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Food & Recipes

Jell-O Desserts Are Back: Whip Up One of These Easy, Delicious Recipes to Impress Without the Stress — For Less!

One bite and you'll feel like a kid again!

When you think of Jell-O desserts, what first comes to mind may be those little ramekins your mother fixed for you when you had an upset stomach. That said, it may surprise you to learn that Jell-O desserts have recently been enjoying something of a renaissance, as younger aspiring chefs have been experimenting with their creative potential and making sculptural, intricately layered Jell-O cakes that are almost too pretty to eat.

What’s not to love about working with Jell-O in a more creative way: It’s inexpensive, easy to whip up and comes in an array of compelling colors. Plus, it tastes great! If you’re looking for a dessert that’s cool, creamy, delicious and inexpensive, scroll through our favorite Jell-O desserts to find the one that’s best for you:

Mini Lemon Cheesecakes

Lemon cheesecake Jell-O desserts
Food & Photo

These make-ahead, no-bake lemon delights are guaranteed to be the hit of any gathering.


  • 1½ cups vanilla wafer cookies (25), finely ground
  • 3 Tbs. butter, melted
  • 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
  • ¼ cup + ⅔ cup sugar
  • 6 Tbs. + 1 cup lemonade
  • 2 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 2 (¼ oz.) env. unflavored gelatin
  • 2 (8 oz.) pkgs. cream cheese, at room temp.
  • Lemon yellow concentrated food coloring
  • 6 raspberries


  1. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place 6 (3”x2”) ring molds on baking sheet. Mix cookie crumbs and butter; press into bottoms of ring molds. Chill until set, 20 min.
  2. On medium-high speed, beat cream and ¼ cup sugar until stiff; reserve. In separate bowl, on medium, beat cream cheese and remaining ⅔ cup sugar until smooth; beat in 2 Tbs. lemonade and zest.
  3. In 1-qt. microwave-safe bowl, stir 2 Tbs. lemonade into 1 env. gelatin; let stand until liquid is absorbed, 5 min. Microwave 10-15 sec. until melted. Stir in 1 cup cream cheese mixture (if lumps form, microwave in 15-sec. intervals until smooth). Stir gelatin mixture back into remaining cream cheese mixture. Fold in 2 cups reserved whipped cream; cover and chill remaining whipped cream. Spread filling in molds.  Cover; chill until set, 30 min.
  4. In 1-qt. microwave-safe bowl, stir 2 Tbs. lemonade into remaining 1 env. gelatin; let stand 5 min. Microwave 10-15 sec. until melted. Stir in remaining 1 cup lemonade; tint yellow with food coloring. Pour over cream cheese layer.
  5. Chill until firm, 3 hrs. Run knife around insides of molds; remove molds. Garnish with reserved whipped cream and raspberries.

Berry Tropical Jigglers

Berry Tropical Parfait Jell-O desserts
Food & Photo

Our easy layering technique transforms strawberries, mango and coconut into elegant treats.


  • 1 (16 oz.) cont. strawberries, trimmed, halved + additional
  • 4 Tbs. Swerve granulated sugar replacement
  • 3 (¼ oz.) envs. unflavored gelatin
  • 1 ½ cups unsweetened coconut milk, at room temp.
  • 2 cups frozen mango pulp, from 2 (14 oz.) pkgs., at room temp.
  • 8 Tbs. thawed dairy-free whipped topping
  • Fresh mint sprigs (optional)


  1. Place 8 (6 oz.) glasses, tilting diagonally, in each of 8 muffin cups. Puree 1 cont. berries and 2 Tbs. Swerve until smooth.
  2. In 2-qt. microwave-safe bowl, mix ¼ cup water and 1 env. gelatin; let stand until absorbed, 5 min. Microwave 15 sec. or until melted; stir in puree. Dividing evenly, spoon mixture into glasses. Chill pan with glasses at angle until set, 1 hr.
  3. In bowl, stir together coconut milk and 2 Tbs. Swerve. In 2-qt. microwave-safe bowl, stir 2 Tbs. water into 1 env. gelatin; let stand 5 min. Microwave 15 sec. or until melted. Stir in coconut milk mixture. Dividing evenly, pour over strawberry layer, leaving glasses on angle. Chill until set, 1 hr.
  4. In 2-qt. microwave-safe bowl, stir 2 Tbs. water into remaining gelatin; let stand 5 min. Microwave 15 sec. or until melted; stir in mango pulp.
  5. Remove glasses from pan. Evenly divide mango mixture among glasses. Chill until set, 1 hr. Dollop with topping; garnish with additional strawberry halves and, if desired, mint.

