All About Gelatin Types, Uses, and Benefits

This article explores everything you need to know about gelatin and its properties.

What Is Gelatin?

Gelatin is a protein sourced from the collagen in animal parts. It works as a natural adhesive in foods like jellies, jams, and candies like gummy bears. It’s also the gelling agent behind Jell-O’s signature jelly wobble. Flavorless and colorless, gelatin products are available in powder or single-sheet form.

What Is Gelatin Made From?

Gelatin comes from animals’ skin, bones, and connective tissue. But there are many gelatin alternatives made from plants, like red algae’s agar-agar and pectin. These gelatin alternatives are made from boiling and dehydrating fruit peels and skins.

Primary Differences between Gelatin and Collagen

Gelatin and collagen are jelly-like substances that go by different names. Technically, gelatin is made from collagen, so their differences are on a process level.

Collagen is the protein found in your entire body. It’s in the skin and tendons and connective tissue, holding you together and letting you move around. When collagen breaks down, that’s when wrinkles develop. 

You get gelatin when you heat collagen or melt it down. It’s the perfect way to consume the essential amino acids present in collagen.

One step further is hydrolyzed collagen, which is processed more than gelatin and reacts differently under certain conditions. This type of collagen will dissolve in hot and cold water and will not easily gel; gelatin powder dissolves in hot water and will gel.

Tips and Tricks to Use Gelatin

Always Bloom Gelatin

If you dump gelatin powder into a base, you’ll have clumps instead of a jelly-like smooth texture. 

To prevent clumps in gelatin, you need to “bloom” the gelatin first. Here’s how you can bloom gelatin:

  • Sprinkle the gelatin in cold water.
  • Mix gelatin into the water.
  • Let it sit up to 5 minutes.
  • The gelatin will absorb the water and have a consistency like applesauce.
  • Now you can add bloomed gelatin to your recipe.

Only Use Cold Water to Bloom Gelatin

You should always use cold water to bloom the gelatin. If you use hot water, the gelatin sheets will swell too fast. However, you should always bloom gelatin on a warm base. Otherwise, the gelatin will set too quickly and get clumpy. 

Using Sheet Gelatin

Sheet gelatin needs to be bloomed, but the process is different. Here’s what you can do:

  • Put the sheet gelatin into a cold water bowl for about 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Use about a cup of water per sheet.
  • Once the sheet is softened, wring it gently to get rid of excess water.
  • Now add the warm liquid to dissolve the gelatin sheets.

Using Hydrolyzed Collagen

When shopping for gelatin, you will come across “hydrolyzed collagen.” The main difference between these two is that gelatin gels and collagen won’t. This makes collagen great for adding to anything you don’t want to gel – like your morning smoothie.  

Quick-Setting Gelatin Remedies

Gelatin starts setting quickly, so you may need to work fast. Ensure you have all the ingredients and equipment ready before you bloom the gelatin. If the gelatin starts setting quickly, you can heat the gelatin to soften it.

Never Microwave Gelatin

While microwaves are convenient, it’s not a good idea to heat the gelatin in the microwave. When you do this, the amino acids in gelatin undergo structural changes and turn into toxic amino acids.

In other words, gelatin in homemade broth has great benefits, but if you warm it in the microwave, it’ll become toxic to the liver, kidneys, and nervous system. Learn more about how you can reheat gelatin here.

Don’t Boil gelatin

Boiling gelatin won’t make it hazardous or toxic like microwaving will. However, gelatin’s strength will decline at over 212 degrees F.

Interestingly, it affects gelatin’s rigidity and not viscosity. So, the boiled gelatin will be gooey instead of jiggly-firm.

Fruits That Prevent Gelatin From Setting

Don’t even think about making a gelatin dessert with pineapple, kiwi, or figs. These fruits contain enzymes that might prevent the proteins in gelatin from firming.

One way around this problem is to boil the fruits first. Boiling will destroy the enzymes which normally keep the gelatin from firming.

Layering Gelatin

One way to make a great gelatin dessert is to mix different flavors and layer them. It takes some practice, so don’t worry if you don’t get it on the first try!

To properly layer gelatin, you have to let the first layer chill so it is set. 

