Jello Shots 101: Everything You Need To Know

Jello shots are a fun party treat for the adults. Here are all your questions, answered! These jello shot tips and tricks will send you on your way to making great party treats.

colorful jello shots on marble

Oh, jello shots! How fun you are! But you’re also full of questions and nuances.

If you have ever wondered things like…

  • how long jello shots take to set
  • if jello shots can be frozen
  • the best alcohol to use in jello shots

… then you’ve come to the right place. I have made thousands of jello shots for parties and have shared lots of jello shot recipes on this website. I put together a huge post of my top jello shot tips and tricks to answer all your questions.

Jello Shot Tips & Tricks

This basic jello shot recipe uses any flavor of gelatin and vodka or rum, and it’s a good place to start if you’ve never made jello shots before. It’s an easy recipe that anyone (21+ of course!) can make.

The post below reads like a big jello shot FAQ. If you have more questions, post them in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer them!

Now, let’s get into these jello shot tips and tricks!

Vodka poured into a glass isolated on white

Alcohol & Jello Shot Tips

What alcohol is best for jello shots?

Because it is light and unflavored, plain vodka is most people’s favorite alcohol for jello shots made with flavored gelatin. Flavored vodka — such as caramel vodka, marshmallow vodka or peach vodka — can be used, too.

However, the fun doesn’t stop with vodka jello shots. You can use a different type of alcohol such as rum, tequila, bourbon or gin to make these fun gelatin treats.

Even liqueurs like coffee liqueur and Irish cream liqueur can be used to make jello shots.

Are jello shots better with vodka or rum?

When making jello shots from a box of flavored jello, you can use either vodka or rum. Vodka is a more popular choice, but white rum will work just as well and will have a slightly sweeter taste.

If you want to use a flavored spirit, there are some delightful variations of rum on the market you can use to make some winning combinations of different flavors.

Try coconut rum with pineapple jello to make piña colada jello shots or try spiced rum or cinnamon whiskey with apple jello to make apple pie jello shots.

Best vodka for jello shots

The alcohol you use for Jell-O shots can be as potent as you like. As a general rule, use 80-proof vodka, which is 40% ABV meaning alcohol by volume, which won’t sully the flavor of your jello shots.

If you’d like to use a stronger alcohol to make stronger shots, you can. Try 100-proof (50% ABV) or 120-proof (60% ABV), but keep in mind your jello shots will have a stronger scent and flavor of alcohol, which may make them unappetizing for guests.

Everclear makes a 190-proof alcohol which is 95% ABV, but it has a very alcoholic flavor, so I wouldn’t recommend it.

While it is tempting to use higher-proof alcohol for your jelly shots, they won’t get you drunk. Even with a higher-proof alcohol, they are still a lot less boozy than a standard cocktail.

Jello shots will be much more flavorful and enjoyable if you stick to the middle-of-the-road.

jello shots strewn about on a marble counter

Best brand of vodka for jello shots

There are a number of vodka brands on the market, and it can be confusing to decide which one.

Budget is an important factor, but keep in mind that less expensive brands are more likely to burn the mouth. Save these for flavorful cocktails like a Bloody Mary.

Remember that stores stock the cheap stuff on the bottom shelf and premium brands will be at eye-level to catch your attention. The best bargains will be somewhere in the middle.

If you are only making one or two batches of jello shots, you can get away with a smaller bottle of something cheap. But if you’d like to have more leftover for vodka cocktails, grab a bigger bottle — perhaps with more quality as well.

Cheap doesn’t always mean bad, though. If you plan to stick to 80-proof vodka (my recommendation for flavorful jello shots that don’t taste too boozy), then look for one of these brands in the $10-$20 range:

  • New Amsterdam
  • Pinnacle
  • Seagrams
  • Smirnoff
  • Svedka

If you have a bigger budget, say the $20 range, try one of these 80-proof vodkas:

  • Absolut
  • Deep Eddy
  • Finlandia
  • Prairie
  • Skyy
  • Stolichnaya
  • Tito’s
  • Three Olives

And if you’re willing to spend $30 or more, try one of these vodka brands :

  • Reyka
  • Ciroc
  • Grey Goose
  • Ketel One
  • Belvedere
  • Crystal Head

My personal favorite vodkas are Smirnoff, Absolut, Deep Eddy, Tito’s and Reyka. I usually have at least one of these in my bar cabinet!

a measuring cup pouring jello into cups

How much alcohol can you put in jello shots?

There’s not very much alcohol per shot (roughly 4 jello shots would equal 1 ounce of booze) so you’d need to enjoy a lot of them to get tipsy.

