Gelatin Powder Substitutes: 5 Swaps For Vegetarian Cooking

Gelatin powder is an important ingredient in recipes like marshmallows, Jello, or other things that gel. It is also known for its several medicinal uses and weight loss effects.

Gelatin powder 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 abominable to use gelatin as it is sourced from animals. It comes from animal hooves, bones, cartilages, and other parts of abattoir meat leftovers.

5 Vegetarian Substitutes For Gelatin

Vegans simply just can’t bear with gelatin for cooking.

If you wish, you can use any of the gelatin powder substitutes in your cooking.  Fortunately, you have a couple of healthy vegetarian alternatives available for substitution.

1. Agar Agar Powder – The First Choice

Agar Agar Powder

Agar-agar comes from seaweed. Some simply call it agar or agar powder.

It is an excellent vegan replacement for gelatin because of its gel-like soluble fiber content.

For your advantage, agar-agar powder is odorless and flavorless. So you needn’t worry about flavor changes in your recipes after using agar.

Benefits of using agar-agar instead of gelatin include:

  • 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. That is, use one tablespoon of agar powder instead of one tablespoon of gelatin powder.

Please note, 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 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 set at room temperature just like the agar agar powder. For this reason, it can be used in many varieties of recipes instead of gelatin powder.

Pectin powder obtained from citrus peel is bitter. It may become necessary for you to add a considerable amount of sugar to pectin powder to get the best results. So, it is not a good choice of gelatin substitute for diabetes patients.

3. Carrageenan


It’s a natural food ingredient that comes from red seaweed, also called Irish moss. You will often come across this ingredient in yogurt, meat products, and nut milk.

It is a good additive for the preserve, thicken and emulsify foods and drinks.

Carrageenan is a popular gelling agent, a great substitute for gelatin powder for cooking. Vegans will surely love it.

Some may not like it for it solidifies to a softer jelly than one formed with gelatin. It works best for recipes that require a 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 set one cup of liquid.

Before using the dried carrageen, rinse well and soak it in water to make it swell.  Add the swollen carrageen in your dish to be set.

4. Arrowroot Powder

Arrowroot Powder

Arrowroot powder is a white, flavorless powder extracted from topical tubers like arrowroot plant 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. In fact, arrowroot jelly was a very popular food ingredient in the Victorian era.

You can easily substitute gelatin powder with arrowroot jelly in most dishes that require 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

Guar gum, also called guaran, is a galactomannan polysaccharide extracted from guar beans mostly found in India.

Just like gelatin powder, guar gum can turn any liquid food into a jelly-like consistency. It sets at room temperature like the agar-agar. It doesn’t work well for foods rich in acidic content.

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 portion of gelatin supposed to be used in the recipe. This ratio may not be exact for all recipes, this needs to be played around little to get the right consistency.