Otherwise, the new layer will heat the layer underneath, and the colors will run together. However, if the layer is too firm, others layers won’t melt together and come apart.

Choosing Mold Material For Gelatin

You can use glass or ceramic, or tin molds for gelatin. But you might have trouble removing gelatin from molds! I prefer silicone gelatin molds or metal molds. You can wiggle these molds to help release the gelatin.

Removing Gelatin From Molds

Slide a knife around the mold’s edges to get it unstuck and then flip it over. If gravity doesn’t do the trick, you can dip the underside of the mold in warm water. It will melt the gelatin slightly, so it slides right out!

Adding Gelatin to Popsicles and Sorbet

You can add gelatin to popsicles or sorbet for added nutrition. Gelatin is flavorless, so you won’t even know if there’s gelatin in your pops!

The gelatin also prevents the popsicles from melting so quickly. Plus, if you make fruit popsicles, the gelatin will give them a softer and creamier texture.

Suspending Fruits Inside Gelatin

Another great gelatin trick that takes extra practice gives really impressive results! First, pout gelatin into a mold and allow it to set. Then, mix some fruits into the gelatin to suspend them in the desert.

The gelatin has to be perfectly firm for the suspension method to work. If it is soft, the fruits will just sink to the bottom. 

If it has been set too long, bubbles will appear when you mix in the fruits.

Set Gelatin Faster

Gelatin desserts usually need refrigeration for at least 24-hours to set. But if you are pressed for time, just put the gelatin dessert into the freezer. Cold can help set gelatin faster.

Health Benefits of Gelatin

Research shows there are many health benefits associated with eating gelatin.

Gelatin Improves Joint and Bone Health

A lot of research shows the effectiveness of gelatin as a treatment for joint and bone problems, including osteoarthritis. This is the most common form of arthritis. The cartilage between the joints breaks down, leading to stiffness and pain.  

In a study, 80 people with osteoarthritis were given a gelatin supplement or a placebo for 70 days. Those who took the gelatin reported a reduction in pain and joint stiffness.

In another study, athletes were given either a gelatin supplement or a placebo for 24-weeks. Those who took gelatin reported a significant reduction in joint pain compared to those given the placebo.

A complete review of studies found that gelatin was superior to a placebo for treating joint pain. However, the review concluded that there was not enough evidence to suggest that people use it to treat osteoarthritis.

The only side effects reported with using gelatin supplements are feelings of fullness and unpleasant taste. But, there is some evidence of their positive effects on joint problems.  

For these reasons, Healthline suggests it is worth giving gelatin supplements a shot if you’re experiencing these issues.

Gelatin Improves Skin and Hair

Studies suggest gelatin supplements can help improve the appearance of skin and hair. It can improve hair thickness and growth.  

Gelatin is the secret to youthful skin. Because the body’s collagen levels diminish as we grow older, a dietary gelatin addition can help restore plump skin and healthy hair. Reduces collagen levels result in fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin. Fortunately, by eating gelatin-rich foods, you can increase collagen production to help delay premature aging. We recommend adding bone broth to your diet to make your skin youthful.

Gelatin Improves Brain Function and Mental Health

Gelatin is rich in glycine, linked to healthy brain function. Taking glycine can also improve some mental health disorders, such as schizophrenia.

While it’s not clear what causes schizophrenia, researchers think amino acid imbalances may play a role. Glycine is one of the amino acids shown to reduce some symptoms. According to the health line, it can also help reduce obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and body dysmorphic disorder symptoms.

Gelatin Helps You Lose Weight

Gelatin is fat- and carb-free, so it’s very low in calories. Research shows it may even help you lose weight.

That’s because a high-protein diet can help you to feel fuller. Note that the type of protein you eat will play an important role.

According to Health Line, one study gave 23 healthy people gelatin or casein as the only protein in their diet for 36 hours. The researchers discovered that gelatin reduced hunger 44% more than case.

It May Help You Sleep

The amino acid glycine found in gelatin can help improve sleep.

In two studies, participants took 3-grams of glycine before bed. 3They had an easier time falling asleep and improved sleep quality. Plus, they were less tired the following day.

