Ingredient Intelligence

3 Vegetarian Substitutes for Gelatin (Because Vegans Love Jello Too!)

Image Credit: violeta pasat/Shutterstock

Sweets like panna cotta, mousse, and jellies rely on gelatin for their unique textures. Gelatin is made from animal collagen, but if you're a vegetarian or vegan, you can still make these delicious desserts. Here are three great gelatin alternatives and some tips on using them!

Note: The substitution amounts given below are just a rule of thumb. You may need to play around depending on your recipe.

Image Credit: Green Cilantro; Anjali Prasertong

1. Agar, Agar-Agar, or Kanten

How to use it: Agar needs to be heated to dissolve properly. The powdered form of agar is easiest to measure and use; bars and flakes should be dissolved in water first or can be broken down into a powder using a coffee or spice grinder. It sets in about an hour at room temperature.

Image Credit: Only Fabrizio/Shutterstock

2. Carrageenan, Carrageen, or Irish Moss

How to use it: To use the carrageen in its dried seaweed form (look for whole, not powdered), rinse it well, soak it in water for about 12 hours until it swells, then boil it thoroughly with the liquid you want to set before you strain it out.

Image Credit: Natural Desserts

3. Vegan Jel

  • What it's made of: Faith highly recommends Unflavored Vegan Jel by Natural Desserts, which is made of vegetable gum (we're not sure what kind), adipic acid, tapioca dextrin, calcium phosphate, and potassium citrate.
  • Where it's often used: Anywhere gelatin is used.
  • Flavor and texture: As Faith wrote in her panna cotta post, Vegan Jel "sets softly, melts in the mouth, and is by far the closest thing to regular unflavored gelatin that I have found."

How to use it: Beat this powder into cold water until dissolved.

  • 1 teaspoon gelatin = 1 1/2 teaspoons Vegan Jel

Have you used any of these gelatin alternatives, or do you have others to recommend?

Updated from a post originally published in May 2013.