Is Jello Vegan? Here’s Everything You Need To Know

If you are preparing for a party and you limit your diet to foods that aren’t based on animal products, you might be wondering whether Jello is okay to add to your list, or if this is a food that you should avoid. Jello is a popular product, but is it vegan-friendly, or is it best left off the menu?

Jello is not suitable for vegans, because it contains gelatin, which is derived from animal tissues. Gelatin is used to create the structure and it is what gives Jello its amazing and weird texture, but it isn’t something that vegans should eat.

Gelatin can be a tricky ingredient to avoid, and it’s one that you need to be aware of and watch out for if you are just starting a vegan diet. It is often used to give foods a particular texture, and you shouldn’t eat it, especially if you are a strict vegan.

Is Jello Vegan?


Jello is not vegan, no, because it contains gelatin – and indeed, gelatin is one of its main ingredients. Gelatin is made from animal products, although it can be derived from various parts of the animal. These are usually ground up into an unnoticeable ingredient, and gelatin may be made using:

  • Hooves
  • Cartilage
  • Bones
  • Skin

It might surprise you that gelatin can be created from such a variety of different animal products, but it can – and they aren’t appealing things to eat, even if you are a regular meat-eater. Many people are put off by the idea of eating gelatin once they know what it is made of and how it’s made.

Unfortunately, Jello always contains gelatin; there are no vegetarian or vegan versions available in this brand, so you should avoid it if you are vegan or you dislike the idea of the above animal products. The gelatin is a necessary component because it creates the texture that Jello is famous for, but it does make it unsuitable for some people to eat.

If you take the gelatin out of Jello, it will lose its wobbliness, and the liquid ingredients will fail to bind together. The gelatin is unfortunately the most important ingredient in this popular dessert, and therefore cannot be removed without changing the texture. However, that doesn’t mean you can never again enjoy Jello; you just can’t eat the branded version.

Are There Vegetarian Versions Of Jello?

Although we generally refer to all desserts of this type as jello, whether they are the branded version or not, it is actually important to differentiate between them if you are interested in the gelatin content – because there are vegan versions under different brand names, and these exclude gelatin.

They will use a variety of other ingredients to create a similar texture, including agar-agar, which is a gelling agent made using seaweed. It can be purchased in a variety of forms and it is often used to create a wobbly texture without including animal products. Some manufacturers add this to their jello instead.

Some brands will use vegetable gums, which are extracted from certain kinds of plants. These again replicate the texture of gelatin without harming any animals, and they are a great option for manufacturers who want to make a vegan-friendly jello for their customers. Beans are commonly used to create vegetable gums.

Carrageen is sometimes used for this kind of texture too; this is another kind of seaweed and it is ideal for giving foods some soft structure and a jelly-like texture. You may see it in the ingredients list of vegan jellos.

How Do You Know If A Brand Is Suitable For Vegans?

The best way to tell whether a brand is suitable for vegans is to read the ingredients list thoroughly and familiarize yourself with any ingredients – like gelatin – that you should look out for. This will let you check any brand that your local store happens to carry and determine whether it is suitable for you to consume or not.

Because there are a lot of jello manufacturers out there, this is the best way to figure out what the top vegan options are. If you see the term “gelatin,” assume that the jello is not safe for you to consume, and try another brand.

If you can’t find anything that looks concerning in the ingredients, it’s worth checking the packaging for any “suitable for vegans” label, which some brands of jello will carry. Because gelatin is such a common ingredient, it’s important for vegan-friendly jello brands to differentiate themselves, and therefore this label is often used.

If you are still unsure about whether the jello is suitable for you to consume or not, try contacting the manufacturers. They should be able to tell you whether any animal products have been involved in the making of the jello. This is the safest option, because it means you won’t accidentally miss an ingredient and eat the wrong thing.

Does Vegan Jello Taste As Good?

Vegan jello should taste just fine, but you should be aware that you may notice slight differences in terms of the texture. Although the ingredients mentioned above are good at creating a similar sort of texture, they are far from perfect substitutes, and you can usually tell when a brand is using one of the substitutes.

That isn’t to say that they are unenjoyable, however; many people happily eat these alternatives and like them. In some cases, you may hardly notice the difference. It is simply worth being aware that there is a bit of a difference between gelatin and the vegan options, and you may be able to tell when a vegan product has been used.

Unfortunately, there isn’t currently a vegan substitute that is indistinguishable from gelatin. This is probably because the protein bonds in animals tend to be different from plants, so they behave in different ways when heated and cooled. In the future, it is likely that we will get better at replicating how gelatin behaves.

Are Any Other Ingredients A Concern?

