How to Use Gelatin and Agar Agar in Gluten-Free Cooking

Gluten Free Works Author Teri Gruss



Agar agar is gluten-free, vegan and works as a thickener in recipes.

Gelatin and agar agar powder can be used interchangably in gluten-free recipes, but what are the differences in these gluten-free ingredients and why are they used in some gluten-free recipes?



Most cooks are familiar with gelatin- the stuff that makes Jello gel. You can find it in virtually every market, usually as Knox brand gelatin.

Gelatin is sometimes used in gluten-free recipes to bind and thicken batters and dough. Used in gluten-free pizza crust recipes gelatin makes the dough more pliable and easier to shape without cracking.

Gelatin is processed from animal bone, hooves and connective tissue. It’s not suitable for vegan diets.


Agar Agar

Agar agar is a flavorless vegan alternative to gelatin. It is used in processed foods to gel, thicken, texturize and stabilize confectioneries, dairy products, baked goods, sauces and dressings, meat products and even beverages.

Agar agar is processed from red algae into sheets, flakes and powder. The powder and flake forms are easy to work with and are high in proteins and fiber.

Use 1 tablespoon agar flakes to thicken 1 cup of liquid. Use 1 teaspoon agar powder to thicken 1 cup of liquid. Follow directions on product packaging for use.


Tips for Cooking with Gelatin and Agar Agar

  • Add to dry ingredients and whisk to combine.
  • If you are a vegan, use agar agar when a recipe calls for gelatin.
  • Gelatin and agar agar can make gluten-free breads soggy. Be sure to measure carefully when using these gelling agents and don’t use more than a recipe calls for.


Gluten-Free Recipes that use gelatin or agar agar


Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread Recipe

Gluten-Free Pizza Crust Recipe


Source: Agar-Agar – Paramount Gelling Properties and Natural Source of Seaweed Fibres by Anita Bénech and Alfred L. Wolff, Wellness Foods Europe, June / July 2008



Author Information: Teri Gruss, MS Guide to Gluten-Free Cooking
Teri was diagnosed with gluten intolerance after decades of symptoms that culminated in malabsorption syndrome. Teri has written numerous health and nutrition articles for the popular website and was a founding member and moderator of, a nutrition forum for healthcare professionals and students. She is a member of the American Dietetic Association and supports the non-profit organization Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) of North America as a member.
Email Teri Gruss, MS here.

About Teri Gruss, MS

Teri Gruss, MS

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