How to Make Vegetarian & Vegan Jello

Traditional Jello is a popular dessert made from gelatin, which is a protein derived from animal collagen, typically sourced from the bones, skin, and connective tissues of cows and pigs. When dissolved in hot water and then cooled, gelatin forms a gel-like substance, giving Jello its characteristic wobbly texture.

Some vegetarians are unaware that jello contains animal products, while others avoid it. However, there are perfectly good alternatives!

You can either make your own vegan jello, or you can purchase vegan jello products that are ready to make.

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Vegan Jello Products

Years ago, Jell-O made a line of “Simply Good” products that was vegan, dye-free, and natural. However, it seems like they have discontinued it!

However, there is a variety of other gelatin-free jello mixes available.

So not to worry, there are lots of great options for when it comes to vegan jello!

Alternatives to gelatin-based Jello

So what is in vegan jello that replaces animal gelatin?

Agar-agar is the most common vegan alternative to gelatin. It is a gelatinous substance derived from red algae or seaweed. Like gelatin, agar-agar can dissolve in hot water and set into a firm gel when cooled, but it offers some distinct advantages and differences.

Agar-agar is completely plant-based and suitable for vegans and vegetarians. Agar-agar sets at room temperature and creates a firmer gel compared to gelatin, which can be useful for certain recipes. Agar-agar contains dietary fiber and is low in calories.

Carrageenan is another seaweed-based gelling agent, often used in commercial food products.

Pectin is a natural gelling agent derived from fruits, commonly used in making jams and jellies.

Kudzu Starch is a starch derived from the kudzu plant, used for thickening and gelling.

Vegan Jello recipe

If you decide to try making your own vegan jello, here is a recipe you can try.


  • 3/4 teaspoon agar-agar powder (not to be confused with agar flakes)
  • 1 cup fruit juice (e.g., orange, apple, or grape)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar


In a saucepan, combine all ingredients.

Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring continuously to ensure everything dissolves and mixes thoroughly.

Simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Pour into a container, and refrigerate (hours to overnight).

So while traditional gelatin Jello relies on animal-derived gelatin, vegan alternatives such as agar-agar provide a plant-based option that can be used to create similar gelled desserts and dishes. Agar-agar is easy to use and is a great alternative option.

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