Agar-agar is a thickener like gelatin – the main ingredient in Jell-O and marshmallows. While gelatin is animal-based, agar-agar is totally vegan. It’s a 100% natural seaweed extract. It is cruelty-free, gluten-free, and sugar-free. Our agar-agar powder is also halal and kosher-certified.
Agar means jelly in the Malay language. It has been used in Asia for hundreds of years to set liquids, especially to make jellies and other desserts. Agar-agar is a magical ingredient that allows you to make jams, jellies, puddings, gummies, marshmallows, cheese, and anything else that needs thickening.
Agar-agar is colorless, odorless and tasteless, making it versatile for cooking. It thickens without altering the color, smell, or flavor of other ingredients. It can be used in any food that calls for gelatin, so it’s often called a vegan gelatin. Agar-agar gives you the freedom to make your food with ingredients that suit your value, health, and taste.
With agar-agar, you can make vegan jello shots, vegan panna cotta, and all kinds of vegan desserts and vegan cheese.
With agar-agar, you can make keto jam, keto marshmallows, and all kinds of keto desserts by replacing sugar with stevia, a healthy sugar alternative.
With agar-agar, you can make healthy homemade snacks like real-fruit gummy bears, dairy-free cheesecake, and gluten-free mousse.
Both gelatin and agar-agar are thickeners, so they have similar uses in cooking. But that’s where their similarity ends.
Source: Gelatin is derived from the collagen of pigs and cows. On the other hand, agar-agar is derived from seaweed, making it suitable for vegans and vegetarians.
Texture: Gelatin creates a soft and bouncy texture. It also melts in the mouth because gelatin, derived from mammals whose body temperatures are similar to ours, melts at our body temperature. On the other hand, agar-agar creates a firm and crumbly texture. Agar-agar stays firm up to 149°F (65°C), while gelatin starts to soften at 77°F (25°C). Agar jellies retain their form outside of the refrigerator, making them ideal for picnics and parties.
Cooking Method: Whereas gelatin loses its thickening properties when boiled, agar-agar needs to be boiled to activate its thickening properties.
Setting Speed: Gelatin requires hours of refrigeration to set because it sets below 59°F (15°C). On the other hand, agar-agar sets within minutes at room temperature because it sets around 95 - 113°F (35 - 45°C). As soon as you take your pot off the heat, it starts to set. No refrigeration is necessary to set. Want quick homemade jellies? Agar-agar is the way to go.
We share free agar-agar recipes on our recipe community Nooria, on our Instagram, and via our weekly newsletter. We also host recipe contests every month to update the Nooria Recipe Library. Submit your own recipes to win awards and get featured in our cookbook and social media channels.
When cooking with agar-agar, precise measurement is critical. If the texture is too crispy, gritty, or waxy, you might be using too much agar. There’s a quick fix! Simply reheat your agar jelly and bring it to a boil. Add more water. Stir constantly. Let it simmer for a few minutes. Voila! Ready for another try!
If the texture is too soft or mushy, you might be using too little agar. Reheat your agar jelly to a boil. In a separate pot, add agar-agar powder in a small amount of cold water and bring it to a boil. Stir both pots constantly. Once they reach a full boil, combine them and let it simmer for a couple minutes over medium heat. Try again!
※ Agar-agar creates a different texture than gelatin. It won’t jiggle like gelatin. It’s firmer and tends to be crumbly.
To activate its thickening properties, Agar agar must be melted and dissolved in water at 185°F (85°C) or higher. Make sure you bring your liquid to a full boil and let it simmer for a few minutes. Check to see if it’s clear of tiny agar-agar particles.
Agar-agar sets much faster than gelatin, but it still takes some time to set. The setting time depends on the amount of the liquid you’re trying to set, but typically within an hour. It won’t set if disturbed. So, just leave it alone and wait.
Also, tannins in coffee, tea, wine, and many fruits and plants affect agar’s thickening ability. So, it’s best to add these ingredients after boiling agar in plain water.
Our seaweed is harvested from Indonesia and processed in South Korea. To ensure the highest quality, we work with a manufacturer with over 50 years of experience in producing agar products and exporting them to Japan.
Agar-agar is 80% fiber and contains micronutrients, such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, and folate. Dietary fiber makes you feel fuller, helping to manage overeating. Agar-agar is very low in calories. It’s also sugar-free, starch-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free, making it suitable for vegan, keto, and most religious diets.
Agar-agar is safe and healthy. But too much of a good thing applies to agar-agar as well. Too much fiber can cause a temporary stomach ache, mild diarrhea, or constipation.
While gelatin is produced by boiling animal collagen, agar-agar goes through a much more extensive process. First, seaweed is harvested by people. Then, the seaweed is filtered, boiled, solidified, dehydrated, dried, and then processed into powder.