Healthy Gummy Bears with Fruit Juice
For an all-natural gummy bear recipe WITHOUT Jello, learn how to make healthy gummy bears with REAL fruit, plain gelatin, & your choice of sweetener! Deliciously chewy, flavorful fruit gummies with no artificial flavors or colors. A simple, less-processed alternative to making homemade gummy bears with boxed Jello mix—that’s just as fun & easy to make!
Is there such a thing as healthy gummy bears?
The question of “what is healthy” is always subjective—but in the case of healthy gummy bears, I’m focusing on ingredients. Most of the recommended ‘healthy alternatives to gummy bears’ include options like fresh fruit or dried fruit. And while these are totally nutritious options, I wouldn’t consider them true alternatives to gummy bears. I know dehydrated strawberries won’t quite satisfy my desire for sweet, chewy strawberry gummy bears!
Gummy bears bring me joy & satisfaction because they’re a fun, chewy candy—so I also want my homemade healthy gummy bears to satisfy like real candy. The difference is in the ingredients: real fruit, plain gelatin, and sugar or your choice of sweetener. I still use real sugar because I want my gummy candy to be comforting & sweet! But this option lets me enjoy the candy I love without consuming the corn syrup, processed additives, and artificial ingredients in typical candies.
Gummy Bear Recipe with Juice vs. Jello
- Real Fruit. If you’re looking for a healthy gummy bear recipe made with real, whole food ingredients, this is the perfect option. Rather than using store-bought fruit juice, this method starts with real fruit, that’s then blended and strained to make homemade fruit juice. Not only does this produce more nutritious fruit gummy bears, but they also turn out so much tastier and more flavorful!
- No Artificial Additives. Instead of the boxed Jello mix that’s used in so many recipes for homemade gummy worms & gummy bears, this all-natural option uses fruit for flavor & color instead. That means it’s naturally free from the processed, artificial additives in Jello mix!
- Choice of Sweetener. Similarly, instead of the sugar or artificial sweeteners used in Jello mix, this wholesome gummy bear recipe without Jello lets you choose the sweetener. Whether you choose granulated sugar, honey or maple syrup, or a low-sugar option like stevia, it’s up to you!
- Stickier Texture. Real fruit gummies with gelatin can be quite sticky, so they can get stuck inside their silicone molds more often than Jello gummies do. In recipes with bigger candy mold shapes, like my healthy blueberry coconut gummies, this is no problem. But with the small, detailed shapes in gummy bear molds, some of your finished gummies may not pop out 100% perfectly.
- More Finicky Recipe. Making this gummy bear recipe without Jello means it’s less-processed—but it’s also a bit less reliable. The results can vary depending on the type of fruit you use, how you blend and strain the fruit, your silicone molds, your patience, etc. It’s a bit of a tradeoff: a trickier recipe for healthier gummy bears!
Do gummy bears have gelatin in them?
Just like the store-bought gummy candy, these all-natural gummy bears contain gelatin: a protein found in animal bones. Gelatin gives gummies their stretchy, chewy texture—and it’s a key gelling agent in other foods like Jello & marshmallows. Although gelatin isn’t suitable for vegans or vegetarians, it’s a less-processed alternative to boxed Jello mix for making healthy gummy bears at home. And, since it’s plain in flavor, you can make all sorts of unique fruit gummy flavors—like mango, kiwi, or watermelon jello!
All-Natural Gummy Bears Ingredients
- Fresh Fruit. You can try making this healthy gummy bear recipe with any fresh fruit you’d like! The fruit determines the color & flavor of your homemade gummy bears, so choose accordingly. Of course, some fruits work better than others for homemade fruit gummies—the best options being fruits you can blend and strain into a smooth fruit juice, like strawberries. But have fun experimenting with different options!
- Water. Just a splash, or as much as you need to get your fresh fruit to blend into juice.
- Choice of Sweetener. I used regular granulated sugar because I wanted my fruit juice gummy bears to still satisfy like candy! For less-processed options, you could use honey or maple syrup. Or, if you want to make low-sugar gummy bears, you could try using granulated stevia or erythritol.
- Unflavored Gelatin. Plain gelatin powder is the key to making your own gummy bears without Jello mix, so it’s not an ingredient you can skip or replace. The proportion of fruit juice to gelatin is crucial to the final texture, so be mindful of the ingredient amounts here. Per 1 cup of fruit juice, you need 1 oz of plain gelatin powder—which is sold in many U.S. stores as 1 box with 4 envelopes (0.25-oz each) of plain gelatin in it.
