How to Use Gelatin for No-Bake Desserts

Avoid no-bake dessert mishaps with these fast facts on gelatin and how it works.

IMAGE Miguel Nacianceno

Gelatin works like magic: it allows liquid-heavy desserts or dessert fillings to hold up and stay firm. A key-ingredient in many no-bake desserts like mousses, panna cotta, cream pies, and cheesecakes, gelatin is a must in your household pantry staples. Read these tips for flawless gelatin handling the next time you decide to whip up a no-bake recipe.


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1  Always let gelatin bloom.

Gelatin usually comes in sheets or in powder form, and is a dehydrated form of collagen from animal proteins. It always needs to be rehydrated before being incorporated into any recipe. Remember to use the gelatin immediately after blooming, otherwise it will solidify. To save bloomed gelatin that has sat out for too long, set the gelatin in a bowl and gently reheat it over a double boiler.


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2  High heat is its worst enemy.

High heat weakens gelatin’s ability to hold up and gel protein cells together. To avoid desserts from turning out to be too soupy, always add gelatin to a mixture that is warm but not boiling. One common mistake when making homemade marhsmallows or panna cotta is that the gelatin mixture is added to a too-hot base mixture. Keep this tip in mind for less gelatin mishaps!


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3  Stick to the recipe.

Acidic ingredients soften bloomed gelatin, while sugar helps strengthen it. Switching up the proportions of the ingredients may lead to unexpected results. A common habit in home baking is lessening the sugar in a recipe.  With no-bake recipes that use gelatin specifically, this may lead to desserts that come out too soft or soupy.


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