5 Tips for How to Make Jello Naturally

By: Patti Cook, M.S., Ed.D

Pictured Recipe: Sangria Jello

Treat your friends and family to healthier homemade jello with our step-by-step instructions for how to make jello.

If you hear the word "Jell-O" and remember neon-red blobs on a school lunch tray, think again. With a few simple steps you can make your own homemade jello packed with fresh fruit and fruit juice to make a healthier and tastier treat. Here are 5 easy steps to help you make perfect homemade jello every time.


Dissolve Gelatin Well

1. Dissolve Gelatin Well

Soften for 3 minutes in water; then stir for 1 full minute after adding sugar and hot liquids. This method ensures that the gelatin dissolves completely.


Get Your Chill On

2. Get Your Chill On

Before adding the gelatin to the mold, chill the mixture until it’s the consistency of thin pudding, but don’t let it set completely or your jello will be lumpy.


Decorate Like a Pro

3. Decorate Like a Pro

Add 1/2 inch of gelatin mix to mold, then nestle Fruit Decoration into the gelatin. It helps hold the fruit in place and makes a pretty design on the top of the finished mold.


4. Is It Ready?

To test if your dessert is ready to unmold, press a finger into the top. If jello sticks to your finger, it needs more chilling. It’s ready when “the finger test” is clean.


Unmolding with Ease

5. Unmolding with Ease

Dip the mold just up to its rim in a bowl of warm water for 10 seconds. If the jello doesn’t slide out of the mold easily, dip it into the water again.

Fresh Fruit Jello Master Recipe

Makes: 10 servings 

Active time: 20 minutes Total: 41/2 to 51/4 hours 

To make ahead: Refrigerate up to 3 days; unmold before serving. Equipment: 6-cup gelatin mold

Here is our master formula for making homemade jello. See below for flavor inspiration or make your own custom dessert using our recipe as a guide. 

2 cups Juice
1 cup cold water
3 envelopes unflavored gelatin 
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup Liquid
1 cup Fruit Decoration
1 cup Fruit Filling

1. Bring Juice to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat.

2. Meanwhile, pour water into a large heatproof bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over the water; let stand for 3 minutes. Add the juice and stir to completely dissolve the gelatin, 2 to 3 minutes. Add sugar and stir for 1 minute to dissolve. Whisk in Liquid.

3. Refrigerate until the mixture is the consistency of thin pudding and is just starting to set around the edges, 1 to 13/4 hours. The time will vary depending on the size of your bowl and how cold your refrigerator is. After 1 hour, start checking every 5 to 10 minutes because it thickens quickly after that. 

4. Gently but thoroughly whisk the mixture until it’s uniform. Ladle just enough into a 6-cup mold to cover the bottom by about 1/2 inch. Nestle Fruit Decoration into the layer of jello, pushing it into any grooves in the mold. Gently ladle another thin layer of jello over the fruit. Mix Fruit Filling into the remaining jello in the bowl. Gently ladle the mixture into the mold and smooth the top. Cover the mold with its top or with plastic wrap, without touching the jello. 

5. Refrigerate until very firm, about 4 hours. To test if it’s ready, touch it with your finger. If the jello does not stick to your finger, it’s done. 

6. To unmold, moisten fingertips and gently pull the top edges of the jello away from the mold. Fill a bowl with warm water; dip the mold just up to its rim. Hold it there for 10 seconds. (See photo 5.) Take it out of the water. Place a large plate over the mold. Holding the mold and plate together, invert and gently shake to loosen. Slowly pull off the mold. Repeat, if necessary, if the jello doesn’t slide easily from the mold. 

4 Homemade Jello Flavor Ideas

Champagne Raspberry Jello

Juice: 2 cups cran-raspberry or apple-raspberry juice
Liquid: 1 cup cold Champagne or sparkling white grape juice 
Fruit Decoration: 1 cup fresh raspberries
Fruit Filling: 1 cup fresh raspberries

Lime & Orange Jello

Juice: 2 cups limeade
Liquid: 1/8 teaspoon spirulina, dissolved, plus 1 cup cold limeade 
Fruit Decoration: 1 cup peeled orange segments
Fruit Filling: 1 cup diced mixed citrus fruit, such as orange, lime and/or grapefruit

Tip: Spirulina—dark green edible plankton—is sold in powdered form (bulk or in capsules) near supplements. Once dissolved in water, it can be used in place of artificial food dye to add dark green color to things like homemade jello. To dissolve, place 1/8 teaspoon in a 1-cup glass measure. Slowly stir 2 tablespoons very warm water into the spirulina. Stir until it’s completely dissolved. Add more dissolved spirulina, if desired, for a darker green color.

Mango-Strawberry Jello

Juice: 2 cups mango juice
Liquid: 1 cup cold orange juice 
Fruit Decoration: 1 cup sliced strawberries
Fruit Filling: 1 cup diced mango

Sangria Jello

Juice: 2 cups white grape juice
Liquid: 1 cup cold red wine or grape juice
Fruit Decoration: 1 cup chopped red apple
Fruit Filling: 1 cup halved green and red seedless grapes 

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