Gummy candies are a fun snack for all ages — once you eat one, it’s hard to stop! If you prefer to make treats at home rather than buying them from the store, gummy bears might seem out of the question. But they’re not! In this blog, I’ll teach you how to make gummy bears (or any shaped gummy candies) using fruit juice in just four simple steps.
Gelatin or agar — take your pick!
Typically gummy candies are made using gelatin, but there is an alternative that is vegetarian- and vegan-friendly! Remember agar, the main ingredient in our raindrop cake? Agar is a thickening agent similar to gelatin, but it’s made from seaweed and is totally flavorless.
The textures between the two recipes below do differ — agar gummies are not as “bouncy” when chewing, but having this alternative is definitely a plus.
Sweet, natural flavors:
The other ingredient you’ll need is fruit juice. You can use almost any kind of fruit juice or juice concentrate. The only exceptions are fresh pineapple and fresh mango juice — these juices contain enzymes (bromelain) that will not allow gelatin to set properly. If you do want to use these juices with gelatin, you’ll have to boil the liquid first to break down those enzymes.
I had these juices and fruity drinks in my refrigerator to experiment with. You’ll notice that the Calpico flavor is mango. The mango in this drink has already been processed, so it’s OK to use as-is. One thing to remember: the deeper and/or sweeter the flavor, the better!
Depending on the flavor of juice you use, you may want to amp it up with a tablespoon or two of sugar or honey — but this is totally optional. My rule of thumb is adding the sweeteners to the lighter, less opaque juices that used less ripe fruit. I added honey to the pink lemonade and sugar to the coconut beverage pictured above. The darker colored juices, like the cranberry-cherry and grape juices, have a very deep, intense flavor naturally, so additional sweetener is not necessary. Add to your liking.
Shaping your gummies:
Let’s discuss one more thing before diving into these recipes: molds. You actually don’t need any fancy-schmancy molds, but they do make your gummies more interesting and fun to eat. No molds? No problem — just use a greased pan and cut them into cubes after they set.
I experimented with a chocolate mold (on the right), a hard candy mold (the white mold in the center) and a silicone heart mold (on the left).
Silicone is definitely the best to use since the candies pop right out, but you can use any of these three different kinds. Just make sure to pick out molds that have larger cavities if you go with a chocolate or hard candy mold. Most of the time they won’t just fall out, and it’s harder to take them out of smaller cavities.
I was able to fill all three molds with the liquid these recipes yield.
How to make gummy bears using gelatin:
- 1 cup fruit juice
- 3 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1-2 tablespoons sugar or honey (optional)
In a small sauce pan, whisk juice, gelatin and fresh lemon juice until all lumps have disappeared. If you want to use sugar or honey, add those now, too.
Heat the liquid over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until all the gelatin has melted. It should look completely smooth and glassy. Make sure not to let it boil!
Pour the liquid into a measuring cup with a spout and carefully pour the liquid into your molds.
Let cool at room temperature for 5 minutes, then place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of your mold cavities. I like to pop them out of the molds and let them dry out more, about an hour, at room temperature. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
If you find that your gummies are a bit sticky, place them in a colander, sprinkle a little bit of cornstarch over them and shake them around to remove excess cornstarch.
How to make vegan gummy bears using agar:
- 1 cup fruit juice
- 2 tablespoons agar powder
- 1-2 tablespoons sweetener like honey, cane sugar or agave nectar for vegan/vegetarian (optional)
In a small sauce pan, whisk juice and agar together and let sit for about 5 minutes before turning on heat.
Heat the liquid over medium heat, whisking frequently. When it starts to thicken, add your sugar or honey (if desired) and stir. Let the mixture simmer until it thickens to the consistency of paint, stirring constantly. This will take a couple of minutes.
Pour the hot liquid into a measuring cup with a spout and carefully pour the liquid into your molds.
Let cool at room temperature for 5 minutes, then place in the freezer for 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of your mold cavities. Carefully pop them out of the molds. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
Learn More Candy-Making Techniques!
Make crave-worthy candy at home! Enjoy anytime, anywhere access to expert instruction and online, HD video lessons — forever.