If you love desserts, then you might have indulged in sweet dishes like chocolate mousse, coffee jelly, panna cotta, molded fruit salads and the Charlotte Russe cake. All of the mentioned desserts do have one common denominator—gelatin. Gelatin makes for delicious desserts and everyone should be able to enjoy them. Hence, if there are sugar-free gelatin varieties, there are also vegetarian and vegan-friendly gelatin substitutes now made available for those who apply these practices.
- What is gelatin made of?
Answer: Gelatin is typically made with collagen which is derived from animal byproducts. Animal byproducts used to produce gelatin include joints, tendons, bones, horse hooves and boiled skin. In cooking, gelatin is often used as a gelling agent, a thickener and as a stabilizer.
- What is the difference between agar agar and carrageenan?
Answer: Agar agar and carrageenan are both derived from seaweed—agar agar comes from red algae while carrageenan itself, also known as Irish moss, is a specific kind of dried seaweed. But that’s where the similarities end. Agar agar is a thicker gelling agent thus it’s perfect to use in sweets like marshmallows, panna cotta, jelly, jam or as a thickener for stews and soups. Carrageenan meanwhile is the soft gelling type so it’s ideal to use on mousses, soft jelly dishes, ice cream and puddings. Agar agar is usually sold in powder and bar forms while carrageenan comes in either powder or dried seaweed variants.
- What is vegan jel?
Answer: Vegan jel is a vegetarian gelling powder whose formulation contains gelatin substitutes like carrageenan, various gums, stabilizers and glucose syrup. It is considered to be a product though rather than an ingredient. It has similar texture and consistency to standard gelatin products. Vegan jel is often used in both sweet and savory dishes like regular jelly desserts, pies, panna cotta, terrines and aspics.
Our Top Picks
Cape Crystal Kappa Carrageenan Powder
- 100% natural, organic thickener
- Gelatin alternative
- Vegan product
- Certified Kosher
The Cape Crystal Kappa Carrageenan Powder is a hundred percent all-natural and organic, sourced from red edible seaweed. If you want a vegan-friendly thickener for your home cooking, you will surely appreciate this product. It works well with plant-based dishes whether sweet or savory. It is also ideal for modernist cuisine and molecular gastronomy. Carrageenan has also been used widely in cooking as a gelling agent, binder and stabilizer.
Simply Delish Natural Jel Dessert
- All-natural ingredients
- Low-fat/sugar-free options
The Simply Delish Natural Jel Dessert product is the vegan jel type, and it comes in a nice selection of fruity, yummy flavors that will easily satisfy your craving for jelly desserts. This is a carrageenan-based gelatin alternative that is free from GMOs, sugar, fat, lactose, animal derivatives and gluten. The products are sweetened using stevia blend, has natural fruit flavors and plant-sourced colors. All products are certified Kosher and Halal as well. These vegan jel desserts are very scrumptious and they can stand on their own, but they’re also fun to use in other desserts.
The Seaweed Solution Agar Agar Powder
- 100% natural agar agar
- Vegan product
- Excellent gel strength
The Seaweed Solution’s Agar Agar Powder is great for thickening and as a gelatin substitute. Agar agar is a flavorless substance with qualities that resemble gelatin. It is sourced from red algae cell walls and has a semitransparent color. It is usually available in powder, sheet or bar forms. For easier prep though, it is best that you make use of the powder variant like this option. This one is great for making gummy candies and marshmallows since agar agar is firmer compared to gelatin.
Bakol Jel Dessert
- Vegan jel product
- Firm texture
- Artificial sweetener-free
- 100% natural
For those on the lookout for quality vegan jel desserts, you have to try out the Bakol Jel Dessert. This one is crafted from 100 percent natural products—it does not have artificial colors nor flavors, only the real thing. It is completely free from GMOs, sucralose, aspartame, gluten and animal byproducts. 100% vegan gelatin alternative offering delicious flavors with a texture and jiggle that resembles good old gelatin. Flavors include cherry, strawberry, lemon, orange and raspberry. The lineup also includes an unflavored variant.
Living Jin Agar Agar Powder
- 100% natural
- Vegetable-based product
- Certified vegan
The Living Jin Agar Agar Powder is made with 100 percent all-natural, plant-based ingredients. It is effective as a thickening and gelling agent even without the presence of animal derivatives. Another beneficial aspect of this option is that its composition is rich in calcium, dietary fiber, minerals and magnesium. The powder dissolves easily and it can be used on a wider range of dishes and food items like the raindrop cake, mousse, ice cream, jelly, gummy candies, yogurt, pies, soups and more. It’s free from GMOs and gluten and certified vegan, Halal and keto-friendly.
Modernist Pantry Pure Super Agar Powder
- Made with Gracilaria seaweed
- High gel strength
- Excellent vegan substitute
- Gelling agent
Many foodies from vegans, vegetarians and even omnivore types appreciate the excellent quality of this topnotch gelatin substitute. It’s often praised due to its impressive gel strength. You only need a bit of the powder and you’re done—you will have gummy candies, jelly desserts and panna cottas with a texture and stiffness that is very similar with standard gelatin products and dishes. If you are after thicker or harder textures close to the consistency of authentic gelatin, then this product is for you. It’s also very great to use on molecular gastronomy dishes. Another high point of this product is that it gets the nod from strict Orthodox Union Certification Standards thus what you’ll have indeed is a gelatin sub that is of first-rate quality.
Being a vegan or vegetarian does not mean you need to skip those delicious jelly desserts. Make your own instead by using any of these lovely gelatin substitutes and alternatives. Follow a recipe or just make you own jelly, panna cotta, mousse, pudding, gummy candy, marshmallow or jello shot recipes. Be creative with the stuff.