How to Make Jello without Gelatin: Vegan Jiggly Delight

For many people, jello is one of those classic childhood treats that brings back fond memories. Unfortunately, for those following a vegan or vegetarian diet, traditional jello made with gelatin is off-limits. But fear not! Making jello without gelatin is possible, and the results are just as delicious and fun to eat. In this article, we’ll go through the steps of how to make jello without gelatin, and explore some vegan-friendly alternatives.

What is Gelatin?

Gelatin is a protein derived from animal collagen, typically from pig or cow skin, bones, and connective tissue. It’s a popular ingredient in jello, as well as other desserts like marshmallows, gummy candies, and pudding. Gelatin gives these treats their signature gummy texture and helps them hold their shape.

Why Make Jello without Gelatin?

For those following a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, gelatin is not an option as it’s derived from animal products. Additionally, some people choose to avoid gelatin due to dietary restrictions or allergies. Making jello without gelatin opens up the possibility of enjoying this fun and nostalgic treat while catering to these dietary needs.

What Can I Use Instead of Gelatin?

There are several vegan-friendly alternatives to gelatin that can be used to make jello:

  • Agar agar: A popular substitute, agar agar is a seaweed-based powder that gels when dissolved in liquid. It’s a one-to-one substitute for gelatin, meaning you can use the same amount of agar agar powder as you would gelatin.
  • Carrageenan: Another seaweed-based product, carrageenan is commonly used as a thickener and emulsifier. It can be used as a substitute for gelatin in certain jello recipes.
  • Xanthan gum: A plant-based gum, xanthan gum is commonly used as a thickener and emulsifier in cooking and baking. It can also help achieve a jiggly texture in jello recipes.
  • Pectin: A natural fruit-based product, pectin is commonly used in jam-making to help set the fruit. It can also be used in certain jello recipes to create a similar texture to gelatin.

Recipe: Vegan Jello Using Agar Agar


Ingredient Amount
Agar agar powder 2 tsp
Water 2 cups
Sugar 1/4 cup
Juice or flavoring (optional) 1/4 cup


  1. In a saucepan, whisk together the agar agar powder and water.
  2. Heat the mixture over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until it comes to a simmer.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and let the mixture simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. If using juice or flavoring, add it now and stir to combine.
  5. Pour the mixture into molds or a shallow dish and let it cool to room temperature.
  6. Once the jello has cooled, cover it and refrigerate for at least 1 hour until set. The agar agar will create a firm, jiggly texture similar to gelatin.
  7. Once set, remove the jello from the molds or dish and serve chilled.

Tips for Making Perfect Jello

Use the Right Amount of Agar Agar

A common mistake when making vegan jello is using too much or too little agar agar. Be sure to follow the recipe and measure the agar agar powder accurately to ensure the jello sets properly.

Don’t Boil the Jello Mixture

When heating the agar agar mixture, be sure not to let it boil too vigorously. This can cause the mixture to break down and prevent the jello from setting.

Refrigerate the Jello until Set

After pouring the jello mixture into molds or a dish, be patient and let it cool and set in the refrigerator for at least an hour. If you try to remove the jello too soon, it may not hold its shape and could be too soft.


Making jello without gelatin is a fun and easy way to indulge in a nostalgic treat while accommodating a vegan or vegetarian diet. Agar agar, carrageenan, xanthan gum, and pectin are all viable substitutes for gelatin, each with their own unique properties. And with a little patience and attention to detail, you can make perfect vegan jello every time!

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Can I use vegan gelatin instead of agar agar?
  • Yes! There are several vegan gelatin products available on the market, made from ingredients like carrageenan, konjac root, or vegetable gums. Be sure to follow the instructions on the package for best results.

  • How can I make the jello sweeter?
  • You can use more sugar, or add a sweetener like maple syrup or agave nectar. Just be sure to adjust the amount of liquid in the recipe accordingly.

  • Can I make jello without any sugar?
  • Yes, you can omit the sugar altogether or use a sugar substitute like stevia. Keep in mind the final texture and flavor may be affected.

  • Can I use fresh fruit in my jello?
  • Yes! Chopped or pureed fresh fruit can be added to jello for added flavor and texture. Just be sure to adjust the amount of liquid and sugar in the recipe accordingly.


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