Top Vegan Candy Options, Plus Recipes to Make Your Own

If you are vegan, you most likely spend a lot of time carefully checking the ingredients of each and every item. Initially, this can be quite a struggle, however, with time you start to know exactly what works and what doesn’t. A lot of vegans commit to eating healthier because it is the next logical step. However, this does not necessarily change the desire to indulge in sweet treats, once in a while.

One of the surprising things you’ll find out is just how many desserts and candies actually contain animal-based ingredients! Even fruit candies that seem pretty innocent. So, what CAN you eat when you need a sweet fix? We’ll be discovering different vegan candy options and how you can make your own.
Vegan Candy? What’s the Difference?

Vegan candy is made without any animal-based ingredients. That includes all dairy, lard, gelatin and food coloring made from insects.

The most common animal-based ingredient is gelatin. Gelatin is made from animal collagen, a type of protein in animal skin, tissue, bones and ligaments. Most gelatin used for food are taken from cows and pigs. Gelatin is added to recipes to form a gel-like consistency, like what we see in custard and flan. It is also used as a binding agent for a lot of processed foods apart from candy. It is used in cakes, fruit juices and wine.

Gelatin is touted to have many benefits and not harmful at all. However, there is a plant-based alternative called agar agar, which beats gelatin in terms of benefits by a mile!

Other ingredients to look out for are food coloring, shellac and bone char. A common food coloring is carmine, which is red pigment made by crushing female cochineal, an insect commonly found in South America. Shellac, also called confectioner’s glaze, is also made from insects and is used as glossing for candies. Bone char is found in certain sugars, and is derived from cattle in order to give sugar a white color. It is also found in certain brands of brown sugar and confectioners’ sugar. Some labels name it “natural carbon”.
Vegan Candies

I found the following vegan brands, however, please, recheck labels occasionally to be sure.1

· Airheads
· Atomic Fireballs
· Big League Chew
· Brach’s Cinnamon Hard Candy
· Brach’s Orange Slices
· Brach’s Root Beer Barrels
· Brach’s Star Brites

· Charms Blow Pops
· Chew-ets Peanut Chews
· Chick-O-Sticks
· Cry Baby
· Dum Dums
· Hubba Bubba
· Jolly Rancher Hard Candy
· Jolly Rancher Lollipops
· Jujubes
· Jujyfruits
· Lance Peanut Bar
· Mamba
· Mary Jane
· Mary Jane Peanut Butter Kisses
· Now & Later
· Red Vines
· Smarties
· Sour Patch Kids
· Super Bubble
· Twizzlers

And these candies are NOT vegan:

· Candy corn
· Crunch
· Gummy Bears
· Gummy Worms
· Junior Mints
· Kit Kat
· M&Ms
· Marshmallows
· Milky ways
· Nerds
· Snickers
· Starbursts
· Twix

The big question you might be asking is, is their vegan chocolate?

Luckily, there are more and more brands coming up that make vegan chocolate, by substituting dairy with plant-based milk etc.
Vegan Candy is STILL Candy

Sure, they’re vegan, but candy is candy. Most of them are not good for you and should not be part of your regular diet. Candy, vegan or not, is usually full of added sugars. Even though it is perfectly fine to have it once in a while, please make sure you don’t make a habit out of it. One of the biggest health problems in the world, is obesity and overconsumption of sugar is a culprit.
Healthier than Vegan Candy? Vegan Desserts

If you find vegan candy unhealthy, there are alternatives to enjoy sweets, without compromising on your health! Consider buying healthy vegan desserts or make your own. Here are some recipes to get you going:

· Vegan Chocolate Truffles
· Raw Cacao Bites
· Peanut Butter Cups
· Banana Peanut Butter Ice Cream
· Gooey Pumpkin Spice Latte Chocolate Pudding Cake
How to Make Your Own Vegan Candy

In order to make your very own vegan candy, you’ll need to get accustomed to the following plant-based ingredients, that can replace gelatin.

You can purchase these ingredients online and in your local health food stores. If you already have a favorite recipe that uses gelatin, this is chance to make a vegan version! These alternatives typically need to be soaked in water, in order to turn into the right viscosity needed to make a gel:

· Agar agar

This jelly-like substance comes from algae and has no taste. It is sold either in powder or flake form. 1 teaspoon of agar can be used in place of 1 teaspoon of gelatin. As I mentioned earlier, agar is more beneficial than gelatin. It is found to be a source of fiber and helps in bowel movement. One study on agar concluded:

“The agar diet resulted in marked weight loss due to the maintenance of reduced calorie intake and to an improvement in metabolic parameters.”2

· Vegan gel
· Locust bean gum
· Pectin
· Xanthan gum
· Carrageenan

Here’s a great recipe from Fork & Beans that uses agar:

Healthy Gummy Fruit Snacks (using agar)

This recipe is so versatile, you can use whatever fruit you desire! Just blend a fruit of your choice with water, heat it up with agar powder, and allow it to set and you have your very own vegan gummy fruit snacks.

Author: Fork & Beans
Serves: Lots of Gummy Snacks


Strawberry Gummies:
½ c. strawberries
¾ c. apple juice (or water)
1­3 Tbsp. maple syrup
juice of a lemon wedge
1½ Tbsp. agar powder (or 3 Tbsp. agar flakes)

Blueberry Gummies:
½ c. blueberries
¾ c. apple juice (or water)
1­3 Tbsp. maple syrup
juice of a lemon wedge
1½ Tbsp. agar powder (or 3 Tbsp. agar flakes)

Kiwi Spinach Gummies:
2 kiwis, peeled and chopped
1 c. spinach
¾ c. apple juice (or water)
1­3 Tbsp. maple syrup
1½ Tbsp. agar powder (or 3 Tbsp. agar flakes)
juice of a lemon wedge

Orange Gummies:
1 small orange, peeled
½ c. orange juice
1­2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1½ Tbsp. agar powder (or 3 Tbsp. agar flakes)
juice of a lemon wedge


1. Blend together fruit of your choice, apple juice or water, and 1 Tbsp. of maple syrup (if using apple juice) or 2­3 Tbsp. if using water, together until smooth.

2. Place into a saucepan and bring to a boil.

3. Stir in the agar powder and reduce to a simmer for 2 minutes. The agar should be completely dissolved by now. Add the lemon juice and mix. Add more maple syrup if needed at this point.

4. Pour into desired molds and refrigerate until its set (approximately 30 minutes). If you do not have any fun molds, fear not. Simply line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper and pour the mix into the pan. Allow to set, remove from the pan and slice into small rectangles.

5. Keep chilled in the fridge for up to 1 week in an airtight container.

Nutrition Information
Serving size: 5 Fruit Snacks Calories: 30 Fat: 0g Carbohydrates: 7.5g Sugar: 5g Sodium: 0mg
In Short

Vegan candy does not contain animal-derived ingredients, such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy, lard, gelatin, and insects. There are a lot of popular candy brands with vegan products available in the market. Vegan or not, candy is not healthy and should be limited.

Nothing beats homemade. You can make your own vegan dessert or vegan candy using ingredients found online and/or in health food stores. Not only will you be able to control the taste according to your preference, you will also have control over the nutrition you will be consuming.

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