Gelatin is an important ingredient in recipes like marshmallows, jello, gummy desserts, or other things that gel. It’s made from animal collagen.
It is also known for its several medicinal uses and weight-loss effects.
Gelatin for cooking purposes is easily available in most grocery stores. But for some reason, you may not prefer to include gelatin in your cooking. For many, it is quite terrible to use gelatin, as it is sourced from animals. It comes from animal hooves, bones, cartilage, and other parts of abattoir meat leftovers.
5 Vegan Gelatin Substitutes
Vegans simply can’t bear gelatin for cooking.
If you wish, you can use any of the gelatin substitutes in your cooking. Fortunately, you have a couple of healthy vegetarian alternatives available for substitution.
1. Agar Agar Powder
Agar-agar comes from seaweed or algae. This jelly-like substance is mostly made from red algae. Some simply call it agar or agar powder.
It comes in dried powder form but also flake and bar form.
It is an excellent vegan replacement for gelatin because of its gel-like soluble fiber content.
For your advantage, powdered agar-agar is odorless and flavorless. So you needn’t worry about flavor changes in your recipes after using agar.
The benefits of using agar flakes instead of gelatin include the following:
- Soft and gel-like texture, like gelatin.
- Doesn’t change the flavor of other ingredients in your recipe.
- More versatile than gelatin and doesn’t need refrigeration.
- Maintains gel-like consistency at room temperature.
The substitution ratio is an equal amount of agar-agar for gelatin. Use 2 teaspoons of agar powder instead of 2 teaspoons of gelatin.
Note that gelatin requires refrigeration for setting, but agar-agar sets at room temperature and has a higher melting point. Gelatin melts at room temperature, but agar-agar requires rapid boiling.
Before cooking, agar-agar needs to be soaked in a liquid for 10 minutes.
Lastly, enzymes from certain fruits like pineapple and papaya will prevent agar-agar from setting. You can neutralize such enzymes by cooking the fruits before adding them to the agar-agar mixture.
2. Pectin Powder
Pectin is a naturally occurring substance (a polysaccharide) found in apples, oranges, berries, and other fruits. Usually, the peels of these fruits are the best source of pectin.
Pectin powder, when dissolved in water, can be set at room temperature, just like agar powder. For this reason, it can be used in many varieties of recipes instead of gelatin.
Pectin powder obtained from citrus peels is bitter. You may need to add a considerable amount of sugar to the pectin powder to get the best results. So, it is not a good ingredient to replace gelatin for diabetes patients.
It’s a natural food ingredient from red seaweed and Irish moss. You will often encounter this ingredient in yogurt, meat products, and nut milk.
It is a good additive for preserving, thickening, and emulsifying foods and drinks.
Carrageenan is a popular gelling agent and a great substitute for gelatin in cooking. Vegans love this vegan jelly.
Some may not like it, for it solidifies into a softer jelly than one formed with gelatin. It works best for recipes requiring light, delicately balanced jelly or blancmange.
Just like gelatin, it is odorless and flavorless. It doesn’t alter the original taste of your delicacies.
One ounce of dried carrageenan will make one cup of liquid.
Before using the dried carrageen, rinse it well and soak it in water to make it swell. Add the swollen carrageen to your dish to be set.
4. Arrowroot Powder
Arrowroot powder is a white, flavorless powder extracted from topical tubers like arrowroot plants and cassava.
It is a popular ingredient for thickening soups, sauces, and other foods that require a jelly-like texture.
It works exceptionally well for thickening an acidic liquid. Arrowroot jelly was a very popular food ingredient in the Victorian era.
You can easily substitute gelatin with arrowroot jelly in most dishes that call for gelatin with a jelly texture.
Warning: Avoid using arrowroot powder with dairy products, as these tend to turn it slimy. It also can’t withstand high temperatures.
5. Guar Gum
Guar gum, also called guaran, is a galactomannan polysaccharide extracted from guar beans, mostly found in India. It’s vegetable gum.
Like gelatin powder, guar gum can turn liquid food into a jelly-like consistency. This thickening agent sets at room temperature like agar-agar. It doesn’t work well for foods rich in acidic content.
Guar gum can replace gelatin in baked goods and dairy desserts.
While using guar gum as a substitute for gelatin, you need to adopt a different approach. For the gelatin substitution, use guar gum in a measure of 1/6 of the gelatin used in the recipe. About 1/2 teaspoon of guar gum is enough to replace 1 tablespoon of gelatin. This ratio may not be exact for all recipes; it must be played around a little to get the right consistency.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use xanthan gum in place of gelatin?
They have different properties and cannot always be used interchangeably. Xanthan gum is a plant-based thickener that is particularly effective at creating a dense texture in liquids. Also, xanthan gum does not have the gelling properties of gelatin.
Can I use cornstarch as a replacement for gelatin?
Cornstarch is not a perfect alternative to gelatin. They have different properties and functions in cooking and baking. Cornstarch is a starch that thickens sauces, soups, and fillings when heated.
Can I substitute collagen for gelatin?
Collagen and gelatin are derived from animal connective tissues but are not exactly the same. Gelatin is a hydrolyzed form of collagen, meaning it has been partially broken down into smaller protein chains that can dissolve in water. Collagen, on the other hand, is typically sold in powder or capsule form. It has not been treated with enzymes to break it down. They are not interchangeable in recipes.
Can Sure Jell be substituted for unflavored gelatin?
Jell is a type of pectin, a plant-based substance used to thicken foods. While both Sure-Jell and unflavored gelatin can be used to thicken or set foods, they are not interchangeable in all recipes. Sure, Jell is typically used in making jams and jellies.
Can you substitute flavored gelatin for unflavored gelatin?
Flavored gelatin and unflavored gelatin are not always interchangeable in recipes. Flavored gelatin contains additional ingredients, such as sugar, flavorings, and colorings, that unflavored gelatin does not have. These extra ingredients can affect the final product’s texture, flavor, and appearance.
How to substitute gelatin sheets for powder?
- To substitute gelatin sheets for powder, you can follow these general guidelines:
- Determine how much-powdered gelatin is needed in the recipe and convert it into sheets. One gelatin sheet roughly equals 1/4 teaspoon (or 1 gram) of powdered gelatin.
- Soften the gelatin sheets in a bowl of cold water for about 5-10 minutes until they are soft and pliable.
- Once soft, gently squeeze out any excess water from the sheets.
- Heat the liquid portion of your recipe in a saucepan over low heat until it is hot but not boiling.
- Add the softened gelatin sheets to the hot liquid and stir until completely dissolved.
Recommended reading list: