How to Make Healthy Homemade Jello – Yes, really! This homemade gelatin recipe is made from natural ingredients, and natural sweeteners, without any dye or additives. (Dairy-free, gluten-free & paleo approved!)
It’s January, the month of healthy eating resolutions, sugar-free challenges, Whole30 and All The Things. This I know. And yet, here I am, sharing a recipe for healthy homemade gelatin (like, homemade Jello, y’all!). And I don’t feel one bit bad about it.
Here’s why I love it (and why I think you and your kids will, too!)
WHY WE LOVE THIS HOMEMADE GELATIN (JELLO):
WHAT’S IN HOMEMADE JELLO? JUST 2-3 NATURAL INGREDIENTS! In my homemade jello, I use fruit or veggie juice, natural sweetener (honey–and it’s totally optional!), and grass-fed beef gelatin (note: NOT gelatin protein powder). I love using fruit/veggie blends, like peach mango veggie juice for the beautiful orange colored gelatin, cranberry raspberry juice, or blueberry pomegranate juice. You can even use fresh-pressed juice!
IT’S FRESH-TASTING, BRIGHT & BEAUTIFUL WITHOUT ANY DYES OR ADDITIVES. The 3-ingredient (or 2-ingredient!) recipe is about as simple as it gets, and all the color is from the beautiful natural colors of the juice you choose. Plus, there’s no refined sugars, artificial flavors, or additives!
HOMEMADE JELLO IS FREE OF ALL MAIN ALLERGENS–gluten, dairy, egg, soy, nuts, fish, etc. But it does contain gelatin which is derived from beef bones (so it’s not vegan). Because of that, the quality of the gelatin I use is crucial to me. Keep reading to see what I like –>
COLLAGEN VS. GELATIN
Collagen and gelatin are great sources of protein and known to benefit digestion, hair, skin, nails, and joints. They contain the same amino acids, but each behaves differently. Here’s a quick snapshot of collagen vs. gelatin:
- Also called collagen peptides, or hydrolyzed collagen
- Digests faster than gelatin.
- Can be used in hot or cold liquids. I use collagen in hot and cold things all the time, from smoothies, to soups, to herbal tea and sauces.
- It’s flavorless (though I wouldn’t recommend drinking it mixed with straight water) and doesn’t have any gritty or chalky texture.
- NOTE – We’re specifically using powdered gelatin, NOT gelatin-based protein powder
- Creates a gel or Jello effect when prepared.
- Commonly used in gut-healing diet protocols, like AIP (Autimmune Paleo), GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) and SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet). Gelatin digests more slowly, and coats the small intestine, which can help with healing the gut.
- Must be “bloomed” first in cold liquid to plump and thicken the gelatin granules, then dissolved in hot liquid.
- Only dissolves in hot liquids. If you attempt to put it in cold liquid without heating it later, it will bloom but won’t dissolve. (And create an unpleasant thick lumpy texture.)
Want to know more? This article does a great job breaking down everything you need to know (from the chemistry (long & short chain amino acids) to how they’re made, uses, and more.
NOTES & FAQ FOR HOMEMADE GELATIN:
WHAT KINDS OF JUICE CAN YOU USE FOR HOMEMADE JELLO? Almost any flavor of juice! I recommend 100% fruit or fruit/veggie blend juices. The only exception is pineapple. (The enzymes in pineapple can break down the gelatin so it won’t gel properly.) My favorites are a peach-mango fruit & veggie blend (the orange one you see pictured), blueberry-pomegranate, and cranberry raspberry. (all 3 are pictured in the video/photos)
WHERE DO YOU BUY GELATIN? I like Vital Proteins brand gelatin (in the GREEN container), which I can find at Sprouts, on Amazon, or health stores, like Whole Foods. Great Lakes is another good brand I’ve tried (from Thrive Market or Amazon). If all else fails, you can look for something like Knox brand gelatin (which is more readily available but isn’t grass-fed). Note: do NOT try to make this using protein powder or gelatin-based protein powder. It’s not the same product and will not work correctly.
IS HOMEMADE JELLO VEGAN? No, I’m sorry. It’s dairy-free, but homemade jello is made with gelatin, which is animal-derived. I haven’t tested it with a vegan gelatin substitute, but this article about vegan gelatin alternatives might be helpful!
CAN I MAKE THIS JELLO WITHOUT ANY ADDED SWEETENER? It’s totally up to you and your taste preferences. Some juices are sweeter than others. I would never sweeten juice for drinking, but the gelatin does dilute the juice flavor slightly, and I find that adding the honey or agave brings it back up to its regular flavor. Again, it’s totally up to you!
DOES THE GELATIN ADD FLAVOR? Not to the finished product, but I will warn you it DOES smell *awful* when mixed with liquid to bloom. Don’t panic! Once it’s dissolved in the warm juice, the flavor/smell disappears. Pinky promise.
HOW LONG WILL HOMEMADE JELLO KEEP IN THE FRIDGE? My recommendation for the best texture/flavor is 4-5 days, though it usually won’t spoil or break down until the 7-10 day mark.
LOVE THIS HEALTHY JELLO? YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE…
- The BEST Vegan Chocolate Pudding (Paleo)
- Perfect Gluten Free Brownies (Paleo)
- Fruit on the Bottom Chia Pudding (Paleo & Whole30)
- Almond Flour Lemon Cake (Paleo & Gluten-Free)
HELPFUL INGREDIENTS + TOOLS FOR THIS HOMEMADE JELLO RECIPE:
This homemade gelatin recipe is made from natural ingredients, and natural sweeteners, without any dye or additives. It’s a delicious treat for kids and grown-ups alike! (Dairy free, gluten free & paleo approved!)
*Note: the exact nutrition facts will vary based on what juice/juice blend you use. Please consider this an estimate (calculated with a peach-mango fruit & veggie juice blend)
- 4 cups of juice (See notes)
- 2 Tbsp unflavored beef gelatin* (such as Vital Proteins or Great Lakes)
- 2 Tbsp honey or agave (optional)
- Add 1/2-3/4 cup of the juice to a bowl or liquid measuring cup and sprinkle with gelatin powder.
- Whisk together to combine and allow to sit for 3-5 minutes to “bloom.” The granules will plump and the mixture will look like very thick applesauce or take on a lumpy appearance.
- Pour the remaining (3 1/4- 3 1/2 cups) juice into a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until almost boiling.
- Remove from heat and stir in honey (if using) and the bloomed juice/gelatin mixture. Stir to dissolve.
- Pour into an 8×8 (2 quart) baking dish for thick Jello or a 9×13″ baking dish for thin Jello, or into individual glasses or jars for individual portions.
- Refrigerate about 4 hours, or until set. (If you’ve used a 9×13 pan, it may be set in as little as 2 hours)
*You must use unflavored beef gelatin for this recipe, not protein powder, collagen, or gelatin-based protein powders. ONLY gelatin will work.
- Category: dessert
- Method: stovetop, refrigerator
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: gelatin, jello, homemade jello, healthy jello, homemade gelatin, healthy gelatin, natural jello