These delicious vegan marshmallows toast beautifully and are the perfect addition to s'mores or hot drinks. In fact, these versatile vegan candies are great for making a homemade pic 'n' mix. Or simply just to eat on their own!
Based on my eggless Italian meringue recipe, they're sweet, squidgy, soft, gooey, and springy. This is thanks to a combination of ingredients namely, aquafaba, sugar, and agar-agar.
What to expect from this recipe
✔️ Makes a big batch, and can be stored at room temperature.
✔️ This recipe is a tad on the longer side, so make sure you have a good hour set aside to read through and prepare all the instructions exactly.
✔️ Made without corn syrup.
✔️ Completely eggless and dairy-free, gluten-free.
Why marshmallows aren't usually vegan (or vegetarian)
Marshmallows usually contain gelatin, which is derived from the bones, tendons, and skin of cows and pigs (and possibly other animals). Some marshmallow recipes also call for egg whites. Some also use non-vegan sugar that is processed with animal bone char.
But don't worry, in this vegan marshmallow recipe we're swapping out all of those ingredients with vegan-friendly alternatives.
🍬 Ingredients Needed
Notes about the ingredients
- Aquafaba (aka. chickpea brine) is a replacer for egg whites. Aquafaba will become light and foamy when you incorporate air into them, just like egg whites.
- Agar-agar is a form of vegan gelatin derived from seaweed. (ref. The Spruce Eats). This is the setting agent for this vegan marshmallow recipe and replaces regular gelatin. The agar-agar sets the liquid in the marshmallows and creates a bouncy, springy texture. You can also use another vegan gelatin such as vegeset or veg gel.
- Sugar has a few vital roles in marshmallows, first and foremost the more obvious role, sweetness. Sugar also provides structure and works with the other ingredients to give you a stable marshmallow consistency. If you're based in the US make sure you go for organic granulated sugar, to ensure it's vegan.
- Cream of tartar is a form of tartaric acid, otherwise known as potassium bitartrate. It’s actually a by-product of winemaking and is used widely in baking (ref: Baking Bites). This acid works as a stabilizer for the whipped aquafaba – giving a more stable and stiff end result.
- Of course, we can't forget vanilla which is the main flavoring for these vegan marshmallows.
- Cornstarch coats the marshmallows as it has a drying effect and helps to soak up any moisture.
🥣 How To Make Vegan Marshmallows
Full ingredient quantities and instructions are in the recipe card at the end of this post
Prepare the aquafaba
(1+2) To start, reduce the aquafaba to increase its potency making it a closer match to the properties of egg whites. Simply simmer the aquafaba for a few minutes until it reduces by half the volume, and chill for an hour before using it.
(3+4) To a large clean bowl, add the cream of tartar and reduced aquafaba. Whisk on high speed with your hand mixer, or stand mixer for 10 minutes until soft peaks form.
Make the sugar syrup
Just like Italian meringue and meringue buttercream, make a sugar syrup that is heated to 1116°C (240°F). This is known as the softball stage of candy making.
(5) Add sugar and water to a saucepan on medium-high heat and allow the mixture to come to a simmer and bubble. DO NOT STIR the mixture throughout the entire process, just don't be tempted - it will potentially crystalize!
(6) Slowly drizzle the sugar syrup into the whipped aquafaba, while continuing to whisk. Take your time with this step, it's important not to dump all the syrup in at once as this will deflate the mixture.
Incorporate the agar-agar
(7) To a saucepan, add the agar powder, water, and remaining sugar, and whisk well to combine. Simmer for a few minutes to activate the gelling agents in the agar-agar.
(8) Again, slowly pour the mixture into the whipped aquafaba, whilst continuing to whisk and incorporate it into the marshmallow mixture.
Set the marshmallows
(9) To a cake pan lined with parchment and dusted with cornstarch, add the marshmallow mixture. Allow it to sit for several hours until it is firm to the touch.
(10) Dust the set marshmallows with more cornstarch.
(11+12) Slice the marshmallows into servings using a sharp knife and toss them in more cornstarch and powdered sugar.
👩🍳 Recipe Success Tips
- Prepare all of your equipment and ingredients in advance. Also, read over the recipe a couple of times before you start. Sugar syrup can be finicky to work with, so the last thing you want is to be running around trying to organize everything while making the recipe.
