Extracellular matrix (ECM) is a complex cellular environment consisting of proteins, proteoglycans, and other soluble molecules. ECM provides structural support to mammalian cells and a regulatory milieu with a variety of important cell functions, including assembling cells into various tissues and organs, regulating growth and cell cell communication. Developing a tailored in vitro cell culture environment that mimics the intricate and organized nanoscale meshwork of native ECM is desirable. Recent studies have shown the potential of hydrogels to mimic native ECM. Such an engineered native-like ECM is more likely to provide cells with rational cues for diagnostic and therapeutic studies. The research for novel biomaterials has led to an extension of the scope and techniques used to fabricate biomimetic hydrogel scaffolds for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine applications. In this article, we detail the progress of the current state-of-the-art engineering methods to create cell-encapsulating hydrogel tissue constructs as well as their applications in in vitro models in biomedicine.