How to make vegan gummy bears that are gelatin-free, using agar powder, natural flavorings, and colors! This 4-ingredient candy recipe is refined-sugar-free, gluten-free, and makes delicious natural vegan gummies, perfect for children and adults alike!
If the beginning of this year is anything to go by, then I think my sweet tooth is coming out in spades. I’ve already shared posts for vegan white chocolate, white chocolate peanut butter cups, and now this vegan gummy bears recipe.
Making these gummies at home allows you to use all-natural ingredients and any molds you like; for vegan gummy worms, gummy bears, dolphins, monkeys, sharks – you get the point! Any silicone molds you can get your hands on will work for this method.
Are Gummy Bears Vegan?
Unfortunately, most commercial gummy bears contain gelatin – which is made from ground cartilage, bones, and other areas of pigs. For vegans, that means lots of gummy sweets are definitely not vegan-friendly.
More so, many candies contain artificial colors and flavors (some of which may not be vegan) and tons of refined sugars.
This recipe, however, substitutes gelatin for vegan gelatin alternative- (seaweed-based) agar agar. The result is sweet and flavorful gelatin-free gummies. These gummies are vegetarian (vegan), gluten-free, halal, and kosher. Better than that, these vegan fruit snacks use natural fruit juice and coloring for a treat that is entirely free from refined sugars and artificial flavorings and colors.
The only difference is that, unlike with gelatin treats, these gummy bears are firm but not chewy like traditional ones. Best of all, learning how to make gummy bears with this method is so simple, you can get the whole family involved, especially kids!
Ingredients For Vegan Gummies
- Agar-Agar Powder: It’s crucial to use agar powder (100% strength- any less, and you’d need to increase the amount used), not flakes. If you use flakes, you’ll need three times as much (6 teaspoons).
- Fruit Juice: It’s best to use 100% fruit juice for the healthiest results. If you have a juicer, then feel free to make your own juice too. Swap out the fruit juice based on the flavor and color of gummies you want (see below for options).
- Sweetener: I only used a refined-sugar-free sweetener for the orange gummy but left it out for all other versions. However, feel free to use organic sugar, Erythritol, Xylitol, or monk fruit to taste. Maple syrup or a few drops of pure stevia might work too, but I haven’t tried it.
- Fruit/Superfood Powder (optional): I used a selection of different powders for color and increased vitamins and nutrients within the vegan fruit snacks. Blueberry powder and spirulina, are options I used.
The Different Colored Gummies
- For the clear gummies: I used sweetened apple juice, no sweetener, and no fruit powder.
- Yellow/orange gummies: I used unsweetened orange juice and 1 tablespoon of Xylitol (sugar-free sweetener).
- Red gummies: I used sweetened cherry juice and 1 1/2 teaspoons of indigo blueberry powder. I didn’t use any sweetener.
- Blue gummies: I used sweetened apple juice and 1 teaspoon blue spirulina powder.
- Green gummies: I used sweetened apple juice and 1 teaspoon green spirulina powder (you could also use matcha powder).
For the full ingredients list, measurements, complete recipe method, and nutritional information, read the recipe card below.
How To Make Vegan Gummy Bears
Step 1: Prepare the Silicone Molds
- Prepare the silicone molds and a dropper by cleaning and wiping them to ensure there’s no dust or dirt in the molds. I used these molds.
Step 2: Prepare the different flavored/colored vegan gummies
- In separate bowls (per flavor/color), combine the fruit juice, agar agar powder, sweetener of choice (optional), and any extra ‘powders’ based on the color/flavor (listed above).
- Whisk the mixtures well to combine thoroughly.
Step 3: Heat the agar agar gummies mixture
- Transfer the mixture (only one at a time) to a pot/pan and bring to a boil. Then, reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes, stirring frequently. This is important for the agar agar to become activated.
The mixture should become syrup-like in consistency but not quite as thick as golden syrup/honey consistency.
Step 4: Transfer to the molds and allow it to set
- Using the dropper (or a small spoon if that’s all you have), fill the silicone molds with the mixture. These vegan gummies only take about 20 minutes to set at room temperature, depending on what juice you use (see notes). You could also allow the gummies to set in the fridge or freezer for some minutes – then enjoy!
How To Store?
Store the vegan gummy bears in the fridge, covered, for between 3-5 days.
Alternatively, you may be able to store them in the freezer for between 2-3 months. I haven’t tried to freeze them yet, as freezing can affect agar, though it may work.
What Is Agar Agar Powder?
Agar-agar is a product that comes as a powder or flakes that derives from red algae. It has a natural jelly consistency that makes for a great vegan gelatin substitute when boiled.
While the comparison isn’t exact, and these vegetarian gummy bears are softer (not chewy- more like firm jello) like gelatin-based candy, it works incredibly well.
