Summer Camp Week!

How to Make S'mores for Special Diets

July 28, 2016

Picture the perfect summer evening: It should include fireflies, a campfire, a lake if you're lucky, and s'mores. They're the quintessential summertime dessert but also the one most disappointing for kids (or kids at heart!) with special diets because unless you plan ahead, they're not going to get to partake.

Don't let someone you love go without a s'more this summer—be prepared with the right ingredients. Here's how:​


Graham Crackers—Check ingredient lists, some major brands of graham crackers are vegan, like Nabisco, while many others include honey. You can also make your own: I successfully made Alice Medrich's Great Graham Crackers recipe vegan by swapping in vegan sugar, Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, light corn syrup, and soy milk in place of the sugar, butter, honey, and milk, respectively.

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Chocolate—Since there’s often dairy products lurking in chocolate bars, look for bars that are labeled as vegan or check the ingredients carefully, keeping an eye out for ingredients derived from milk—like whey, casein, and milk fat or solids—as well. There are a number of options, but a few widely available vegan-friendly ones ​are Trader Joe’s Pound Plus Bars in Dark Chocolate and 72% Dark Chocolate, Whole Foods’ Organic Dark Chocolate, and Newman’s Own Super Dark Chocolate Bar.

Marshmallows—This might be the most important ingredient to have on hand, because while other people might have graham crackers and chocolate that are accidentally vegan, the marshmallows won’t be: Go with Dandies, Sweet & Sara, or Trader Joe’s. Or try making your own.


Graham Crackers—You’re pretty much in the clear whether you buy graham crackers at the store or make your own—I’ve yet to come across any that aren’t vegetarian, though who knows, beefy grahams might exist.

Chocolate—You’re good to go with almost any type, just steer clear of bacon chocolate bars.

Marshmallows​—Use any of the vegan options mentioned above, or try marshmallow fluff (which is made with egg whites), either store-bought or homemade. Note that marshmallow fluff only works for indoor s’mores though, you’re not going to be able to toast it over a campfire.

Bonus vegetarian option for grown-ups: If you’re in search of a s’mores recipe that's suitable for a too-hot-to-hover-over-a-fire kind of day, try aargersi’s Big Kid Hot Day S’mores, they’re a cross between a s’more and an ice cream sandwich, slightly boozy, and not the least bit cloying—a.k.a. a winning combination.


Graham Crackers—Look for gluten-free graham crackers, like Kinnikinnick S'moreables or Pamela's Products, or try making your own, like with Shana Ahern’s recipe. Or go rogue and use a different type of gluten-free cookie in place of the ​grahams.

Chocolate—The main ingredients of a basic, high-quality chocolate bar don’t include gluten, but some other add-ins can, and even chocolate without gluten ingredients can sometimes be subject to cross-contamination in production. Research your options ahead of time or stick to chocolate bars that are labeled gluten-free to be sure.

Marshmallows—Most marshmallows are gluten-free—the vanilla or raspberry ones found in our Shop, major brands like Kraft Jet-Puffed and Campfire, and all of the vegan brands mentioned above—or you can make your own marshmallows.

Looking for more unconventional s'mores?

How do you like your marshmallows—burnt, golden brown, or otherwise? Tell us in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Sean R
    Sean R
  • Sarah M. Shumway
    Sarah M. Shumway
  • Alexandra G
    Alexandra G
I like esoteric facts about vegetables. Author of the IACP Award-nominated cookbook, Cooking with Scraps.


Sean R. July 28, 2016
Oooh, chocolate? Enjoy Life is THE company for those with dietary restrictions. "All the products are free of wheat, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, soy, fish, and shellfish and made in a dedicated nut- and gluten-free factory." Kosher and Halal too. They're available in Target, Whole Foods and my Midwestern grocery stores.

To skip the rice milk, I use their mini chips and baking chocolate. It's quality chocolate that tastes fabulous straight or baked. Perhaps like this GF recipe (made DF subbing coconut oil):
Sarah M. July 28, 2016
For the record, Kinnikinnick gluten free graham crackers are straight-up terrible. Bad texture, unfortunate flavor, and unenjoyable all around. Skip 'em for any of your gluten free graham needs. Learn from my mistakes.
Alexandra G. July 28, 2016
Oh I am so making my own graham crackers and marshmallows... I bet it'll be the most epic smores ever!