Marshmallow represents one of the simplest, yet most delicious and tempting candies out there. This soft, mouthwatering treat is an absolute favorite among people with a sweet tooth.
Marshmallow is also one of the most versatile candies you’ll come across, as it can be enjoyed on its own, but it also complements other desserts and sweet beverages just as well.
It is extremely easy to make at home, but if you’re not a fan of making desserts in your kitchen, there are countless varieties, flavors, shapes, and forms of marshmallows available in stores.
What could be a good marshmallow substitute in your recipes? Let’s find out.
The best substitutes for marshmallow
We’re all quite familiar with the concept of marshmallows. However, when it comes to the actual ingredients used to make them, as well as the process itself, some facts may surprise you.
No matter the recipe, the key to achieving that fluffy, puffy marshmallow texture is in whipped air.
The initial marshmallow mixture includes water, sugar, and corn syrup. When it comes to a boil, gelatin is added to get the desired consistency and also make the texture stable and flexible.
It is very important to take the time to whip the mixture well – and not only to make sure that all the elements are combined.
It is the mixing process that allows the air to enter the mixture, creating that soft, velvety, puffy texture that marshmallow is known for.
Once the gelatin is added, different kinds of flavoring and coloring agents can be mixed in, as well.
The mixture is already sweet from the sugar, and the sugar combined with corn syrup creates a caramelized, slightly toasty aroma.
Most manufacturers use cornstarch or a similar ingredient to coat the marshmallow pieces and prevent them from sticking together.
Candy lovers will probably tell you that marshmallow is an irreplaceable ingredient in your desserts.
While it is certainly very unique, we believe that, with the right marshmallow alternative, you can still get similar results.
1. Homemade marshmallows
Is it possible to make these sweet, fluffy marshmallows at home? Absolutely! As we’ve mentioned, marshmallows include simple ingredients you probably have in your pantry.
While the process itself is very straightforward, it is a long one – which is something to keep in mind if you decide to make a homemade marshmallow batch.
For a batch of marshmallows (9 dozen 1-inch squares), you will need:
- 1 cup cold water (ice-cold)
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 3 packages unflavored gelatin
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar (optional)
- 1 cup corn syrup
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract (completely optional, and you can choose whatever flavor you’d like).
Follow these steps for your homemade marshmallows:
- Add the gelatin into a mixing bowl or a stand mixer bowl, depending on what kind of mixer you’ll be using. Pour in ½ cup of water, and make sure it is ice-cold.
- Grab a saucepan and combine the remaining water, corn syrup, salt, and granulated sugar. Put it over medium-high heat and cover with a lid.
- Let it cook for about 12 minutes, or until the mixture has reached 240°F, in case you’re using a candy thermometer, then remove from the heat.
- The next step is to slowly pour this mixture into the mixing bowl with the gelatin, making sure to set the mixer to low speed.
- Once you’ve poured in the entire mixture, set the mixer to high speed and mix for about 15 minutes, which will allow for the marshmallow mixture to become sticky and soft.
- The last step before turning the mixer off would be to add the vanilla extract or any other flavoring you prefer.
- Spray a baking dish with some nonstick spray, then add half of the combined cornstarch and confectioners’ sugar (if you’d like a sweet, thicker outer layer), covering the entire dish.
- Pour the marshmallow mixture onto the dish, making sure it is evenly distributed. Add the remaining cornstarch and sugar mixture on top.
The mixture should rest uncovered for at least 4 hours, but feel free to leave it overnight. After 4 hours or the next day, place the marshmallows onto a cutting board and cut them using a sharp knife.
If they’re sticky, you can coat them with a little bit of cornstarch and sugar mixture before placing them into an airtight container, where you can store them for 3 weeks.
2. Marshmallow fluff
Marshmallow fluff will be a great substitute for marshmallows in many of your recipes. There is, however, a slight difference in the recipe, as it usually includes whipped egg whites.
Also, marshmallow fluff isn’t as compact as the actual marshmallow pieces, so it could melt more easily if you add it on top of hot desserts or in a cup of hot liquid like coffee.
3. Mashmallow cream
Similar to marshmallow fluff, marshmallow cream will lack the flexibility and compactness of marshmallow pieces, so it may not be the best solution if you’re concerned about texture.
Other than that, marshmallow cream has the same flavor profile as marshmallows, and, in addition to marshmallow fluff, it is the closest alternative you will find.
Zephyr is a traditional Russian candy, and it is safe to say – their own version of marshmallows.
An important difference between the two is that there are eggs in zephyr, whereas the original marshmallow recipe does not include them.
Also, many traditional zephyr recipes will include some kind of fruit – usually in the form of a puree. The most common choice of fruit for zephyr is berries.
