Is Jello Gluten Free – Info and Recipes

  • Jello is a fruity gelatin dessert that is popular for its jiggly texture, especially among children. 
  • The original product, Jell-O, was first manufactured by Kraft Heinz. 
  • The main ingredients of Jello are gelatine and sugar, which are both gluten free. 
  • The other ingredients include added flavors and colors, which may or may not contain gluten. 

What is Jello | Cross contamination | Gelatin in Jello | Problem ingredients | Recipes

Is jello gluten free? Anyone who ever spent a night in the hospital knows what i’m talking about, jello, that red gooey food that for some reason many people love or hate. In this post we will cover either jello contains gluten and what it is and even how to make it at home.

Everyone loves Jello. What’s not to love? Not to be confused with Gelatin, which is a different thing and we covered if gelatin is gluten free in a different article. They are fruity, they are sweet, and they are oh-so-jiggly! It’s one of the most delicious and fun desserts ever.

It’s not just children who like it. Adults love it, too, and have even made their own version of it, i.e., Jello infused with alcohol.

But, if you’re sensitive to gluten, there’s one crucial question you need to ask: Is Jello gluten-free?

Its main ingredient is gelatin derived from animals. So, it’s gluten free.

The other essential ingredient is sugar, which is also gluten free. However, it’s the flavoring and coloring agents that may be glutinous.

The manufacturer of original dessert named Jell-O, i.e., Kraft Heinz, as well as other companies, avoid claiming that their Jello is gluten free. So, Jello may have gluten unless labeled otherwise. 

Is Jello Gluten Free – What is Jello

is jello gluten free

Jello is a popular and delicious dessert. Even if you’re an adult, the brightly colored jiggly substance is likely to tickle the kid inside you that goes crazy inside a candy store.

It’s likely you’ve also experimented with it in college – with the alcohol-infused Jello shots. In fact, thanks to food blogs and YouTube videos, alcoholic Jello is quite popular these days at house parties. 

But if you are sensitive to gluten, you’ve probably been wondering if Jello, whether alcoholic or virgin, contains gluten or not.

The manufacturer of the original dessert called Jell-O, i.e Kraft Heinz, does not claim that its Jell-O is entirely gluten free.

There are other Jello brands, but most prefer not to claim their products as gluten free because of the additives they use. 

Simply put, Jell-O includes any dessert that contains gelatin and has a soft yet solid texture – and totally delicious.

The original dessert, which is known as Jell-O, is now a product of the brand named Kraft Heinz.

Besides the fruity, jelly-like dessert, pudding and other desserts with a gelatin base are also included in this company’s Jell-O category.

There are other brands in the market, too, which produce Jello. Apart from the pre-made Jello that’s firm and still wiggly, Jello also comes in the form of a powder that you can use to set your dessert at home.

All of these Jello variants are primarily made with gelatin and sugar. Now, both of these ingredients are naturally gluten free.

But the problem lies with the added flavors and colors that may not be gluten free.

As Kraft Heinz explains, the brand buys additives from suppliers who may not provide a detailed list of allergens.

In any case, coloring and flavoring agents often contain gluten. So, even though the main ingredients are free from gluten, the additives may add gluten content to Jello.

The only way to find gluten free Jello is to look for brands that are certified to label their products as gluten free, or simply make your own at home using ONLY gluten free ingredients.

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Possibility of Cross-Contamination in Jello

is jello gluten free

Understandably, Jello may contain gluten because of the additives. Another reason why Jello may have gluten content is cross-contamination.

That can happen at any level of the production of this dessert. Cross-contamination is when a naturally gluten free item comes in contact with gluten or glutinous products and ends up with traces of the protein. 

Related: Is vanilla gluten free | Is marshmallow fluff gluten free

Cross-contamination may happen due to the added flavors, colors, preservatives, or texturizing agents, too.

When it comes to Jello, the flavoring and coloring agents may be exposed to gluten in the manufacturing or storage facilities.

So, even if these additives may not necessarily be naturally glutinous, they may still get contaminated and, in turn, add gluten to the Jello.

What Is Jello – The Story Behind The Gelatin Dessert

Did you know that the original dessert called Jell-O has been around since the end of the 19th century?

You see, gelatin became popular in America in the Victorian era. Later, in 1845, the powdered form of gelatin became popular.

This form was much easier to cook with, compared to gelatin sheets that were available previously. 

Later, in 1897, Pearle Bixby Wait, a carpenter who used to manufacture cough syrup, first made the flavored Jello.

He and his wife May added lemon, orange, strawberry, and raspberry flavorings to gelatin powder and sugar to create what we now know as jell-O.

