Gelatin | American Society of Baking
Commercial Baking Ingredients:


Also known as gelatine

What is gelatin?

Gelatin is a soluble protein which functions as a clear gelling agent and thickener in food products. It is extracted from animal collagen, bones or connective tissues or fish.

  • It is a polymer of amino acids joined by peptide bonds
  • Faintly yellow, tasteless and odorless granular powder
  • A half a percent of gelatin dissolves in hot water and forms a thermoreversible gel when cooled1

Due to some social and religious concerns, several plant-based gelatin replacers have been suggested such as agar from seaweed extracts.

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Originally, gelatin was a luxury food item, finding use in jelly dishes for aristocrats and royalty such as Henry VIII of England (1491-1547). Then, during the Napoleonic era with the invention of the pressure cooker, it served as a source of protein when meat was scarce. The pressure cooker could soften bones and produce a stock for soup as well as gelatin for protein.

By 1890, Charles Knox was making packs of granular gelatin consumers could use at home and in 1897 Peter Cooper improved upon Knox’s product and developed what is now known as JELL-O™.


Some of its functional properties in bakery applications include:

Function Application
Whipping Agent Chiffon fillings, whipped creams
Stabilizers (prevents separation) Frostings and icings
Thickener Jellies, fillings and syrups
Adhesive agent Binds icings to baked goods
Protective Colloid in saturated solutions Restricts sugar crystal growth in icings


Gelatin is approximately 87-92% protein and the remainder is water and minerals. It contains all essential amino acids except tryptophan.3

Commercial Production

Gelatin is made from many different sources of collagen, primarily: cattle bones, hides, pig skins, and fish. Pig skin and cattle hide are a large source of food grade options.

Gelatin is prepared from soluble collagen by enzymatic, acidic or basic hydrolysis. Collagen from cow undergoes both acid and alkali treatment, while collagen from pig skin undergoes acid treatment. After hydrolysis, the gelatin is further processed with hot water extraction, deionization, evaporation filtration, sterilization, extruding, drying and milling.3


Gelatin for food applications is chosen based on bloom size and type. Bloom is a function of molecular weight and predicts the gelling behavior. Some examples of use in application:1

Food Percent use Bloom
Marshmallows 1.7-2.5% 225-275
Gelatin dessert 7-9% 175-275
Fillings & icings 1-2% 225-250

FDA regulations

Gelatin has a long history of use in food with no documented deleterious effects. In 1975, the Select Committee on GRAS substances (SCOGS) concluded there is no evidence of harm at current or expected use level and is therefore considered GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe).4


  1. GMIA. Gelatin Handbook. 2012. Accessed on 28 Jan 2019.
  2. Schrieber, R, Gareis, H.”Introduction”, Gelatine Handbook: Theory and Industrial Practice. Wiley, Germany, 2007.
  3. Moriod, AA, Adam, HF. “Review: Gelatin, Source, Extraction and Industrial Applications”. Acta Sci Pol. Technol Aliment. 12(2), 2013, pp. 135-147.
  4. U.S. FDA. Select Committee on GRAS Substances Opinion: Gelatin. . Accessed 28 Jan 2019.