Marshmallows are a treat on their own. But sometimes you simply don’t have enough to make a big batch of Rice Krispie treats, and you’ll need a good marshmallow substitute.
What Are Marshmallows?
Marshmallows are a sweet confectionary that has a fluffy, spongy texture and are often just plain, without any inclusions or extra flavor additives other than sugar and vanilla. They got their name from the mallow plant, which was one of the ingredients when it was first made.
Common Uses for Marshmallow
- On top of hot drinks – like hot chocolate, it can be added as a creamy and sweet additive.
- Use in a classic s’more – a classic American treat using marshmallows and often made around campfires.
- Cake toppings – some cakes and cupcakes use melted marshmallows as a decorative addition.
- Various other treats – such as Rice Krispie treats and peeps.
- Toppings to casseroles – some casseroles, like sweet potato casseroles, can feature marshmallows as a topping.
How to Choose a Substitute for Marshmallow
- Use – if you are planning on melting marshmallows as a frosting or filling, make sure the substitute you’ll use will set up or stay melted the way you need it to
- Diet – if you need a marshmallow substitute due to dietary restrictions, make sure your substitute follows your diet – marshmallow fluff doesn’t contain gelatin, but it does still contain egg whites, making it a non-vegan option
- Flavor – some substitutes will have a different flavor profile, so if you don’t want a peanut butter-flavored casserole, it’s best to not use the honey & peanut butter alternative.
15 Best Marshmallow Substitutes
1. Marshmallow Fluff
Marshmallow fluff is made with the same ingredients as marshmallows, with some extra egg whites to give it an airy and fluffy texture. Use it in any recipe where you’d need melted marshmallows, such as Rice Krispies – Sprinkle of This uses fluff in their recipe.
2. Marshmallow Cream
You can use marshmallow cream in the same way you’d use marshmallow fluff, but know that the difference is marshmallow cream has xantham gum added for a slightly different consistency. Budget 101 explains the difference.
3. Sugar-Free Marshmallows
If you need a replacement for marshmallows because you’re worried about the sugar content, there are sugar-free marshmallows out there. If you can’t find any, The Big Man’s World has a recipe to make your own using only 3 ingredients. It will be a 1:1 substitute.
4. Vegan Marshmallows
If you didn’t know that normal marshmallows aren’t vegan, the gelatin found in marshmallows is made from animal bones and other by-products. Luckily there are vegan marshmallows available, so you can make your own using World of Vegan’s recipe or find some in a local store that sells vegan goods.
Zephyr is the Russian equivalent of marshmallows, but they contain some apple or other fruit puree to act as a binding agent and sweetener. It is unlikely that you’d have these handy, but they do make for a fun substitute in most recipes, and they’re usually vegan. Everything Marina has a recipe if you can’t find any in-store.
6. Honey & Peanut Butter
If you need to make a recipe, but you have nothing closely resembling marshmallows in your pantry, try using heated honey & peanut butter to replace the sweetness and chewiness in your recipes. How to Make Cereal Treats has a recipe that uses these ingredients, but expect a peanut butter flavor in the final product wherever you’ll use this substitution.
7. Grilled Fruit
Of course, adding a chunk of grilled fruit on a hot cacao isn’t great as a substitution for marshmallows, but it is a good idea if you want to make your s’mores a little bit healthier and with a slightly more complex flavor profile. Vine Ripe Nutrition shows you how to make these s’mores.
8. Chocolate and Peanut Butter
If you want a richer flavor profile than just honey and peanut butter, add in some chocolate to the mix, and you’ll have a decadent treat that can bind the ingredients as marshmallows would, and provide some sweetness. Detoxinsta uses only 4 ingredients to make delicious Rice Krispie treats.
9. Grilled Brie
Not that s’mores aren’t suited for adults, but grilling brie and fruit in the place of marshmallows and chocolate makes for a delicious grown-up s’more. Macheesmo uses chocolate in their brie s’mores, but you can omit it if you’d like.
10. Cream Cheese & Sweetened Condensed Milk
You might not think this is a good combination, but when you mix these two ingredients together you get a topping ideal for something like a sweet potato casserole. You can follow this recipe by Natasha’s Kitchen for frosting or topping.
11. Pastry Cream
Sweet and vanilla-flavored, you can easily use pastry cream as a replacement for marshmallows when it’s used as a filling or a topping. Serious Eats has a recipe, but you can also ask your local bakery to sell you some.
12. Vanilla Jello
Although the texture and consistency is quite different from marshmallow, you might find some use in sweet vanilla jello to give your recipe a firm and sweet texture. Alternatively, you can use vanilla or any other flavored jello to make a batch of marshmallows using this recipe by Click Americana.
13. Instant Pudding
You might find that making an instant pudding could work as a great substitute for a marshmallow or filling, but you can also mix it with other ingredients to make a fluffier filling, just like in this frosting recipe by Call Me PMC.
Nougat is made in a similar way to marshmallows but is just a bit firmer than marshmallows. It can satisfy a craving or work as a marshmallow substitute, but if you need it to be melted, melt it along with some cream for a silky smooth result. Crafty Baking explains how its made and the similarities to marshmallows.
15. Homemade Marshmallows
Of course, if you have the time, making your own marshmallows is fun and not difficult at all. You might even prefer to make them at home since they’ll definitely be tastier than store-bought mallows if you follow The Flavor Bender’s recipe.
Marshmallow Substitute FAQ
Are Marshmallows Unhealthy?
Marshmallows contain a lot of sugar and corn syrup, making them an unhealthy treat. But as with any sweet treat, moderation is key to a healthy diet.
What Is the Healthiest Substitute for Marshmallows?
Sugar-free marshmallows will be your healthiest bet as a substitution for marshmallows, followed by grilled fruit and honey & peanut butter.