Jelly and jam are both nostalgically delicious spreads. Perfect on their own or complimented with a nut butter, having the right jam or jelly can make or break your toast. Heck, they even go great in oatmeal!
However, given their unique jiggly textures, people often ask whether or not they vegan.
We've compiled everything you might want to know about vegan jam and jelly in an attempt to clear up any confusion!
We've answered some of the most common questions surrounding vegan jam, jelly, and preserves below. Should you have any more, be sure to let us know in the comment section.
Most store bought jelly brands are indeed going to be vegan as they use pectin (a naturally occurring fruit-based thickener) rather than gelatin to give the product its firm and jiggly texture. Although it is indeed possible for some brands or recipes to call for gelatin, it doesn't seem to be a common practice.
Even the most popular brands like Welch's do indeed use pectin and not gelatin. Although they use high-fructose corn syrup and have a bunch of added sugar, the final product doesn't contain anything from animals. Their ingredient statement is as follows:
CONCORD GRAPES, CORN SYRUP, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, FRUIT PECTIN, CITRIC ACID,
We've included brands and recipes with more whole foods and less processed sugar below, but just wanted to use a mainstream brand as an example.
Jam is basically the same thing as jelly except it is formulated to be slightly looser and contain more pulp or fruit pieces/seeds. The majority of brands and recipes out there will use pectin and not gelatin - much like jelly which makes most jams 100% vegan.
As an example - the mainstream brand, Smuckers has the following ingredient statement for their strawberry jam:
Strawberries, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Sugar, Fruit Pectin, Citric Acid.
Again, a bunch of less processed alternative brands/recipes are compiled below.
Preserves contain more whole fruit than both jam and jelly and typically use the same thickening agents. That being said, they should be vegan most of the time unless gelatin is used.
Although the definitions might be technically different, jams and preserves can sometimes be used interchangeably.
Marmalade, jam, and preserves can sometimes mean the same thing depending on the region that you're in. However, it is important to note that marmalade typically refers to citrus based spreads made from lemons, oranges etc.
You'll usually find the peels from the fruit inside the spread as well.
The only ingredient that you should be aware of is gelatin which we've mentioned previously. Its certainly not a common practice, but it is possible that a manufacturer might put it in in certain niche brands.
Some specialty jams contain meats such as bacon, but those are obvious to spot.
Pectin is readily available in the most grocery stores and jams, preserves, and jellies usually have few ingredients and easy to follow steps.
Some recipes also don't require pectin at all as they make use of the gelling properties of chia seeds!
Check out our unique selection of jam, jelly, and preserves recipes in the next section!
While there is the potential for products with added sugar to come in contact with animal products via certain filtering mechanisms, we don't consider that a criteria as to whether or not something is vegan. We believe it is counter-productive to do so for two reasons:
Making jelly, jam, or preserves are home is a great way to save money and control exactly what goes into the final product. Also, by using fresh and in season ingredients, you'll have the ability to capture flavor profiles that you're unlikely to find in store bought brands.
Many people are often so concerned about protein, carbohydrates, and fats that they don't think about fiber; which for the average westerner is far more important. This raspberry chia seed jam is packed with fiber, whole fruits, and minimal added sugar.
This vegan apricot jam by Dish by Dish is an easy to follow recipe that delivers delectable results. Apricot jam can be a slightly milder replacement for traditional berry based jams.
If you love blueberries and want something that's "jam packed" with nutrients then this blueberry chia jam recipe for you! It's only got four ingredients and very little added sugar in the form of maple syrup.
If you're looking for a classic raspberry jam with three ingredients and no chia seeds check out this one from Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes!
This unique jam with made with rhubarb is perfect if you're looking for a new and interesting flavor profile. If you haven't tried rhubarb before, this is a great way to test it out, its one of the few vegetables used primarily in sweet applications.
A savory spin on a normally sweet spread, this smokey tomato jam is something that you've got to try. You're not only limited to spreading it on toast - be sure to try it as a topper for tofu or tempeh as well!
This strawberry chia jam recipe is a fantastic spin on traditional jam as it contains more whole foods and texture with the addition of the chia seeds. It's also super easy to make with no fancy steps required!
This strawberry fig jam is a more traditional recipe as it calls for pectin. The finished product is more of a smooth jam as it gets blended so its absolutely great for spreading!
This blood orange vegan jelly recipe is a unique way to use a fruit you'd normally eat with your hands. It also comes with a vegan almond sorbet recipe - which is an excellent vessel to serve it on!
If you've never tried quince, you've got to check it out! Often used in tea, it almost tastes like a combination of an apple and a pear. This quince jelly by the Flexitarian is a great way to try it out!
Strawberry chia seed jam can be made chunky as well! If you like a jam that's got big pieces of fruit check out this recipe from Vegan Insanity.
This raspberry chia jam recipe is another spin on using chia seeds rather than pectin to thicken up the spread. Raspberries make absolutely delicious fruit spreads because of their unique tart yet sweet flavor profile. Even though this recipe calls for a very small amount of honey - we recommend replacing it with maple syrup or agave to make it 100% vegan.
We've hand selected some of the premium brands on the market for you to check out and possibly try!
If you're looking for a simply jelly that's very spreadable with little to no seeds - we highly recommend this Crofter's organic strawberry spread. It's sweetened with grape juice and strawberries so it isn't overly sweet and overpowering.
This blueberry jam has the perfect combination of sweetness and tartness that you won't find in many bigger brands of jam. While most big commercial brands are overtly sweet and stray far away from the original flavor of the fruit, Stonewall kitchen preserves that flavor and brings it to life
If you enjoy complex textures and fresh flavors, these strawberry preserves are definitely worth checking out. They are made from Little Scarlet strawberries which currently only grow in the UK. The strawberries are picked and made into preserves within a few mere hours for a delicious final product.
Have a jam brand you'd like to see on the list or a recipe you'd like to see added to this page?
Let us know below in the comments section!
Cooking healthy, delicious, plant-based meals has been Joey’s true passion since he went vegan in 2015. He has a masters in Nutrition and Food Science and is committed to making the internet a place of education and knowledge rather than misinformation and clickbait. He currently lives in Delaware with his wife.