They even went on to trademark their new recipe and the signature, Jell-O.  

Eventually, the product underwent a change of ownership several times. In 1990, the then owner of Jell-O, General Foods, merged with Kraft Foods, which now owned Jell-O.

Many new flavors were introduced after that. Fun fact: in 2001, Jell-O was recognized by the Utah Senate as the favorite snack of the state! The governor even declared a yearly celebration of Jell-O Week!

Gelatin in Jell-O

Just like any Jello version, Kraft Heinz’s Jell-O, too, is primarily made of gelatin. But what is gelatin? It is a product derived from collagen, an animal protein.

The bones and hides of animals, usually pigs and cows, are boiled and dried.

After that, they are treated with base or acid, before they are finally filtered to extract the collagen. This collagen is then dried again to get powdered collagen. 

Let’s bust a little myth for you here. There’s a common rumor that gelatin is made from the hooves of animals.

This is untrue, primarily because animal hooves are made of keratin that cannot be turned into gelatin.

Jell-O contains powdered gelatin, along with sugar and flavoring and coloring agents, giving you the vibrant and fruity dessert with a gel-like texture. 

Other brands produce Jello in different forms. While some of them are pre-set into the dessert and sold in small cups, others are available in the form of a powdered mix that you have to cook at home in boiling water before you can set the dessert.

The heat and the water help the collagen to become semi-solid, which adds the jiggly texture to the final Jello.

Problem Ingredients in Jell-O

Apart from gelatin, the other ingredients in Jell-O are:

  1. Sugar or aspartame
  2. Coloring agent
  3. Flavoring agent
  4. Adipic acid
  5. Fumaric acid

These ingredients help to improve the taste and texture of the Jell-O. Jell-O has sugar-free variants, too, in which sugar is replaced with artificial sweetening agents like aspartame.

Jell-O is not labeled as a gluten free product because the suppliers of these additional ingredients may not mention if their products contain allergens, including gluten.

Is Jello Healthy?

is jello gluten free

Jello is usually served at hospitals to the patients and is often included in diet plans. That’s because they are low on calorie count and are fat-free.

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But how healthy is it? Every serving of Jello, i.e., 21 g of the dry mix, contains 80 calories. It has 18 g of sugar and 1.6 g of protein.

We all know that sugar is not healthy at all, and such a high quantity of sugar can be quite harmful. 

On the other hand, sugar-free Jello contains aspartame. It adds 13 calories to each serving and no sugar, along with 1 gram of protein.

But, even with no sugar content, sugar-free Jello may still not be healthy because artificial sweeteners can affect your health negatively. It’s also to be remembered that the Jello does not have any fibers, vitamins, or minerals.        

Gelatin itself is good for health. It can boost bone health and reduce pain in the joints.

It can reduce the aging and wrinkling of the skin and provide hydration and elasticity. However, the amount of collagen present in Jello is not enough to show such beneficial effects.

Plus, if it’s not the sugar-free variant, the high level of sugar can counter gluten’s effect.    

Jello’s ingredients can have short term or long term side-effects in the following ways:

  • Sugar: Cause inflammation, accelerate aging of the skin, lead to weight gain, etc. 
  • Artificial Colors: Cause ADHD or hyperactivity in children, or may even be carcinogenic 
  • Artificial Sweeteners: Damage cells, disturb microbiome, may be associated with weight gain and some forms of cancer

Allergies Caused By Jello

The Jello you pick contains gluten because of cross-contamination or the additives in it.

So, as a gluten-intolerant person, you may suffer from reactions such as belly pain, bloating in the abdomen, gassiness, diarrhea, etc.

The reactions will be similar to those experienced that any gluten-containing food may cause by affecting your gut. 

Another allergic reaction that you might get from Jello can be triggered by gelatin. Gelatin allergy is rare.

But, in case you’re among the few people who are sensitive to gelatine, the consumption of Jello can lead to hives and anaphylactic reactions that can even be life-threatening.

If you suspect that you are allergic to gluten, it’s a good idea to get tested. 

Making Gluten Free Jello

You must have understood by now that if you are allergic to gluten, then Jello – both pre-made and in powder mix form – can be harmful to you.

However, that doesn’t mean you have to stay away from the sweet, wiggly delight. You can try looking for a brand that’s labeled gluten free.

However, that might be difficult. So, instead, you can choose to make gluten free Jello at home!

