Sparkly Fruit Gummies

CATEGORIES: Candy, Christmas, Sara

A few months ago we launched our new cook book with a big ol’ party at our favorite cooking store, Orson Gygi in Salt Lake City.  Hundreds of you showed up to say hello, have some munchies, and celebrate with us. (Thank you!)  It was seriously one of the best days ever.  Since neither Kate nor I live in Salt Lake City, every time we do an event at Orson Gygi we stock up on goodies for ourselves.  This past trip I spent a really long time in their aisle of colors and flavorings, partially just out of sheer awe at the selection.  They have literally hundreds of flavors, half of which I never knew existed.

I sat there wanting to buy one of everything, but not even knowing what I would use them for.  That’s when I remembered last Christmas when my friend Cami borrowed some peppermint oil from me to make homemade gumdrops.  She brought over a plate of the sparkled jewels when she was done and they were so fun to eat!  I thought it would be the perfect thing to stock up on flavors and colors for so I grabbed a few at Orson Gygi that day.  And then I ordered just a few more on-line.  I have difficulty making decisions, okay?

This is the basic recipe you see all over the place for “Homemade Gumdrops” but I  think that name is a bit misleading.  These aren’t as chewy and sticky as a gumdrop, they’re more soft and jelly-like.  Almost like (and I really hate to use this comparison, because they’re way better than this- I swear) a glorified Jell-O jiggler.  But they’re delicious and sparkly and kind of addicting.  My kids couldn’t keep their little fingers away from these, and they loved helping smell the flavors and pick color combos.

These take quite a bit of gelatin, you’ll need a couple of boxes at least.  Keep in mind you’re buying unflavored gelatin (which is found near the baking supplies and Jell-O in the grocery store.)  And yes, all of that sugar is going in.  C’mon, it’s candy!

To use unflavored gelatin, you first soften it by sprinkling it over cold water.  It will instantly take form as the granules of gelatin absorb the water.

After it softens, add boiling water to dissolve it and you’ll have a liquid.  Once the gelatin is mixed in and dissolved, add the sugar.

Bring this mixture to a boil on the stove-top.  You’ll want to keep an eye on it, and like, maybe not turn it up crazy high because you’re too impatient to wait for it to come to a boil and then leave it like that while you go feed your kids Corn Pops for lunch and get distracted when said Corn Pops end up in a splat across your freshly mopped kitchen floor.  If that happens, you might end up with sticky-scalding-jelly-sugar all over your brand new (and therefore pristinely clean) stove top.

The stove-top that you ironically snapped a photo of just minutes before, simply because it was so pretty and so, so clean and the fact that it’s shaped like a star makes you smile.

The same burner you then spent approximately 47 minutes cleaning.

Tips from a pro, folks.

K, back to cooking.  Once the mixture finishes boiling remove it from the heat.  At this point, it’s pretty much done and you can color and flavor it.  (I like that there are Christmas lights flickering in this photo!)

It will easily make 2 8×8 pans if you want to just to do two colors (like red and green).  If you want to experiment with a variety of colors and flavors, you can use any containers.  I used a bunch of little plastic rectangular food-storage containers and I found it easiest to line them with plastic wrap and spray the plastic wrap with non-stick spray.   You can pour the sugar mixture directly into the containers first and then add colors and flavors, but I mixed small batches in a mixing bowls first and then poured them in.

Are you noticing the change in background in these photos?  These are my pretty new counter tops in my new kitchen.  I’ve gotten lots of requests to see photos of my new cooking space so as soon as I can get through Christmas I’ll take some photos of it to show you guys.  I love, love, love how it all turned out.

If you’re experimenting with small batches in random-sized containers, a good trick is to use a measuring cup to measure how much water fills the container up about 1/2 inch so you know how much sugar mixture to color.

Add food coloring and flavoring as you like.  I used oils and started with about 1/8 teaspoon per cup of sugar mixture, and increased to taste from there.  I’m using oils, but regular extracts will work fine too.  If you can find oil, they work particularly well in things like this because you don’t run the risk of having an alcohol-ish after taste from extract.  The mixture should be cool enough to test by this point so you can go by taste.

One of my favorites was coconut.  Did you know they make white food coloring?  I learned that from Bridget, who uses it to make her white icing bright white.

