gelatin substitute

Top 5 Substitutes for Gelatin Powder That Are Healthy and Plant-Based

These days, gelatin powder is extremely popular because of its health and cooking properties. However, it is not always a safe choice for everyone, particularly those following a vegan or vegetarian diet.

It is always a good idea to have some alternatives ready for this powder, as it may come in handy many times.

What Is Gelatin Powder?

gelatin powder

Gelatin powder is the product of cooking collagen. Collagen is the most abundant protein, which is found in humans and animals. While you can find collagen anywhere in the body, it is almost all found in skin, bones, and ligaments.

This powder is composed then of almost entirely protein, as well as amino acids.

Collagen is important in the body because it helps with strength and structure, but eating it directly is hard since it is found in inedible parts of the animals. Gelatin powder, however, is made by boiling these parts in water. 

You can use gelatin powder in a variety of ways because it becomes jelly-like after dissolving in water and after cooling down. Some people add collagen powder to soup, broth, or sauces to add more nutrients.

gummy bear gelatin

You can also find gelatin powder as part of common commercial foods, including Jell-O and gummy candy.

Because gelatin powder contains mostly collagen, it means that it also contains many amino acids, some of which humans need by consuming them in the diet. Since it is made with collagen, then it can also serve to improve joint function and strength, relieving stress and pain. 

Collagen is also a key component of skin, hair, and nails, so consuming gelatin powder can improve the aspect of all of these.

Some of the amino acids in this powder can also improve brain function, sleep, and gut function (*). Other people also consume gelatin powder as a means of satisfying hunger, which could lead to weight loss.

Since it is made from animal parts, many people have ethical issues with this product, and may not want to use it in any of their recipes or dishes.

jelly gelatin

What Can I Replace Gelatin Powder With?

If you follow an animal-free diet or feel like you need a different ingredient, then these gelatin powder substitutes are perfect for you:

Best For Baking, Vegetarian, Vegan, and Keto

#1. Agar Agar

Agar agar is the number one option if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet or if you want a low-carb option.

This is a jelly-like food that comes from the cell walls of red algae and looks semi-translucent. Because it is plant-based, it is used in baking, making jellies, custard, and pudding. 

Some people may also find agar agar useful in emulsifying, gelling, and thickening foods. Keep in mind that agar agar tends to be firmer than gelatin, so you should be careful how to use it, otherwise, your product may become too thick.

To replace gelatin powder, use the same amount of agar agar but adjust for liquids if necessary. 

See more: Substitute for Agar Agar

#2. Pectin

Pectin is a fiber that you can find in the cells of many fruits, but once heated with acid and sugar, it becomes a jelly-like substance.

Vegetarian and vegan products, like jams and jellies, contain pectin in place of gelatin powder. You can find commercial pectin that comes from apples or citrus fruits and it is sold as a powder or flakes.

You may notice a difference in texture, as pectin is gummier and may become syrupy. You will need to boil pectin before using it. We recommend you start using only about half of the amount required and add slowly as you go.

Using pectin is also a great option for those on the keto diet or who want to consume fewer carbohydrates.

#3. Guar Gum

Also known as guaran, guar gum is a polysaccharide from beans that is often used as a thickener and stabilizer in foods.

Many foods, like ice cream, salad dressing, juices, and commercial items, like medicines and gels, use it because it dissolves easily and can make things more stable.

You can find this substance in some bakeries or specialty stores and use them for your baked goods, sauces, jelly, jam, and more.

Guar gum is also vegetarian and vegan, so it is safe to use in these cases, though consuming too much may have adverse effects. To replace gelatin powder, start with about half the amount of guar gum and be careful with the amount of acid you add.

Best For Cake, Cheesecake, and Cooking

#4. Carrageenan

Also called carrageen or Irish moss, this item comes from red seaweed and like gelatin powder, it can form a gel-like consistency.

Many foods already contain carrageenan, such as pizza, ice cream, and marshmallows. You will find carrageenan in powder form and you can use it as you would gelatin powder, but this option is softer.

Carrageenan is also a vegan and vegetarian choice, so you can use it whenever you make a plant-based recipe and if you follow a low-carb diet.

To use carrageenan, mix it with water or a liquid, and then heat it. There are two types of carrageenan, use iota carrageenan in softer foods, like custard, and kappa carrageenan in firmer foods, like cheese.

#5. Locust Bean Gum

While you may know this choice as carob bean gum, this option is a great thickener and stabilizer. Locust bean gum comes from the seeds of the carob tree, which grows mostly in the Mediterranean region.

You can find this ingredient in foods, including yogurt, cheese, and ice cream.

Finding locust bean gum may be a bit harder, but you can try the local organic store or online. This choice is also vegetarian and vegan and contains few calories, so it is keto-friendly.

Like gelatin power, consuming locust bean gum may have some health benefits, as it is high in fiber.


FAQs

Can you use cornstarch in place of gelatin?

The short answer is yes. However, the long answer is, cornstarch may only be good at thickening sauces, soups, gravies, and some other foods. If you want to use a stabilizer or gelling additive, then it is not adequate.

Is there a vegetarian substitute for gelatin?

Yes, all the items on this list are vegetarian. Some of the best vegetarian substitutes for gelatin powder include agar agar, pectin, and carrageenan, as they have very similar properties and produce very similar results.

What is natural gelatin made of?

Gelatin contains a mixture of peptides and proteins from collagen found in animals. Some of the common parts are skin, bones, and connective tissues. Commonly, gelatin is made by hydrolysis of these parts from cattle, chicken, pig, and fish.

Conclusion

Since gelatin powder is not suitable for vegetarians or vegans, but a keto-friendly choice, you may find yourself in a dilemma. If this is the case, then using any of these five healthy options will create the same effect on your dishes. Remember to measure the amount you use and always mix well.

gelatin alternative

*image by Oksana6299956/depositphotos

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