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9 Best Agar Agar Substitutes – Easy to Find (Reg & Vegan) 

Agar agar is an incredibly versatile ingredient, used for a long time in many recipes as a gelatinous stabilizer. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find in some areas, but luckily there are various substitutes that you can use instead. But what is the best agar agar substitute?

The best agar agar substitutes are:

  1. Cornstarch
  2. Pectin
  3. Unflavored Gelatin
  4. Xanthan Gum 

But those aren’t the only options!

While there are varied agar agar substitute to choose from, the right choice can work well in many recipes. Make sure you read your recipe carefully and adjust the measurements as necessary.

With a little bit of experimentation, you should be able to find the perfect substitute for your recipe.

Below I’ll review 9 alternatives to agar agar, what the differences are, how much to substitute, and what the pros and cons of each are. And don’t worry! Several of the alternatives are vegan.

agar substitute lg

What is agar agar and what is it made of?

Red algae.

Agar agar is a gelatinous substance that is derived from red algae or seaweed and is commonly used as a vegan alternative to gelatin. Agar agar is incredibly versatile and can be used as a thickening agent and for other things setting desserts and making jams. It’s also a great way to add a bit of texture to food.

The red seaweed or algae used to make agar agar is usually harvested from the ocean, or from rivers and lakes. The algae is then dried and ground into a powder, which is then dissolved in boiling water to create a thick liquid.

Once the agar agar liquid is cool, it takes on a gelatinous texture. It can then be used in recipes to create a variety of dishes. Agar agar is most commonly used as a vegan substitute for gelatin, but it can also be used in many other sweet and savory recipes.

Agar agar is incredibly easy to work with and can be used in multiple ways. It’s great for creating vegan diets including marshmallows, gummy bears, panna cotta and ice cream. It’s also a great way to thicken up sauces and jams, or to make jellied salads.

Agar agar is incredibly versatile and can be used in all sorts of recipes. Plus, it’s easy to find, even if you can’t make it yourself. You can find it in many grocery stores, just look for the agar agar powder or flake form.

Cornstarch and corn syrup are both derived from corn, but each has its own unique use.

While it’s good to know the difference between the two and avoid culinary blunders, my most recent article is an ideal destination to learn more.

Here I addressed some of the most recurring concerns including if cornstarch the same as high fructose corn syrup. If you are wondering if you can use corn syrup instead of starch, the article also addressed that.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Is agar agar same as gelatin?

No. When talking about using agar agar or gelatin for cooking, there is a lot of confusion about which to use. While it seems like people use them interchangeably, they aren’t actually the same. For starters, agar agar is an algae-based product, while gelatin is made from animal products (traditionally horse hoof).

Agar agar is vegan and vegetarian-friendly, while gelatin is not.

Agar agar is also a lot healthier than gelatin, as it’s free from cholesterol, saturated fat and calories. Another main difference is that agar agar and gelatin also behave differently in a variety of savory dishes.

Agar agar gel sets at room temperature and can stay that way for hours, making it ideal for use in salads, puddings, and other cold dishes. Meanwhile, gelatin melts at room temperature and must be refrigerated in order to set. It’s often used to make jellies, custards, and mousses, as well as a variety of other dishes.

They both act as thickeners, but you will need a larger amount of gelatin as agar agar has a stronger thickening power. Agar agar also sets firmly and quickly, while gelatin requires several hours to set.

In terms of taste and texture, they are quite different as well.

Agar agar has a neutral flavor and is much firmer than gelatin. It’s also much more stable and maintains its shape better when cut, folded, or mixed. Traditional gelatin on the other hand, has a noticeable sweetness to it and is much softer with a more delicate texture.

If you are looking for a vegan or vegetarian-friendly alternative to gelatin, agar agar is the best choice. It is healthier, more versatile, and sets quickly and firmly. Just keep in mind that agar agar has a strong thickening power, so for the best results, use it in small amounts.

Agar agar is also traditionally used to thicken the broth for oxtails.

If you have enjoyed a delicious bowl of oxtail then you might know that it is a fantastic comfort food that has a unique and flavorful taste. However, to get the best of this meal, like most others, you might have questioned how to season oxtail the best.

My most recent article have all the answers you need. Whether you are wondering if you should brown oxtails before cooking or if there’s the need for marinating, the article addressed that.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Best agar agar substitutes

Best Agar Agar Substitutes Quantity to Substitute for 1tsp agar agar Effects on Flavor or Consistency
Pectin 1.6tsp pectin No effect on flavor, but can affect consistency
Unflavored Gelatin 2 tsp gelatin Will add a slight flavor, but can affect consistency
Vegan “Gelatin” 1.5tsp vegan gelatin Will add a slight flavor, but can affect consistency
Xanthan Gum 0.25tsp xanthan gum Won’t affect flavor, but can affect consistency
Guar Gum 0.25tsp guar gum Won’t affect flavor, but can affect consistency
Carrageen 2tsp carrageen No effect on flavor, but can affect consistency
Cornstarch 2tsp cornstarch Will add a slightly sweet flavor, but can affect consistency
Arrowroot Powder 1.5tsp arrowroot powder Won’t affect flavor, but can affect consistency
Tapioca Powder 1.5tsp tapioca powder Won’t affect flavor, but can affect consistency

If you’ve ever wanted to make a vegan recipe version of your favorite cakes and desserts, then you’ve definitely heard of agar agar. But if you’re not able to find agar agar, don’t worry.

