Around our house, a favorite quick treat is rice crispy bars. They are just the right amount of sweet, buttery, and crunchy without being too heavy or filling.
They don’t usually last long at home because they tend to be dessert one night and breakfast on the go the next morning. Once in a while, we want rice crispy bars, but then we find that we’ve eaten all the marshmallows. That sent me on a quest to see if I could make a similar sweet treat without marshmallows.
The best substitute for marshmallows in rice crispy treats is peanut butter and honey. You can also use another nut butter or add chocolate for additional flavor. In s’mores, you can replace marshmallows with grilled peaches or pineapple or even some baked brie for a less sweet but still delicious treat. Marshmallow cream or marshmallow fluff will replace marshmallows in many recipes like fudge and toppings for Mississippi Mud cake.
If you have dietary concerns about ingredients in marshmallows, you can buy vegan marshmallows and sugar-free varieties.
Keep reading for ideas about using a variety of ingredients in place of marshmallows in rice crispy bars, baked goods like Mississippi mud cake, s’mores, and recipes for homemade marshmallows.
1. Honey And Peanut Butter – Best Marshmallow Substitutes For Rice Crispy Treats
Using honey and peanut butter in place of marshmallows makes delicious rice crispy bars with a little added benefit of some nutritional value.
Peanut butter crispy bars only have three ingredients: ⅔ cup honey, ⅔ cup peanut butter, and 5 cups of crisp rice cereal.
1. In a large pot, add ⅔ cup of honey and bring it to a boil on the stovetop. Let it boil for about a minute until it becomes runny and easy to stir.
2. Turn off the heat and add ⅔ cup of peanut butter. Stir until the peanut butter is melted. You can also whip it with the mixer to make it fluffier.
3. While the mixture is warm, stir in 5 cups of crisp rice cereal.
4. Press the cereal mixture into a well-greased 9×13 baking dish. (or line the baking dish with parchment paper)
2. Chocolate And Peanut Butter
If you would like to add some chocolate, you can make chocolate peanut butter bars. The ingredients are just about the same:
- ½ cup of honey
- 1 cup of creamy peanut butter
- 8 ounces of chocolate chips or a cut-up chocolate bar
- 5 cups crisp rice cereal
The process for chocolate and peanut butter rice crispy bars is the same as the honey-peanut butter bars.
1. Heat the honey in a large pot until it is runny. Reduce heat to low and stir in the peanut butter and chocolate.
2. When everything is smooth and melted, stir in the cereal, then press it into a well-greased 9×13 pan.
3. Almond Butter and Maple Syrup
For a slightly different take on the peanut butter and honey method, you can use another nut butter like almond butter and maple syrup.
1. Combine ⅔ cup of Almond Butter and ⅔ cup of maple syrup in a large pot. Heat until they are smooth and well mixed.
2. Add 5 cups of crisp rice cereal, and stir until everything is well coated.
3. Press into a parchment-lined or well-greased 9×13 baking dish. Refrigerate these rice crispy bars to help them set.
4. Peanut Butter And Light Corn Syrup
This recipe is not the best choice for health, but if you have a super sweet tooth, it may be appealing.
It’s also made from ingredients you are likely to have in the kitchen without running to the store. You can use crisp rice cereal or other cereal like cornflakes in these bars.
1. In a large pot combine 1 cup granulated sugar, and 1 cup light corn syrup. Heat and stir until well-mixed.
2. Turn off the heat and add 1 cup of creamy peanut butter and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Stir until the mixture is smooth and well combined.
3. Stir in 6 cups of crispy rice cereal until well-coated.
4. Press the mixture into a parchment-lined or well-greased baking dish
5. Grilled Fruit Slices – Best Substitutes For Marshmallows In S’Mores
A vegan alternative to marshmallows in s’mores is a little bit of grilled fruit and honey or maple syrup.
Heat a few fresh peach or pineapple slices on your grill and brush them with honey so that it caramelizes a bit while it cooks.
Then top the grilled fruit with a square of chocolate and surround it with graham crackers.
You will have a sweet, crunchy, chocolatey, sticky treat that is a tiny bit more healthful since it has fruit in it. In fact, have a second helping!
One medium-sized peach has 50 calories. It has 13 grams of sugar, 2 grams of dietary fiber, and 1 gram of protein. It has 6% DV of vitamin A and 15% DV of vitamin C.
One slice of pineapple has 28 calories. It has a whopping 44% of the DV of Vitamin C as well as 5% DV of B6 and about 1% of the DV of iron and magnesium.