Once they’re in their containers or pans, chill them for at least 4 hours in the fridge.  When they’re chilled and set, pull the mixture out by the plastic and peel off onto a cutting board that’s been sprinkled in sugar.  Since I was making small batches, I placed them directly on a plate of sugar and turned to coat all sides.

Use a sharp knife (it might help to coat with cooking spray) to cut into cubes and roll the cubes in sugar.  It helps to have a plate of sugar nearby to coat the sticky sides and make cutting easier.  I also found we all liked these much better in smaller pieces, like 1/2 inch squares as opposed to 1 inch squares.

Leave the candies out at room temp for a day or two (overnight is fine) so the sugar can crystallize and form a crunchy exterior.

We did blue with blueberry, green with lime, lemon with yellow, tangerine with orange, strawberry-kiwi with pink, and coconut with white.

People are always asking us for goodies that pack and ship well- and these fit the bill!

I had excellent intentions of making a printable to go with these (Have a Holly-Jelly Christmas??)  but I opted to take a nap today instead.  Yes, really.  So if anyone can think of a particularly catchy phrase for a printable I just might make one up for ya!


PS: LAST DAY to enter our fantastic giveaway!  Click here for the details!

(Edit: Lots of people have asked about the cute mason jar with the cut-out lid in the photo above.  It’s from Orson Gygi, too!)



  1. Holy coolness!! I so want to try these!! So since the recipe says extracts or oils, then my peppermint and coconut Watkins extracts from Walmart should work? LOL (seriously, though, just checking…) Love the white color for the coconut and nice tip for that for icing too!! Can’t wait to try that. I live about 15 minutes away from Orson Gygi and yet, I never go, mainly because my husband would die when I brought home so much stuff that he would say I don’t need. LOL

  2. OK, so totally saw that extracts are OK in your post, so never mind. LOL However, which food colorings did you buy at Orson Gygi. The soft gel ones?

    1. I used soft gel colors, but mostly just because my liquid ones are still packed in a box somewhere! Liquid color tends to be better for coloring liquids, if you use soft gels, you just have to whisk them really really well and you still might end up with little specks of color in there, mostly just with really dark colors.

  3. My First thought was “I can’t wait to try this” Followed directly by… “I need to go and get some new flavorings/oils…” My husband may not be so thrilled. 🙂

  4. Thank you! I spent an hour last night searching for a recipe to do this and came up with nothing! I plan to coat them with chocolate…think it’ll work?

    1. Hmm, I don’t see why not. You’ll probably still need to coat them in sugar though, and then in chocolate.

  5. These look amazing! Can’t wait to make them. So if I’m using extracts instead of oils, are the amounts about the same? Is 1/4 t. extract per cup about the same as 1/4 t. oil or do I need more extract than oil? Thanks.

    1. Generally speaking, you usually need a little more extract than oil, but I would start with a little and just go to taste.

  6. I have to be honest, I love your recipes, but what really keeps me hooked on Our Best Bites is how much you both make me laugh. Sometimes it’s just a Corn Pops for lunch day.

  7. Love these! I spotted a similar recipe in Sunset magazine (Dec 2012 issue) and have been meaning to give it a try. Yours are beautiful! What about a printable that relates to the poem “The Night Before Christmas” where it says “Santa had a broad face and a little round belly that shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly!” I might print that part of the poem on a Santa shape to attach as gifts with the recipe printed on the back. What do you think?

  8. I think you must have picked your colors just to match your napkin for photographic purposes! That was the coolest! I loved your beautiful star stove burner, and am super sorry you had to initiate it with such a sugary mess. That must have been fun times cleaning it up. Anxious to see pictures of your gorgeous new kitchen!

  9. They look like they would be fun to make and eat! Silly question, but where did you find the cloth napkin/dish towel with the stripes. I would love to have some of those. Thanks!

  10. Cute idea. . . Thanks Sara. I’ve been looking for milk-free treat recipe this Christmas – something Brigham can enjoy with the rest of us. I thought about suckers but these look SO MUCH better!

  11. These look like they could be a homemade version of a very popular English sweet (candy for you Americans) called Fruit Pastilles – which are very yummy, and my hubbie’s favourite.

  12. I totally love that you fed your kids corn pops for lunch, its so good to know that I’m not the only one that has days like that. These little gummies look like so much fun, I can’t wait to try them!