Striped Panna Cotta Parfaits

Red, white and blue parfait Jell-O dessert
Food & Photo

A sweet take on a red, white and blue, these layered beauties treats are cleverly made with refrigerated coconut-flavored coffee creamer.


  • 1 (3 oz.) pkg. raspberry gelatin
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries, crushed
  • 2 tsp. plain gelatin
  • 1½ cups coconut flavored coffee creamer
  • 1 cup (1½%) buttermilk
  • ½ cup fresh blueberries


  1. In bowl, dissolve raspberry gelatin in 1 ⅓ cups boiling water. Stir in raspberries. Let cool until slightly thickened. Spoon 3 Tbs. into each of 6 dessert glasses. Chill 1 hr. or until firm.
  2. Sprinkle plain gelatin over 3 Tbs. cold water in small microwave-safe bowl. Let stand 5 min. Microwave on high 15 sec. or until melted.
  3. In medium saucepot over medium-high heat, warm creamer and buttermilk until hot but not boiling. Stir in melted gelatin. If mixture seems curdled, whisk to blend. Transfer to heat-proof pitcher. Let cool to room temperature.
  4. Gently pour 3 Tbs. buttermilk mixture over raspberry layers. Chill 1 hr. or until firm. Repeat for remaining layers. Chill 1 hr. Garnish with fresh blueberries and mint sprigs, if desired.

Strawberries ‘n’ Cream Royale

Strawberries and cream Jell-O cake dessert
Food & Photo

This creamy dream of a dessert bursts with fresh strawberry flavor.


  • 1 (6 oz.) pkg. strawberry gelatin mix
  • 2 ½ cups boiling water
  • 2 cups sliced strawberries, pureed
  • 1 (.25 oz.) env. unflavored gelatin
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup thawed frozen whipped topping
  • Whole strawberry, halved (optional)


  1. In large bowl, combine strawberry gelatin mix and boiling water; let stand until gelatin is dissolved, about 3 min. Stir in 1 cup cold water and strawberry puree. Reserve 1 cup mixture at room temp. Pour remaining mixture into 1 ½ qt. mold. Chill until set, but not firm, about 1 hr.
  2. In microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle unflavored gelatin over 3 Tbs. cold water. Let stand until water is absorbed, about 3 min. Microwave in 15-sec. intervals until melted.
  3. In pot over medium heat, bring milk and sugar to simmer, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; stir in unflavored gelatin. Cool 5 min. Whisk in sour cream and vanilla. Spoon over strawberry layer in mold. Chill until set, 1 hr.
  4. Pour reserved strawberry mixture over milk layer. (If mixture has firmed up, puree until softened.) Chill until firm, 4 hrs. Unmold onto platter.
  5. Top with whipped topping. If desired, garnish with strawberry halves.

Coconut-Berry Blasts

Strawberry Coconut Parfait Jell-O desserts
Food & Photo

Impress loved ones with these layered delights that come together with only 5 ingredients.


  • 1 (¼ oz.) env. unflavored gelatin
  • 1 (16 oz.) pkg. fresh strawberries, trimmed
  • 2 Tbs. monk fruit sweetener, from 8 oz. pkg.
  • 12 drops red liquid food coloring
  • 2 cups light coconut whipped topping, from 9 oz. cont., such as Cocowhip


  1. In 1-qt. microwave-safe bowl, mix gelatin and 2 Tbs. water. Let stand until absorbed, 3 min. Quarter 1 strawberry; reserve.
  2. In food processor, puree remaining strawberries and sweetener. If desired, tint with food coloring. Reserve 1 Tbs. puree.
  3. Microwave gelatin until melted, 15 sec. Stir in remaining strawberry mixture. Chill until beginning to set, 30 min. Stir.
  4. Spoon ⅓ cup coconut topping into 4 (6 oz.) glasses. Top with strawberry mixture. Chill until set, 2 hrs.
  5. Top with remaining coconut topping, strawberry puree and reserved strawberry.

