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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!) 

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, 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 it (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


  • 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

Keywords: gelatin, jello, homemade jello, healthy jello, homemade gelatin, healthy gelatin, natural jello

206 Comments

  1. as a athlete with tendonitis in my knees this recipe makes ingesting beef gelatin so much more tasty, you truly did a miracle with this one

  2. I had to do a liquid diet to prep for a medical procedure, and jell-o was allowed, but I wasn’t keen to use artificial sweeteners, and couldn’t find anything that didn’t use them, or sugar. A quick Google search landed me on this recipe, and I couldn’t be happier!
    I ordered the gelatin online, and bought a bottle of organic apple juice from a local store. It was AMAZING. Seriously, the BEST jello I’ve ever had. I don’t think the brand names even offer Apple flavor – but I have no idea why – it’s fantastic!
    I wanted to do lemon and lime as well, but because they weren’t transparent juices, the doctor’s office said no. So, I made a 2nd batch for after the procedure. Since Lemon juice can be so sour, I used mostly Apple juice again, and about 1/2 cup of lemon juice. I’m sad to report that it was still wayyyyy too sour. Edible, but not in large helpings. I haven’t yet tried lime, but considering my experience with the lemon, I think I’ll try orange next.
    Thanks for sharing this recipe

  3. This looks wonderful! I’m wondering how this would compare to a standard 3 oz box of jello in quantity. I’m looking to replace the jello in a family recipe with a healthier option but I’m not sure how to translate this to replacing a 3 oz box. Thank you!

    1. Allison – I checked a box of store-bought jello and because we’re adding 4 cups of liquid, I think it compares more to the 6oz size box of Jell-o brand (which also uses 4 cups of liquid). As for swapping it into a family recipe, the conversion might depend a bit on what the recipe is–I’d love to know more if you have a minute!

  4. Is there anyway that pineapple bits from a can or fresh could be used either alone with a juice other than pineapple. I wanted to make a vegetable salad with carrots and celery?

    1. Kathy – I’m not totally sure I understand your question, but to try to answer here’s what I think:

      – Canned pineapple can be used as the heat treatment removes the enzyme issue.
      – I would recommend using another juice besides pineapple juice when possible so you don’t run into issues with the set
      – Are you planning to add carrots, celery, and pineapple to the jello?

  5. I’m living outside the US with my two kids. The 18 month old got a stomach bug and they do not sell Jello here. Your recipe saved the day…found Gelatin and an organic Apple Strawberry juice. Little guy loved this recipe, got his appetite back and doing much better.

  6. Love this recipe and it’s boundless possibilities! Thank you!! (I’ve tried it with canned pineapple juice and canned coconut milk for a piña colada treat-delish!)

  7. Use this excellent recipe for every family colonoscopy lol! Seriously, thanks for sharing it!

  8. I like the recipe, however it saw to see notes beside the fruit juice in the ingredients list yet there’s only a note regarding the gelatin.
    Thank you

  9. This sounds so healthy and perfect for my tendon/ligament recovery post surgery! I was wondering if you have tried tart cherry juice? Just adds extra nutrients for healing. I would like to go sans sweetener but am aware of the tartness. Any thoughts??

    1. Monica – It totally depends on your taste, but one way you can cut the tartness is by mixing the tart cherry with a sweet juice, like apple or white grape. 🙂 Best of luck with your recovery!

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