|June 9, 2021

What Is Gelatin, Anyway? Gelatin Benefits and How to Use It

By Emma Rose
Reviewed by Emily Gonzalez, ND for Scientific Accuracy

What Is Gelatin, Anyway? Gelatin Benefits and How to Use It

  • Gelatin is so much more than a jiggly dessert. Gelatin is a potent protein that supports healthy skin, bones and joints.†
  • Collagen peptides and gelatin are both animal products that have identical amino acid profiles. The difference is that gelatin sets as it cools, adding body to jellies, sauces, gummies and more.
  • Bulletproof Collagelatin is gelatin plus hydrolyzed collagen protein from pasture-raised cows. Use it anytime you would normally use gelatin. Keep reading for delicious recipes!

The gelatin of your childhood probably starred in jellies, marshmallows and gummy candies. Turns out, gelatin benefits your body beyond just your tastebuds: It’s a potent protein that supports healthy skin, bones and joints, plus strong nails and hair.†

That’s because gelatin provides your body with the amino acids that people don’t get from other sources. Unless you eat plenty of animal parts, bone broth and organ meats, you’ll probably benefit from an extra boost of gelatin powder.

But what is gelatin made of, and is gelatin good for you? Read on to explore the health benefits of gelatin, plus a few of our best gelatin recipes.

What is gelatin made of?

Gelatin in bowl, cup and spoon

Gelatin is made by cooking down collagen protein found in the skin, hooves, connective tissues and bones of animals. The cooking process breaks down the bonds between proteins to make smaller, more bioavailable building blocks that your body can easily absorb.

Like collagen, gelatin is packed with beneficial amino acids—especially the anti-aging superstars glycine and proline, which are lacking in the standard Western diet.

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Essential amino acids must come from food; your body naturally produces other amino acids, which are considered conditionally essential. These amino acids make gelatin especially powerful for supporting plump and hydrated skin, joint mobility and bone repair.

The same elastic properties that make collagen so beneficial to our skin and connective tissue also make it handy as a gelling agent in food. Gelatin has the unique ability to cause liquids to gel, giving foods like jellies, gravy and jam their unique texture. This feature opens up a whole new world of culinary possibilities, from rich sauces to fluffy pies.

Related: More Than Jell-O: Gelatin Recipes for Better Gut Health

Gelatin vs. hydrolyzed collagen

Spoonful of gelatin powder

Gelatin and hydrolyzed collagen (also called collagen hydrolysate or collagen peptides) are nutritionally similar. Both are made by cooking and breaking down collagen-rich foods, like bone, cartilage and hooves. This process breaks down the amino acids in collagen, making it easier to digest and absorb in your intestinal tract.

Because they come from the same sources, gelatin and hydrolyzed collagen provide the same valuable amino acids and nutrition profiles, with slightly different properties:

  • The extra processing used to make hydrolyzed collagen breaks the amino acids into smaller pieces, which some people find easier to absorb
  • Hydrolyzed collagen (like Bulletproof Collagen Protein) can dissolve in hot or cold water, while gelatin requires hot water
  • Gelatin causes liquid to gel when it cools. That’s how gelatin adds thickness to sauces, jellies or even ice cream

Bulletproof Collagelatin is a blend of beef gelatin and hydrolyzed collagen from pasture-raised cows. That means you get both proteins in one versatile powder that gels when it cools.

Use Collagelatin anytime you’d reach for standard gelatin—it’s unflavored, so it’s great in anything from soups to desserts.

Is gelatin good for you?

If you’re seeking a versatile pantry staple with whole-body benefits, then gelatin is your answer. Find out why we keep Collagelatin in the kitchen at all times.

Supports glowing skin

Woman smiling

Your daily skin care routine and gelatin go hand-in-hand. Grass-fed gelatin provides the necessary proteins to improve your skin’s moisture and elasticity, and it can even help prevent wrinkles.[1][2]

Your body especially needs the amino acid glycine, as well as proline and hydroxyproline, to build its own collagen. That matters because collagen is one of the vital elements of healthy skin. Your body tends to produce less collagen as you age, so readily providing these building blocks helps fight off wrinkles and sagging skin.

Pro tip: Pair your gelatin and collagen intake with vitamin C to support your body’s natural collagen production. Vitamin C-rich foods include strawberries, citrus and broccoli.

Related: How Do Collagen Supplements Work? What the Science Says

Supports mobility

Woman lacing up running shoes

Gelatin’s elastic properties go more than skin-deep. It also promotes healing and resilience in your connective tissues.