In fact, agar is very useful in tons of vegan recipes and is something I’ve used for this chocolate strawberry cheesecake, vegan flan, mango pie, or even this vegan cheese.
Can Anything Else Be Used For The Natural Colorings/Flavoring?
Yes, of course. Feel free to experiment with different ingredients for different colors and flavors of vegan gummy bears:
Orange, blueberries, kiwi, spinach, pineapple, mango, grapefruit, pomegranate, cranberry, guava, cherry, grape, etc.
You can use store-bought juice (100% natural) or use the actual fruits to create the mixture – either using a juicer or blender. When using chunky ingredients in a blender, blend them with the apple juice and strain through a sieve to remove the juice’s pulp.
What If I Don’t Have Special Molds?
No problem! You can use a silicone cake mold/baking tray or a non-flexible container lined with plastic wrap to create a narrow layer of vegan jelly, remove it from the pan and cut it into small squares/rectangles.
Recipe Notes & Variations
- If the gummy bears turned out too soft, you probably used agar flakes or a brand that contains only 25% or 30% agar agar and did not increase the amount accordingly.
- For a more traditional ‘coated’ gummy bear, you could optionally dust the gummies in a little granulated or powdered sweetener (sugar or sugar-free)
- If you prefer firmer gummies, you can use up to 3 teaspoons of agar powder per cup of juice.
- Some juices contain more acid than others. This will affect the gelling properties of the vegan gummy bears. If there is too much acid in the juice, the agar won’t set properly.
- For ‘chewier’ gummies, I’ve found that the type of sugar you use can have an impact on the vegan gummies. White sugar (though not the healthiest option) yields the chewiest results. BUT note that, as previously said, these don’t have the traditional ‘gummy’ texture. I read that Kappa carrageenan can make the candy chewier, but I haven’t tried it.
Other Fruity Vegan Sweet Treats
- Strawberry Mousse
- Caramel Apple Cheesecake
- Vegan Pineapple Upside Down Cake
- Apple Crisp Without Oats
- Vegan Blueberry Muffins
- Strawberry Crumb Bars
- Fruity Cheesecake
If you give this vegan gummy bears recipe a try, I’d love a comment and ★★★★★ recipe rating below. Also, please don’t forget to tag me in re-creations on Instagram or Facebook with @elavegan and #elavegan – I love seeing them.
Vegan Gummy Bears
- 1 cup (240 ml) fruit juice (see notes)
- 2 tsp agar powder (see notes)
- 1 tbsp sweetener of choice or more to taste (optional, see notes)
- Fruit powder of choice (optional, see notes)
- You can watch the video in the post for visual instructions.Prepare 2 silicone molds (I use these) and a dropper.
- Combine fruit juice, agar agar powder, sweetener of choice (optional), and fruit powder (optional) in a bowl and stir with a whisk. See notes for different versions.
- Transfer to a pot or pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. This is important for the agar agar to get activated.
- Using the dropper fill the mixture into the silicone molds. Leave to set at room temperature for at least 20 minutes (the time depends on which juice you use). You can also let the gummies set in the fridge. Enjoy!
- Agar agar: It's important to use agar powder (100% strength), not flakes. If you have flakes, you'll need 3 times as much (6 teaspoons). Also, check the label of your agar powder. It should contain 100% agar agar, and no other additives. If it contains only 30% agar agar, you will also need 3 times as much.
- If you prefer firm gummies, you can use up to 3 teaspoons of agar powder for each cup of juice.
- The gummies aren't chewy, since they do not contain gelatin. I read that Kappa carrageenan (instead of agar agar) can make the candy chewier, but I haven't tried it.
- For yellow/orange gummies, I used unsweetened orange juice and 1 tablespoon of Xylitol (sugar-free sweetener).
- For the red gummies, I used sweetened cherry juice and 1 1/2 teaspoons of indigo blueberry powder. I didn't use any sweetener.
- For the clear gummies, I used sweetened apple juice, no sweetener, no fruit powder.
- For the blue gummies, I used sweetened apple juice and 1 teaspoon blue spirulina powder. You can also use a few drops of natural food dye.
- For the green gummies, I used sweetened apple juice and 1 teaspoon green spirulina powder (you can also use matcha powder).
- Sweetener: I only used a refined sugar-free sweetener for the unsweetened orange juice, but left it out for all other versions. You can use organic sugar, Erythritol, Xylitol, or monk fruit. Maple syrup or a few drops of pure stevia might work too, but I haven't tried it.
- Some juices contain more acid than others which will have an effect on the gelling properties. If there is too much acid in the juice, the agar agar won't set properly.
Nutrition information is an estimate and has been calculated automatically
Love the tips regarding how certain ingredients may affect the outcome.
