Fun With Jello & Unflavored Gelatin: 25+ Creative Dishes

Cookies, Desserts & MoreFor something so inexpensive and simple to make, Jello sure can be a crowd pleaser (for both kids and adults). It’s so versatile you can make festive salads, creamy desserts, baked goodies and even candies with it. With so many different flavors (and colors) to choose from, it’s easy to find a favorite or two.

Here’s a collection of just over two dozen recipes that I’ve handpicked from around the ‘net, you’ll find cakes, candies, cookies, assorted sweet treats (including homemade gummy bears). They’re a welcome addition to BBQs, picnics, parties, potlucks or even as a simple dessert after a weekday meal.

At the bottom of the page you’ll find a bunch of vintage tips for making gelatin salads and working with molds, they were previously published here on Tipnut and moved to this page so everything’s handy for you in one place.

If you’re a fan of gelatin treats, you may want to bookmark this page for future reference…I’ll be adding more goodies here as I find them. Have fun!
Broken Glass Squares: Made with four different colors of jello, sweetened condensed milk, unflavored gelatin and water.

Homemade Gummy Bears: Use whatever molds you like for this fun candy (bears, stars, letters, etc.).
Fish Bowl: Recipe fills a 2 1/2 quart fish or glass bowl, great idea for parties!

Gumdrops: Made with unflavored gelatin, sugar, flavored extract, food coloring, water and includes goody bag toppers to print.
Raspberry Confetti Kisses: Crisp, melt-in-your mouth cookies that are made with egg whites, salt, raspberry Jell-O, sugar, vinegar and confetti sprinkles.

Marshmallow Pinwheels: A mixture of marshmallows melted in flavored gelatin is chilled in a pan then rolled up and sliced into pinwheels.
Jelly Pops: Made with flavored gelatin, yogurt and sweetened condensed milk. Can use silicone molds or glasses.

Spiked Rainbow Ribbon Salad: This one’s for the grownups since it contains rum (or vodka), can use a bundt pan for a mold.
Tropical Rainbow Dessert: A classic ribbon salad with an up-to-date makeover, cream of coconut creates the creamy layers.

Fluffy Lime Salad: Made with chopped walnuts, miniature marshmallows, softened cream cheese, lime gelatin, crushed pineapple and heavy whipping cream.
Pina Colada Mold: Another one for grownups (uses rum), this is made with layers of cherry, lime, pineapple flavors and coconut milk.

Cherry Lollipops: Yields 15 to 20 lollipops, ingredients include sugar, butter, light corn syrup, cherry gelatin dessert and nonstick cooking spray.
Orange Creamsicle Squares: Mixed with Cool Whip, the layers magically separate while chilling.

Raspberry Balls: Mixed with flaked coconut, sweetened condensed milk, almond extract and balls coated with flavored gelatin.
Crown Jewel Cake: Cubes of flavored gelatin in 3 different colors are the surprise inside when the cake is cut (has a red sponge cake crust).

Strawberry Pie: Can be made with different flavored jello and fruits (such as peaches, etc.), has a graham cracker crust.
Jigglers: After dissolving the powder in boiling water, the liquid is poured into a pan, chilled until firm then cut into shapes using cookie cutters.

Eggs: You’ll need an egg jigglers mold to make these.
Coffee Cubes: Made with instant coffee, unflavored gelatin and sweetened condensed milk. Serve 1″ cubes in mini-cupcake liners for a nice presentation.

Petite Watermelon Slices: Cute! The rinds are lime wedges (with the fruit removed) and the seeds are mini chocolate chips.
Rainbow Layers: You can make as many different colored layers as you like, this recipe has creamy yogurt mixed in as well.

Pastel Cookies: Pretty treats in pink, green, yellow or any other color you wish.
Cupcakes: Jell-O is dissolved in boiling water then poured in foil cupcake liners to set, topped with whipped cream and candies.

Sparkling Jewel Mold: Made in an 8 to 10 cup mold, filled with nectarines, grapes, blueberries and raspberries.
Raspberry Poke Cake: Same idea as the cupcakes above but a cake version instead.

Flowery Centerpieces: Not a treat to eat but too pretty not to include in this collection!

Tips For Making Pretty Molded Salads

*First published March 5, 2009 and moved to this page for better organization

This is an article from a vintage tip sheet titled “The Art Of Salad Making” that was written by Mary Hale Martin, Libby’s Home Economist. She was a fictional persona created by Libby’s with the same purpose as Betty Crocker (another fictional character)–to provide helpful cookery hints and tips that would also promote the brand they represented. There’s no date on this sheet, but I believe she was around from the 1920’s through the 1950’s so it would be within that time.

