Gettin' jiggly wit it
A party tray of boozy, jiggly, Jell-O® shots or pudding shots is right where childhood nostalgia meets grown-up playtime. With so many flavors and colors to choose from—combined with all kinds of liquors—you can create shots to suit any occasion. I'll show you how to make Jell-O shots and pudding shots with tips and recipes, and show you how to make molded and layered Jell-O shots that'll be the talk of the party.
How to Make Basic Jell-O Shots
This recipe for Berry Shooters is a great starting point for the easiest kind of gelatin shots to serve in cups.
Makes about 10 2-ounce shots
1 (3-oz.) package flavored gelatin of your choice
1 cup boiling water
1 cup vodka
In a bowl, mix boiling water with gelatin. Stir constantly for a couple of minutes until no clumps remain and gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir in vodka. Place shot glasses on a baking tray for easy transport. Pour gelatin mixture into paper or plastic shot cups* and chill in refrigerator until set, 1 hour or more.
*Reviewers suggest coating the shot cups lightly with cooking spray so the shots slide right out. Give each mini cup a quick wipe with a paper towel to remove excess and spread oil evenly.
Jell-O Shot FAQ
Q: Can I make Jell-O shots using only alcohol and no water? (Because how awesome would that be?)
A: Sorry to crush your dreams, but in order for the shot to solidify enough to hold its shape, there has to be enough hot water in the mix to activate the gelatin.
Q: What's the ideal alcohol to water ratio?
A: The amount of alcohol and water you use in your recipe really does make a difference to the look, taste, texture, and of course the strength of your gelatin shot. Here are some basic guidelines based on a 3-oz package of gelatin:
- Classic: 8 ounces boiling water + 3 ounces cold water + 5 ounces vodka = a clear, firm gelatin shot that tastes like a sweet, slightly watered-down vodka-based drink.
- Stronger: 4 ounces boiling water + 4 ounces cold water + 8 ounces vodka = a cloudier but firm and less overly sweet gelatin shot with a stronger taste of alcohol.
- Ridiculous: 4 ounces boiling water + 8 to 19 ounces vodka = a cloudy but reasonably firm gelatin shot with a very pronounced alcohol flavor bordering on ickyness. At this higher alcohol to water ratio, you'd be serving shots that have many times more alcohol than the "classic" shot. Not necessarily a good thing.
Q: Can I use any kind of alcohol in a Jell-O shot?
A: Sure. A gelatin shot made with plain vodka will taste like the flavor of the gelatin, while a flavored booze combined with a complementary gelatin can taste like real cocktails. For example, tequila + lime-flavored gelatin = margarita shot.
Q: How many shots should I make for a party?
A: A 3-ounce package of gelatin combined with 2 cups of liquid (water + alcohol) will make about 10 2-ounce shots. Figure 2 to 4 shots per guest. But remember: Each adorable gelatin shot is actually a serious slug of alcohol, so be a smart and responsible host.
How to Make Molded Jell-O Shots
These shots are firmer than basic Jell-O shots and can stand alone after they're popped out of their molds.
- Use the basic recipe for Jell-O shots, but whisk a packet of unflavored gelatin (such as KNOX) into the flavored gelatin until thoroughly combined. Add 1 cup boiling water and stir until completely dissolved. Stir in 1 cup vodka.
- Spray a silicone mold, or other flexible mold, lightly with cooking spray and wipe excess with a paper towel. Place the mold on a baking sheet. Pour mixture into molds and chill until firm. Keep cold until you're ready to unmold them.
- To unmold, pour a few inches of hot water into a baking pan larger than the mold. Dip the bottom of the mold in the hot water for a few seconds, then invert onto a tray.
How to Make Sliced Jell-O Shots
Follow directions for molded shots, but pour the mixture into a small baking pan to a depth of about an inch. Chill until very firm. Dip a knife or cookie cutters in hot water and cut the gelatin into shapes. Use a small knife or offset spatula to remove shapes to a separate tray. You can also place them in mini-cupcake liners for easy handling. Chill until serving. Try this recipe for Tart Lemon Drop Jelly Shots.
How to Make Layered Jell-O Shots
Allow several hours to make these colorful, multi-layered shots.
- Working with 1 layer at a time, dissolve a 3-ounce package of flavored gelatin in 1 cup of boiling water. Add 1 cup vodka or other spirit.
- Pour into prepared shot cups or molds, leaving room for the other layers. Chill until set, about 1 hour in the fridge. Prepare the next gelatin color layer and pour it on top of the first layer. Chill until set. Repeat with as many layers as you dare.
Jell-O Shot Flavor Ideas
Use mixed cocktails as your inspiration. For extra style points, create layers using the colors and flavors of your main ingredients. Here are some ideas to get your started:
Top Shelf Margarita: lime-flavored gelatin + tequila + triple sec + orange liqueur
Simple Margarita: lime-flavored gelatin + tequila
Moscow Mule: unflavored gelatin + ginger beer + lime juice + vodka
Champagne Cocktail: unflavored gelatin + champagne + sugar
Bloody Mary: unflavored gelatin + tomato juice blend + hot pepper sauce + vodka + celery + horseradish
Pina Colada: unflavored gelatin + pineapple gelatin + coconut milk + rum + maraschino cherries
Mojito: unflavored gelatin + lime juice + mint + rum
Mimosa: unflavored gelatin + orange juice + champagne
Lemon Drop: unflavored gelatin + lemon vodka
Horchata Rum: unflavored gelatin + horchata + rum + honey
Fireball: orange-flavored gelatin + apple cider + Fireball whiskey
Jell-O Shot Serving Ideas
Sure, gelatin shots in little cups are easy peasy to do, but with a little time an effort, you can take them to a whole new level. Here's a party-ready way to serve watermelon shots that look like tiny watermelon wedges. Watch the video to see how it's done:
More serving ideas:
Serve watermelon gelatin + vodka shots in lemon wedges.
Edge the rim of your shot cups in salt, sugar, or candy sprinkles depending on your shot flavor.
Decorate shots with a sliver of fruit over the top.
Add a berry, maraschino cherry, or other small fruit to the shot cup before chilling.
Top shots with a squirt of whipped cream and sprinkles.
Slice shots into cubes and insert decorative cocktail picks for serving.
Thread shot cubes onto skewers with bits of bite-sized fruit.
Pour the entire shot mixture into a Bundt pan, add fruit as it chills, and slice into servings.
How to Make Pudding Shots
Here's another dessert from your childhood that you can lace with booze. Same concept as Jell-O shots, but with a smooth and creamy texture.