Raspberry Cheesecake

Raspberry Cheesecake Jell-O dessert
Are Media

Rich, creamy — and no-bake yum! Our raspberry-kissed cheesecake is a sensational delight from first sight to last bite.


  • 3½ cups vanilla wafer cookies, from 11 oz. pkg., finely ground, about 2 cups
  • 7 Tbs. butter, melted
  • 2 (6 oz.) pkgs. raspberries
  • 2 ½ (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, at room temp.
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 (.25 oz.) env. unflavored gelatin
  • 2½ cups thawed frozen whipped topping, from 8-oz. cont.
  • 1 (3 oz.) pkg. raspberry-flavored gelatin mix
  • ¾ cup boiling water


  1. Coat bottom of 8”x3” springform pan with cooking spray. In bowl, combine cookie crumbs and butter. Press into bottom of pan. Chill until set, about 30 min.
  2. In bowl, using fork, mash 1 pkg. raspberries. Using back of spoon, press mashed berries through sieve to yield about ⅓ cup puree; discard seeds and solids in sieve.
  3. On medium speed, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth; beat in vanilla, then raspberry puree until blended.
  4. In 1-qt. microwave-safe bowl, stir 2 Tbs. water into gelatin; let stand until water is absorbed, about 5 min. Microwave until melted, about 15 sec. Stir in 1 cup cream cheese mixture until smooth; if lumps form, microwave in 15-sec. intervals until smooth. Stir back into remaining cream cheese mixture. Fold in whipped topping. Spread in pan. Cover; chill until set, about 4 hrs.
  5. Meanwhile, in heat-proof bowl, stir gelatin mix into boiling water until dissolved. Stir in ½ cup cold water. Chill until slightly thickened, about 1 hr.
  6. Arrange remaining pkg. of raspberries over cheesecake. Carefully pour gelatin mixture over top. Chill until firm, 4 hrs. or overnight. Run knife around edge of cheesecake. Remove side of pan. Transfer cake to serving plate.

Cran-Berry & Cream Parfaits 

Strawberry Jell-O parfait dessert
Food & Photo

Tangy cranberry gelatin, juicy berries and creamy whipped topping combine in this can’t-resist treat that tastes as good as it looks.


  • 1¼ tsp. unflavored gelatin
  • 1¼ cups cranberry juice cocktail, divided
  • 2 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 Tbs. strawberry extract
  • ¾ cup thawed frozen whipped topping
  • ⅔ cup strawberries, sliced
  • Additional whipped topping, strawberries and mint sprigs, optional


  1. In microwave-safe bowl, combine gelatin and ¼ cup juice; let stand until absorbed, about 3 min. Microwave in 15-sec. intervals until dissolved and liquid.
  2. In another bowl, mix remaining juice with sugar and extract; stir in gelatin mixture. Transfer ¾ cup mixture to bowl. Cover; refrigerate until starting to set, 2 hrs.  
  3. Meanwhile, stir topping into remaining gelatin mixture. Cover; refrigerate until ready to assemble. Check after first 30 min.; if starting to separate, whisk together.
  4. Stir strawberries into gelatin mixture without whipped topping; divide between 2 (9 oz.) glasses. Tilt glasses to 45° angle; place in paper-towel-lined loaf pan. Refrigerate until set, at least 3 hrs.
  5. Holding glasses upright, spoon topping mixture over berry mixture. Cover; refrigerate until set, 1 hr. Top with topping, strawberries and mint.

“Over the Rainbow” Gelatin Cups

Rainbow Jell-O desserts
Food & Photo

Dive into these layered individual treats for a dose of something sweet — you can also use our clever technique to customize with the colors of your choice.