I am glad it’s helpful. 🙂
Recipe is PERFECT! I do recommend that you add a mold inhibitor if you do not plan to eat them right away. Freezing also worked for me just fine with this recipe. I am a cannabis chef and have completed several batches now using this recipe with making very little changes. I did double the agar agar powder, although it was not 100% necessary the original recipe was very stable as it was. I also went with freeze dried fruit powders mixed with granulated sugar (basically creating a vegan jello). Added my agar agar powder, mixed in my fruit juice, brought to a simmer, then mixed with my “oils”. filled molds and they set within a few minutes, moved to the fridge for a few hours. Next, i removed them from molds and left to air dry for 48 hours… they are perfect!!!!
Thanks so much for your great feedback. 🙂
Thank you for sharing your experience. I came here searching for the perfect gummy recipe that I could infuse with herbal medicine. Your comment was so aligned! Do you prefer using oils vs tincture? I’m new to creating gummies and as cannabis chef, I value and appreciate your feedback.
not enough agar in this recipe. do not firm up at this ratio
Hi Lauren, it’s really enough if using 100% strength agar powder (not flakes).
I used mango nectar and 1 tsp of beet powder to make “worms” and these turned out perfect! Thanks for the recipe.
Sounds great! I am glad you liked them, Kim. 🙂
I had high hopes for these, but the result was mealy and tasteless.
Sorry to hear you didn’t like them.
This was my first time using your recipe. I think the next time I will add a bit more agar powder to increase sturdiness. I also used white grape juice and shook in sour powder after setting. The taste was surprisingly good.
That sounds very interesting! Thanks so much for sharing, Brandy. 🙂
Hi! Could I use potassium sorbate in this recipe to make them last longer? If so how much could I use and how long will the gummies last for?
Unfortunately, I don’t know the answer, as I never used this before. 🙂
Thanks for the recipe. Have u tried honey and glycerin as sweetner?
I want to make these for my toddler who won’t take cough syrup or honey and is too young for lozenges.
Hello, no, I haven’t, but I think it should work!
hi! The agar powder I’m planning to use is mentioned to have a gelling strength of 800+ and i have no idea what that means. should I use the same amount as is mentioned in the recipe or something different?
Hi, unfortunately I don’t know what that means. I am using the NOW brand of agar powder which I have also linked in the recipe.
Great recipe! Just going to adjust the agar agar like you stated based on our personal preference for a little less firmer gummy. But we are truly pleased to have this as a guidance. Great job. Thank you!
You are so welcome, Rachelle. 🙂
Hi Ela, have you ever done this with cornstarch instead of agar powder? I’ve had to change my diet recently due to medical need and am still learning how to cook with these changes. I’m not vegan but find most of my usable products are vegan, so learning to cook vegan!
Hi Sara, unfortunately, cornstarch won’t work in this recipe, you would need a lot of it which wouldn’t taste good, and the result still wouldn’t be as firm. 🙂
I have always used juices and fruit teas to make home made jello free from colors and refined sugar while adding some citric acid to give it that balance in the tangy taste. I haven’t tried the gummies though i purchased the mold over a year ago but was really hesitant what to use as a sting agent whether to use one or a combination of more than one. What if we wanted to use gelatin as an attempt to end up similar to the commercial gummies!? How much should be used? How about using pectin with or without another setting agent like agar agar or gelatin?
Hi Sherry, since I am vegan and don’t use gelatin, you will need to google to find out how to use it. I haven’t tried using pectin yet.
Thanks for sharing this recipe. It was my first time using agar agar. Mine seem to crumble in your mouth – is that just what happens or have I done it incorrectly?
Hi Jo, I never experienced this. Did you use agar powder or flakes? Any specific sweetener?
Hi. Awesome recipe, thanks! Mine dried with a bit of a crust. I added Xylitol. Could it be from that?
Hi Ingrid, that’s interesting. I also used Xylitol and didn’t notice this. Maybe you could try it again with a different sweetener and see if it happens again?
I am glad you still liked them. 🙂
Thanks Ela. I think I may have just added too much. I have another batch setting with much less xylitol.
Great, I hope it turns out better. 🙂
This recipe is great. Adding some cassava powder may increase chewiness
Thanks for your feedback, Tina! 🙂
Any recommendation on amount?
I was wondering if you had to keep these gummies in the fridge for the agar agar since it turns out more Jello like or no? My bf used agar in a cranberry sauce, but it turned out more Jello like than anything. Still very good though.. Do they need to be kept in as fridge or not?
Hi Roo, you don’t have to keep them in the fridge, but I would still recommend it, as they will keep longer in the fridge. I didn’t use a lot of agar agar in the recipe, so they aren’t super firm. If you prefer them firmer, you could increase the amount of agar powder slightly, as mentioned in the recipe notes. 🙂