Gelatin Helps With Type 2 Diabetes

The ability of gelatin to help people lose weight is beneficial for those with type 2 diabetes, where obesity is a risk factor.

On top of this, research shows that gelatin may also help people with type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar levels and reduce inflammation.

Gelatin Improves Digestive Health

Gelatin may also play a role in digestive health.

In studies on rats, gelatin was proven to protect the gut wall from damage. One of the amino acids in gelatin, called glutamic acid, converts into glutamine in the body. Glutamine can protect the gut wall and help prevent a “leaky gut”.  

Leaky gut is when the internal gut lining becomes too permeable, allowing bacteria and other potentially harmful substances to enter the bloodstream. This contributes to common gut conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Gelatin Reduces Liver Damage

Many researchers have investigated glycine’s positive effect on the liver. In one study, glycine helped reduce liver damage in rats. Additionally, a study on rabbits with liver injuries found that administering glycine increased liver function and blood flow.

Note: Further research is needed to confirm this effect on humans.

Gelatin May Slow Cancer Growth

Early studies on animals show that gelatin may slow the growth of cancers. In a study on human cancer cells, gelatin from pig skin reduced cancer cell growth from stomach cancer, colon cancer, and leukemia.

Another study found that gelatin prolonged the life of mice with cancerous tumors. That being said, this effect needs to be researched extensively before any recommendations can be made.

Best Ways to Use Gelatin

1. Add a tablespoon of gelatin powder to cold smoothies to make your superfood smoothie mix

2. Mae an easy, elegant dessert like panna cotta using unflavored gelatin and vanilla extract.

3. Make delicious, homemade pudding cups using gelatin.

4. Make homemade gummy vitamins, which you can make just as you would make yummy, chewy gelatin candies.

5. Make gelatin squares or homemade finger jello.

6. Make fruit snacks using gelatin.

7. Make delicious fruit snacks with kombucha for an added probiotic punch!

8. Make homemade sour gummy candies.

9. Make homemade jello cups

10. Eat gelatin-based soups.

11. Make marshmallows to get more gelatin into your diet.

12. Make a demi-glace to spoon over meat entrees.

13. Make homemade bouillon cubes or broth.

14. Make French Country-Style Pâté, a light lunch meatloaf.

15. Make gelatin flu shots for added immunity.

16. Sprinkle a tablespoon into your bowl of oatmeal.

17. Add powdered gelatin to your pancakes.

18. Top your favorite pie with gelatin.

19. Add gelatin to dark chocolate peppermint cups.

20. Turn gelatin powder into a frothy, fruity faux latte

21. Add gelatin to coffee to make healthy energy shots.

22. Add gelatin to cookies.

23. Add a tablespoon with your dry ingredients to make buttermilk biscuits.

24. Make Vitamin C gummies using gelatin.

25. Make mini jello salads using gelatin.

27. Use gelatin in a protein workout recovery shake.

29. Make homemade gummy worms using gelatin.

30. Make easy homemade lunch meat.

31. Add gelatin to homemade whipped cream. This helps it hold its shape better, especially in warm weather. Sprinkle a tablespoon of gelatin over 1/4 cup cold water for every quart of whipping cream). When the cream beings to hold soft peaks, drizzle bloomed gelatin and continue whipping until the cream has firm peaks.

32. Add gelatin to homemade ice cream, preventing it from becoming rock hard in the freezer—Bloom 2 teaspoons of gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water for 1 quart of ice cream. Then, whisk it into the ice cream mixture prior to churning. You can use a blender to make adding gelatin easier.

33. Make a glaze for fresh fruit.

34. Add gelatin to your no-bake cheesecake or raw cheesecake. Sprinkle a tablespoon of gelatin over 1/4 cup cold water, warm over medium-low heat until fully dissolved. Then, stir bloomed gelatin into your cheesecake batter and pour immediately into your prepared crust or pan.

35. Make chocolate custard using gelatin.

36. Make jellied cranberry sauce.

37. Fill empty gelatin capsules and drink with a glass of water.

39. Stir a tablespoon into a large glass of water and drink it all at once.

Make Savory Recipes Using Gelatin

Gelatin is commonly used for sweet desserts. But it’s a great addition to savory dishes as well. For example, the gelatin will add plenty of body to a Bolognese sauce. Because gelatin has no flavor, don’t be afraid to experiment with other recipes.

