The Best Gelatin Swap For Vegetarian Marshmallows

From Rice Krispies treats to s'mores and from Lucky Charms cereal to the iconic Thanksgiving sweet potato casserole, marshmallows are a sweet, soft, and innocent-appearing food you'd probably never guess isn't vegetarian. However, most vegans, vegetarians, and some practicing Muslims choose not to eat these treats in their true form because they contain an ingredient called gelatin, which is made from the boiled skin, ligaments, and bones of cows and pigs. Luckily, there are a few product swaps that are perfect for vegetarian marshmallows.

If you've ever set off to make your own vegan marshmallows before, you most likely used agar-agar, a plant-based gelatin derived from seaweed. But even though agar-agar is commonly used, there are some key differences between that and kosher gelatin that make it more challenging to work with when making marshmallows. Not only is agar-agar much more potent, it also has a gummier consistency than gelatin, making it better at gelling than thickening. For this reason, agar-agar is more effective when making chocolate mousse than in situations where it needs to be set firmly, like in the case of your marshmallows.

Kosher gelatin, on the other hand, is specifically formulated to mimic the textural effect of gelatin. While not always vegan, there are some vegan kosher gelatins out there, such as Lieber's Unflavored Gel, that will ensure your next batch is a success.

Kosher gelatin

As it is not always vegan, kosher gelatin is typically made from the skin and bones of kosher slaughtered cows and/or fish. Some certified Kosher gelatin brands include those from FIT Gelatins and Lapi Gelatine. You can also check for halal gelatins, like the ones from Hearthy Foods, which are produced without the use of pork. Even still, vegan kosher gelatins exist. Most of them are made with a blend of vegetable gums, agar-agar, and carrageenan, which is another type of gum that's extracted from seaweed.

Unlike agar-agar, kosher gelatins — and vegan kosher gelatins specifically — are formulated to act as substitutes for regular gelatin, which means you can use whatever amount the recipe calls for at a 1:1 ratio. Similarly, because of its composition, vegan kosher gelatin should set much more seamlessly than agar-agar does, creating a nice, thick, melt-in-your-mouth marshmallow without any of the animal products.