If you are checking out the other jello brands, you might be wondering what else to look out for. Gelatin is usually the biggest concern with this kind of dessert, but it is also worth checking the list of colors that have been added – especially if you are planning to eat red jello. Some colors are not suitable for vegans.

Look out for the ingredient carmine, which is also sometimes listed as cochineal, cochineal extract, carmine lake, or crimson lake. If the colors are listed by number, look for C.I. 75470, E120, or natural red 4. All of these refer to the same product, which is produced using crushed beetles. This may be used to add the bright red color to your jello.

Obviously, this makes the jello unsuitable for vegans – and might be pretty off-putting for other people too. Keep an eye out for this and any other ingredients that you are unfamiliar with, and remember to do some research if there’s something that concerns you. Animal products can sneak into food under apparently innocent names.

Can You Taste Gelatin?

You might be wondering whether gelatin is a detectable substance. This would make it easier to determine whether the jello contained gelatin if you weren’t able to look at the ingredients (for example, if someone has served you the jello).

Unfortunately, you cannot detect gelatin through taste, smell, or sight. It is colorless and flavorless, so you won’t know whether it is present in food or not unless somebody tells you. It is created by cooking animal parts until the collagen is released from them, and this collagen then forms a gel – gelatin.

This lack of flavor or smell is important for ensuring that the gelatin doesn’t ruin the products, but it means that you have to read the ingredients if you want to know whether a jello brand is suitable for vegans.

What Are The Top Vegan Jello Brands?

The number of options for vegan jello is constantly growing as more and more people move toward a plant-based diet, and that’s great news if you want to continue enjoying this dessert but you don’t want to compromise on your veganism.

One of the best is Bakol’s Jel Dessert, which is a ready flavored jello that uses only natural ingredients. It is vegan, using ingredients like powdered beets to create a red color, and incorporates carrageenan to create the familiar texture. You might be able to tell the difference between it and Jello, but it’s still a great choice.

Alternatively, try Simply Delish, which produces a vegan raspberry flavored jello, and is also based on carrageenan. It is a sugar-free option, and contains no artificial colors or preservatives. It is an ideal choice for vegans and vegetarians who want jello without the guilt caused by animal products, and it tastes great.

Those are the top options for vegan jellos, although there are other choices if you’re trying to recreate the texture of jello, rather than looking for a dessert. For example, Agar powder can be added to meals to give them a soft, gel-like texture, and Lieber’s Unflavored Jel will serve the same purpose. Any of these should be great to experiment with.

How Do You Make Vegan Jello At Home?

It’s generally easy to make vegan jello at home, as long as you purchase one of the above boxes of jello. Usually, it will involve filling a vessel with hot water, and then adding the jello powder to the water.

You need to cover the bowl or tray and place it in the fridge to cool and set for the amount of time recommended on the package instructions. That’s all there is to it – so vegan jello couldn’t really be any easier.

If you like, you can make vegan jello more interesting by pouring it across some fresh fruit pieces so that the fruit ends up encased in jello. This makes a perfect food for a party, and it will be super popular with the kids. Because it’s vegan, it’s also ideal for kids who have allergies or other dietary restrictions, ensuring that they don’t get left out.

Are Vegan Jellos Flavored?

Some vegan jellos come in flavors; the Delish brand has a raspberry option, and the Jel Desserts come in 6 different options, including orange, raspberry, cherry, lemon, strawberry, and plain. The great thing about these options is that you don’t need to worry about checking the brands for non-vegan colors or flavoring. They should be fine for vegans.

If your jello brand is not flavored, you may want to serve it with fruit or ice cream to bump up the flavor.

What Colors Are In Vegan Jello?

The colors in vegan jello can vary, so it is important to skim through the list – but if the jello says that it is suitable for vegans, it shouldn’t contain any colors or flavorings that you can’t eat. A lot of red vegan jellos are colored using beets, which are fine for vegans to eat. Even most non-vegans would agree that this is preferable to crushed beetles.

You might be wondering if this will ruin the flavor of the jello, but it won’t – you will not be able to taste beets at all. The same should apply to any other vegan flavorings or colors that appear in the ingredients list.

Part of the reason for checking for the “suitable for vegans” is to make sure that there are no undetected ingredients that are unsuitable. This label should cover all of the ingredients and ensures that everything is suitable for you to consume. If you can’t find this label, get in touch with the manufacturer to find out whether you can eat the jello or not.


Vegan jello isn’t the commonest thing to see, and on the whole, you should treat Jello (including the main brand) as non-vegan, because almost all kinds of jello will contain gelatin. This is not suitable for vegans, and you need to avoid it.