What Is Halal JELL-O®?

G. D. Palmer

The term “Halal JELL-O®” is often used to refer to gelatin or gelatin substitutes that are permissible under Islamic dietary law. Despite this colloquial use of its trademarked name, Kraft Foods' JELL-O® brand gelatin is not suitable for a halal diet, even though it may be listed as kosher, or acceptable under Jewish dietary laws. Halal JELL-O® includes gelatin derived from cattle or fish killed according to Islamic law, as well as plant-based gelatin substitutes like agar or carageenan. Halal gelatin and gelatin substitutes come in many of the same flavors as ordinary gelatin, but may differ slightly in texture.

In a general sense, "halal" means "lawful" in Arabic, and refers to that which is permitted under the rules of Islam.
In a general sense, "halal" means "lawful" in Arabic, and refers to that which is permitted under the rules of Islam.

Many Muslims refer to substitutes for the popular JELL-O&reg brand of gelatin desserts as “halal JELL-O®,” even though Kraft produces no gelatin products that are either halal certified or effectively halal. JELL-O&reg brand products may contain gelatin from a variety of animals not suitable for consumption under Islamic or Jewish dietary law, including pigs. Some Jewish authorities believe that porcine gelatin is acceptable since it is significantly altered and no longer resembles pork, but no Islamic authorities use this definition.

Gelatin containing pig products is forbidden under Islamic law.
Gelatin containing pig products is forbidden under Islamic law.

Products may qualify as “halal JELL-O®” if they are made from gelatin derived from fish or cattle slaughtered using a non-serrated blade and no stunning procedure. These gelatins are available in a wide range of flavors and colors, similar to those of mainstream gelatin, but they often set up with a softer texture than pork-derived products. Depending on the manufacturer, these halal products may include localized flavors such as lychee or durian that aren't common on the North American or European markets. Animal-derived halal gelatin is acceptable for desserts made in containers or for adding to puddings as a stabilizer, but performs less well in standalone molds or cut shapes.

Vegetarian gelatin substitutes are also acceptable under Islamic dietary law, and are usually derived from seaweed. Agar is often used in east Asian desserts, along with coconut milk and fruit, and tends to be very firm and slightly opaque, with a less bouncy texture than gelatin. It cuts cleanly and performs well in molds, but can be slightly brittle. Carageenan-derived products are similar in texture and appearance to gelatin, but are available in a relatively limited range of flavors and tend to stretch and thin when cut or torn. Coconut gel works as a gelatin substitute in snacks, but is difficult to make at home, and is usually encountered only in manufactured products.

Halal markets sell a wide variety of halal foods, including halal gelatin.
Halal markets sell a wide variety of halal foods, including halal gelatin.

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Discussion Comments


@candyquilt-- If your local Middle Eastern or Southeast Asian grocery doesn't have it, they do sell halal jello mixes online. If none of these are an option, just buy vegetarian jello. There are no animal products whatsoever in these, so they're definitely halal.

I buy halal jello sometimes from the Middle Eastern grocery. The best part is that they have flavors that vegetarian brands don't have like mango. I love the mango flavored jello. It's delicious.


@candyquilt-- I'm not an expert on this topic and I don't want to give you the wrong advice. You may want to ask other Muslims in the community but the best thing to do would probably be to ask your imam.

I personally feel that kosher jello is an acceptable substitute to halal jello since it does not contain pork. Now we can't generalize and say that all kosher foods are halal. That wouldn't be correct. I mean, wine is considered kosher according to Jewish dietary law but it is clearly forbidden in Islam.

When it comes to meat products though, Kosher laws are very similar to Islamic laws. Pork is not allowed and the animals are treated and slaughtered similarly. In this sense, I wouldn't mind eating kosher jello. But like I said, you should ask an expert. Please don't go by just my opinion. Matters of religion can't be left to assumptions and guesses. So ask your imam or cleric and you should avoid products you are not sure about.


I can't find halal jello in any of the groceries and markets near me. But I can find kosher jello. Is kosher jello really unacceptable as a substitute?

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