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The 5 Most Similar Substitutes for Marshmallows in a Recipe

The most similar substitutes for marshmallows in a recipe are marshmallow fluff, marshmallow cream, sugar-free marshmallows, vegan marshmallows, Russian marshmallows, and homemade marshmallows. Other alternatives include mixing various peanut butter or almond butter with honey or maple syrup. 

This article will explore the top 5 most similar substitutes for marshmallows in a recipe. I will also take a look at the main ingredients of marshmallows and cover 3 more alternatives.

A plate of white and pink marshmallows

The 5 most similar substitutes for marshmallows described below are primarily store-bought options, including vegan and sugar-free varieties. However, each option is pretty easy to make at home. Homemade marshmallow and marshmallow fluff recipes are great for those who want to avoid highly processed foods, animal products, or excess sugar. 

1. Marshmallow Fluff

Marshmallow fluff is a variety of marshmallow products that comes in a jar or tub and has the signature flavor and light, fluffy, gooey qualities of melted marshmallows. Its ingredients include corn syrup, sugar, egg whites, and artificial flavorings. It is, therefore, not a vegan food. 

Marshmallow fluff can be a great alternative for recipes that call for melted marshmallows, like rice crispy treats and even s’mores. It can be mixed and spread much more easily and without being heated. It can also be used in fudge, fruit salads, or to top candied yams or hot chocolate. Like regular marshmallows, the fluff will brown and crisp when exposed to high heat or flame. 

1 cup (236 g) of marshmallows or 8 large mallows is equal to ½ cup (118 g) of marshmallow fluff.

It’s also key to remember that marshmallow fluff is different from marshmallow cream. The two products can be used interchangeably for most recipes. However, they have different ingredients and will therefore affect the recipes differently. Mainly they produce different textures. 

2. Marshmallow Cream

Marshmallow cream (a.k.a. marshmallow creme) comes in a jar or tub and has a consistency almost identical to marshmallow fluff. However, its ingredients include corn syrup, sugar, egg whites, xanthan gum, cream of tartar, and natural or artificial flavorings. 

The difference in ingredients gives marshmallow cream a stickier texture than marshmallow fluff, which makes it even more similar to melted marshmallows than the fluff alternative. As a result, marshmallow cream is an excellent substitute for any recipe that calls for melted marshmallows. 

It’s also ideal for use in fudge recipes, as the cream of tartar prevents the recrystallization of sugar and keeps the texture smooth. Using marshmallow fluff in a fudge recipe will still work, but it will make the texture heavier and less smooth. 

1 cup (236 g) of marshmallows is equal to ½ cup (118 g) of marshmallow cream. 1 cup (236 g) of marshmallow creme equals 1 cup (236 g) of marshmallow fluff. 

3. Sugar-Free Marshmallows

Sugar-free marshmallows are a great replacement if you want to make recipes appropriate for diabetics and keto diets. However, store-bought varieties usually contain artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose, which can have adverse effects on your health. 

A plate of sugar free marshmallows

Health food stores often carry varieties of sugar-free marshmallows that use xylitol and monk fruit instead of sugar. Neither is associated with significant adverse health effects. However, xylitol and other sugar alcohols like mannitol, sorbitol, lactitol, isomalt, maltitol, and hydrogenated starch hydrolysates (HSH) can cause bloating and diarrhea in some individuals. Do not eat in large amounts!

Homemade sugar-free marshmallows are another easy alternative and are much less processed. There are countless recipes to try, but the most straightforward versions use gelatin powder, allulose (a plant-based sugar-free sweetener), water, vanilla extract, powdered erythritol, monk fruit, or xylitol. 

Sugar-free marshmallows can be used as a 1:1 replacement for regular marshmallows.

4. Vegan Marshmallows

Vegan marshmallows eschew the usual gelatin (made from animal protein) in favor of agar agar, carrageenan, xanthan gum, or other plant-based thickeners. Other vegan marshmallow ingredients usually include sugar, aquafaba, and vanilla extract. 

Vegan marshmallows have almost identical flavor and texture to regular marshmallows. They can be used interchangeably in any recipe that calls for marshmallows. Although difficult to find at regular groceries stores, they are readily available at health food stores and online.

Vegan marshmallows can be used as a 1:1 replacement for regular marshmallows.

5. Russian Marshmallows

Russian marshmallows (a.k.a. zephyr, zephir, zefir, zefi, or zefyras) is a variety of marshmallow made in Russia, Ukraine, and Lithuania. It looks like a meringue but has a soft and airy texture similar to a regular marshmallow.

This confection is usually produced by whipping apple puree with sugar and egg whites. It also has an added thickening agent like pectin, gelatin, carrageenan, or agar agar. 

Russian marshmallows are an excellent alternative to regular marshmallows if you want to try something different. They can also be made with other types of fruit puree and therefore come in various flavors. 

They are most commonly available at international grocery stores or online. For example, check out these Russian Vanilla Zefir (available on Amazon). You can also make them at home with relative ease.  

Russian marshmallows can be used as a 1:1 replacement for regular marshmallows.

