Marshmallows are a sweet treat that people of all ages seem to love. Marshmallows are fun to eat on their own, and they are included in a number of different recipes, like cereal bars, smores, and even classic sweet potato salad.
But are marshmallows gluten free? The answer might surprise you. While several marshmallow brands claim to be gluten free, many contain ingredients with hidden gluten. Here is everything you need to know about what to look for in a gluten free marshmallow, along with some recommended brands and recipes .
Ingredients to Keep Your Eye On:
Wheat gluten can show up in a number of different ways on a marshmallow label. Keep an eye out for any of the following ingredients:
- Wheat protein
- Hydrolyzed wheat protein
- Wheat starch
- Wheat flour
- Triticum vulgare
- Triticum spelta
- Hordeum vulgare
- Secale cereal
In addition to wheat gluten ingredients, it is important to look out for other grain based ingredients. For example, commonly used derivatives of corn can cause a reaction in those with celiac disease due to corn gluten. The following ingredients are highly refined grain based sweeteners.
- Corn syrup
- Corn syrup solids
- High fructose corn syrup
- Corn sugar (dextrose)
- Corn starch
- Modified corn starch
- Rice syrup
- Brown rice syrup
In addition to causing possible gluten reactions, these ingredients are typically genetically modified and heavily sprayed with toxic pesticides like glyphosate, which have known effects on gut bacteria. Research has also shown that they may contribute to damage and lack of healing in those with celiac disease.
Furthermore, highly processed marshmallows are high in refined sugar. High sugar intake is associated with increased incidence of many diseases, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes. They are also being studied for their potential connection to many other diseases including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), multiple sclerosis (MS), psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and low-grade chronic inflammation.
Gluten-Free Marshmallow Options
While there are plenty of brands that claim they are gluten free, many actually do contain hidden sources of gluten in other ingredients like corn syrup. In addition, many include low quality refined sugars and gums in an attempt to improve texture and increase shelf stability. As always, make sure you are doing your research, checking ingredient lists carefully and reaching out to manufacturers as needed.
For example, the popular Jet Puffed marshmallows by Kraft contain corn syrup, sugar, dextrose, water, modified corn starch, gelatin, tetrasodium, pyrophosphate, natural and artificial flavors, and synthetic dye FD&C blue #1. Not only do many of these ingredients contain corn,, they are also otherwise not supportive of good health.
In addition, Dandies vanilla marshmallows are marketed as a healthier gluten free option, however, they contain carrageenan which has been shown to cause inflammation in the GI tract.
Below are a couple of grain and gluten free options that contain high quality ingredients like grass-fed gelatin, natural sweeteners, and no fillers or additives.
- Sweet Apricity paleo marshmallows: These are made with only grass fed beef gelatin, organic honey, organic maple sugar, organic coconut sugar, sea salt, water-based vanilla extract, organic marshmallow root powder, and organic arrowroot powder
- Hearthy Foods grass-fed marshmallows: These are made with grass fed beef gelatin and no fillers. However, they do contain refined sugar to sweeten.
- Homemade marshmallows: Of course, the best way to help ensure you’re eating high quality foods that are gluten free is to make your own. It is more time consuming, but you can make your own gluten free marshmallows using a recipe like the one below.
– Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain
- 2 to 3 tablespoons arrowroot powder, for coating
- 1 cup water
- 3 tablespoons unflavored grass fed gelatin powder (like the one from Hearthy Foods)
- 1 cup light-colored raw honey
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread 1 tablespoon of the arrowroot evenly over the parchment to cover.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or using an electric handheld mixer, pour 1⁄2 cup of the water and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Allow the gelatin to bloom, or absorb the water, for 10 minutes.
- Combine the remaining ½ cup water and the honey in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for 15 minutes, or until a candy thermometer reads 240°F.
- Turn the mixer on low, and with it running, slowly pour the hot honey syrup down the side of the bowl. Add the vanilla, then increase the speed of the mixer to medium-high and beat for 8 to 10 minutes. The mixture will turn from brown to white and triple in volume.
- Turn the marshmallow crème out into the prepared baking sheet and smooth with an o set spatula. You will need to work quickly here, before the marshmallow starts to set. Allow to cool and set at room temperature for 6 hours.
- Rub the top of the marshmallows all over with 1 tablespoon of the arrowroot powder. Lightly grease a sharp knife with coconut oil and slice the marshmallow into 24 pieces. If the marshmallows are still sticky, toss the pieces gently in the remaining 1 tablespoon arrowroot to coat them.
- Serve immediately or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
Are Marshmallows Dairy Free?
Marshmallows are considered dairy free as they typically don’t contain milk or eggs. However, marshmallows get their signature gooey texture from gelatin. Since gelatin is derived from animals, marshmallows are not vegan.
The Bottom Line
As always, it is important to read labels and perform additional diligence, even when a product claims to be gluten free. It is also important to keep in mind that gluten free on the label does not mean that the product is healthy. And unfortunately, many patients who go gluten free continue to struggle with health issues, because the gluten free food industry is notorious for creating unhealthy options.
If you are wondering if you have gluten sensitivity, take the sensitivity test.