Transglutaminase is an enzyme that is popular among modernist chefs for two main purposes - to glue different meats together for special effects (like a modern turducken), and to create consistently shaped and sized portions for even cooking.

My question is whether there are any known vegetarian applications for this enzyme? Has it been used with (say) tofu, eggs, or cheese? Is there a way to combine it with another protein to get it to glue lower protein things together like most vegetables?

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    I had read it was cultured or grown using pig or cow blood or milk protein but that the manufacturer does not have to disclose how it is produced. Any one else heard this?
    – user8577
    Jan 6 '12 at 6:19

As a matter of fact, here is a link to a PDF of a technical article that talks all about using microbial transglutaminase on vegetable proteins. This article is not for the scientifically faint-of-heart, and it does not contain recipes, but it does review ways industry has found to use transglutaminase in making vegetable-based food products, using things such as soy, wheat, rice, pea, sunflower, and sesame.

I have never tried using it to mix vegetable proteins with animal proteins, but chemically speaking it should work. Unfortunately, I have no source of recipes; you might just have to experiment.


As far as I know, most transglutaminase on the market currently is of microbial origin. That is definitely true of the "Activa" brand transglutaminase formulations, manufactured by Ajinomoto.

Transglutaminase crosslinks glutamine and lysine amino acids, which are found in almost all proteins - not just in meat, but also in eggs, nut or bean based proteins, etc. In fact, you can use transglutaminase to coagulate nut milks to make a vegan cheese, as demonstrated by Cashewbert:


For more info, Dave Arnold's primer on transglutaminase on the Cooking Issues blog is a wonderful resource on all things transglutaminase:



To answer my own question, years later, it turns out that Activa RM can be used to make a phenomenal veggie burger: https://www.chefsteps.com/activities/hi-tech-mushroom-burger. Full disclosure, I work at ChefSteps, but I didn't when I asked this question!


I'm relatively certain that transglutaminase will only bond proteins found in animal flesh or products (it is used sometimes to make milk seem creamier, for example).

I'm pretty certain, also, that it's derived from animals making it unsuitable for vegetarian applications.

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    The brand most chefs use, Activa GS, is from a microbial source - see buyersguide.foodproductdesign.com/media/54/library/… . Sep 2 '10 at 22:49
  • And, um, nummy! Here are the purported benefits for industrial use on chicken: It is compatible with existing processes and equipment and provides the following benefits: • Added value to trim • Effective in raw restructuring • Improves portion control • Modifies texture • Replicates appearance and taste perception of high quality, whole muscle chicken breast and thigh items • Improves products containing mechanically deboned meat • Creates new product opportunities Sep 2 '10 at 22:52
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    Transglutaminases work on any protein containing glutamine and a free amino group, animal or not it does not matter.
    – nico
    Jan 6 '12 at 9:55

Oh, by all means. Take a peek at the two different veggie burger options at ChefSteps.com. Unfortunately everything I read states the enzyme is derived from meat or vegetable products nad I can't find "vegan" Transglutaminase. If anyone knows of a strictly plant based extract of said enzyme, please pass it on!

  • In Michaels' comment to Daniels' answer, he mentions that "Activa GS, is from a microbial source", which I would assume would be vegan.
    – Joe
    Nov 2 '15 at 21:53
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    Likely vegan but unless the manufacturer states so, not guaranteed: The growing medium for the microbes might be animal product derived, and once a defined amount of an animal based ingredient is intentionally consumed for a defined amount of product made (if closer to the product than, say, the factory worker's ham sandwich lunch, or manure used in agriculture), most vegans will not consider the product OK. Nov 3 '15 at 10:29

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