My girlfriend is vegetarian and we have been trying to make marshmallows at home but so far after over four tries with agar agar we have yet to be very successful. We have made one batch that were tasty - but too dense to really be marshmallows (but sweet and we coated them with roasted coconut so they were quite edible) but our other tries have resulted in gooey, sticky not very tasty concoctions.

So what are the secrets to making vegetarian marshmallows at home?

3 Answers 3


This is definitely one of those times where I wouldn't recommend substituting agar for gelatin; it's simply far too stiff for marshmallows.

If you can get hold of some methyl cellulose, it works great for marshmallows. Unlike other gelling agents, methyl cellulose hydrates in cold water and sets when heated, so you can roast it with direct heat and it will still hold its shape. All you need is methyl cellulose, vanilla, sugar, and water.

You can find the full recipe at playing with fire and water (see "methocel marshmallow", second on the page).

  • 1
    Be sure and read the comments on that post, there are a whole variety of methycelluloses categorized by a letter and number code, you need the right one if you are going to exactly follow that recipe. Feb 2, 2011 at 6:17
  • indeed - though I have had vegetarian marshmallows which were pretty stable - i.e. they didn't collapse after 15 mins as the article notes these may. I'm curious how these were made (had at a fantastic vegetarian restaurant in Chicago on a recent trip) Feb 2, 2011 at 7:15
  • @Shannon, those won't collapse after 15 minutes if you use the right type of methylcellulose and set it correctly; just don't refrigerate them. See the same author's post on methylcellulose. If you really want them to have long-term room temperature stability then you can sacrifice some of the softness and either use A type or combine some E with A.
    – Aaronut
    Feb 2, 2011 at 17:13

Try using mallow root. It is where the confection got its name, and is the very ingredient that has been superseded by gelatin.

  • Mallow root isn't a "standard" ingredient - could you elaborate, please? E.g. how to use it or even a recipe? That said, welcome to the site! Please consider taking the tour and visiting our help center to learn more about how this site works.
    – Stephie
    Mar 31, 2016 at 16:07
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    NB One of the recipes in the famous Texture hydrocolloid recipe book uses mallow roots and gum arabic. Others use xanthan, methycellulose, a mixture of the two, or the same mixture plus other hydrocolloids. Mar 31, 2016 at 19:10
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    @Stephie - I haven't tried it, but mallow root is probably treated something like Sahlab (orchard root) - the root is dried and ground fine and used in desserts for thickening and flavor, it is starchy and heat-thickened. Sahleb recipes recommend corn starch as a substitute, so to make a sweet of it, I'm picturing something like Turkish delight. Mallow root sweet may need aerating to make it fluffy, but maybe not much, since it can be sub'd for (egg-white)(en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halva#Sesame) for texture in some recipes - so the result might be between Divinity and Turkish delight.
    – Megha
    Apr 30, 2017 at 22:18

You can buy vegetarian gelatin quite easily I believe. One thing to be careful of is the amount, as sheets of gelatin vary in size; I made some marshmallows a while back that called for 12 sheets, but the ones I had were half the size of those used by the recipe author.

Also, leave them to set overnight, regardless of what the recipe says, or it will be like trying to pry week-old gum out of the pan!

  • where do you get "vegetarian" gelatin? In general that isn't possible - there are alternatives that have a similar purpose (agar agar, methycelluloses etc but these are alternatives not direct replacements for gelatin. Feb 2, 2011 at 9:32
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    I think they are gelatins in name only. See oetker.co.uk/oetker_uk/html/default/debi-7nacm3.en.html for example. This one is a mix of carageenan and locust bean gum, in powder form. Most come with instructions for substitution with animal gelatin. Feb 2, 2011 at 11:01
  • Kosher gelatin is also usually vegetarian. However, my experience with all of these substitutes is that they're only useful for a very limited subset of gelatin applications which doesn't include marshmallows; many of them contain agar and most contain an actual non-reversible thickener like dextrose or guar gum.
    – Aaronut
    Feb 2, 2011 at 17:03
  • hmm the Kosher gelatin I found on a quick Google search was pretty clear that it was Bovine in origin but I'll look further the next time I see it in a store Feb 2, 2011 at 17:25
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    Sorry to disappoint, but kosher gelatin is almost never vegetarian. All that kosher means in this context is that it's from a kosher animal -- thus it could be from cows or chickens, but not from pigs. See here: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/7491/is-gelatin-vegetarian/…
    – Martha F.
    Feb 2, 2011 at 17:39

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