carbs, and prevents blood sugar spikes. The ingredient switch does alter the taste and texture somewhat, but many brands offer a close approximation marshmallow fans will enjoy.
In moderation, sugar free marshmallows can be a smart substitute for people with diabetes, food allergies or those simply trying to cut back on sugar. Be mindful of portion sizes and potential GI side effects from sugar alcohols. Otherwise, enjoy infusing these lighter marshmallows into cocoa, desserts, snacks and other treats!