  • 2 (4 oz.) pkgs. white chocolate, melted and cooled to room temp.
  • 2 Tbs. rainbow sprinkles
  • 1 (3 oz.) pkg. black cherry gelatin mix
  • 1 (3 oz.) pkg. berry blue gelatin mix
  • 1 (3 oz.) pkg. lime gelatin mix
  • 1 (3 oz.) pkg. lemon gelatin mix
  • 1 (3 oz.) pkg. orange gelatin mix
  • 1 (3 oz.) pkg. cherry gelatin mix
  • 2 (8 oz.) pkgs. whipped topping


  1. In bowl, whisk together whipped topping and white chocolate; reserve ¾ cup.
  2. Prepare black cherry gelatin mix according to package directions using quick gel method. Pour 2 Tbs. black cherry gelatin into twelve 10 oz. parfait glasses. Let chill 10 min. or until set.
  3. Spread 2 Tbs. whipped topping mixture over black cherry gelatin. Chill 10 min. or until set.
  4. Repeat layering 5 times using remaining gelatin mixes, prepared according to package directions, and whipped topping mixture.
  5. Top with reserved whipped topping mixture and sprinkles.

Berry Yogurt Treats

Strawberry parfait Jell-O desserts
Food & Photo

We mixed fresh berries into unflavored gelatin, but for faster prep, you can start with strawberry-flavored Jell-O.


  • 1 (16 oz.) cont. strawberries, trimmed, quartered
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 (¼ oz.) env. unflavored gelatin
  • 2 cups vanilla Greek yogurt, stirred
  • Additional halved strawberries and mint sprigs (optional)


  1. In medium bowl, stir together strawberries and sugar; let stand until juicy, about 30 min. Place 6 (6 oz.) glasses, tilting diagonally, in each of 6 muffin cups.
  2. Transfer strawberries with juices to blender or food processor; cover. Puree berries with juices until smooth. Transfer to bowl; reserve.
  3. In microwave-safe bowl, stir gelatin into ¼ cup water; let stand until water is absorbed, about 5 min. Microwave 15 sec. or until melted; stir into strawberry puree.
  4. Dividing evenly, spoon strawberry mixture into glasses (about ¼ cup per glass). Place muffin pan with glasses at angle in refrigerator until set, about 2 hrs. Remove glasses from pan.
  5. Evenly divide yogurt among glasses. If desired, garnish with halved strawberries and mint sprigs.

Watermelon Lime Shots

Watermelon shaped Jell-O shots dessert
Y.A. Photo/Shutterstock

These adorable watermelon-shaped treats will help get the party started.


  • 4 large fresh limes
  • 1 pkg. (3 oz.) watermelon gelatin
  • ¾ cup cranberry juice
  • ½ cup chilled vodka (optional)


  1. Cut limes in half and scoop out all the flesh. It helps to use grapefruit knife or melon-baller. Reserve flesh and juice for limeade. Place lime shells on mini muffin tins to keep from wobbling. 
  2. In microwave-safe 2-cup pitcher, heat cranberry juice on high until boiling. Add gelatin; stir 2 min., or until dissolved. Stir in vodka or water.  Chill 30 min. Pour mixture into lime shells. Chill 3 hrs. 
  3. Turn limes upside down on cutting board. With sharp knife, cut limes in half. 

Creamy Strawberry Delights

Jell-O strawberry desserts
Are Media

For double the decadence, these strawberry sensations are topped with white chocolate shavings.


  • 1 (3 oz.) pkg. strawberry-flavored gelatin mix
  • 1½ cups boiling water
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbs. sugar
  • 12 strawberries, halved
  • ⅓ cup white chocolate shavings


  1. In medium heat-proof bowl, combine gelatin and boiling water until dissolved; cool.
  2. On medium speed, beat cream and sugar until stiff peaks form. Stir 1½ cups whipped cream into gelatin mixture; chill remaining whipped cream.
  3. Evenly divide gelatin mixture among 6 (8 oz.) glasses. Cover; chill until set, 3 hrs.
  4. Garnish with reserved whipped cream, strawberries and chocolate shavings.

The history of Jell-O

While Jell-O is often associated with the 1950s and ’60s (think Jell-O salad and other strange-sounding concoctions), it was actually first trademarked long before that, in 1897. In the early 20th century, Jell-O was advertised as “America’s Favorite Dessert,” and it grew in popularity in later decades. Jell-O’s low price, accessibility and ease of preparation made it the ideal dessert for the post-war era, and ’50s housewives used it in all kinds of creations — in fact, you might even remember savory Jell-O dishes from your youth. Jell-O sales peaked in 1968, and while the ingredient became less popular in later years, it’s making a comeback.

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