What Ingredients Are Actually Used In Plant-Based Gummies?

From gummy bears to gummy worms and everything in between, chewy candies are a nostalgic treat. If you've ever attempted to make homemade gummies, you've likely noticed that the necessary ingredients include gelatin. Gelatin is an animal-derived product made from collagen protein, but it requires various animal byproducts like skin, bones, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage to be boiled in water.

Gelatin is often the go-to for gummies because it creates a gel and melts easily and quickly, releasing additional sweet, fruity flavors. However, those who are vegan, vegetarian, or avoid certain animal-derived ingredients have to look for alternatives, which is where plant-based gummies come into play. Plant-based gummies replicate that chewy candy texture without gelatin.

Well-known brands like Sour Patch Kids and Swedish Fish are often described as "accidentally vegan" candies because they use plant-derived thickeners made from corn syrup and starch instead of gelatin. Swedish Fish also use carnauba wax, a waterproof ingredient that comes from the leaves of the carnauba palm and gives gummy candies their glossy finish. Of course, with the addition of natural flavors and food dyes, the ingredient lists of major candy brands are more complicated. However, if you want to make plant-based gummies at home, you won't need many ingredients.

Gummy candy doesn't have to be complicated

Plant-based gummies rely on three versatile ingredients: fruit or vegetable juice, a sweetener, and a thickening agent. Since most gummy candies are fruit snacks, choosing your favorite fruit juice will give you the best flavor profile. For your choice of sweetener, you can opt for regular granulated sugar or avoid refined sugar by using something like honey, maple syrup, or coconut sugar.

Finally, you'll need your plant-based thickener. Two easy options are agar-agar powder and arrowroot starch. Agar-agar powder is derived from tapioca, which is made from the roots of the cassava plant. Similarly, the white arrowroot powder also comes from a tropical plant's roots. Both are frequently used as gluten-free flour alternatives, but they are also excellent plant-based thickeners for gummy recipes. 

To make plant-based gummies, combine your juice and thickener of choice in a pot and bring them to a boil before adding your sweetener. Once the mixture cools slightly, fill your gummy molds and wait for your chewy treats to set. The primary flavors will be based on the juice and sugar you chose, while the gelling agent will likely go unnoticed.