starkel nutrition collagen vs gelatin difference protein gummies

What is the difference between collagen and gelatin and how are they used in cooking?

Collagen protein powder has become very popular in the past few years as a protein source.  Gelatin has also been making an appearance in both recipes and on store shelves. While these two are similar in many ways, there are differences between them worth noting. 

Hydrolyzed collagen peptides, more commonly know as collagen protein powder, is typically derived from bovine or cow hides.  Some companies also have a collagen product made from fish scales. Collagen is an amino acid supplement or protein supplement that is tasteless and blends well, making it easy to combine with different flavors. It can be added to both hot and cold liquids to increase protein intake. If you are trying to increase protein intake, you can try adding collagen into your daily meals and drinks such as tea, coffee, smoothies, oatmeal, power balls or pancakes. 

Gelatin powder is made from the connective tissues of beef and is similar to protein in skin, nails, hair, bones, joints and cartilage. However, the main difference is how this product is used in the kitchen. While collagen can be blended into both hot and cold liquids, gelatin can only be dissolved in warm or hot liquids and, once it is cooled, it will set making the recipe firm, like a jello or a pudding. Gelatin can also be used as an egg replacement in baking which makes it helpful for those who are allergic or sensitive to eggs but are still wanting to bake. Additional fun ways to incorporate gelatin are in homemade marshmallows, fruited Jell-O, puddings, panna cotta desserts, thickener for sauces or stir-fries, or homemade gummies. 

When choosing a collagen protein powder or gelatin powder consider a high quality product that is from grass-fed animals or wild-caught fish. 

Below is a fun recipe which incorporates gelatin. 

Golden Tumeric Gummies

Time: 20 Minutes, plus 1 hour to set, makes 24 pieces. 

1 cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1-2 tablespoons honey (optional)
3 tablespoons powdered unflavored gelatin 

  1. Place the orange juice, lemon juice, turmeric, and honey (if using), in a small saucepan and whisk to combine. Sprinkle the gelatin evenly on top of the mixture and set aside undisturbed for five minutes, or until it swells or “blooms” as it absorbs the liquid. It will form a thick paste.
  2. Place the pan on low heat and whisk gently for about five minutes, until the mixture becomes thin, the gelatin has completely dissolved, and everything is incorporated. Do not use high heat or cook any longer than is necessary to dissolve the gelatin.
  3. Pour the liquid into gummy bear molds or a shallow baking dish. Refrigerate for at least 1one hour to firm up.
  4. If you used a baking dish, cut into bite-size squares. Otherwise, remove gummies from their molds and enjoy!

Recipe from The Nutrient Dense Kitchen by Mickey Trescott, NTP

Interested in learning more? Schedule an appointment with Katie to get support on your journey to holistic health. 

     Written by our nutritionist, Katie Southworth, MS, RDN