There are lots of great agar agar substitutes out there that will do the trick.

For a quick and easy best agar agar substitute, you can use cornstarch or arrowroot powder. While adding a tablespoon of cornstarch may not be as set and firm as agar agar for your recipe, it does provide a good replacement for desserts and baking recipes.

Arrowroot, on the other hand will thicken and bind without adding an unpleasant flavor.

You may also have heard of or have used Pectin powder. It has a similar texture to agar agar, and is also easy to use. Pectin is a natural gelling agent, so you don’t need to add any additional ingredients to get the desired texture.

Unflavored gelatin is another popular substitute to agar agar. It’s a bit harder to work with than pectin, but it does still offer a nice texture and flavor.

If you’re looking for a vegan diet option in place of agar agar, you can try vegan “gelatin”.

This vegan option is just as easy to use and provides a similar firm texture and flavor as regular gelatin. As a vegan gelatin substitute, you can also try tapioca flour. It’s a bit more difficult to work with than some of the other options, but it still provides a nice texture and flavor.

Or if you want something more natural, then you can also substitute agar agar with Guar Gum, Carrageen, and xanthan gum. These alternatives can be found in most health food stores, and they will provide a great consistency and texture.

Spaghetti sauce is a delicious Italian classic and is a favorite for many that sometimes needs to be thickened.

With its tangy tomato sauce, savory meatballs, and variety of herbs, it’s no wonder spaghetti is a staple in many households.

To enjoy this meal better, you may look to thicken up your spaghetti sauce. There are quite a few easy tricks you can use which you can learn more about from my recent article.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

What Is agar agar used for?

Essentially agar agar is a thickener.

When agar agar is mixed with water, it forms a gel-like substance which can be used for a variety of purposes in cooking. It’s used as a gelling agent for various food preparations including many types of desserts and even savory dishes.

Agar agar is a popular choice for making vegan and vegetarian dishes, since it’s high in fiber and a good source of calcium and iron.

The jelly-like substance of agar agar makes it perfect for setting a range of different types of dishes, including jellies, mousses, ice creams and more.

However, agar agar’s uses aren’t limited to the kitchen.

It’s also been used for scientific purposes. It’s often used to help scientists conduct experiments, as it’s known for its ability to keep specific type of bacteria and other organisms alive for long periods of time. It can also help other research purposes, such as tissue culture and microbiology.

In addition to its various culinary and scientific uses, agar agar is also a great supplement to have in your diet due to its nutritional value.

The high concentration of dietary fiber found in agar-agar helps to reduce cholesterol and support digestion. It’s also a great source of calcium, iron, magnesium and other nutrients, which can help to keep your body healthy and strong.

From adding a unique texture to your dishes to conducting medical experiments, agar-agar is an incredibly versatile component that’s worth exploring.

So if you’re looking for a relatively new ingredient to try out, be sure to check out agar-agar.

Final Thoughts

Agar agar is a fantastic ingredient to have in your kitchen.

It’s widely used to make everything from jellies to custards to noodles but it can be difficult to find in some stores. However, there are a number of easy-to-find and great go-to best substitutes for meeting your culinary needs.

Whether you’re looking for vegan or regular alternatives, there are many options that are easy to find in the specialty store or online. You can use carrageenan, guar gum, xanthan gum, or agar powder as vegan substitutes.

Or, you can stock up on unflavored gelatin, pectin, or arrowroot powder if you prefer regular substitutes. Whichever alternative you choose, it’ll be sure to get the job done.

Check out all my ingredient substitution articles:

15 Best Substitutes for Achiote Paste & Powder

9 Best Agar Agar Substitutes

15 Best White Balsamic Vinegar Substitutes

9 Simple Madras Curry Powder Substitutes

15 Best Browning Sauce Substitutes

13 Best Substitutes for Mustard Seed

15 Fool-Proof Lyle’s Golden Syrup Substitute Options

Can I Substitute Maple Syrup for Honey?

Hoisin Sauce vs. Oyster Sauce (Difference & Best Substitutes)

19 Best Substitutes for Potato Starch (and when to use them)

Agar-Agar by F_A is licensed under CC2.0 and was cropped, edited, and had a text overlay added.

Jeff Campbell