Making Fruit Juice Gummy Bears in Different Colors
Try using different fruits to create different colors of healthy gummy bears at home! It’s best to make only one color per batch, but you can use whatever combination of fruits you’d like to make each color.
The 3 Colors I Tested
- Red Gummy Bears: Using fresh strawberries, this was my most successful batch! Strawberry juice is naturally vibrant & so flavorful—and the texture was liquid-y enough to make perfectly chewy fruit gummies that weren’t overly-chewy. I recommend making strawberry gummy bears for a first trial run at home!
- Purple Gummy Bears: I combined fresh blueberries & blackberries to make a bluish-purple fruit gummy—which was also successful, but not quite as good as strawberry. This berry juice was much thicker, so it needed to be strained twice to thin it out. And still, the thicker juice made my blueberry gummy bears a bit firmer & chewier than the strawberry.
- Yellow Gummy Bears: I also tested making mango gummy bears with homemade mango juice, which was somewhat successful. The key is to use fresh, ripe mango that is blended and strained well to get a truly smooth juice. If the mangoes are too firm or your juice is too pulpy, your healthy gummy bears won’t set as well!
Do I have to spray my silicone gummy bear mold with cooking spray?
Although many homemade gummy recipes recommend this, you do not need to spray your silicone gummy bear molds for this recipe. Which is great news, because I don’t like the oily coating it leaves behind! Even though I made this gelatin gummy recipe without Jello, the proportion of plain gelatin is just right—so they’re not overly sticky, and they don’t get too stuck inside the molds. Some bears won’t pop out perfectly, but you’ll get the feel for it as you continue removing them from the molds.
How to Make Healthy Gummy Bears with Juice & Gelatin
- Blend Fruit. To start, add strawberries or fruit of choice to a blender with just a splash of water. Blend the fruit well, until it’s extremely smooth and pureed—almost liquid-y.
- Strain Juice. Next, pour your blended fruit mixture through a fine mesh sieve (or a nut milk bag) to separate the pulp, until you have around 1 cup of juice. If your fruit gummy puree is thicker in texture, it’s best to strain the mixture twice (or more).
- Heat Gelatin Mixture. In a saucepan over medium-low, heat the strained fruit juice for 30 seconds or so, then whisk in the sugar or sweetener. Once the sugar dissolves, stir in the unflavored gelatin powder. Whisk constantly as you continue to heat the mixture for 2-3 minutes, until the gelatin dissolves.
- Fill Gummy Bear Molds. Remove the saucepan from the stove, then use a syringe to transfer the fruit juice gummy mixture into silicone gummy bear molds.
- Chill until Set. Refrigerate your healthy gummy bears for around 1 hour, until they’ve set. They should be firm to the touch—not wet or moist.
- Remove & Enjoy! When you’re ready to enjoy them, gently push from the back of the silicone mold to remove each gummy—starting with the head of each bear and moving down to the legs. Be patient as you get the hang of it!
- Store in the Fridge. These natural gummy bears made with fruit juice will last 4-5 days in the fridge. Either transfer homemade gummies into an airtight container, or keep them in their silicone molds and cover them.
Watch my Homemade Gummy Bears 2 Ways video to see my process for making gummy bears with fruit juice.
Healthy Gummy Bear Recipe
- 2 cups fresh fruit, (enough to yield 1 cup juice)
- splash of water
- ⅓ cup sweetener of choice, (granulated sugar, honey, etc.)
- 1 oz unflavored gelatin powder, (4 envelopes, 0.25oz ea.)
- Blend fruit and a splash of water in a food processor or blender, until it’s extremely smooth and pureed. (The more liquidy it is, the better.)
- Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve (or a nut milk bag) to get about 1 cup of juice. For thicker purees (like those made with blueberries & blackberries), you may want to strain the mixture twice. You can discard the pulp or save it for smoothies.
- Add fruit juice to a saucepan over medium-low heat. Heat for 30 seconds and then add sweetener, whisking until sugar is dissolved.
- Once sugar dissolves, stir in unflavored gelatin. Heat the mixture for 2-3 minutes, whisking CONSTANTLY until the gelatin dissolves. (If you’re worried it isn’t working, keep going—it will work!)
- Remove pan from heat and transfer mixture into gummy bear silicone molds (I use a syringe to do this). Refrigerate until gummies set, ~1 hour.
- To remove gummy bears from molds, push from the back of the mold—starting at the top/head of each gummy bear and moving down to the bottom/legs.
- Store gummies in an airtight container in the fridge, or leave them in the molds and cover until ready to enjoy. Lasts 4-5days.
- Yields ~150 gummy bears (~3 gummy bear trays) per recipe.