13 Jell-O Hacks You'll Want To Try

While foodie fashions come and go, Jell-O has captivated many childhoods with its kaleidoscope of colors. First introduced in the 19th century, gelatin had a real heyday in the 1950s when ornate, jiggling dishes adorned fancy tables (via Serious Eats). Today, some Jell-O flavors have gone by the wayside, including mixed fruit, rainbow flavors 1.2.3, and sparkling white grape. However, there are still plenty of great flavors to choose from, such as berry blue and mango. 

If you have fond memories of after-school dinners followed by sweet moments wiggling Jell-O on your spoon, then it might be time to take a culinary trip down memory lane. Foods are so closely linked with nostalgia, and if you haven't tasted a gelatin dessert in a while, you'll immediately be transported back in time. 

While Jell-O is a brand name, the word jello has become synonymous with gelatin desserts in general. There's nothing as gloriously simple as a spoonful of this wobbly treat, so here are the top Jell-O hacks you'll want to try. Find out how to make a hot drink with Jell-O, spark your imagination with some creative shots and artistic desserts, and even create your own edible crystals.

1. Make creamy Jell-O

If you're interested in cutting down on the sugar content in your Jell-O or just want to add extra creaminess, consider making a Jell-O yogurt courtesy of a TikTok video. Mix your Jell-O with equal parts water and yogurt. You can use Greek yogurt or whatever type you like. Spoon the mixture into bowls and set it in the fridge as usual. For an extra treat, squirt some whipped cream on top to garnish. Other serving suggestions include using cottage cheese, flavored yogurt, or making a graham cracker base layer.

If you want a yogurt-free variation that's also light and creamy, then follow @thatonegirlkirty's TikTok video. Whisk a large container of Cool Whip into your Jell-O before it's set. Refrigerate it until it's firm and looks like mousse, then it's ready to eat. One comment suggests scooping the mixture into a graham crust to make a pie. Another fan enjoys this with crushed pineapple and cream cheese mixed in too. You could also try dipping vanilla wafers in the creamy Jell-O or adding a drained can of fruit cocktail. Our Mini Jell-O Parfait recipe calls for an extra layer of mousse and Cool Whip — what's not to love?

2. Serve plastic-free watermelon Jell-O shots

There are lots of recipes for Jell-O shots served in little plastic cups, but rather than add to the glut of waste try a more organic approach. This TikTok hack from @mixing.mama is wonderfully whimsical and uses limes to create mini watermelon slices filled with Jell-O. Scoop out lime halves and add Starburst all pink strawberry gelatin. When they're set, slice them so that they look like mini watermelons. Finish it off by sprinkling the slices with chia seeds to mimic black watermelon seeds.

You could also vary this hack by using red Jell-O and using black sesame seeds for a more vibrant result. If you want to go all-out with the color, follow a TikTok video by @realtipsybartender. Add a layer of blue raspberry Starburst into a scooped-out watermelon half, and pour in a good glug of vodka. Once set, pour another gelatin layer using a different color. Leave it to set in the fridge, before adding a final colorful layer. Your patience will pay off when you serve up these multicolored watermelon slices that look beyond awesome.

3. Create sugar-free Mexican candy-style Jell-O

If you've never thought about spicing up your Jell-O, then you're probably not alone. TikToker @ilovechamoy makes a sugar-free version of chamoy-flavored Jell-O, a condiment used in a classic Mexican candy. The taste is sweet, spicy, and tangy, making this an inspired idea you've got to try whether you're a chamoy lover or not. Even if that specific flavor profile isn't your favorite, it will give you ideas to come up with your very own variation.

You can make this hot gelatin dessert using strawberry-flavored Jell-O pots rather than making it from crystals. This recipe already gets bonus points for being easy to make. Drizzle sugar-free I Love Chamoy sauce onto the broken-up Jell-O and add a sprinkle of Tajín seasoning, which is a mix of granulated chilis, lime, and salt. You could try using watermelon-flavored Jell-O to make this too. An even easier version is to peel back the lid of a Jell-O pot and simply add the sauce on top. Place the lid back on the pot and stick it in the freezer for a frozen treat. Alternatively, one comment on the TikTok video suggests freezing Jell-O, cutting it into pieces, and dipping it into chamoy sauce.

4. Set Jell-O quicker

Apart from the soft jelly texture and the fruity flavors, another bonus in favor of Jell-O is how ridiculously easy it is to make. After mixing boiling water with the crystals, you just have to wait until it sets. This is the only part that you might find frustrating if you're impatient. If you know your Jell-O won't be firm enough by the time dessert swings around, you'll be thankful that Kraft Foods offers a hack to speed up the process.