Studies show that hydrolyzed collagen supplementation, like gelatin, increases joint comfort and increases the density of your cartilage, making your joints more durable.[3] [4][5]

Improves bone health

Man jumping outside

As we age, so do our bones. When you take steps to support bone health, you can help keep your bones and body strong—and gelatin can help you along the way.

You reach peak bone mass (the maximum strength and density of your bones) in your late teens and early 20s. Bone mass then starts to decrease, with the most changes seen in women going through menopause.[6]

Thankfully, you can support healthy bones with healthy lifestyle changes like strength training, staying at a healthy weight, eating calcium-rich foods—and taking collagen supplements such as gelatin.

Research shows that collagen supplements provide the amino acids our body needs in order to support healthy bones.[7]

How to add more gelatin to your diet

Mug of bone marrow broth with lemon slice

Your ancestors reaped all the benefits of gelatin and collagen by using every part of the animals they consumed. With less and less whole-animal eating in the Western diet, most people have lost this source of gelatin.

Here are two ways to incorporate gelatin in your diet:

  1. Up your intake of foods that include animal cartilage, bones or skin. That means dishes with often-overlooked cuts of meat like tripe and oxtail, as well as slow-cooked Chicken Feet Bone Broth or Cardamom Ginger Bone Marrow Broth
  2. Try gelatin supplements, which you can find in capsules or powders. Powdered gelatin is great in baking and food prep, but for the best results, go with a gelatin powder that dissolves easily like Bulletproof Collagelatin

Speaking of high quality, it counts when you’re looking at gelatin powders. Keep reading to find out why.

Gelatin powder: What to look for when buying

Homemade jello

Because gelatin is made from cattle, chickens, fish or pigs, select your gelatin the same way you would choose your meats. While a box of Jell-O from the grocery store will still make a squishy dessert, the perks stop there.

Opt instead for grass-fed, pasture-raised gelatins to reap the gelatin benefits and avoid exposure to residues from pesticides, hormones and antibiotics.

Unfortunately for vegans and vegetarians, gelatin is only derived from animal sources. Many vegan recipes use agar agar, made from red seaweed, as a gelatin alternative. While agar agar works similarly as a gelling agent, it doesn’t have the protein and nutritional properties found in gelatin.

Our best gelatin recipes

Check out our full roundup of gelatin recipes here, or try one of these favorites below!

If you’re cooking with Collagelatin, use it as a 1:1 replacement for straight gelatin in your favorite recipes.

Bone Broth

Pot of bone broth

A hearty broth made with the leftover bones and cartilage bits from your organic, grass-fed meats is one easy way to make your own gelatin. Bone broth packs all the benefits of gelatin and collagen, plus a cornucopia of healthy fats, trace minerals and vital nutrients. Try this recipe at home, or find an organic, grass-fed bone broth in your local health food store.

Pro tip: If your bone broth congeals slightly when you pop it in the fridge, you know you’ve got plenty of the good stuff.

No-Bean Keto Chili

A bowl of keto chili

Chili without beans?! Trust us, you won’t miss them. This simple recipe can be done on the stovetop or in your slow cooker.

All you need to do is brown up your meat and veggies, then combine them with the rest of the ingredients. Put the cornstarch back in your pantry because this chili is thickened with 1 to 2 tablespoons of Bulletproof Collagelatin.

The end result is a hearty chili full of healthy fats and protein that will keep you full for hours.

Keto S’Mores

Keto S'mores featuring Bulletproof products

Get ready to have s’mores without the high sugar and bonfire. The recipe utilizes protein-packed Collagelatin to form marshmallows and Bulletproof Grass-Fed Ghee to create the graham cracker. The end result is a nostalgic dessert that won’t send your blood sugar through the roof due to the natural sweeteners.

Keto Rocky Road Bars

Hand grabbing a keto rocky road bars

Gelatin desserts go way beyond Jello-O. Keto Rocky Road Bars are another marshmallow masterpiece all thanks to the body-nourishing Collagelatin. The best part is you can personalize these bars how you want. Looking for more healthy fats and texture? Mix in raw nuts or unsweetened coconut shreds.

Magical Frozen Fudge Pops

An ice cream bar decorated with berries

A popsicle high in quality fats and low in sugar does exist when you combine together nutritious ingredients such as Collagelatin, egg yolks, Bulletproof Brain Octane C8 MCT Oil and coconut cream. All you need are popsicle molds and you have a frozen treat that pairs well with a drizzle of cacao melts or berries.

Intrigued about collagen’s health benefits and why it should be one of your staple supplements? Learn about collagen protein next.

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This article has been updated with new content.