The 3 Best Agar Agar Powder Substitutes


agar agar jelly

Agar agar is a gelling agent derived from red algae, used mainly in vegan recipes to replace gelatin.

It’s fairly easy to find now, but if you don’t have it on hand for a recipe, there are a few alternatives.

The 3 Closest Plant-Based Substitutes for Agar Agar

You can substitute any of the following ingredients in a 1:1 ratio (e.g. 1 tbsp of either gum for 1 tbsp of agar agar):

They won’t give you quite the same “jelly” texture as agar agar, but will thicken up your food.

I’d recommend looking for the first 2 options first, as carrageenan is usually harder to find.

If you’re desperate, there’s 1 final option: starch. Either corn starch or tapioca starch can do in a pinch. They are both used to thicken up liquids (like in vegan heavy cream substitutes).

It’s a bit more time consuming of a substitution though.

How to Substitute Corn or Tapioca Starch for Agar Agar

tapioca starch

Note that tapioca starch also goes by the name of “tapioca powder.”

Start with a 2:1 ratio, so 2 tbsp of corn or tapioca starch for each tbsp of agar agar flakes or powder.

Then, mix it with water in a 1:1 ratio. For example, 2 tbsp of cornstarch should be whisked together with 2 tbsp of water. Then add it to your recipe.

If your recipe isn’t thickening up enough, add more starch to it.

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. Chemical engineer turned semi-professional soccer player and freelance nutrition writer. I've been vegan for years and try to make life easier for others by sharing what I've learned.


  • Hi Dale,
    I’m a vegan pharmacist from New Mexico recently transplanted back to North Los Angeles. I was a wild soccer Mom but would like to settle down and relearn my nutrition/dietician basics all over again. Thanks for the great post on vegan thickeners 😉