Rainbow Jello Recipe

When I was young, rainbow Jello would always be one of the offerings on the dessert table. I used to peel the layers of Jello apart and eat them one by one, my favourite being cherry. I have a lot of fond memories of rainbow Jello, but like most things from my childhood, rainbow Jello slowly disappeared without much fanfare.

I don’t eat Jello much, but when I do, I prefer eating rainbows. I also have a thing for quirky, retro desserts, so when we planned a father’s day barbecue on Sunday, I made a small container of rainbow Jello.

It’s funny because people are still impressed by rainbow Jello! At least 3 different people came up to me to ask me about it. I guess colourful layers of jiggly jello still has appeal: everyone had a piece except my dad, of course. He did, on the other hand, have two slices of ice cream cake.

Rainbow Jello Recipe adapted from The Food Librarian

5 small packages of Jello (I used cherry, grape, blueberry, lime and lemon)
4 1/2 tablespoons of unflavoured gelatin
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Mix the cherry Jello with 1/2 tablespoon of gelatin. Add a cup of boiling water and stir to dissolve. Cool to room temperature and pour into whichever container you want your rainbow Jello in. Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the can of sweetened condensed milk with 1 cup of boiling water. In a bowl, sprinkle 2 tablespoons of gelatin over 1/2 cup of cold water and let bloom for a couple of minutes then add 1/2 cup of boiling water to dissolve. Stir well, add to the milk mixture and mix thoroughly. Cool to room temperature before pouring over the first layer of Jello. Refrigerate until firm.

Repeat the first step with the remaining jello while alternating with the milk mixture. Let the Jello firm up completely, then slice and serve!

89 Comments add yours

  1. You are such a dork with the beakers… but a cool dork :)

    I dont know how it tastes altogether, but it would be a cool desert after watching Willy Wonka on some magic mushrooms LOL

  2. My Dad totally won’t eat Jello either. He says it’s sick people food. I mailed him a box once when he had a cold. A few months later when I got sick, he sent it right back!

    Thats an awesome story. . . . I love this idea and I’m gonna make it for my neice and her friends tomarow Thanks xx

    lou on June 25th, 2010 at 4:13 pm
  3. for present day, you might substitute (jell-o) instant pudding for the layers of milk-infused gelatine.

    that sounds messy

    Natalie on June 22nd, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    Or use milk and cream with some brandy and have a panna cotta.

    that sounds delicious

    Margaret on October 4th, 2010 at 7:16 pm
    Andy on June 22nd, 2010 at 2:17 pm
  4. How do you get the jello out so perfectly? Mine always prefers to stick to whatever form I’ve made it in :(

    Don’t unmold it cold. Run warm water over the mold or heat up some water to be warm and immerse it for a short time.
    This ever so slightly melts the outer layer so it won’t stick.

    Andy on June 22nd, 2010 at 2:14 pm
  5. I love the layers. Coincidentaly, I have been thinking of working on some layered stuff – vegetable terrines, appetizers and deserts in various glassware, etc.
    Of course these little things tend to give over a dozen servings and I’m a single guy, so finishing it all is an issue.

    you could send me some! since i am not a good layer-er

    Miranda Northrup on July 23rd, 2010 at 9:37 pm
  6. I was recently awed into submission by an amazing rainbow cake but somehow RAINBOW Jello just blew my mind!! I *have* to make this! It is just too adorable to ignore. Bravo!

  7. Ha – In all my years of making this, I didn’t think of doing them as ‘shots’. Nice.

  8. Wow, that is amazingly cool. The use of scientific beakers really emphasizes the colors.

  9. I love the beakers =)

  10. Where did you acquire those beakers from? I’ve been dying for some and some test tubes for food experiments!

    YES…Where do u get those beakers from and if so…can it be ordered ONLINE???

    Jho on March 11th, 2011 at 8:14 pm
  11. maybe I’m weird, but what’s the point of the milk layer? wouldn’t it taste like milk flavored jello?

    because if you didnt have the milk layers inbetween all the different types of jelly would just mix into one.

    I vaguely remember making a 2-layer Jell-O dessert about 25 yrs ago, with no dividing layer in between. If you let the bottom layer set up, then carefully added the next layer but only after it had cooled and was almost ready to gel, it should work; once the 2nd layer has gelled, add the 3rd layer. And so on. The key is to not pour hot liquid Jell-O on top of cold.

    Retro foods — esp. hors d’oeuvres & desserts — seem to be making a comeback. So does melamine & those colored aluminum tumblers.