If you’d really like to make a boozier shot, your best bet is to add more of the 80-proof liquor and reduce the amount of cold water you use.

How to make strong jello shots

Though it is possible to use higher-proof alcohol (e.g. 190-proof Everclear) for your jello shots, one or two probably won’t get anyone drunk. Even with a higher-proof alcohol, jello shots are still a lot less boozy than a standard cocktail.

There’s not very much alcohol per shot (roughly 4 jello shots would equal 1 ounce of booze) so you’d need to enjoy LOTS of jello shots to get tipsy.

For a boozier shot, add more of the 80-proof liquor and reduce the amount of cold water you use.

Virgin, non-alcoholic jello shot tips

There are a couple of different ways to make non-alcoholic jello shots. Either of these would be a good option:

  1. Prepare jello according to the box instructions. Then pour into molds.
  2. Use a zero-proof alcohol such as Ritual rum alternative (affiliate link) in lieu of the alcohol in this recipe.

If you are serving alcoholic and virgin jello shots, you may want to use a different color/flavor so that guests can differentiate between the two.

boxes of gelatin on a marble background

Making Jello Shots

Boxed jello shot flavors

Flavored gelatin comes in a wide spectrum of different colors and tasty flavors that you can use to make tons of easy jello shot recipes. Here are a few flavor combos you can make with the different jello flavors:

  • Cherry Coke shots — switch the water for cola when making black cherry jello, then top with a cocktail cherry
  • Margarita jello shots — use lime jello with tequila (add some extra lime juice if you wish)
  • Strawberry daiquiri shots — mix strawberry jello with rum
  • Piña colada shots — prepare pineapple gelatin with coconut rum
  • Grape ape shots — use grape jello and grape schnapps
  • Lemon daiquiri shots — use lemon gelatin with white rum
  • Peach cobbler shots — peach gelatin with peach schnapps, topped with whipped cream

How many jello shots per box?

For 24 jello shots, you will need the 3-ounce box.

You can make twice as many at once if you use the 6-ounce box, but you’ll need to double the rest of the ingredients in the recipe below.

Large-scale jello shot tips: To make 100 jello shots, use four 3-ounce boxes OR two 6-ounce boxes, then quadruple the rest of the ingredients in the recipe below.

P.S. Don’t get the instant pudding mix! (But if you do, you can make pudding shots.)

Can you make jello shots with unflavored gelatin?

Yes! Making jello shots with unflavored gelatin is one of my favorite ways to make jello shots because you can add it to just about any juice or liquid. The flavor combinations are endless, rather than limited to the flavored box choices.

Gelatin, or gelatine, is a translucent, colorless and flavorless powder made from collagen, a protein substance found in the bones, skin and connective tissue of animals. I use Knox gelatin for mine.

When using gelatin for jello shots, the powder has to “bloom” in liquid first and should follow a basic formula, so be sure to follow this tutorial on making jello shots with unflavored gelatin if you want to try making Knox jello shots.

Unflavored gelatin jello shot recipes

Love jello shots? These are some of the best jello shots recipes with unflavored gelatin to try out these jello shot tips with:

jello shots with lids

How long do jello shots take to set?

Typically 3 to 4 hours in the fridge is enough time. If you want to make a layered jello shots, you’ll need to plan ahead so that each layer has time to set before adding the next one.

Set time can vary depending on the container. Jello shots in small plastic cups will set faster than jiggler-style jello shots.

Jello shots can set at room temperature, but they may take a little longer to set.

Quick-set jello shots

To help jello shots to set more quickly, make sure you mix VERY COLD ingredients into your mixture. That means put your alcohol in the freezer and have some ice cubes ready to go.

If making them from a box of flavored gelatin: Dissolve the box of jello powder into boiling water and stir until dissolved. Then add ½ cup COLD alcohol and ice cubes to help cool down the mixture faster. Then pour into molds and place in the fridge immediately.

If using unflavored gelatin: Bloom and warm your mixture to dissolve the gelatin first — follow these instructions.) Then add COLD alcohol and ice cubes to cool down the gelatin mixture. Then pour into molds and place in the fridge immediately.

How to make jello shots not stick

The trick to getting jello shots not to stick is to lightly grease your containers. A light spritz of cooking spray will help them to release faster. Here’s what to do:

  1. Lightly spritz cooking spray into your containers.
  2. Use a paper towel to collect any that concentrates at the bottom, then wipe it around the interior of the cup to help spread the spray around. What you are going for is a very light coating.
  3. Pour in your jello mixture (or use a turkey baster) and place in the fridge to set.
jigglers of champagne jello shots on a white background

How to make jello shots without cups

You don’t need fancy cups to make jello shots! Jello shots can be made in a baking dish and cut into pieces, in a similar fashion to jello jigglers.