Adding a fruit slice in place of a marshmallow keeps the sweetness of the s’more, but definitely adds a nutritional punch to this sweet treat.
6. Baked Brie
If you love s’mores, but they are just too sweet for you, consider replacing the toasted marshmallow with some baked brie cheese. The soft warm saltiness of the brie has a similar texture to a toasted marshmallow.
However, it is not sweet. It will be a delicious accompaniment to chocolate squares and graham crackers.
Brie Nutritional Information
One ounce of brie has 100 calories. It also has 4 grams of protein & 9 grams of fat. One serving of brie adds 120 mg of sodium to your s’mores.
Brie is also a good source of vitamins: 6% DV of vitamin A, 20% DV of vitamin B12, 11% of DV for riboflavin, and 10% of the DV of calcium.
7. Marshmallow Cream – Best Topping for Baked Goods
I had no idea because I don’t think I’ve shopped for this more than once or twice. I just assumed that these were the same thing. It turns out they are not.
Marshmallow cream is made from corn syrup, sugar, water, xantham gum, and cream of tartar.
8. Marshmallow Fluff
Marshmallow Fluff, one of the essential ingredients in a fluffernutter sandwich, contains corn syrup, water, vanilla, and egg whites.
The egg whites make the big difference between marshmallow creme and marshmallow fluff.
Fluff is whipped into a light airy consistency that is spreadable and perfect to combine with peanut butter on a sandwich.
Half a cup of marshmallow fluff substitutes for 1 cup of marshmallows.
Try adding a scoop of marshmallow fluff to your hot chocolate or coffee. Make up a batch of banana bread muffins and top them with marshmallow fluff frosting.
Marshmallow Fluff Frosting
- ¾ cup marshmallow fluff
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, or as needed
- 2 tablespoons milk
Combine the marshmallow fluff, butter, vanilla, and shortening until they are well mixed.
Then alternate whipping in powdered sugar and milk until the frosting reaches your desired consistency and volume.
Marshmallow Fluff is a perfect topper for baked sweet potato or sweet potato casserole.
Make your sweet potato as usual, then spread marshmallow fluff over the top. If you have a kitchen torch, use it to add a toasty golden color to the top of the fluff.
Zefir is a Russian treat. It is similar to meringue in that it is whipped egg whites and sugar, but it also includes whipped fruit puree and gelatin or pectin to help it hold its shape.
You can find zefir in a plain vanilla flavor or in a variety of fruit flavors. It looks like meringue cookies.
You can place these little meringue bites on top of a desert, like a cheesecake or a fruit tart.
Another option is to melt these candies in a double boiler and use the mixture like marshmallow cream.
One serving of zefir (two little puffs) has 150 calories, & 3 grams of fat. The amount of sugar per serving will vary depending on which flavor and how much fruit is added, but it is about 75 grams.
10. Sugar-Free Marshmallows – Best Dietary Substitutions For Marshmallows
Believe it or not, you can find sugar-free marshmallows. La Nouba marshmallows are sweetened with isomalt and maltitol syrup.
They are free from gluten, casein, soy, and corn products. Max Mallow marshmallows are also sugar-free.
They are sweetened with xylitol and monk fruit. These treats are keto and paleo-friendly.
Max Mallows come in an assortment of flavors, burnt caramel, cinnamon toast, classic vanilla, lightning vanilla, and mint chip.
11. Vegan Marshmallows
Traditional marshmallows have gelatin in them which gives them their stiff yet squishy texture.
Gelatin is derived from animal bones, so those who eat vegan diets will want to avoid them. However, you can find vegan marshmallows.
Sarah’s Candy makes mini marshmallows from tapioca starch, carrageenan, soy protein, cane sugar, and water.
Dandies vegan marshmallows have the same ingredients as Sarah’s and have the additional certification of being Non-GMO Verified. They are made in a dedicated vegan facility.
12. Homemade Vegan Marshmallows
When you make your own marshmallows, you can control what goes in them so you can adapt recipes to meet your dietary needs.
Homemade marshmallows are likely to have a different texture than mass-produced marshmallows, but the flavor should be close.
1. In a medium bowl, combine 1 egg white, 1 cup of corn syrup, and 2 pinches of salt.
2. Whip with a hand mixer for about 5 minutes or until the mixture thickens and doubles in volume.
3. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and mix on low until completely incorporated.