    KansasKate on June 27th, 2010 at 1:01 am
    gherheh on June 26th, 2010 at 8:27 am

    Also, condensed milk is much sweeter so it would be a very cool sweet milk layer rather than a milk layer

    and the alternating milk and Jell-O really emphasizes the colour

    Margaret on October 9th, 2010 at 3:35 pm
  12. Those beakers are incredibly cool. I love rainbow jelly too! I think these are so cool and cute at the same time, attention grabbing the minute you spot them.

    Lovely photos too!

  13. you can get the peeling off effect from using agar agar powder too. layered jelly yum! i love your scientific beakers :D

  14. These are fabulous and so happy! Yes, Jello is a very mysterious ingredient but it does bring on smiles. Gorgeous presentation.

  15. beautiful! but how did you get it out of the glass so perfectly?

  16. Really cool, love the beakers!

  17. stained glass jello is pretty cool too

  18. Rainbow jello is so pretty that it’s nearly impossible to resist. I make it during the holidays with sour cream mixed with some of the jello for the light colored layers. I love that you’ve made individual servings out of this and am now coveting those beakers. Beautifully done! Thanks for including the tip on un-molding the jello as well.

  19. Does anybody remember the fad in the 70′s Jello started? It was called 1.2.3. Jello You made it in the blender with crushed ice and it seperated into regular Jello layer on the bottom, followed by two stacks of whipped jello each verion more whipped than the last. All were the same flavor though. I have been trying for years to find a recipe to make it. ANY HINTS?

    JelloGirlFromThe60's on June 23, 2010 at 11:58 am
  20. Thanks a zillion for the link. It will be on tomorrows dinner menu. Jello is a cheap high!

    JelloGirlFromThe60's on June 23, 2010 at 1:55 pm
  21. Love these! They look so happy!

  22. Wow. I love Jello but I have never seen this. Will be a great dessert to make for a July 4th picnic. Kids will love it. Thanks!!

  23. Great rainbow jello! I love the beakers, but if you’re going to be scientific you should put the colors in the correct order(red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet). Great layering anyway!

  24. That is the cutest thing ever. Last 4th of July I did something similar. Yet, THOSE BEAKERS! I want those. Where did you get those! Inspirational!

  25. These are so cute and I love the beakers!

  26. We have fond memories of rainbow like jello too.

    Great post and kudos on the Good Eats type beakers for service. Alton would be proud.

  27. i think im in love…

  28. Just love the presentation in the beakers! What a fun idea.

  29. Those beakers are available at:

    …available to the public for purchase in bulk, if I’m not mistaken.

  30. Just out of curiosity, why add the extra unflavored gelatin to the box Jell-o? Does it help it set up better/faster?

    The extra gelatin does exactly that! Plus it makes it a bit more of a jello jiggler texture, which firms up more to make it easier for the next layer to go on.

    steph on June 28th, 2010 at 10:18 pm
  31. I’m making these tonight or tomorrow and have a couple questions (if you’re around of course).

    1. I am making these in shot glasses. How many would this recipe make?
    2. Have you ever tried making them alcoholic? My mother in law insists I try and I need tips!

    Thanks :)

    Hi Lissa,

    In shot glasses, I’m thinking you can make 30-40. As for alcoholic, I haven’t make layered jello alcoholic but this jello is more solid than regular jello, so they won’t be anything like regular jello shooters, more like jello jigglers.

    Thanks a lot! We’re going to have a LOT, wow! I guess we should leave the fireworks to the teenagers, huh ;) Everyone have a great 4th!

    Lissa on July 3rd, 2010 at 12:34 pm
    steph on July 3rd, 2010 at 12:29 pm
  32. I’m surprised so many people don’t know about this type of recipe. My great aunt used to make this for every family gathering and I loved it! I have not tried to make it on my own yet though.

  33. Could you be more adorable? Love your spirit and culinary ambition. Thanks for the inspiration and recipes.

  34. I used to make something similar as a kid” tie-dye jello. I’d make a few colors plus plain gelatin and use the boiling water & ice-method, then put them in the fridge separately, stirring every 5-10 minutes. When they got to be a very soft gel, I’d pour them into a BIG glass bowl my grandma had, in separate sections and gently swirl them a little…like tie-dye. I think it would be a great treat for a kids tie-dye party. Oh! How about putting a few gold-foiled chocolate coins at the bottom of a bowl or large glass for the gold at the end of the rainbow??

