O, Tannenbomb!

Our holiday gift to you: the only Jell-O shot flavor guide you will ever need

O, Tannenbomb!
Photo: Liz Miller, Graphic: Karl Gustafson

Welcome to Jiggle All The Way, The Takeout’s holiday celebration of Jell-O, gelatin, and all things wiggly. We’ll be releasing new feature stories and original holiday recipes every day this week, and each of them will have a little bit of wobble.


Jell-O shots get a bad rap, plain and simple. Maybe that’s because Jell-O itself isn’t as popular as it used to be. Maybe it’s because Jell-O shots are so prevalent on college campuses and at tailgates they practically amount to their own food group and are seldom seen elsewhere. Whatever the reason, we’re determined to turn that all around this year, when, let’s be honest, we need the sweet union of dessert and alcohol more than ever.

Before we begin, here is my best tip for making foolproof Jell-O shots at home: Chill the water and alcohol together before adding the mixture to the powdered gelatin. I don’t know why this makes a difference—scientists, my DMs are open!—but it definitely makes the shots firmer and easier to remove when set.

With that foundation, you can pretty much take Jell-O shots in whatever direction you like. Keep it simple and make one flavor, or create multiple layers of flavors (and booze). I’m partial to making a white layer with a mixture of cream cheese, lemon Jell-O, and whipped topping, which sounds questionable until you try it. Not only does it look dramatic and taste like dessert, but the creaminess cuts through the booze, making the shots extra easy to consume en masse.

Here is the ultimate Jell-O shot flavor guide, starting with recommendations for Jell-O flavor and spirit pairings, as well as recipes for holiday Jell-O jigglers and shots. Get fancy with the garnishes if you feel up to it. Otherwise, save the frills for next year’s holiday party and just get down to shooting your shots.


Illustration for article titled Our holiday gift to you: the only Jell-O shot flavor guide you will ever need
Photo: Liz Miller

The Ultimate Jell-O Shot Flavor Guide

Basic Jell-O Shot recipe

Combine ½ cup water and ½ cup liquor in a bowl and refrigerate until chilled. Next, boil 1 cup of water and then add one 3-oz. box of Jell-O, stirring for about 2 minutes. Add the chilled water and liquor mixture and pour into shot glasses or cups; chill until set, about 4 hours.

Recommended Jell-O and booze pairings

  • Berry Blue Jell-O + ½ cup white rum + ½ cup water
  • Black Cherry Jell-O + ½ cup spiced rum + ½ cup water
  • Cherry Jell-O + ½ cup Fireball + ½ cup water
  • Cranberry Jell-O + ½ cup vodka + ½ cup water
  • Grape Jell-O + ½ cup Three Olives Grape Vodka + ½ cup water
  • Lemon Jell-O + ½ cup coconut rum + ½ cup water
  • Lime Jell-O + ½ cup gin + ½ cup water
  • Orange Jell-O + vanilla or whipped cream vodka + ½ cup water
  • Raspberry Jell-O + ½ cup tequila + ½ cup Margarita mix
  • Strawberry Jell-O + ½ cup tequila + ½ cup Margarita mix

Specialty Jell-O shot recipes

Illustration for article titled Our holiday gift to you: the only Jell-O shot flavor guide you will ever need
Photo: Liz Miller

Boozy Jell-O Jigglers

In all of my many, many tests, I’ve found that boozy Jell-O jigglers are best when fortified with unflavored gelatin, which keeps them sturdier once they’re unmolded. I used a vintage set of holiday-themed Jell-O jiggler molds from the 1990s. These are easily found on eBay. If you need to make them today, silicone molds are sold at most major retailers. I’ve used this Wilton silicone mold to make these jigglers at home, and it works quite well (although you’ll have a little liquid leftover, which can be poured into a ramekin and chilled, if desired). This particular silicon mold produces almost jewel-like cube jigglers.

Makes 12 to 16

  • Cooking oil spray or olive oil
  • ¼ cup cold water
  • 1 packet Knox unflavored gelatin
  • 1 (3-oz.) box Jell-O (flavor of your choice)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup cold water
  • ½ cup vodka

Lightly coat the insides of plastic or silicone molds using cooking oil spray or olive oil dabbed onto a paper towel. Transfer molds to a baking sheet.

In a small saucepan off heat, add cold water and unflavored gelatin; stir. Let stand 1 minute or until thickened. Transfer saucepan to low heat, stirring constantly, until granules have dissolved and mixture has thinned, about 3 minutes. Set aside, stirring occasionally to avoid gelling.

In a large measuring cup, add Jell-O and boiling water, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes. Add cold water and vodka and stir. Add reserved unflavored gelatin mix and stir to combine. Carefully pour mixture into prepared molds and gently transfer the molds (still on the baking sheet) to the refrigerator. Allow jigglers to set for at least 4 hours, ideally overnight.