Add strawberry gelatin dessert crystals to a bowl and stir in ¾ cup of boiling water until the mixture is dissolved. Add ice cubes to ½ cup of water in a jug, until you have a volume of 1 ¼ cups. Pour the mixture into the gelatin and stir until it thickens. Then, remove the ice cubes and pour the gelatin into serving vessels. By cooling down the gelatin with ice, it sets much faster. You'll need to wait between 30 and 90 minutes for it to set, depending on the desired consistency.

5. Freeze sugar-free Jell-O grapes

If you've got a bowl of candies in front of you or a bag hidden at the back of the cupboard, chances are you're going to end up eating a few at the very least. With such a high sugar content, candy isn't a great addition to your diet, especially if you're trying to limit calories. If only there was a moreish candy-style snack you could enjoy with zero sugar. Frozen Jell-O grapes fit the bill, as long as you use sugar-free crystals. 

To make these gorgeous grapes, follow a TikTok hack. All you have to do is rinse some grapes and shake them with Jell-O crystals or any other powdered gelatin dessert brand in a Ziploc bag. Pop them in the freezer and once frozen, bite into this icy treat. 

Of course, if you want a sugary hit then you can use regular Jell-O instead of the sugar-free variety. To give the grapes a sublimely sour taste, coat them in lime juice before rolling them around in lime and strawberry Jell-O to get a Sour Patch candy flavor, as recommended on Reddit.

6. Make glow-in-the-dark Jell-O shots

Jell-O shots that light up are a must-try party trick. What's great is you don't even have to try to figure out how to make these phosphorescence tipples (try saying that after a shot) since there's an easy hack. This one comes from the Tipsy Bartender on YouTube.

The secret ingredient to accomplish this glowing drink is actually tonic water. Start by heating it in the microwave, then add blue Jell-O crystals (or a different color if you prefer) and mix it with vodka. Spritz a cupcake baking tray with non-stick spray, pour the Jell-O into the cups, and refrigerate. When they're done you don't even need to transfer them into a shot glass as they should be solid enough to grab. Turn off the lights, turn on your black light, and you should see your Jell-O shots glowing in the dark — plus plenty of white teeth as your party guests enjoy a one-of-a-kind Jell-O experience.

7. Heat a Jell-O drink

When it's cold outside and you just want a hot drink that's soothing, before you reach for a hot toddy or a hot chocolate, why not try a hot Jell-O? If you've only ever seen the classic gelatin dessert as a cold, wobbly dish then it's time to turn this 360. You're just one simple TikTok hack away from your new favorite warm beverage.

If you've got a sore throat, gelatin can help relieve it by coating the surface as you sip. Make Jell-O as usual with a couple of cups of boiling water and add the same amount of cold water. Pour the contents into a mug, add some honey (which gets extra points for its antimicrobial properties), then microwave for 30 seconds. 

What's great about this tip is that you're staying hydrated which is important whether you're feeling under the weather or not. Plus, how delicious does hot Jell-O sound? You can try a rainbow of flavors to find the one that hits the mark. Interestingly, the original Jell-O recipe came about inadvertently while the creator was seeking out a cough remedy (via The Washington Post).

8. Unmold your Jell-O with ease

Getting Jell-O out of a mold isn't always easy. If you've struggled, you've probably tried shaking the mold only to have the Jell-O wobble out with bits still stuck inside. The result is a messy-looking dessert and a mold design that doesn't look quite as clear as it could. However, if you want to present a stunning Jell-O salad, the mold is all-important. Any flaws will be easy to see and could ruin the vision of the perfectly suspended ingredients.

The Jello Mold Mistress of Brooklyn is on hand with a top tip to unmold your Jell-O with ease. First, wet the plate you're planning to use to serve your finished Jell-O creation — the moisture will make it easier for your dessert to glide into place. Heat the sides of the mold with warm water for around 15 seconds, making sure it doesn't rise up and over into the Jell-O. Meanwhile, use damp fingers to nudge the Jell-O away from the sides so it's less likely to stick. Place the plate on top, flip, and wiggle the mold free. Repeat these steps until your Jell-O cleanly breaks away.

9. Craft a jello soda bottle

There's something intrinsically fun about Jell-O. It's the vibrant colors, flavors, and of course, the way it jiggles around. It's so reminiscent of childhood that it makes sense to release your inner child in the kitchen and experience some culinary joy by making a cool Coke bottle-design gelatin dessert. This Wonder How To hack uses Coke and gelatin, rather than Jell-O and water.

