The Secret Ingredient: What Kind of Gelatin is in Marshmallows?

April 18, 2024
min read
The Secret Ingredient: What Kind of Gelatin is in Marshmallows?

Marshmallows, those fluffy squares of delightful sweetness, are a beloved treat enjoyed by young and old alike. But have you ever stopped to wonder about the secret ingredient that gives them their signature light and airy texture? It’s gelatin, a protein derived from collagen, and it plays a crucial role in the magic of marshmallow making.

The Role of Gelatin in Marshmallows

Gelatin acts as a gelling agent in marshmallows. It traps water molecules, creating a stable structure that holds the air bubbles whipped into the sugar syrup mixture. This air incorporation is what gives marshmallows their signature lightness. Additionally, gelatin contributes to the chewy texture and smooth mouthfeel we all love.

Understanding Gelatin Varieties

While most commercially produced marshmallows contain gelatin, there are different types to consider:

Beef Gelatin

This is the most common type used in marshmallows. It’s derived from the bones and hides of cows.

Pork Gelatin

Similar to beef gelatin, but sourced from pigs. Less common due to dietary restrictions.

Fish Gelatin

Derived from fish skin and bones. Often used as an alternative for those who avoid beef or pork.

Traditional vs. Alternative Gelatin Sources

For those who follow vegetarian or vegan diets, traditional gelatin is not an option. However, there are alternatives that provide similar gelling properties:

Agar Agar

A seaweed-based gelatin substitute that creates a firm, jelly-like texture.

Gellan Gum

 Another plant-based option extracted from algae. It offers a more flexible gel structure.


Derived from red seaweed, carrageenan provides thickening and gelling properties.

These alternatives allow for the creation of delicious vegan marshmallows that maintain a delightful texture, albeit slightly different from the traditional gelatin experience.


Gelatin, in its various forms, is the secret ingredient that makes marshmallows the delightful treats they are. Whether you enjoy the classic version or explore vegan alternatives, understanding the role of gelatin adds a new layer of appreciation to this confection. So next time you pop a marshmallow in your mouth, take a moment to acknowledge the ingenious protein that makes it all possible!

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