What Is the Main Ingredient for Marshmallows?

The main ingredient for marshmallows is sugar. Marshmallows are made from sugar, corn syrup, and gelatin, although extra dyes and flavorings may be added. Gelatin holds the sugar and corn syrup together and gives marshmallows their structure. Whipped-in air bubbles make them light and fluffy. 

A bowl of sugar with sugar cubes nearby

Marshmallows can also be made with carrageenan and soy protein instead of gelatin and artificial sweeteners instead of sugar and corn syrup. 

However, these confections originated in Ancient Egypt, when they were made with mallow root. Mallow root grows in marshes (hence the name marshmallow). The Egyptians squeezed out the root sap and mixed it with honey and nuts to make sticky candy served only to royalty and other high-ranking individuals.

The modern-day marshmallow candy was invented in the 1800s from mallow root sap, sugar, egg whites, and eventually corn starch, mixed together and poured into molds. It was only later that egg whites and mallow root sap were replaced with gelatin and corn syrup for mass production. 

Is There a Gelatin Free Marshmallow Option?

There is a gelatin-free marshmallow option. Also known as vegan marshmallows, they are usually made with carrageenan, soy protein, or other plant-based products instead of gelatin, which is made from animal protein. They are available at most health food stores.

You can also make your own vegan marshmallows or vegan marshmallow fluff at home. Ingredients usually include some combination of aquafaba (bean water), agar-agar (seaweed gelatin), cream of tartar, sugar, vanilla extract, and water. Cornstarch and/or corn syrup may also be included. 

Can You Use Marshmallow Cream Instead of Marshmallows?

You can use marshmallow cream instead of marshmallows. In fact, it is an excellent substitute, especially in recipes that call for melted marshmallows. This includes rice crispy treats, s’mores, and candied yams. It can also be used to top hot drinks in place of mini marshmallows or whipped cream. 

Marshmallow fluff can also be used in almost any recipe that calls for marshmallows or marshmallow creme, as they are made of almost identical ingredients. 

Is There a Way To Get the Marshmallow Flavor Without Marshmallows?

The way to get marshmallow flavor without using marshmallows is to use marshmallow flavoring or extract, both of which are sold for cooking. Marshmallows taste like sugar and vanilla, so you can make marshmallow flavoring at home using vanilla beans and sugar syrup. 

Marshmallow flavor comes in two forms. Natural marshmallow extract, like LorAnn Marshmallow SS Flavor (available on Amazon), is made from marshmallow root. You can add a few drops to any candy, cake, or dessert recipe to give it an authentic marshmallow taste. 

Marshmallow flavoring like Hobbyland Toasted Marshmallow Flavoring (available on Amazon) is made of natural and artificial ingredients that capture the flavor of vanilla and toasted sugar. While many people enjoy the taste of artificial marshmallow flavoring, some find it very strong and unpleasant with a chemical aftertaste. 

Making your own marshmallow flavoring at home is simple and easy. All you need is water, sugar, marshmallows, and vanilla extract. 

What Is the Healthiest Substitute for Marshmallows?

The healthiest substitute for marshmallows is homemade Russian marshmallows, which contain real fruit puree and no artificial or highly processed ingredients. They are also fat-free and relatively low-calorie as candies go. When made with pectin, they provide extra health benefits, too.

Pectin is a form of fiber derived from apples and citrus. The health benefits it provides include aiding in digestion, lowering cholesterol, improving blood sugar and blood fat levels, boosting the immune system, and detoxing the body. Pectin may also help prevent certain forms of cancer and promote a healthy weight. 

Marshmallow Alternatives That Don’t Taste Like Marshmallow

Sometimes you want to make a recipe that typically calls for marshmallows, but you don’t care if the replacement tastes like marshmallows. The most common example recipe is rice crispy treats or other types of sticky cereal bars. You need something sweet to flavor the cereal and something gooey to make it stick together, but it doesn’t have to be marshmallow! 

Below are 3 non-marshmallow alternatives for your rice crispies. 

  • Peanut butter and honey. To use this alternative, combine equal parts honey and peanut butter with a pinch of salt to balance the flavor. Heat the honey in a pan on medium heat until it boils. Turn off the heat, and then add the peanut butter and salt. Stir until combined. Use in place of the marshmallows in your rice crispy recipe.  
  • Honey, peanut butter, and chocolate. Adding chocolate takes this recipe to a whole new level! As described above, bring your honey to a boil in a saucepan. Turn off the heat and add peanut butter and chocolate (chips or broken chocolate bar). Stir until all the chocolate melts and ingredients are combined. Now mix it with your chosen cereal!

Almond butter and maple syrup. If peanut butter isn’t ideal for you, try almond butter instead. You can combine it with maple syrup for a unique and delicious flavor. Melt maple syrup and almond butter together in a pan over low heat. Once combined, turn off the heat and add your cereal of choice. If desired, mix in some chocolate chips or add a drizzle on top after the bars are shaped.

Related The 11 Best Alternative Sweeteners For Coffee.