Homemade Gluten Free Jello Recipe

Here’s the basic recipe of homemade Jello that will ensure your safety. It is delicious, and it doesn’t contain gluten! Take a look: 

Ingredients:

  • Gelatin – 2 tbsp
  • Fruit juice (100% pure) – 1-2 cups
  • Water – 1 cup
  • Sugar or gluten free sugar alternative: To taste

Instructions:

  • First, take a saucepan and add half a cup of fruit juice and start heating it on low heat. 
  • Next, add the gelatin and start stirring. Continue till the gelatin is entirely dissolved.  
  • Then, remove the hot mixture from the heat and let it rest for 2 minutes. 
  • Now, add the remaining fruit juice or puree, along with the water, and stir properly. 
  • Put any sweetener of your choice. Add it in small amounts at a time and keep checking the taste. 
  • Continue to stir properly till the sweetener is completely dissolved.   
  • Pour the mixture into a bowl or mold and put the lid on. You can also cover the top with plastic wrap.  
  • Now, place it in the refrigerator and wait for 3-4 hours, at least for the Jello to set. 
Read More:  Is Heinz Ketchup Gluten Free?

This is an easy four-ingredient Jello recipe that will give you a delicious dessert.  

Homemade Vegan Gluten Free Jello Recipe

The key ingredient in Jello is gelatin that comes from animals. So, if you’re looking for a recipe that doesn’t use animal products, here’s a fun vegan Jello recipe, which is also gluten free!

Ingredients:

  • Fruit juice – 1 cup + ¼ cup
  • Agar-agar powder – 1 tbsp
  • Tapioca starch: 1 tsp
  • Sweetener: To taste

Instructions:

  • In a saucepan, put 1 cup of fruit juice and the agar agar powder. 
  • Turn the heat on to medium and let the mixture of juice and agar-agar simmer lightly. 
  • Stir the mixture to help dissolve the agar agar powder.   
  • Lower the temperature and let the mixture simmer for another minute. 
  • Remove the mix from the heat and add the rest of the ¼ cup of juice with it. 
  • Add the tapioca starch into the mixture and stir well to make sure it is completely dissolved in the juice mix. 
  • Put the mixture in the saucepan and mix it all together to make sure everything is combined. 
  • Pour the mixture into the mold, and refrigerate, covered, for 4-5 hours at least. 

Your gelatin-free Jello is ready to serve!

Homemade Gluten Free Jello Shots Recipe

home made jello shots recipe

Jello shots are a fun addition to any house party. Here’s a recipe for lemon drops that you and your gut will love!

Ingredients:

  • Lemon juice – ¼ cup
  • Agave juice – ¼ cup
  • Vodka – ½ cup
  • Gelatin/agar-agar powder – ½ tsp
  • Lemon rind – 3 lemons, halved into 6 pieces

Instructions:

  • Scrub and clean the lemons properly and cut them into halves.
  • Juice the lemons. If you extract more than ¼ cup of juice, store the extra for other use. 
  • Scrape the lemons on the inside to remove the pith and the flesh. You can do this with your thumbnail 
  • Once you’re left with nothing but the thin rind, place them in muffin tins. 
  • In a saucepan, whisk together the lemon juice, agave juice, and vodka and bring the mixture to a light boil.  
  • Add the agar-agar powder or the gelatin powder. Whisk properly to ensure that you don’t have any lumps. 
  • Continue to cook for 2 minutes. The mixture won’t really thicken, so just mixing everything is all you need to do.  
  • Now, pour this mixture into the empty lemon halves in the muffin tins. 
  • Refrigerate the lemon rinds filled with the juice and vodka mixture for 30 minutes. The Jello should be set by then. 
  • Slice the pieces into quarters

It’s ready. Serve them immediately or keep them refrigerated till you want to serve these boozy delights!

You can even make things fun by making another batch of Jello with watermelon and mix things up with the red and yellow Jello shots!

Conclusion

Jell-O might be fun to eat, and its primary ingredients might be gluten free. Still, there’s every possibility that it contains gluten, as a result of the additives or cross-contamination.

Most Jello brands avoid getting their dessert certified as gluten free since they cannot be sure about the gluten free status of the additives that they purchase from different suppliers. 

So, it is highly possible that Jello contains gluten. You can look for a “gluten free” label, or you can simply choose to make it at home.

Most recipes call for 4-5 ingredients and are super-easy. You can replace gelatin with agar-agar powder as the base, and use fresh fruit juice instead of harmful coloring and flavoring agents. Why not take charge of your own sweet jiggly fun – with Jello?

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About the Author: Johnny

I am the senior editor and writer of Gluten Free Heroes, before that, I wrote for various well established online magazines about food and health. I love working out, traveling and eating healthy.