Love marshmallows but also want to avoid processed, sugar-packed foods? Here’s a healthy marshmallow recipe for you!
There’s no candy quite like marshmallows. Their texture is uniquely fluffy, sweet, and with a hint of vanilla. There are delicious roasted over a campfire, puffed into smores, popped over hot cocoa, or skewered next to a decadent pot of chocolate fondue. From sweet potato pie to Rice Krispy treats, it’s hard to imagine the world without this odd candy.
A Quick History of Marshmallows
Marshmallow is actually a plant. It’s part of the mallow family and grows mostly in marshy areas, which is how it got its name. The Greeks used to use marshmallow to heal wounds and alleviate sore throats. It continued as a medicinal aid when Arabs made poultice from its leaves and Romans found it an effective laxative. When the Middle Ages rolled around, marshmallow was an all-purpose cure.
The Ancient Egyptians were the first to turn it into a sweet treat when they mixed marshmallow sap with honey and nuts, a dessert fit for nobility. In 19th century France, confectioners created Pâté de guimauve, a soft dessert with a sponge-like texture. They made it by whipping dried marshmallow roots with sugar, water, and egg whites. However, this process took days to produce, so they cut time by substituting gelatin for the marshmallow root.
After the marshmallow came to the U.S., a 1927 Girls Scouts Handbook advertised a recipe called “Some More,” telling the readers to toast marshmallow until they’re gooey and makea sandwich with chocolate and graham crackers. This is how s’mores came to be. 
Behind the Recipe of Healthier Marshmallows
It’s a shame that marshmallows are packed with an array of processed ingredients like these:
- Corn syrup
- Modified food starch (corn)
- Artificial flavor
- Tetrasodium pyrophosphate
Eating too much sugar can lead to a host of negative health effects. For a healthier alternative, this recipe uses honey, which should be eaten in moderation since it is still a source of sugar. However, honey is rich with antioxidants and traces of vitamins and minerals.  In this recipe, the honey content is much less than the corn syrup and sugar used in most marshmallow recipes. If you’d like to reduce your sugar consumption even more, you can try using this ketogenic simple syrup that is sweetened with monk fruit. The taste will be slightly altered.
Our recipe today contains simple ingredients along with honey: vanilla extract, gelatin powder, salt, water, and that’s it! If you’d like, you can try this recipe that includes marshmallow root powder from Wellness Mama.
For vegan marshmallows, use agar agar instead of gelatin or check out this recipe by Hidden Veggies.
Without further ado, the recipe you’ve been waiting for.
Healthy Homemade Marshmallows
Recipe by Kimi Harris from the Nourishing Gourmet
- 1 1/2 tablespoons grass-fed gelatin (or agar agar for a vegan option)
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 1/2 cup honey (or maple syrup)
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Lightly grease a loaf pan then cover it with parchment paper (with enough paper to hang over the sides of the pan on one side), then grease the parchment paper.
- Put ¼ cup of water in a medium bowl (or in the bowl of a mixer with an attached whisk), and sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Set aside to soften.
- In a small pot, place the honey, salt, and the other ¼ cup of water.
- Turn on medium heat.
- Using a candy thermometer, bring the mixture to 240 degrees. (Because this is such a small amount of liquid, you may find it difficult to get an accurate temperature.
- You can also test it by dribbling a little of the liquid into a bowl of ice-cold water.
- It should form little soft balls when cooled in the water and removed. It takes about 7–8 minutes to reach this texture.)
- Remove from the heat as soon as it’s at the right temperature.
- Using a hand mixer on low, very carefully mix the hot syrup into the gelatin mixture by pouring the syrup in a drizzle down the side of the bowl.
- Once it’s all combined, add the vanilla and increase the speed to high.
- Beat for 12–15 minutes, or until the mixture is thick and fluffy (it will look like marshmallow fluff).
- Scrape the fluff into the prepared pan and leave, uncovered, for 4–12 hours to dry.
- Cut into squares as serve.
Coconut Version: Toast about ½ cup of unsweetened coconut flakes. Sprinkle half of it on the bottom of the pan, scrap in the marshmallow mixture, and sprinkle the tope with the rest of the coconut flakes.
Cocoa Version: Roll finished and cut marshmallows into cocoa powder.
Keep Reading: Carrot Cake Muffins Recipe With Cheesecake Fillings (GF, Vegan, Paleo Option)
- The Long, Sweet History of Marshmallows.” Jeff Wells. Mental Floss. October 13, 2016
- “9 Natural Substitutes for Sugar.” Kayla McDonell, RD and Erin Kelly. Healthline. June 4, 2020