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How to Make Jello Shots

How to Make Jello Shots
From fancy birthday cake jello shooters to your basic jello shot cups, we have everything you could possibly need to know about making your own.

Jello shots are having a moment.

From fancy birthday cake jello shooters to your basic jello shot cups, we have everything you could possibly need to know about making your own.

Jello Shots 101: What are they even? 

We’ve all come across a jello shot at some point in our lives (see: college), those wiggly party treats made with the cheapest liquor you can find. But jello shots—or jello jigglers of you prefer—have come a long way. We promise, they are more than a cheap party shooter. They can actually be fancy and sophisticated. It’s simply a matter of making the most out of your ingredients.

Never had jello shots? They’re exactly what they sound like: an individually portioned size bite of jello, traditionally consumed as a shot. And they’re great with or without booze. Use water or juice if you’re making booze-free, or replace the liquid with alcohol if you want an adults-only version.

Vegetarians and vegans, don’t worry, there’s a jello shot option for you too. Regular gelatin is traditionally made with collagen, but substitutions can be made with agar agar (cooked and pressed algae, used in a lot of Asian cooking) or carrageenan (dried seaweed). Because these differ, both in texture and how they are prepared, you may have to do a little testing until you get the right consistency.  

And that’s the beauty of jello shots; they’re incredibly easy to customize and there’s no wrong way to make them! Flavors, colors, shapes, whatever you can imagine, you can make. Feeling the fall vibes? Make pumpkin-flavored jello jigglers. Or get into the Christmas spirit with red and green Jelly shots. There’s literally nothing you can’t do and there’s never a wrong time to make jello shots. Birthday? Definitely. Halloween? Of course. Bachelorette? Hard yes.

For the most basic, easiest, and fastest jello shots you’ll need the following ingredients. Note: this recipe will yield about a dozen shots depending on how full you fill your cups.

  • 1 box of premade flavored gelatin powder (jello)
  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • 1 cup of cold alcohol
  • 1-quart measuring cup with spout, or pitcher
  • Mini plastic cups

How to Make Jello Shots 

Put the jello powder in the bowl. Add 1 cup of boiling water and stir until all of the powder has completely dissolved.

Add 1 cup of cold alcohol and stir.

Pour into cups and chill in the fridge for two or more hours until set.

Leftover shots (is that even possible?) can be stored in the refrigerator and last about a week.

tips for making jello shots 

If you choose to forgo the boxed flavored powder mixes and create your own from scratch then there’s a little more science involved. Whatever form of “gelatin” you choose, you need to know its “bloom” rating, or strength. The weaker the gelatin, the lower the bloom rate. For example, common grocery store brand Knox gelatin has a strong bloom. The stronger the gelatin, the firmer the shot; a good thing to keep in mind if you’re cutting your shots into cubes to be eaten with fingers or simply pouring them into individual shooter cups.

Another key to great jello shots is starting with boiling water, which will help activate and properly dissolve the gelatin powder so it can set and firm up later. From there, the mixture of liquids is up to you. While not required, if you’re making boozy shots, you can pre-chill your alcohol before adding it to the mix. Since water boils at 212° F and alcohol boils at 173° F, using cold alcohol ensures that none of the alcohol will evaporate when adding it to the boiled water and gelatin.

Obviously the ratio of liquid to gelatin powder will affect the taste of your shot. More alcohol will result in a stronger alcohol taste and more potent shot. Add more water and the more watered-down the shots become. Alcohol proof will also affect the texture and taste of your shots. Go ahead and test out different combinations until you get your preferred taste and texture, it will be totally worth it (plus you can eat the rejects). If you need help getting started Tablespoon has plenty of jello shot recipes already tested and verified tasty!

Variations of Jello Shots 

Bramble Jello Shots

Once you’ve got the basics down, it’s time to get creative with flavors. Think seasonally, like pink lemonade for summer or apple cider for fall, or try out different color combinations like your team colors for game day, and never be afraid to garnish with gusto. There’s always the handy whipped cream (handmade or straight from a can is fine), sprinkles, edible glitter, fruit, or if you’re feeling real fancy, gold leaf.

Strawberry Daiquiri Jello Shots

And don’t feel confined to just shot cups. Use molds for fun shapes, or fill hollowed-out citrus peels and slice into fruit slices. Just make sure to spray any molds or containers you’ll be using with a thin layer of cooking spray. It’ll make dislodging the shots much easier.

French Martini Jello Shots

If your shots are on the softer side, serve them up in pliable plastic cups or little shot glasses with something to dislodge the shot like a cocktail straw or mini spoon.  Firmer shots can be made in one large pan and sliced into bite-sized cubes.

Want that layered look? The secret is time and patience. Each layer will need enough time to set in order to get those clean lines. Our layered jello shot recipes, like the festive Holly Jolly Jelly Shot will give you the lowdown on how to achieve those wow-worthy layers.

Now that you’ve got the pro-tips, time to put them together and make a batch of jello shots for your next party!