Molded Jello Salad
Molded Jello Salad

Gelatin salads aren’t as popular now as they once were and I can’t remember the last time I had one, but I know lots of people still enjoy them. Since they are relatively inexpensive to make, many homemakers took care and pride in these salads and made them as colorful and interesting as they could to brighten up the dinner table–it was one way to be creative on a budget. Looking through old cookbooks you’ll see some real doozies!

This sheet was carefully filed in the vintage household binder I have that is over 70 years old and stuffed a few inches thick with recipes, clippings and advice, I love it! Here are the tips:


Gelatin molds aren’t tricky to prepare, but a few “do’s” and “don’ts” may be helpful.

  • Use the syrup from canned fruits as part of the liquid in gelatin salads for added flavor.
  • For large molds cut the liquid to 1 3/4 cups for 1 package fruit-flavored gelatin, or 1 envelope unflavored.
  • Chill until slightly thickened (unbeaten egg white consistency) before adding the solid ingredients. Carefully fold the well-drained fruits and vegetables into the thickened gelatin, distributing them evenly.
  • A salad may be molded in several ways: in a large ring or fancy mold, in individual molds, or in a shallow pan.
  • To mold fruits or vegetables in a definite pattern, arrange in a thin layer of slightly thickened gelatin. Chill until firm, then add the balance of the gelatin.
  • To make molded layered salads, be sure each layer is firm before adding the next layer.
  • Prepare large molds a day ahead of serving, so they will be thoroughly set before unmolding.
  • Fill molds as full as possible for easy unmolding.
  • To unmold, loosen edge of mold with spatula or a small knife which has been dipped in warm water. Then quickly immerse the mold just to the top in lukewarm water–hot water will melt the mold. Shake mold to loosen gelatin. Place serving dish over top of mold, invert, and lift mold of carefully.
  • For large molds moisten the surface of the gelatin and the serving plate and unmold as directed above. When the two surfaces are wet, it’s easy to center the mold. Remove excess moisture with a towel.
  • Surround large molds with salad greens after unmolding; they may break if unmolded on crisp greens. Individual molds may be turned out directly on greens.

Here are a few more I’ve collected:

  • More festive in appearance, salads should be prepared a day ahead and refrigerated. Never freeze.
  • Ingredients should be chopped or sliced into small, uniform pieces.
  • In some salads, the gelatin mixture requires partial setting and in others it is chilled only until it is the consistency of an unbeaten egg white before other ingredients are added. This helps to keep the ingredients evenly distributed throughout the mold.
  • To fill mold: Rinse mold with cold water or brush with salad oil to make unmolding easier. Fill to the top. Allow at least 6 to 12 hours for salads to set. Time will depend on size.
  • To unmold: Run a knife around edge to a depth of about 1/2″ only in order to loosen the bottom edge. Dip mold quickly into a pan of warm water, then place the serving plate over the mold and invert. Remove with care. If it does not loosen after first dipping, repeat procedure. Do not leave the mold in the warm water too long as the gelatin will melt.

Source: A Guide To Good Cooking, Five Roses

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    • winnie burton

    WOW – these recipes will be great to share with my grandchildren. You have given me a new reason to use Jello in different ways.

    • lisa

    Love all the recipes..

    One ,kind of recipe we use is to sprinkle dry flavored jello over freshly popped corn 🙂 yummy..

    ( Also you can sprinkle the cheese from a boxed mac & Cheese on pop corn )

    • I

    I wanna make Jello popcorn/ balls with Knox gelatin (due to allergens in Jello), and my own (actually organic) dry flavors and colors. ANy suggestions for flavor, color, etc.? Thanks!

      • leorising

      I’ve had good luck using beef gelatin which I buy in bulk. The brand I like is Now Foods; you can buy 4 lbs. at a time from them. I believe the gelatin used in Jell-O and Knox are both from pigs, if that makes any difference to you.

      I use 1 tablespoon gelatin for one envelope Knox or Jell-O in recipes. I proof the gelatin in cold water, first, to soften it and to get the lumps out. Then I add that to hot liquid.

      I’ve found 1-1/2 tablespoons of gelatin gets 2-1/2 to 3 cups liquid plenty firm. You’ll have to experiment to find out what you like. Good luck, have fun!

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