Vegan Marshmallows

published Jun 2, 2022
Vegan Marshmallow Recipe

These vegan marshmallows are just as sweet and fluffy as their non-vegan counterparts.

Makes25 (1 1/2-inch) marshmallows

Prep15 minutes

Cook10 minutes

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white cubes (vegan marshmallows) with a white powder dusting them spread out on a tray
Credit: Tara Holland

My family has always loved marshmallows — especially the bags of soft, fluffy pink and white ones that are regularly sold back home in England. However, we soon became very much into the American way of living, and I’ll never forget having that first delicious bite of my first-ever s’more. I’d only ever had a roasted marshmallow on a stick over a campfire as a young girl at summer camp, so you can imagine my sheer joy! 

My youngest daughter became vegetarian a few years ago, so her beloved s’mores became a sad and distant memory for her, as vegan marshmallows are not a regularly stocked item in our local stores. You can order them online, but by the time we’d next be making s’mores, she had eaten them all, and we had typically forgotten to order any more for her. Now that I know how easy it is to make vegan marshmallows, though, we’ll be making them regularly! And I will always be making two batches so I can color one batch baby pink to remind me of the old days of pink and white.

What’s the Difference Between Vegan and Regular Marshmallows?

The main difference is that egg whites are not used in vegan marshmallows. They are either replaced with aquafaba (the liquid in cans of chickpeas) or pea protein powder diluted with water to yield the desired beaten texture that egg whites typically produce. Regular marshmallows also have to have sugar syrup (and sometimes glucose or corn syrup) boiled to a high temperature to set and cook the beaten egg whites. This recipe takes only half the time because you only need to boil the syrup for five minutes, as the stabilizers and agar-agar help create the right texture instead of set and cooked beaten egg whites.

Credit: Tara Holland

The Key Ingredients in Vegan Marshmallows

There are a few vital ingredients in vegan marshmallows that make them as close to the real thing as possible. They are readily available online and worth stocking for other vegan desserts.

  • Aquafaba: The liquid in canned chickpeas whips up so well that it looks identical to beaten egg whites. It’s a magical egg replacement that doesn’t have a strong flavor, so it’s a perfect vegan substitute. 
  • Cream of tartar: A classic stabilizer in any meringue-type recipe, along with the xanthan gum (to add a double-whammy of volume to the beaten aquafaba).  
  • Xanthan gum: This is also a stabilizer as well as an emulsifier, so it helps thicken the mixture and prevents ingredients from separating.
  • Agar-agar: This flavorless natural vegan gelatin substitute is derived from red seaweed and helps the marshmallows set. This ingredient is available in powder form and flakes and is often used in vegan jello-type dishes.
  • Pure vanilla extract: High-quality vanilla extract ensures the marshmallows taste authentic.

Can I Roast Vegan Marshmallows for S’Mores?

Yes, these marshmallows toast perfectly well on a skewer over a fire or stovetop. 

Other Extracts to Try

You can replace vanilla extract for these suggestions below, but you may need to add 1 teaspoon at a time to taste, depending on the strength of the extract.

Vegan Marshmallow Recipe

These vegan marshmallows are just as sweet and fluffy as their non-vegan counterparts.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 10 minutes

Makes 25 (1 1/2-inch) marshmallows

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup

    cornstarch

  • 1/3 cup

    powdered sugar

  • Cooking spray

  • 1 (about 15-ounce) can

    chickpeas

  • 1 cup

    water

  • 2 teaspoons

    agar-agar powder (not flakes)

  • 2 cups

    granulated sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    cream of tartar

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    xanthan gum

  • 1/8 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • Food coloring (optional)

  • 4 teaspoons

    good quality vanilla extract, such as Nielsen-Massey

Instructions

  1. Place 1/3 cup cornstarch and 1/3 cup powdered sugar in a small bowl and whisk to combine.

  2. Lightly coat an 8×8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray. Use a paper towel to wipe the pan and make sure there’s a thin film on every surface, corner, and side. Place about 1/4 cup of the powdered sugar mixture in a fine-mesh strainer, then use it to generously coat the sides and bottom of the pan. Flip the pan over and tap out the excess.

  3. Shake 1 (about 15-ounce) can chickpeas before opening. Pour off 1/2 cup of the canning liquid (known as aquafaba) into the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl if using an electric hand mixer). Save the remaining chickpeas and liquid for another use.

  4. Place 1 cup water and 2 teaspoons agar-agar powder in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, whisking continuously until the powder is dissolved. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until very slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Add 2 cups granulated sugar and whisk vigorously until dissolved with no lumps.

  5. Increase the heat to medium high and let return to a boil without stirring. Reduce the heat to medium. Once large bubbles start to form at the edges and the center starts to froth, boil for 5 minutes (the temperature will be 225℉ to 230℉). Meanwhile, add 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar, 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum, and 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt to the aquafaba (if you are adding food coloring, add a few drops at this stage to reach the desired color). Beat with the whisk attachment, start beating on low speed and gradually increasing to high speed, until stiff peaks form, and it looks similar to shaving cream, about 3 minutes total. Leave in the mixer.

  6. When the syrup is ready, remove the saucepan from the heat. Turn the stand mixer on to low speed. Very gradually drizzle the syrup down the sides of the bowl while slowly increasing the speed to medium-high (about 1 1/2 minutes), then continue to beat until glossy, fluffy, and voluminuous, about 5 minutes total from when you started adding the syrup. Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula as needed. Add 4 teaspoons vanilla extract and beat until combined, about 15 seconds.

  7. Quickly transfer the mixture to the baking pan. Spread evenly with an offset spatula or a bench scraper, making sure you get into the corners (as you spread, you may see tiny bumps, but this is trapped air). Firmly tap the pan a couple of times on the counter to disperse some of the air in the mixture; it can be common to get some tiny bubbles in the center of vegan marshmallows, so tapping the pan will help.

  8. Sift 1 to 2 tablespoons of the powdered sugar mixture through a fine-mesh strainer over the marshamallows to lightly cover. Let the marshmallow slab sit uncovered at room temperature until fully set inside, about 1 hour.

  9. Run an offset spatula or knife around the edges of the pan. Use a large, flat spatula to carefully lift the marshmallow slab out of the pan to loosen it. Flip the pan onto a cutting board so the slab is powdered sugar-side down. Sift another 1 to 2 tablespoons of the powdered sugar mixture over the marshamallow slab. Transfer the remaining powder to a large shallow bowl or plate.

  10. Using a sharp knife or pizza wheel, cut the marshmallows into 25 (1 1/2-inch) squares, or cut to the size of your choice. Toss the marshmallows generously in the remaining powdered sugar mixture to coat all the sides. Sift the remaining powder mixture into airtight containers before stacking the marshmallows for storage. Use parchment paper to between the layers, dusting each layer as you stack.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Vegan marshmallows can be refrigerated up to 10 days in an airtight container dusted with a 50:50 ratio of cornstarch to powdered sugar. You can use dusted parchment paper to separate the layers.