The Only Formula You Need to Make Fruit Leather
Fruit leather is a healthy, colorful snack that's perfect just about anytime. While store-bought fruit leather is convenient, making your own allows you to control the amount of added sugar (read: none) while also using up any ripe or overripe fruit you have on hand. After turning more than 32 pounds of fruit (that's not a typo!) into fruit leather in the EatingWell Test Kitchen, we've perfected a formula you can use to make no-added-sugar fruit snacks at home. Learn how to make fruit leather and turn any fruit, like apples, mangoes, berries and/or kiwis, into chewy, sweet and tangy fruit roll-ups that are lunchbox ready.
Pick & Prep Your Fruit
We found that starting with 3 1/2 cups of pureed fruit was just the right amount to fill 3 doughnut-shaped dehydrator trays or 1 large rimmed baking sheet (more on that below). You'll want to toss in an apple if you are using berries, kiwi or any other fruit that is low in pectin —this naturally occurring starch helps create the signature chewy texture of fruit leather. (When we tested 100% berry leather, the results were crispy.) Pectin-rich fruits like apple and mango don't need anything else added.
The riper the fruit, the sweeter your fruit leather will be. In fact, you can make fruit leather even with fruit that's on the edge of going bad, as long as it isn't moldy.
Here's how much fruit to start with:
3 pounds (about 7 medium), cored and chopped
4 pounds (about 4 medium), peeled, pitted and chopped
2 pounds (about 3 pints), stems and leaves removed + 1 small red apple (about 5 ounces), cored and chopped
1 1/2 pounds (about 12 medium), peeled and chopped + 1 small green apple (about 5 ounces), cored and chopped
Blend & Thicken
Combine the prepped fruit, 1/4 cup water and 1 teaspoon lemon juice in a blender and puree until smooth. You should have about 3 1/2 cups of fruit puree. Transfer the puree to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, partially cover (to contain splatter) and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced to about 3 cups, 10 to 15 minutes.
We tried every method of drying out fruit leather you can imagine. Air fryer? Skip it. Conventional oven? Mixed results. Convection oven? Yes! Dehydrator? Definitely!
In the Dehydrator
Obviously, using a dehydrator gives you flawless results. It maintains an extremely low temperature that's ideal for removing moisture without worry of overcooking or the leather getting crispy. Here's how to do it:
Coat your dehydrator's fruit-leather trays with cooking spray. Add enough puree so that you can spread it evenly about 1/8-inch thick (about 1 cup, depending on the size of your tray). Dehydrate at 140°F until dry to the touch, about 4 hours.
In the Oven
It took us more than a dozen tests to get the oven method just right, and we had mixed results along the way. The best results were in a convection oven or using convection mode. (Our tests in conventional ovens were all over the place; sometimes they were acceptable but other batches had wet middles and crispy edges on the same pan.) Here's how to do it:
Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour the puree onto the baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Bake on the center rack at your oven's lowest convection bake temperature (170°F to 200°F), rotating the pan from front to back once halfway through, until dry to the touch, 3 to 4 hours.
Roll It Up
Let your fruit leather cool until cool to the touch, about 15 minutes. If you used a dehydrator, transfer each piece of fruit leather to a sheet of parchment paper. With the long side facing you, roll the fruit leather on the parchment into a long cylinder. Using a sharp knife or scissors, cut into eight 1 1/2-inch-wide strips. Store airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week.