  13. Have you experimented with substituting fruit juice for some of the sugar/water combo? Do you think it might work? I have been wanting to try making my own gumdrops/gummies for a while, and yours look amazing! Love OBB!

    1. The knox gelatine boxes always have the recipe for knox blocks on the back- and that’s pretty much what it is, but with fruit juice. You could compare that!

  14. Awesome! I just saw a similar recipe in Sunset Magazine and thought they looked like fun! I’m guessing you can’t just use fresh squeezed orange, lemon or tangerine juice and need to use the extract, right? The Sunset article used liquid pectin but I was hoping
    you could use the unflavored gelatin (which I have on hand) 🙂

  15. those look soooo good! maybe for a printable you could say “may your days be merry and bright” or something, since they are bright and colorful…. I’m trying to think of a way to use sugar and spice… but nothing is coming right now!

    1. It’s really just to taste. I noted in the post that I was working with 1 C of sugar syrup at a time and I used 1/8-1/4 teaspoon oil.

  16. First time commenting! I am SO excited to see this recipe. Our family goes to a cabin in Northern Cali every year, and they have a “Old West” style town nearby called Columbia. They have a store that sells only old-fashioned style candy, and this is one of the things we bring home BAGS and BAGS of every year. I am excited to experiment and see if we can get the same flavors- I have a feeling they may have used fruit juice in their version. When we cooked up our first (and only so far) batch today, we had a LOT of foaming on top when done that I didn’t notice with yours. So much so it had to be skimmed or cut off after solidifying. Any ideas?

    P.S. This is Kate’s cousin that stopped by at the Deseret Book signing in Mesa with my boys. Loving the posts you guys do.

    1. Hi Kate’s cousin! I only had foaming on one color (and all of my colors came from the same batch) so I’m not sure why that is!

  17. So, if you package these together, will the flavors start to mix? I know if I even put different kinds of cookies in a single tin, they start tasting like each other… kinda weird.

    1. I’ve had a bag of mixed flavors for several days now and there’s no flavor mixing. I think the sugar coating keeps the flavor in!

  18. i made these tonight, and i have to say that using my pizza cutter to cut them out was SO much easier than using any knife (even one coated in cooking spray). thought i’d pass the tip along!

  19. I’m going to make these to dip in chocolate too- don’t dip them in sugar if you want to dip them in chocolate. We dip our own Christmas chocolates every year. In past years, I have bought Sunkist jellies and had to soak them in hot water to melt the sugar coating off and let them completely dry (because any moisture will ruin your chocolate) before dipping them. Now, I’ll just make my own! I’ve thought of this numerous times, but now I have a recipe I know I can trust. Thanks!

    1. Honestly, if you don’t dip them in sugar (or something else) you’ll have a sticky, gummy mess on your hands!

  20. How, exactly, did you get the burned on mess off your stove, anyway. Not that I have ever done this exact same thing or anything. 😉

    1. Haha, I cleaned it when it was still wet and hot with LOTS of paper towels, really hot water, and a ton of scrubbing, lol. It looks sparkly and new once again!

  21. Sara- how much does this recipe make? Is this just for 8×8 pan? Trying to figure out what all I need to buy.

  22. I just bought the oils to make these yummy treats. However, do you have any other recipes or ways to use the oils since I also went a little crazy and bought 10! Looking forward to these:)

  23. anyone has the link to sunset recipe?
    I was looking for a recipe using pectin and needed to have a peek there also

  24. I have made gummies a few times. One thing I did not do was bring the sugar mixture back to a boil after mixing in the gelatin water. Would this have a direct effect on the density of my gummies? I have been looking to make gummies with a density of a jujube or baking dot.

    1. Homemade gummies don’t have the chew of a commercial one- I think it’s the lack of chemicals! lol It’s hard to get that super dense chew at home, but they will be firmer with the more gelatin you use.

  25. These look great! Couldn’t you use ice cube trays to shape these? I saw the fun star ones in one of your 4th of July recipes and thought those would be cute.

  26. Has anyone tried a sugar substitute like Splenda in place of the sugar? I wonder if that would work with this recipe?