4. Spread the mixture in a parchment-lined flat pan and refrigerate until the marshmallow sets.
5. Cut into cubes and keep in a zip-top bag in the refrigerator.
- 14.5 oz white sugar
- 1/3 cup agave syrup or 1/4 cup corn syrup
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup water for the gelatin
- 7 tsp gelatin about 3 packets of Knox gelatin (21. 6 g)
- Pinch of salt
- 1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
You will need a cooking pot, candy thermometer, and a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or greased with shortening or coconut oil.
Also, rub all the cooking items like spatulas, spoons, and mixers with shortening, butter, or coconut oil to prevent the marshmallow from sticking to them.
What’s The Difference Between Marshmallow Flavoring And Vanilla Flavoring?
Marshmallows are made of sugars and stabilizers. Many formulations have vanilla added.
Once the marshmallows are toasted, they take on additional flavors of burnt sugar and smoky scents.
Vanilla flavoring is made from the vanilla bean. The flavor of vanilla will change depending on where in the world the vanilla orchid grows. It has an intense vanilla flavor without a sugary taste.
Marshmallows have two categories of ingredients, sweeteners, and stabilizers. The exact kind of sweetener and the amounts will vary by brand, but sugar and corn syrup are the most common sweetening ingredients.
Gelatin is the most common stabilizing ingredient in marshmallows. They also frequently have cornstarch for thickening and to keep them from sticking together.
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Marshmallow Substitutions For Rice Crispy Treats
Boxes of rice crispies don’t last long in our pantry because they end up being made into rice crispy bars.
The basic ingredients are crisp rice cereal, a bag of marshmallows, and butter. However, if you don’t have marshmallows, or if you are looking for a healthier or vegan alternative, you can try honey and peanut butter, chocolate, and peanut butter, almond butter and maple syrup, or peanut butter and corn syrup.
The central ingredient in these substitutions is peanut butter or another nut butter and some kind of sticky syrup. While all of these have sugar, some choices may be better than others.
Nutritional Value Of Peanut Butter
The nutritional value of peanut butter can vary greatly depending on whether you choose an all-natural, low ingredient peanut butter or a highly processed one with sugar added.
One tablespoon of natural peanut butter has approximately16 grams of fat, 8 grams of protein, and 200 mg of potassium. It has 6% of the DV for iron and 2% DV for Calcium. This variety of peanut butter has no added sugars, oils, or salt.
Nutritional Value of Honey
One tablespoon of natural honey has 64 calories. Honey has no measurable proteins or fats. It is a form of sugar, just not refined like table sugar.
The vitamins and minerals in honey change depending on what kind of plant the honey came from and the soil in which it was grown.
It may contain B vitamins, copper, iron, and zinc. Another benefit of eating honey, especially honey that is from your region is that it may reduce your allergic reaction to local pollen.
Dietary Substitutions For Marshmallows
In some cases, you may need a substitute for marshmallows due to a health concern or dietary preference.
If you need a lower-sugar option, try sugar-free marshmallows. Since marshmallows contain gelatin, those who follow a vegan diet can find vegan marshmallows.
Though marshmallows are kid-friendly, this tasty treat is for adults only.
You can make marshmallow vodka at home easily by filling a jar with cut-up marshmallows and pouring a bottle of vodka over it.
Let it sit until the marshmallows are dissolved, then strain out the bits that are left.
Of course, this is a high-sugar, not vegan-friendly drink. You can make changes to this recipe by using vegan marshmallows from Dandies or Sarah’s Candy.
If you want to reduce the sugar, make your marshmallow vodka with sugar free-marshmallows.
A cup of hot chocolate with mini marshmallows is the perfect treat on a cold winter day.
It seems that we have made marshmallows into an indispensable ingredient in baking, for making desserts like rice crispy treats and s’mores, and even for topping vegetables like the sweet potato.
You can use marshmallow creme or fluff as a substitute in many recipes. You can also substitute peanut butter and honey for rice crispy bars.
If marshmallows are just too sweet, try grilled peaches or pineapple in your s’mores instead.
My name is Keren Tayler. I am a stay-at-home mama to three lovely girls, Sarah + Rachel + Hannah. Prior to becoming a mom, I had a successful career in the accounting field, steps away from becoming a CPA. I decided to give up on my career in order to raise my own kids (as opposed to letting a nanny do it, no judgment here :)) I learned a lot and I love sharing it with other moms. Along the way, I also became a Certified Food Handler.