In a pan, heat eight packets of unflavored gelatin with soda from a 20-ounce bottle of Coke. Once the gelatin dissolves, turn off the heat and wait 15 minutes. This gives you time to make a slit down the side of the empty bottle and seal it up with duct tape. Once you're poured your mixture into the bottle, chill it for a few hours. After, remove the tape and cut across the slit to peel away the plastic without messing up your jellified Coke bottle creation, then pop it out. 

For a realistic twist, put the Coke bottle label around the wobbly bottle when you serve it. You could also pop the cap back on and give this to a friend as a prank since it looks so realistic. And if you really want to have fun, add some of the jelly Coke into a glass and let it set so it looks like a glass of Coke, ready to drink.

10. Use pears and lemonade to make jello

A quirky TikTok hack by @asianmuminlaw claims to have a method to make a clear Jell-O dessert, without using any Jell-O or gelatin. Surprisingly, you're not going to use any setting agent at all. In a pan, heat sparkling lemonade with a few large pieces of pear. Throw in some salt and a drop or two of red vinegar. Bring the contents to a boil, then cool before pouring the mixture into a glass. Add a pear slice in there as well, and turn it out onto a plate once it sets. The result is a wobbly, crystal-clear jello. 

This could be a great trick to know if you're looking for plant-based or vegan options for jiggly desserts since gelatin is made from meat products (via Britannica). Even if you eat meat, this is a pretty interesting dessert to make and it's also super simple. However, YouTube user emmymade puts this hack to the test, thinking that it probably wouldn't properly set as there's not enough pectin in pears. Declaring this recipe a fail, the video creator makes clear pear jelly by adding agar agar, a seaweed-based extract (per One Green Planet), and it sets perfectly. 

11. Sparkle with glitter Jell-O shots

You know it's party time when the Jell-O shots come out to play. They're a great ice-breaker and a fabulous way to get everyone in a celebratory mood. Another bonus is that they're easy and cheap to make and they pack a punch. Adding edible glitter seems to be a natural progression from a boozy shot that jiggles. Follow the Tipsy Bartender's gelatin, sugar, water, and Champagne version, add some ginger ale, and finish it off with gold and silver sprinkles on top.

To make your evening sparkle, follow another fabulous hack by Brew Glitter. It's aimed at New Year celebrations, but nothing is stopping you from making these glittery shots any time you want to party. Add whatever alcohol you like into clear Jell-O along with gold or silver edible glitter. Of course, you can use whatever colors you like to fit with your theme or style. If you've only got clear glitter then try adding it to colored Jell-O or creating rainbow layers with glitter in between. Whatever the occasion or the crowd, everyone loves to shine and this is your moment to become a sparkling host with the most. 

12. Design an artistic Jell-O-scape

With its unique texture and transparent yet colorful characteristics, Jell-O is the ideal dessert if you want to get artistic. So, before you simply pour your melted gelatin dessert into a bowl and let it set, consider creating a Jell-O-scape that's fun and fantastically frivolous. With this seascape TikTok video by @according2faith, you get to eat both Jell-O and gummies. And while the Jell-O is made in a bento box, you're welcome to set it in whatever mold or container you like.

Before the sea-blue Jell-O sets, add in some short twisted jelly strands to mimic seaweed. Then, pop in some gummy fish so that it looks like they're swimming in the ocean once it sets. Get inspired by jelly cake creator Lexie Park who makes stunningly artistic creations at Nünchi in LA. In an interview with Vogue, the designer and culinary visionary states that she wants "to integrate fashion and food continuously," and she certainly succeeds with her jelly-scapes. Follow your own inspiration as there are no fixed rules about what edible ingredients you can add to your Jell-O creation.

13. Make plant-based edible crystals

One of the best jelly treats you can make has to be jelly crystals. They're spectacularly crunchy on the outside and wonderfully soft and gooey on the inside. Beautifully colored with incredible flavors, they also look just like crystals, making them great for gifts. TikToker @emilylfigueroa demonstrates how to make these sweet gemstone designs. 

Once you've boiled agar agar powder, water, and sugar together, pour the mixture into a shallow dish. Add a few different food coloring shades and swirl them around to create a marbled look. Once it's set, have fun cutting the jelly into jagged crystal shapes, then dry them out on parchment paper for a week. This hack is ideal for plant-based diets thanks to the agar agar. 

TikToker @msshiandmrhe suggests adding dried edible flowers or fruit into the jelly and using tea, shelf-stable juice, or even beer in place of water. Liquids like milk which go off more easily are not recommended, since it takes a while to dry and develop a crusty exterior. The crystals are a popular traditional candy in Japan, where they're called kohakutou, which translates as amber candy (via Ms Shi & Mr He). While diamonds may have been a girl's best friend once upon a time, crystals that give you a sweet jelly experience are precious in their own way.