  27. These look so delicious!
    I was actually thinking of rolling them in sour sanding instead of sugar, so it wouldn’t be too sweet – do you have any idea how to make sour sanding? I haven’t succeeded in finding a recipe for it yet…

    1. I just coated mine in a slight sour mix and they taste great! I used 3/4 cups sugar and 1/2 ts. citric acid. This gives just the right amount of sour for me, not enough to pucker. You might want a little more depending on your taste. You can find citric acid on amazon, or at Whole Foods (I got mine there in the vitamin area). The first batch I made had no citric acid and it was too sweet for me. I think next time I might try adding just a little to the gelatin mix too.

  28. how gummy are these supposed to be? from the picture they look more like a gumdrop consistancy but when I made them last night and chilled them they came out more like a thickened jello jiggle. just trying to figure out if i did something wrong (i did cut the recipie down since i didnt have enough gelatin on hand) or if it just looks more solid than it actually is! Also any tips on how much white to use to get the nice white color? I used alot but it came out kind of streaky (I used the same color white pictured) Thanks!

  29. So i’ve made these, or a variation, numerous times but I CANNOT do the sugar thing. I cut them up and roll them in sugar and end up with a liquefied gelatin goo in a few minutes. Its still solid at the center but the outside is gooey. Do i just need to let them sit longer and see if they will crystallize? Mine aren’t sticky o the outside so little one gets “jello” snacks all the time and at daycare….

  30. Knox had a “knox blocks” recipie, using jucies (orange, cranberry, etc)- i can’t wait to try flavoring this way.

    You can buy knox gelatin in bulk – 1pound cans.

  31. Just finished making these following instructions as posted and they turned out great. Look so, so pretty and taste yummy too! Also, easy to make even for a novice candy maker like me. Thanks for sharing this recipe, Sara, and for the detailed, easy to follow directions! Can’t wait to package up to give to family and friends over the next couple weeks.

  32. I made these and they were awesome to taste but I screwed up in letting them ALL sit in a big bowl in a heap together with sugar to crystalize. So they got messy but still tasty. I got some little mini Christmas shaped cookie cutters to try again 🙂

    One thing I’m wondering, to make them a LEEETLE bit firmer, would adding a bit more gelatin work? say, 7 or 8 tablespoons? I’m not too familiar with working with gelatin….

  33. I’m the Editorial Assistant for Fun Family Crafts and I wanted to let you know that we have featured your yummy treat! You can see it here:

    If you have other kid-friendly tutorials, we’d love it if you would submit them. If you would like to display a featured button on your site, you can grab one from the right side bar of your post above. Thanks for a fun project idea!

  34. yay!!! finally i think i can change this to ginger candy that i have wanted to make for so long. I just need to coar it with tapioca flour instead. I think this will work… i think … LOL

  35. Hi
    I tried this, but after coated in sugar it’s not came like yours,its sticky
    Also turns like sugar syrup, gummy looks like flavored jello pack recipe.
    Any tip for this ????

  36. hi…really got excited when I came across this recipe and yes I just did make it. it tastes pretty good however, I have a problem with the sugar when coating. I am in the tropics and the humidity kicks in that it just melts the sugar that I coat to each jelly..any suggestion on what to use instead? Thank you.

  37. LorAnn Oils makes a Tart & Sour product used to enhance flavors in candy making. My kids love the sour flavors added to homemade candies so much that I buy it by the quart!

  38. Hi I used the pectin envelopes and I followed the instructions and boiled it…and then read after that you’re never supposed to boil pectin lol. Are there different rules
    For candy making? Should I not have boiled it? Or was I (as per usual) skimming through the instructions and skipped something? The top seems to be forming a skin – will it still set?

    Thanks in advance! And I love the recipe. Your candies are beautiful 🙂

  39. ‘Im hoping your recipe will save me from a major fail I had trying to make rock candy!… I waited 8 days and it never crystalized! It might have been because I added a packet of Kool-aid to the sugar mixture for flavor and color. (?). Anyway, I found your recipe and decided I would combine my “Kool-aid Rock Candy” with your gummy recipe and see if I could salvage my mess. I’ve made the mixture and am waiting till the morning to find out the results, but I was wondering if you know by chance if the use of Kool-Aid will negatively effect the turnout? Signed, Patience is a Virtue!