How to Make Your Own Gelatin

You can buy gelatin in most grocery stores or prepare it at home using animal parts. Gelatin is present in many food items, but it can also be added to soups, smoothies, or drinks through gelatin supplements or powders.

To use gelatin powder for thickening the consistency of mousses, sauces, and gelatin desserts, place the powder in cold water and stir until it thickens. Then, you can heat gelatin to the desired consistency.

You can make a gelatin-rich broth at home for soups with parts of meats, chicken, or beef. Boiling bones, cartilage, and skin for several hours can create a broth with high levels of gelatin.

You can use any animal sources, but popular sources are pork, beef, lamb, chicken, and fish.

If you want to try making bone broth to extract gelatin, here’s how:


  • 3–4 pounds of animal bones and connective tissue
  • Water to cover the bones
  • 1 tablespoon (18 grams) of salt (optional). 


  • Put the bones in a slow cooker or pot. If you’re using salt, add that too. 
  • Pour in some water to just cover the contents.
  • Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.
  • Simmer on medium-low heat for up to 48 hours. The longer it cooks, the more gelatin you can extract.
  • Strain the liquid, and allow it to cool and solidify.
  • Scrape off fat from the surface and discard it.

This is similar to how bone broth is made, which is also a great source of gelatin.

The gelatin will keep fresh for a week in the fridge or a year in the freezer. Use it in gravies and sauces, or add it to desserts.

If you don’t have time to make homemade gelatin, you can also buy it in sheet, granule, or powder form. Plus, you can stir pre-prepared gelatin into hot food or liquids, such as broths, stews, or gravies. And it’s possible to fortify cold drinks, including smoothies. 

You may prefer to use collagen hydrolysate since it has the same health benefits as gelatin without a jelly-like texture.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is bloomed gelatin?

The powder gelatin contains transparent yellowish crystals. You can’t use bloomed gelatin in a recipe directly. You need to completely dissolve the crystals in any liquid (preferably water, as milk would take more time). The process is called the blooming of gelatin by chefs. If you bloomed gelatin correctly, your dish should be set easily.

What are the uses of gelatin?

Gelatin contains 70% protein that gives a dessert, salad, or jelly a proper shape that can be unmolded.

Why won’t my gelatin set?  

You don’t need to worry if your gelatin won’t set. Simply heat the liquid to make the gelatin crystals bloom well. You can fix the dish that won’t set by heating it. Add more bloomed gelatin while heating if needed.  

Be wary of one disadvantage of heating gelatin-based dishes. For example, a delicate soufflé would become flat and lose its sponginess. Heating will release the air trapped inside. But, it will set and be soft.

You can heat gelatin on the stove or microwave, but keep stirring frequently. You need to heat gelatin and not boil it. Never reach the stage before a boiling point. That’s because gelatin denatures when over-heated and won’t set properly.

Why does store-bought jelly set easily?  

Store-bought jelly contains sugar mixed with gelatin, making it easier to set. The right amount of sugar and gelatin will give a softer, jelly-like dessert.

What’s the best way to bloom gelatin?

Keep a bowl of gelatin over a hot water bath. Then, add luke-warm liquid to gelatin powder and mix until all crystals completely dissolve. Keep the bloomed gelatin in a hot water bath until used in your recipe. If gelatin becomes solid, you can heat it again on a slow flame until it’s melted. Note that you can’t boil gelatin.

What’s the best ratio for gelatin powder to liquid?

You can mix one tablespoon gelatin into 2 cups or 500 ml of liquid. If you use one tablespoon of gelatin in 700 ml of liquid, you’ll have softer jelly that can be served in a dish. And if you use too much gelatin, your result will be rubbery jelly.

Can vegetarians eat gelatin?

No. Vegetarians can’t eat gelatin because it contains animal-based by products. Fortunately, you can use pectin instead of gelatin and vice versa. Learn more about vegetarian alternatives for gelatin here.

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