  35. I hate to say this, but I want to save anyone else from wasting the time or money; this recipe was gross! I spent all yesterday making it for my family and then no one wanted to eat it and I can’t blame them. The Jello was like rubber and the milky part wasn’t very tasty. I think the writer went for looks and not taste. It looked beautiful, that’s why I was so sad that it didn’t taste good. If I try to make rainbow jello again I’m going to add more water and not use any extra unflavored gelatin. Yeah, it made it firm up quick, but I’d rather wait longer in order for it to actually be edible. I’d probably also skip the white part. It looks more like a real rainbow when you do that anyways. Sorry :-(

    P.S. If you try doing this for jello shots they probably won’t come out of the glass cause they are so thick and then probably your guest will choke on the rubbery jello!

    You are crazy.I made this recipe to the letter for 30 girlfriends last weekend and it was devoured, savored and enjoyed. I loved every bite and was surprised how wonderful the flavors were. I suspect something wasn’t right in your recipe – Check out how many blogs and people here have enjoyed this dessert!

    Lulu on February 13th, 2011 at 1:04 pm
  36. Instead of adding unflavored gelatin, you can always just make the Jello with less water, so that it’s the “jigglers” recipe. It does the same exact thing, which is make firmer jello, but it does not dilute the flavors. I think this would be easier than adding in an extra ingredient, plus then it wouldn’t taste weird!

  37. I’m not really that old (a couple years shy of 30), but I do remember having the layered Jello – it was almost a guarantee that every school party in elementary, at least would, involve a snack of layered Jello.
    I’ve been hunting and hunting for this recipe for the last half hour or so, and I finally came across this.
    Thank you so much for sharing, this is EXACTLY the recipe I was looking for!
    I can’t wait to make it for my own kiddies – they’ve never had it before haha

  38. I attended a pot luck picnic and a woman brought a dish like this, but far more intense (in a prep/time-consuming sense) and kinda also more rainbow-y.

    Instead of mixing gelatin with the condensed milk, she would make up one color of Jell-O and put it into, say, a rectangular cake pan. Then, when it was firm enough, she’d pour condensed milk over the surface of the Jell-O and pour off all but the merest slick of milk. Then, she’d make the next color of Jell-O, pour it carefully into the cake pan to add another layer of color, cover it with the merest slick of condensed milk, and repeat, for at least 5 colors! (The patience! The humanity!!!)

    When she was all done, she cut it into 1″-squares and served them with frilly, multi-color toothpicks. Sadly (or perhaps happily) for her, people at the picnic snarfed her rainbow tasty treats in a few minutes. Food almost always takes longer to prepare than to eat, but this disparity was intense.

  39. I did Jello like this once, except instead of layering it, I made the colored Jello in separate containers. I cut them all up into cubes and mixed them together in a baking dish. I then took the condensed milk/gelatin mixture and poured it over the top.

    Once it solidified, I cut it up into cubes. It looked like stained glass!





    Nice jello!

    steph on September 20th, 2010 at 1:50 pm
  40. I once made white “jello” with coconut milk and gelatin, so i could cut ghosties out of it for a kids’ party. Tasted good once I added a touch of coconut flavoring.

  41. In my family, we would make it in a similar manner. However, we would only pour half of the jello (per color) into the pan/mould. The other half would be mixed with cream cheese. That would be poured over the associated layer.

  42. I made this today it was a fail!! My fault……didn’t have enough Knox!! I thought I bought enough but I was wrong! ;(
    But I will try again!

  43. Hi, I made it and it worked perfectly, however my white layer was more yellow than yours. any ideas or suggestions?

  44. Your condensed milk was older, and that makes it yellowed.

    Jill Johnssen on August 7, 2011 at 4:56 am
  45. We love layered jello too, but I usually split the jello flavors in half and add a whipped cream/sour cream mixture to the second half. So instead of white layers they’re a creamy frothy alter ego of the flavor under it. I always get asked about it too, like no one has ever seen rainbow jello before! so funny.

  46. This is sooooo cool! I just love this. :) And I think the beakers are awesome. So cute. I’m in charge of a large dinner tonight and I wanted to make some sort of multicolored jello but wasn’t sure how… this is perfect!

  47. LLOVEEE the beakers. SO CUTE.

    -science nerd- on January 9, 2012 at 7:10 pm
  48. ive made this in a brownie type pan, when cooled dip in hot water to release, invert then cut into any shape. ive used small cookie cutters depending on the holiday of course. red jello on top and use a heart, green on top and use a 4 leaf clover cookie cutter, yellow or blue and use a star for july 4th etc. fun.

  49. my SIL made this with coconut milk instead of sweetened condensed milk for my dairy free kids!! It worked great!

  50. I have a room mate who brought this home around the holidays. I am not much of a jello eater but it was delicious and beautiful. I have since been trying to find the recipe. Thanks for posting it. :)

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