To remove jigglers from molds with ease, add molds to a rimmed baking sheet. Carefully pour hot water into the baking sheet, just enough to cover the underside of the molds, and let sit for 15 to 20 seconds. Carefully turn mold over onto a dinner plate or serving tray. If jigglers don’t easily slip out of the mold, gently run a butter knife around the edges of the molds and lightly tap the bottom of the molds to loosen jigglers. Serve.


Illustration for article titled Our holiday gift to you: the only Jell-O shot flavor guide you will ever need
Photo: Liz Miller

Cherry Candy Cane Jell-O Shots

Although we’re aiming for a candy cane theme here, you can easily make these shots red, white, and green by swapping in lime Jell-O for one of the cherry layers. If you’d prefer to make just the cherry Jell-O shots, stop after you’ve made the first layer.

Makes 16

Layer One:

  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup vodka or peppermint-flavored vodka
  • 1 (3-oz.) box cherry Jell-O
  • 1 cup boiling water

Layer Two:

  • 4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 (3-oz.) box lemon Jell-O
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 4 oz. Cool Whip whipped topping

Layer Three:

  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup vodka or peppermint-flavored vodka
  • 1 (3-oz.) box cherry Jell-O
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Reddi-wip Original Whipped Dairy Cream Topping
  • Gold or silver sprinkles

Make Layer One. Combine water and vodka in a measuring cup. Refrigerate until chilled. In a separate measuring cup, add Jell-O and boiling water. Stir constantly for about 2 minutes or until granules are dissolved. Stir in the chilled vodka and water. Pour a thin layer (taking into account that you’ll want three layers total) into glass or plastic shot glasses and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, ideally overnight.

Make Layer Two. Using a fork, slightly beat softened cream cheese into a whipped texture. Add lemon Jell-O to a measuring cup and pour boiling water over top; stir for about 2 minutes or until granules are dissolved. Add cream cheese and lemon Jell-O to a large mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. Let cool to room temperature. Fold in Cool Whip and mix until thoroughly combined. Spoon a thin layer over the set cherry Jell-O cups, leaving room at the top of the cup for the third layer. Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.

To make the third layer, combine water and vodka in a measuring cup. Refrigerate until chilled. In a separate measuring cup, add Jell-O and boiling water. Stir constantly for about 2 minutes or until granules are dissolved. Stir in the chilled vodka and water. Pour a thin layer over the cream cheese layer. Refrigerate for at least four hours, ideally overnight .

Top Jell-O shots with a dollop of whipped dairy cream topping, if desired, and gold or silver sprinkles for the ’Gram.


Illustration for article titled Our holiday gift to you: the only Jell-O shot flavor guide you will ever need
Photo: Liz Miller

Snowball Jell-O Shots

Although we tend to associate Jell-O shots with holiday parties and other gatherings, these vaguely wintery ones are in season from December 1 through the last day of winter. If you’d prefer to just make berry blue Jell-O shots, only make layer two and nix the garnishes.

Makes 16

Layer One:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 (3-oz.) box lemon Jell-O
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 4 oz. Cool Whip whipped topping

Layer Two:

  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup vodka or white rum
  • 1 (6-oz.) box berry blue Jell-O
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Reddi-wip Original Whipped Dairy Cream Topping
  • Blue sprinkles, for garnish

Make Layer One. Using a fork, slightly beat softened cream cheese into a whipped texture. Add lemon Jell-O to a measuring cup and pour boiling water over top; stir for about 2 minutes or until granules are dissolved. Add cream cheese and lemon Jell-O to a large mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. Let cool to room temperature. Fold in Cool Whip and mix until thoroughly combined. Spoon mixture into glass or plastic shot glasses, filling each about halfway. Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.

Make Layer Two. Combine water and vodka in a measuring cup. Refrigerate until chilled. In a separate measuring cup, add Jell-O and boiling water. Stir constantly for about 2 minutes or until granules are dissolved. Stir in the chilled vodka and water. Pour on top of Layer One, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, ideally overnight.

Top Jell-O shots with a dollop of whipped dairy cream topping, if desired, and blue sprinkles. Serve.

DISCUSSION

christinav11
Christina Vittorio

By only using water, you’re missing out on some great opportunities for more flavour in the shot (and to disguise the alcohol!) Red Bull or Mio’s are great ways to add more flavour to jell-o shots
Here are a few of my go-to recipes: 1) boil a can of Red Bull and mix that with Blue Raspberry Jell-O and then add in 1 cup of chilled Vodka - usually a mix of Raspberry and Plain

2) add a few squirts of Peach Mango Mio to the boiling water and mix with Peach Jell-o and add in 3/4 cup of chilled Vodka with 1/4 cup chilled Peach Schnapps and a splash of Triple Sec . This works well with Mango Jell-o too

3) For a Rum & Coke shot, boil 1 cup of Regular Coca-Cola and mix with Black Cherry Jell-o and add 1 cup of rum (I’ve also used a Bacardi Cherry Liquor for this one or a combo of the liquor and rum)