You can pour the liquid into a lightly-greased baking dish, then cut them into squares or shapes with cookie cutters. You can make a greater number this way, so I love it for my champagne jello shots especially.

Another idea is to use a muffin tin or flexible ice cube tray.

Eating Jello Shots

How many jello shots equal one shot?

Roughly 4 jello shots equal about 1 ounce of alcohol. Most cocktails contain 2 ounces of alcohol, so you’d need to enjoy quite a few jello shots to feel the effects of alcohol.

How to eat jello shots

The best way to eat jello shots is to insert your finger along the inside edge of the container and trace the edge of the cup to loosen the gelatin. (If you grease the cups lightly beforehand, this will be easier.)

Then toss the shot back and suck it out. It’s not very glamorous, is it?!

A butter knife or spoon can be used to scoop out the jello if you prefer. There are no rules when it comes to eating jello shots!

These plastic jello shot cups have an “easy squeeze” design to make them simpler to release.

apple cider jello shots in cups

How to make jello shots come out easier

Too-sticky jello shots are no good! Greasing your containers is always a good idea, and one of my top jello shot tips.

Simply spritz cooking spray around the interior of your jello shot containers, and use a paper towel to spread it around so that all that’s left is a light coating.

To eat, use your finger to scoop out the jello shot and it should release from the cup much easier.

Can you get drunk off of jello shots?

Technically, yes, but it might take a while. There’s not that much alcohol per shot (roughly 4 jello shots would equal 1 ounce of booze) so you’d need to enjoy a lot of them.

stacks of jello shots with lids

Jello shot tips for storage

Where to get cups for jello shots

You may be able to find cups for jello shots at your grocery store or a big-box store such as Target or Wal-Mart. Look in the aisle with paper and plastic goods.

Another place to try is a party-supply store like Party City.

You are most likely to find plastic shot cups or condiment cups with lids at these stores; however, if you have time to shop online, there are lots more choices.

Best cups for jello shots

Jello shots are most often served in disposable plastic cups for individual enjoyment.

Jello shot cups with lids are great for storing a lot in the fridge (they stack!) and for transporting (their smooth tops are protected!)

These plastic shot glasses, which I use in these paloma jello shots, are great for shots that look like mini cocktails.

If you don’t have enough of the small shot glasses, you can use ice cube trays or even a muffin tin.

You can also make jello shots jigglers-style (remember those?) by pouring the mixture into a lightly-greased baking dish, then cutting them into squares.

At Halloween, these plastic syringes make for a super creepy presentation! (Especially if you pair them with vodka gummy worms.)

From Cinco de Mayo to the end of summer, celebrate everything with a round of Paloma Jello Shots! Packed with delightful grapefruit flavor, give these tiny tequila treats a salted rim and a cute candy garnish. (via feastandwest.com)

How long can jello shots last in the fridge?

Jello shots taste best fresh, so make them the day of your event or up to 2 days before.

Technically, you can make them more in advance, but they tend to shrivel and shrink after a week in the fridge.

Don’t serve them if they are more than a week old.

Can you freeze jello shots?

No, jello shots do not freeze well. You can make them a couple days ahead of your event, however.

Do jello shots go bad?

Yes. Jello shots are freshest the day they are made. They can be made 1-2 days in advance. Any longer, and they tend to shrivel and shrink in the fridge. Don’t serve them if they’re older than a week.

Have more questions? Leave a comment below and I’m happy to help you with more jello shot tips and tricks!

colorful jello shots on marble

Jello Shots

Yield: 24 jello shots
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Chill Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes

Learn how to make jello shots and you will be the hit of any party!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 (3-ounce) package flavored gelatin dessert mix, any flavor
  • 1 cup vodka, or other spirit

Instructions

  1. Bring water to a boil on the stove, in a kettle or in the microwave.
  2. Pour gelatin mix into a mixing bowl or large measuring cup. Top with boiling water. Stir until the gelatin has completely dissolved. Let cool slightly, 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in vodka.
  4. Pour mixture into jello shot cups. Chill in the fridge for 4 hours.

Notes

Lightly grease cups before adding gelatin to help them unstick easier.

Use any flavor of gelatin you desire to make fun flavor combinations with the booze.

Use cups with lids on them if you plan to transport them.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 22Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g

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