- Make sure the bowl you use to whip the aquafaba is completely free of grease. Use a lemon wedge or a kitchen towel dipped in vinegar to clean the bowl to remove any greasy residue.
- To switch things up you can add flavors to the marshmallow mixture before you add the agar mixture. A couple of drops of peppermint, orange, or lemon extract will transform their flavor. You can also whisk in a couple of tablespoons of beetroot powder, freeze-dried strawberry, or raspberry powder to add flavor and color.
💬 Frequently Asked Questions
Not necessarily. The idea is that vegan versions reduce harm to animals by not containing ingredients like gelatin or eggs.
I highly recommend getting one if you don’t yet have one as a candy thermometer will make your life so much easier, and help you get more precise results.
However, if you can’t wait to get one you can do something that’s called a softball test, you can read more about it on cooksinfo.com which has detailed a comprehensive post on this method.
Once they are coated in cornstarch, place them in an airtight container and store them at room temperature for up to 10 days or so. If the outsides of the marshmallows dry out (this can happen if they are open to the air), simply slice the outer layer off and recoat them in more cornstarch before serving.
🍭 More Vegan Candy
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- 234 g (1 cup) aquafaba, see notes
- 50 g powdered sugar (icing sugar), plus extra for storage, see notes
- 50 g cornstarch (cornflour), or arrowroot starch, plus extra for storage
- 250 g (1 ¼ cups) granulated sugar or caster sugar , separated into 200g + 50g, see notes
- 260 ml (1 cup + 1.5 tbsp) water, separated into 60ml + 200ml
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 4 teaspoons agar-agar powder, not flakes, or 2 tsp agar PLUS 2 tsp carageenan, *see notes
- Start by reducing the aquafaba, add it to a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and allow it to simmer until it has reduced to half a cup in volume. After 5 minutes of simmering, check the volume by pouring the liquid into a measuring cup. If there's more than half a cup of liquid continue to simmer until it reduces to the required half cup. Pour the reduced aquafaba into a jar and refrigerate. This can be done the night before or at least one hour in advance of making the recipe.
- Line a 9-inch pan or similar with parchment paper, creating a sling to make it easy to lift out the marshmallows once set. Very lightly grease the pan with a neutral oil. To a small bowl, add the powdered sugar and cornstarch and whisk to combine.
- Using a fine-mesh sieve, dust a layer of the sugar-cornstarch mixture on the base and sides of the lined pan. Set aside and reserve the remaining sugar-cornstarch mixture for later.
Make the marshmallows
- Take a large clean bowl, making sure it's completely dry and free of grease. Add the aquafaba and cream of tartar to a large bowl and whisk on high speed for 10 minutes until soft peaks form.
- Add 200g sugar and 60ml water to a saucepan, gently stir and allow the mixture to sit for a minute until the sugar dissolves into a paste.
- Place the saucepan on medium-high heat and allow the mixture to come to a simmer and bubble. DO NOT STIR throughout the entire process. Place your candy thermometer into the syrup and continue to simmer until the mixture reaches 116°C (240°F) - about 10-12 minutes.
- Once the sugar syrup has reached the correct temperature begin to add it to the whipped aquafaba. Slowly drizzle in a little at a time and continue to whisk until the mixture is incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and whisk for another 5 minutes.
- To a saucepan, add the remaining 200ml water, 50 g sugar, and agar-agar powder and whisk well to combine. Place over high heat and bring to a simmer, cook for 3 minutes while whisking contiuously.
- Slowly drizzle the agar mixture into the whipped aquafaba, a little at a time, and continue to whisk until the mixture is incorporated.
- Transfer the marshmallow mixture to the lined and dusted cake pan. Cover loosely with a clean tea towel or paper towel and allow it to set at room temperature for at least 6 hours (overnight works well).
- Once set, dust the marshmallow with some more of the sugar-cornstarch mixture. Carefully lift the marshmallow out of the pan and cut it into servings. You can roll the individual pieces in any leftover sugar-cornstarch mixture if desired.
Storage and serving
- Store at room temperature in an airtight container lightly dusted with more sugar-cornstarch mixture. They will keep for between 7-10 days.
- Aquafaba: Drain 2x 400ml cans of unsalted chickpeas, use only the liquid part.
- Some white sugar in the US is not vegan, if in doubt use organic sugar.
- Agar-agar powder can be substituted with vegan gelatin in the form of carrageenan like vege gel or veggieset.
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