  40. The Kool-Aid Worked!!! I’m so excited! I wish my camera on my phone worked so I could send you a picture of how awesome my gummies turned out. I just tweaked your recipe (added more sugar, 10 packs of gelitan as directed with the additional water, replacing the food coloring and flavored oils with my “failed mixture of Rock Candy with Kool-Aid”)… and Wha-la-la-la… It looks and tastes great!!! Thanks so much for posting this recipe, so I could fix my mishap!

  41. Do you think they would work with a sugar substitute? Like stevia in the raw? I know it’s usually an even switch but curious if it would be gross.

    Thanks, can’t wait to try these beautiful treats!!

  42. First of all, thanks for posting this recipe! I am making candies for a “science of sour” night at a local museum and using different organic acids to demonstrate their unique flavors (citric, malic, lactic, acetic, etc.) I made a very small test back (1/6 of the recipe) and simmered it for 25 minutes. The entire time I had it on the stove it was opaque, though, and never turned clear again like your pictures have it. Did anyone else’s have a very white/opaque tone? Also, when I poured it into the molds a crust immediately formed on top as they cooled – you know, a sugary, crystallized type of crust. I still need to wait for them to completely cool and solidify. Perhaps my scaling down caused too much water to boil off since there was so little in the pot? Thanks for your help!

  43. So, couple of lessons learned. First, be very, VERY light handed with the flavoring. First batch I made I wound up with waaaay too much flavoring, to the point where they were inedible. Second, you cannot use pectin + lemon juice to augment the gelatin (I was trying to make the candies gummier). They set up nice, but then the pectin goes all soft and gooey again at room temp. Third, gel food coloring really doesn’t work very well in these. I’m going to use liquid coloring from now on in them.

    For the people who’ve had trouble with the candies melting when you sugar coat them: the humidity level in your kitchen is likely partly the issue. Allowing the uncoated candies to dry a few hours may help. Also, you can spread your sugar out on a baking sheet and put it in the oven on low for 20 minutes to make it as dry as possible.

    @Krista: I don’t think freezing would work very well with these. Ice crystals from freezing will break the gelatin, and make it go all runny when it thaws back out.

    1. Notes on test batch number 3: Method Matters- The Search for Gummy.

      In a large pot combine 6 cups sugar and 2 cups water. Heat to 240 degrees F (soft ball). Remove from heat. In another large pot sprinkle 8 tablespoons gelatin over 1 ½ cups cold water. You may need to stir to get all the gelatin damp. When the sugar mixture cools to about 218 degrees, pour/scrape it into the gelatin. Stir until the mixture is smooth, then heat just to boiling while stirring constantly. Remove from heat and mix in 1 ½ to 2 teaspoons citric acid if you want a sweet-tart flavor. Add colors and flavors, mix well (but gently- try to keep bubbles minimal). Pour into two quarter sheet baking pans lined with lightly oiled plastic, refrigerate 4-6 hours.

      The sugar mix went all grainy and stiff when it was cool enough to add to the gelatin, but smoothed right back out as soon as I started stirring. The candy was stringy and kind of gooey as it heated back to boiling, but again smoothed out as it cooked.

      The candy set up quickly in the fridge, and is much closer to gummy bear texture than the jelly texture from following the original instructions. It’s even noticeably less sticky than from following original instructions, and cuts easily with a lightly oiled knife. I declare this test batch successful!

      1. The final notes- a last bit of tweaking.

        Replace 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of corn syrup. Reduce water in sugar mix by 3/4 cup. Increase cold water by 1/4 cup. Increase gelatin by 1 tablespoon.

        Combine sugar, corn syrup and 1 1/2 cup water. Heat to soft ball (240 degrees F). Remove from heat, allow to cool to about 218 degrees.

        In another pan, sprinkle gelatin over 1 3/4 cups cold water or juice. Allow to stand for 5 minutes, then add sugar mixture. Heat just to boiling, remove from heat and add citric acid (if using), flavor and color. Skim off foam, pour into prepared pans, cover and chill.

  44. When I roll my gummy in sugar it melts the sugar and doesn’t crystallize. People said I should roll in corn starch first but that sounds gross. Any thoughts? More sugar?

    1. Hmm, I’m not sure! If you roll it in cornstarch then the sugar won’t stick, so that doesn’t work. They shouldn’t be wet (which would melt the sugar as you’re describing) so maybe they needed to cook or cool longer?

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