Agar agar is one of those ingredients that will become a household item if you get to use it. However, not everyone knows about it or uses it regularly. If you find yourself looking for this ingredient, you can try one of the substitutes on this list for equal results.
What Is Agar Agar?
Agar agar is often considered the best vegetarian gelatin alternative. This gelatin comes from seaweed and has a white, translucent color. You will find agar agar in powder, bar, or flake form, usually in organic grocery or health stores.
Many choose agar agar not just because it is plant-based but also because it works wonders as a stabilizer and thickening agent.
For many centuries, agar agar has also been used in cooking for clarifying purposes in brewing, as a scientific tool, and even in fabrics. Agar agar is a bit tougher and firmer than gelatin, so the dish may lose softness in the end.
You will see agar agar as an ingredient in many vegetarian and vegan foods, such as ice cream, jelly, gummy candy, and cheesecake. This ingredient is odorless and flavorless, so it truly is meant to be used for its gelling properties only.
You can store agar in an airtight container and dry spot where it should last up to eight months.
What Can I Replace Agar Agar With?
If you can’t seem to find this food item anywhere, here are the best substitutes for agar agar powder and agar flakes that will make your dish turn out perfect:
Best For Jelly, Cake, and Panna Cotta
Also known as carrageen or Irish moss, this choice comes from dry seaweed, so it is very similar to agar agar.
Carrageenan goes great in jelly, cake, panna cotta, pudding, mousses, and ice cream. This option will also be a bit softer than regular gelatin or agar agar, and melts in the mouth easily.
If you want to find carrageenan, you may need to try a specialty store, health store, or search online.
There are two types of carrageenan, use iota carrageenan in soft things, like pudding and ice cream, and kappa carrageenan in gel products and jelly. Use one cup of water and one ounce of dry carrageenan to set it right.
#2. Vegan Jel
Vegan jel is a commercial vegetarian replacement for gelatin powder, and it is made of vegetable gum, calcium phosphate, adipic acid, tapioca, and potassium citrate.
This option sets easily and it is very soft, which makes it perfect for cakes, panna cotta, pudding, ice cream, and jelly. To use vegan jel, add water, and mix thoroughly until the powder dissolves.
You can surely find vegan jel in any organic or health store, as it is a common commercial brand for vegans and vegetarians. If you want to replace one teaspoon of agar agar, use 1 ½ teaspoon of vegan jel.
Pectin is another vegetarian choice that comes from the cell of all citrus fruits and apples. You may have used pectin before, as it is a common ingredient in jelly and jam-making.
This option is great for gelling, but it also contains sugar, so you may want to adjust the sugar in your recipe.
You can buy pectin in any grocery store, usually by the baking section, but you can try the organic market as well. Since this choice is sweet, we don’t recommend that you use pectin in savory dishes. Try pectin in jelly, jam, cake, panna cotta, or fruit desserts.
Best For Baking, Cheesecake, and Vegan Cheese
#4. Guar Gum
Guar gum is another vegetarian choice that is made from guar beans, so it is often also called guaran. It also contains mannose and galactose, so it is sweeter than other choices, but it is often used as an additive in commercial foods.
You can find guar gum in things like yogurts, ice cream, salad dressing, and pudding.
Since guar gum is a complex carbohydrate, it is often considered to be beneficial for gut and heart health. You can use guar gum in many savory and sweet dishes, including soups, sauces, vegan cheese, and when baking things like cheesecake and cakes.
#5. Xanthan Gum
When it comes to finding a low-calorie and vegan-safe option, xanthan gum may be the right choice. Because it is plant-based, xanthan gum is often added to commercial products, like fruit juices, jelly, ice cream, soups, and syrups.
Like agar agar, xanthan gum is perfect for thickening, gelling, and stabilizing.
You can use xanthan gum when you bake cheesecake, panna cotta, cakes, and when cooking vegan cheese, soups, and sauces. You can find xanthan gum in any grocery store these days, as it is a very common ingredient for those on a keto, low carb, or vegan diet.
See More: Xanthan Gum Replacement
#6. Gelatin Powder
If you don’t mind using a non-vegetarian and non-vegan choice, then gelatin powder may do the trick. This product comes from the collagen found in different animal parts, including bones, skin, and ligaments.
Gelatin powder is high in protein and many essential amino acids, so it is considered a healthy option.
Many people use gelatin powder to increase their nutritional status, but they also add it to things like soups, drinks, cheesecake, cheese, and jelly. This option is also much harder and sets quickly when compared to the other items on this list.
To replace one teaspoon of agar agar, use only about ⅔ teaspoon of gelatin powder, and make sure to adjust your liquids, as this one absorbs more liquid than other options.
See more: Gelatin Powder Substitute
Yes, gelatin is a good option when you need to substitute agar agar. However, you should know that this is not a vegetarian or vegan choice, so you may want to consider this factor before you use it. Gelatin powder is great for gelling, thickening, and stabilizing all sorts of foods.
Yes, pectin and agar agar can be substituted pretty easily for each other. These are both plant-based and safe to use in many recipes. Agar agar is commonly added to sweet and savory dishes, but pectin may be too sweet for recipes that aren’t desserts or sweets.
Cornstarch is not always a good choice to replace agar agar, but it can work in certain instances. You can use cornstarch instead of agar agar if you want to thicken sauces, soups, or desserts. Keep in mind too that this choice may contain gluten, so it isn’t always safe for people on a gluten-free diet.
While many people use agar agar to replace gelatin powder in all sorts of recipes, sometimes this ingredient can be hard to find. Whatever is the reason, you can try one of these six agar powder alternatives for equally tasty results.
Remember that not every choice is adequate for all your recipes, so be careful when you pick one.
*image by qwartm/depositphotos