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How to Make Healthy Homemade Jello

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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!) 

Three dessert bowls of healthy homemade Jello with fresh fruit.

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!)

Two dessert glasses of healthy homemade Jello (homemade gelatin)
Close up view of homemade healthy jello (homemade gelatin)

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 –>

Close up view of dessert glasses filled with healthy homemade gelatin (homemade Jello)

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:

COLLAGEN

  • 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.

GELATIN

  • 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. 

Close up view of homemade healthy jello (homemade gelatin) topped with coconut whipped cream

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…

Close up view of homemade healthy jello (homemade gelatin)

HELPFUL INGREDIENTS + TOOLS FOR THIS HOMEMADE JELLO RECIPE:

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Three dessert bowls of healthy homemade Jello with fresh fruit.

How to Make Healthy Homemade Jello


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  • Author: One Lovely Life
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x

Description

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)


Ingredients

Scale
  • 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)

Instructions

  1. Add 1/2-3/4 cup of the juice to a bowl or liquid measuring cup and sprinkle with gelatin powder.
  2. 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.
  3. Pour the remaining (3 1/4- 3 1/2 cups) juice into a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until almost boiling.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in honey (if using) and the bloomed gelatin mixture. Stir to dissolve.
  5. 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.
  6. 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)

Notes

*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

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242 Comments

  1. Hi Emily, I would llike to know if I can use the powder of juice fruit. I have Maqui powder. I just need to add some stevia or raw honey or a combination of both to sweeten it up. Do you think a powder will work? Help me please. Thanks!

    1. Monica – this is a great question! I’ve never used powdered fruit juice before, but my guess is that you’d need to reconstitute it in liquid and you’d likely need to sweeten it. If it’s totally smooth and dissolved in the liquid first, and sweet enough for your taste, it would probably set up! (But again, I haven’t tried it, so I’m not 100% sure). I’d love to know how it goes if you give it a try!

      1. Hi Emily, I tried it and it worked perfectly. I used some stevia and 1 spoonish of maple syrup. I mixed it well in the blender before I heated it up,
        Thank you!






  2. Heyy! I was wondering are the calories counted here with or without honey? If it’s with then do you know the calories without honey?☺️

    1. Hi! The calories are calculated with the honey. 2 Tbsp. honey is about 128 calories, so if you divide that by the number of servings, you’ll get how many calories to subtract from each serving. (For instance, if you have 8 servings, you’d divide 128 by 8 and would subtract 16 calories per serving. If you cut it into 12 servings, you’d subtract 10-11 calories per serving). Hope that helps!

  3. It turned out great after follow your recipe, just added a table spoon of honey and the rest were the same. thank you!






    1. I’m so glad it was a winner for you Amy! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a review–it’s so helpful!

  4. Thanks! My husband has started to be hungry for Jello lately, but shouldn’t eat a lot if sugar. This helps!

  5. You specified beef gelatin for this recipe. I have a package of GoBio’s porcine gelatin. Is there any reason that won’t work? Thanks!

    1. Leia – I haven’t used porcine gelatin before, so I just can’t guarantee the results will be exactly the same. I’d love to know how it works if you give it a try!

  6. THANK YOU! I successfully made this yesterday using fruit juice and they are perfect! I tried another recipe before using puree fruits and it turned out to be a bit watery. After reading other reader’s reviews, I now know why. Next time, I will try to use a combination of juice & puree fruits to see how they turn out. Thanks again 🙂






  7. Hi,

    I’ve tried it twice with the GoBIO gelatin powder and failed twice. I used apple juice. Not sure what I did wrong?

    1. Hannah – I’d love to help! It looks like some of the GoBio products are actually collagen not gelatin… which one are you using specifically? Is it blooming/thickening in the small cup of juice before you add the hot juice?

  8. I love this! I have gastroparesis which doesn’t allow me to eat normal food. This was so good and I cant wait to try it with different juices. I just used orange juice this time.






  9. I miss read this recipe when I first bookmarked it for later use, thought it was some special product, so any gelatin powder is good to use? Also could I use this recipe to make a multi layered jello in a bunt pan? My grandpa loves jello and I wanna make something fancier for his 80th birthday this week coming up.

    1. Shyla – You can use just about any brand of unsweetened beef gelatin. Knox, Vital Proteins, and Great Lakes brands are 3 of our favorites. I’ve never used it to make layered jello before, but I’d love to know how it goes if you give it a try for your grandpa!

  10. Excellent recipe! Your clear and precise directions make this recipe so simple to follow. I am overjoyed to have healthy Jello in my life again. Thank you !






    1. I haven’t tried that before. I’m not familiar with fish gelatin. I’d love to know how it goes if you give it a try! (Be sure it’s gelatin NOT collagen)

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