How to Make Healthy Homemade Jello
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 from scratch, y’all!). And I don’t feel one bit bad about it.
Gelatin can be a great healthy snack or healthy dessert. It tastes great, it’s easy to make, and there are even some health benefits, too!
Here’s why I love this healthy homemade jello recipe (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 FRUIT 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 fresh pineapple juice. (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 grass-fed 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 (like agar agar) 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)
- Almond Flour Banana Cake (Paleo)
- Fruit on the Bottom Chia Pudding (Paleo & Whole30)
- Almond Flour Lemon Cake (Paleo & Gluten-Free)
HELPFUL INGREDIENTS + TOOLS FOR THIS HOMEMADE JELLO RECIPE:
How to Make Healthy Homemade Jello
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
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. Do NOT try with collagen or protein powder.)
- 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 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.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 5 minutes
- Category: dessert
- Method: stovetop, refrigerator
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: gelatin, jello, homemade jello, healthy jello, homemade gelatin, healthy gelatin, natural jello
I must say, I was delightfully impressed by this recipe! I accidentally bought too large of a watermelon and hate wasting, so I juiced it, added a little lemon, mint, and a touch of honey – made for a refreshing jello during summer 🙂 Thanks for the recipe!
I never made home made jello before and got the idea from a prenatal book when I was pregnant, also where I learned about the benefits of gelatin. I also loveee jell-o but hate the additives and never found a decent clean brand jello. I have made this recipe about 5 times now throughout pregnancy and postpartum and I am in love! This was the best recipe I have tried among others, thank you so so much!!
I’m so glad it’s been helpful for you! We love it SO MUCH.
Is there a non-meat gelatin that can be used?
Hi! Gelatin is a meat-based protein, so there isn’t a vegan option. You can google recipes that use agar-agar though!
You can find kosher vegan jello on Amazon
How long does this stay fresh in fridge
I usually aim to finish it within 5 days, though it can last up to 7.
Hi! How would I adapt this to make “healthier” Jell-O shots?
I don’t drink, so I’m not a great resource for this. I’m sorry!
Probably a stupid question but I have Sure Jell that I’m using to make Jam’s and Jelly’s, will this work as well or is it just to thicken for Jams/Jelly’s? I did notice (after I bought it) that it has other preserves such as Dextros so eventually I’ll probably lean from it for Jams/Jelly’s too but I thought I at least ask. I hate wasting stuff.
Not a stupid question! I hate food waste too. Sure Jell is pectin, rather than gelatin, so it won’t work for making jello/gelatin. The properties aren’t quite the same, so it won’t set up as firmly and your preparation process would require much more sugar to work. Best to stick with gelatin here.
Hi! I need to make jelly for recovery for an upcoming surgery and I was wondering, can this be made with maple syrup? Thanks so much!
Hi Eve! Yes, you can make it without the syrup. The syrup or honey is only added to help bring the sweetness of the juice back up to base level after adding the gelatin. You may notice the flavor is less vibrant than the straight juice, but it should still work!
Can you freeze this?
Lindsay – Jello doesn’t freeze well. I’m sorry!
This was great! I made it last night and was skeptical it would work just because of how simple it was… but it did! I was so excited — I grew up on box Jello but haven’t eaten it for years because of all the additives and artificial flavorings/color, and now the possibilities seem endless 🙂 I had no idea you could make it with such simple ingredients. I found this recipe because I was searching for a solution to days of an upset stomach from an allergic reaction and craving warm jello my mom used to make us when we were sick. I had a mug last night and the chilled cubes this morning with my 6yo who was delighted to have jello as a breakfast side (which I didn’t mind because it’s basically just juice!) Thank you for sharing!
Virginia – I’m SO GLAD this was what you were looking for and that it could provide some comfort after an allergic reaction. (I’m so sorry!) Thanks so much for taking the time to leave such a thoughtful, kind review!
Wow, thanks so much for sharing this recipe! I made it with apple juice and it’s so good. A fun and easy way to get more healthy gelatin in the diet! <3 Shared with family and friends.
juice has to much sugar for diabetics was looking for other way to flavor the gelatin.
Sandra – I’m not sure what you had in mind for using as a liquid, but you could certainly try with a more diabetic-friendly juice blend, such as a lite/sugar-free/reduced-sugar lemonade or juice cocktail.
I just made it with peach tea! Any herbal or fruit tea would be great 🙂 add a touch of sweetness if you want with whatever your sweetener is choice is.
YUM! Love this option!
I just tried it and it didn’t set, not sure what I did wrong. I used pomegranate juice, honey and the Great Lakes gelatin powder. Would love your insight – bummed it didn’t work! Thanks 😊
Julie – I’d love to help! The two big things to check are:
1. Did you “bloom” the gelatin in part of the juice as directed until it was thick like very thick applesauce? (if you didn’t bloom the gelatin first, it won’t ever set)
2.) Did you dissolve the bloomed gelatin in the rest of the juice? The rest of the juice should be heated as directed so that it can dissolve the bloomed gelatin. If you didn’t heat the rest of the juice, it won’t set.
BONUS THING TO CHECK: Make sure you measured the gelatin and juice out correctly. If you added extra juice or not enough gelatin, this can impact your set.
I’d love to know how it goes if you try it again!