5. Sugar-free marshmallows
If you’re looking for a healthy alternative to marshmallows, you will absolutely love the sugar-free marshmallow brands.
Since sugar is one of the main ingredients in marshmallows, the term “sugar-free” may be a bit confusing to you.
However, in this case, sugar is replaced with sweeteners, both natural and artificial. The best natural sweetener that can replace sugar in this recipe would be agave syrup.
6. Honey and peanut butter bars
A great alternative to marshmallows would be a mixture of honey and peanut butter – especially if you need a quick homemade dessert.
An even better idea would be to add some crisp rice cereal into the mixture, and combine all the ingredients to get crispy, sweet treats.
You will need equal amounts of honey and peanut butter, and the desired amount of favorite crisp rice cereal, depending on the texture you’re going for.
Heat the honey until it starts boiling, then remove from the heat and stir in the peanut butter. Finally, add the cereal and make sure to mix the ingredients well.
Using a mixer will give you an even fluffier, soft consistency. Add the mixture to an oiled baking tray, and distribute evenly.
Allow the mixture to rest for at least 4 hours before cutting it up into small treats.
7. Baked brie
If you’re not a huge fan of sweet treats, you may enjoy baked brie cubes far more than marshmallows.
Baked brie is also an amazing replacement for s’mores, as it has that toasty aroma when baked.
Keep in mind that brie is a bit savory, so you may want to add some sugar, caramel, or fruit to balance out the flavors.
8. Vegan marshmallows
The best vegan substitute for marshmallows is simply marshmallows without any added gelatin.
Vegan marshmallow products are available in many stores, but you can also modify your marshmallow recipes to make them vegan.
However, if you’re excluding gelatin, it is recommended to use the mixer for a bit longer to create a more flexible, marshmallow-like texture.
9. Homemade marshmallow creme
If you don’t have the real thing or you’re unable to find the flavors you need in the store, you can always combine the ingredients you have at home and make your own substitute for marshmallow cream.
In a mixing bowl, add egg whites and whisk them until the mixture is stable. Next, you want to add corn syrup, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract.
Needless to say, you can use any kind of extract to get the desired flavor, but the vanilla one will produce a flavor most similar to the original marshmallow cream.
Once again, the key is in mixing the ingredients well.
10. Creme Patissiere (pastry cream)
Creme Patissiere is yet another amazing marshmallow creme substitute, also known as vanilla pastry cream.
If you’re a fan of vanilla flavor, this pastry cream will become an absolute staple in your desserts.
It is an excellent choice for chocolate eclairs, profiteroles, Bostom cream pie, or fruit tarts.
11. Cookies with vanilla filling
Any kind of cookies with vanilla filling could replace marshmallows, especially if you’re not looking for a creamy product.
These cookies can be crumbled into cake filling, sweet pastry dough, or simply be used on top of desserts and beverages such as hot chocolate as a sweet garnish.
12. Cheese cream
Cheese cream is the main element in many desserts, and many people absolutely adore it because it is easy to work with and takes 15 minutes to make.
This cream is usually a mixture of cream cheese, condensed milk, and some kind of flavoring – usually vanilla.
The secret to getting a thick, sticky cheese cream resembling marshmallow cream texture lies in mixing – the better the mixer, the fluffier the cream.
13. Marshmallow protein bar
Marshmallow protein bars are usually sugar-free, and the marshmallow filling isn’t based on the typical ingredients such as sugar and corn syrup.
However, the texture and the flavor will be quite similar to the “real deal”, so this could be a convenient option to replace marshmallows in your snack.
14. Vanilla jello
Vanilla jello could be a convenient solution if you’re looking for that gummy, sticky texture. However, keep in mind that jello has a denser consistency.
This dessert is something you can easily make at home using gelatin and vanilla flavoring.
15. Vanilla ice cream
Finally, if you’re craving marshmallows, vanilla ice cream could be a good substitute – especially if you’re a fan of that milky, slightly nutty aroma.
Vanilla ice cream is, without a doubt, one of the most versatile dessert options out there, and there’s hardly any dessert that wouldn’t benefit from a scoop of ice cream on top.
How to choose a marshmallow substitute
When it comes to replacing marshmallows, you can get a similar texture from homemade marshmallows, marshmallow fluff, zephyr, sugar-free marshmallows, baked brie, vegan marshmallows, and vanilla jello (which will be a bit denser).
Marshmallow cream, on the other hand, has an identical flavor profile but the texture is a bit creamier. Similar alternatives include homemade marshmallow creme, Creme Patissiere, and cheese cream.
Finally, the best sweet treats that could be used in place of marshmallows even though they differ in texture are honey and peanut butter bars, cookies with vanilla filling, marshmallow protein bars, and vanilla ice cream.