4 Gelatin Substitutes Every Vegan or Vegetarian Needs to Try

Delicious vegan gelatin substitute with blueberries and mint on grey table
©New Africa/Bigstock

Enjoy mousse, custards, and more with these vegan gelatin substitutes. Use them in your favorite desserts as a thickening or gelling agent!

From Jello shots to homemade fruit jam, many sweets call for a gelatin. But what happens if you eat a vegan or vegetarian diet? Gelatin is made from animal bones, cartilage, and skin that’s been boiled for a long time. Thanks to these four vegan gelatin substitutes, you can have your jelly (and eat it too).

Agar agar

Agar agar, also known as katen or agar, is a flavorless jelly-like substance. It comes from the cell walls of red algae and is semi-translucent. In Asia, agar agar is widely used in custards, jellies, and puddings.

Since it’s made from algae, agar agar is an excellent gelatin substitute (it’s our favorite for making vegan jello). It’s used to gel, emulsify, and thicken foods. Agar is usually available as flakes or powder, but you can find it in bar or sheet form too.

Agar is firmer than gelatin. It’s also not as “jiggly.”

How to use agar agar

To use agar, simply dissolve it in hot liquid like water. Let it sit for about 60 minutes until it firms up. You don’t need to store it in the refrigerator.

Generally, agar agar powder can replace gelatin at a 1:1 ratio. In other words, if you need 2 teaspoons of gelatin, use 2 teaspoons of powdered agar agar. If you’re using agar agar flakes, use 1 tablespoon for every 1 teaspoon of agar agar powder.

For best results, follow the recipe instructions or the directions on the packaging.

Best option on Amazon:

Agar Agar Powder by LIVING JIN

Pectin

Pectin is a fiber that’s found in the cell walls of many fruits. When pectin is heated and mixed with acids and sugars, it forms a thick gel-like substance. It’s a popular, common ingredient in store-bought jellies and jams.

Commercial pectin, which usually comes from apples and citrus fruits, is available as powder or flakes. It’s also used as a thickening, gelling, and stabilizing agent.

Compared to gelatin, pectin is more gummy and syrup-like.

How to use pectin

Like agar, pectin needs to be boiled in order to gel. However, there isn’t an exact substitution ratio, so it’s best to follow the recipe’s directions.

Best option on Amazon:

Pomona’s Universal Pectin

Carrageenan

Carrageenan, also known as carrageen or Irish moss, comes from dried red seaweed. Like agar, it develops a gel-like consistency once it’s boiled.

In fact, carrageenan is added to many store-bought foods. Products like ice cream, frozen pizza, marshmallows and chocolate milk are often made with it. And while these foods aren’t traditionally vegan, carrageenan certainly is.

This gelatin substitute is available as a powder. Compared to normal gelatin, its texture of carrageenan is softer.

How to use carrageenan

To prepare carrageenan, mix it with liquid then heat. For softer foods, like puddings or custards, it’s best to use iota carrageenan. For firmer foods, use kappa carrageenan. The latter is often used to make homemade vegan cheese.

Best option on Amazon :

Kappa Carrageenan Powder By Cape Crystal

Vegan Jel

Vegan jel is a type of product, rather than a single ingredient. Depending on the brand, it may contain ingredients like vegetable gum, carrageenan, and tapioca dextrin.

Usually, store-bought vegan jel yields the closest consistency and texture to normal gelatin. The product, after all, was designed for this exact purpose!

How to use vegan jel

Since the ingredients vary by brand, it’s best to follow the package’s directions. The powder is typically mixed with cold water until it’s dissolved.

Best option on Amazon:

Bakol All Natural Jel Dessert

Have you ever tried these vegan gelatin substitutes? What’s your favorite? Let us know in the comments, below!