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A kinder, gentler jelly, Japanese kanten is horse-hoof free! Made from kelp extracts, this powdered version of agar agar is a fun way to jellify any liquid of your choice, and it’s actually calorie-free when prepared without sugar. Kanten can be prepared a day or two in advance, so it’s great for dinner parties. Cut it into shapes, pour it into fancy stemware, or cut it into cubes and use it as a fun textural element of another dessert. Sure, it may be less jiggly than Jell-O, but it’s totally flexible in the kitchen.

Kanten jelly made with orange juice, poured into a hollowed orange, then cut into orange "slices"


  • 1 x 4g packet of kanten powder
  • 2 cups water, juice, tea, or coffee, or 1 ¾ cup milk + 1/3 cup water
  • ¼ cup sugar (omit for juice jellies)


  1. Prepare your mould. Clean and dry the mould of your choice. Test the volume of your mould to see if you need to make a double (or triple!) batch to fill it.
    • a clean baking pan (for cutting into cubes or with a cookie cutter)
    • a martini, champagne, or wine glass
    • an ice cube tray
    • hollowed out oranges, held upright on a muffin tin or egg carton
  2. Mix, boil, and sweeten. Mix the liquid and kanten powder in a small saucepan, and whisk constantly as you bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Once at a boil, continue to boil and stir for a further 2 minutes. Add the sugar (if necessary) and whisk until dissolved.
  3. Cool & Chill. Pour into the mould of your choice. Once cooled to room temperature, put in the fridge and chill until stiffened. This usually takes about 15 -20 minutes, depending on the depth of the mould.
  4. Cut. To cut orange slices, use a very sharp knife, but if you’re cutting cubes use a dull one (+ a ruler) so as not to scratch your bakeware. Remove cubes carefully with a flat spatula to avoid crushing them.
  5. Create.Here are just a few ideas to get you started.
    • Coffee kanten + condensed milk = one solid latte
    • Plain (water) kanten + fruit salad + yude azuki (boiled red beans) + shiratama dumplings (see next recipe) = Anmitsu
    • Mango juice kanten + cookie cutter = love
    • Orange juice kanten + hollowed out oranges = pulp-free orange slices

 Reader ParticipATE-tion:

Check out what readers have made at a FEEDback potluck.

Tassie's orange kanten and chocolate tea kanten with condensed milk drizzle - Photo credit: Robert Shaer (

The following was made by UBC’s Japanese Home Cooking Class

Anmitsu - kanten cubes with fruit salad and sweet red beans