What are marshmallows made from?

Roasted marshmallows are usually enjoyed by the campfire, on sticks suspended over the open flames or hanging out at the top of your hot chocolate on a cold day. They’re fluffy, squishy, tasty pillows like edible clouds with a hint of vanilla. We all know them so well but what are marshmallows made from?

It’s actually really simple and as much as a list of ingredients might be what you’re looking for, there are a lot of different kinds of marshmallows. The basic ingredients are egg whites, sugar, corn syrup and gelatin, sometimes modified cornstarch too.

The original marshmallows

Believe it or not, they date back to as early as 2000BC, made by the Egyptians from the sap of the marshmallow tree. At the time they weren’t enjoyed around campfires by just anyone but considered a delicacy only fit for either royalty or gods.

Modern marshmallows aren’t made from sap but the basic mixture of sugars, corn syrup and gelatine. Alternate ingredients include powdered sugar, vanilla in extract or bean form, flavourings and colourings too.

Marshmallow fluff

ou might have encountered fluff before, if not, you’re missing out. It’s basically a raw marshmallow mix and makes an incredible addition to a peanut butter sandwhich. They call these ‘Fluffernutter sandwiches,’ in America, and like the orginal, marshmallow plant, sap-based mallow, these are the food of the gods.

You can usually purchase marshmallow fluff in our online shop but make sure you buy when you see it in stock as it can be notorious to track down again.

Homemade marshmallows recipe

This is a pretty good basic recipe for homemade marshmallows that you can easily do yourself. It’s a simple process.

If you don’t want to splash out on vanilla pods, you could use essence or extract too, we’d recommend a grade bourbon vanilla, in this instance which you can buy in the spice section at most supermarkets.

Marshmallow ingredients

3 large egg whites

13 leaves of gelatine

700g white caster sugar

1 ½ tbsp liquid glucose

1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped

sunflower oil for the tin

For dusting

100g icing sugar

4 tbsp cornflour

CLose up of marshmallows

The marshmallow method

Step 1

Separate your egg whites from the yolks. Put them in a large bowl and whisk them like crazy. This is easiest with an electric whisk/beater. Keep whisking until you get soft peaks in the egg mix and then set it aside for later.

Step 2

Get yourself a bowl, drop the gelatine into it and cover with 200ml of cold water.

This will soften up the gelatine ready for mixing.

Step 3

Get yourself a saucepan, ideally one with high sides and add the caster sugar, liquid glucose and 300ml of water. Turn the hob onto a medium-high heat and heat the mixture up.

You’ll need a sugar thermometer, as this part requires a little bit of accuracy.

The mixture needs to reach 130 degrees in Celsius. Please make sure you’re really careful as hot sugar can be dangerous.

Step 4

When it reaches 130 degrees in temperature, take the pan off the heat and carefully add in the gelatine and the water you soaked it in. Be extremely careful as the sugar can spit and bubble when you add the two together so you might want to wear over gloves or some form of heat protection.

Stir the full mix until the gelatine has dissolved completely then pour the entire thing into a heatproof jug.

Step 5

Now you need to beat the egg whites again with a whisk. Slowly add the gelatine and sugar mixture to the bowl. Keep on beating the mixture until it starts to look shiny and smoothens out. 

Once it does, it’s time to add the vanilla seeds and continue beating the mix until it thickens up. This should take around 8-10 minutes so it’s a good idea to use an electric beater unless you happen to have cyborg arms.

Step 6

Grab a roasting tin, it needs to be deep and large seized for best results from this recipe.

Line the tin with cling film and brush if with sunflower oil until it’s nicely coated.

Mix together the cornflour and icing sugar and sieve a third of it into the tray to coat the inside. Pour the marshmallow mixture into the tin and level it out with a spatula. Leave it to set for 3 hours.

Step 7

Grab your parchment paper and break off a large sheet. Lay it over the surface you’re using and sieve out another third of the cornflour and sugar mixture. Turn the tin of marshmallows over onto the paper and peel off the clingfilm.

Now, dust with some more of the mixture and cover a large, sharp knife with it too.

Step 8

Now we’re cutting them up! Cut them into cubes, 3cm is the standard size. As you go, you can roll them in more of the sugar mixture or dust them until they’re nicely coated on all sides. If they aren’t coated, they can stick to pretty much anything so be careful, especially if you’ve got pets.

And that’s it, homemade Marshmallows! Ideally, you’ll eat them immediately but they will keep in an aiirtight container for 2 days. It’s a good idea to separate them with parchment paper otherwise you might find a sticky mess.

You can also use this recipe to create ropes of marshmallow or place it into a candy mold to get creative.

What are marshmallows made from?

They’re made from marshmallow fluff that’s been left to set, can make amazing features in desserts and hot chocolates, if they’re fit for royals and gods, they should be okay for you.

Now you know how to make them, what they’re made of and a little bit of the history of marshmallows you’re basically a mallow-genius.

Candy makers have altered the recipe to create all kinds of masterpieces but really, even its simplest form, with its squishy, cloud-like texture, they make an amazing treat! If you don’t fancy making your own, then take a look at these guys.


Marshmallows on a pink surface.
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