How to Make 7-Layer Jello

by Kristen on May 3, 2013 · 51 comments

in Desserts

seven layer jello

This is neither a frugal recipe nor a healthy one. BUT, when I posted a picture of this jello (which Lisey requested for her birthday meal this year) a number of you were really intrigued and asked for the recipe.

And since I aim to please, I’m sharing the recipe today. I’m not sure where the recipe originally came from, but when I was a kid, it was an oft-served dish when company came to visit.

If I’m going to eat a very-bad-for-me jello salad, I’m sort of partial to the Mandarin Orange Jello Salad, but I will admit that this pan of jello has much more show-stopping looks.

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It’s not very complicated, but it does require a big ol’ stack of jello boxes. You probably won’t be able to find store-brand boxes for the lemon or peach flavors, but it’s easy to find orange, strawberry, and lime in private label varieties.

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Interestingly enough, when I bought these seven boxes, I was also buying ingredients to make a quadruple recipe of the mandarin orange jello salad for a family birthday gathering, so my cart was chock full of boxed jello and pudding. It was kind of ridiculous. And very out of the ordinary!

Anyway. Every other layer of this jello has evaporated milk mixed in with the water, so layers 2, 4, and 6 have an opaque look to them.

You can mix up all seven layers at once, or you can mix them up one at a time, which might be a good option if you don’t have tons of smallish bowls!

The first layer is just a box of jello, 3/4 cup of boiling water, and then 3/4 cup of cold water. Pour the jello mixture into a 9×13 inch pan (I spray mine with nonstick spray first), and put the pan in the fridge.

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Your fridge is probably not perfectly level, so you might need to shim your pan a little to make a level first layer (I use a grippy pad under one end, the sort you use to open a stubborn jar lid.).

Leave the pan in the fridge, and when it’s set (about 30 minutes later), you can pour the opaque lime layer over the black cherry layer.

To make the opaque layers, pour 1/2 cup of boiling water over the jello, mix to combine,

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and then stir in 1/2 cup of cold water and 1/2 cup of evaporated milk.

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This is NOT sweetened, condensed milk, just so ya know. That would be…weird. You need evaporated milk, which is a much thinner milk product.

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Each layer takes about 30 minutes to firm up in the fridge, so I just set a timer and add another layer every half hour.

The jello isn’t SUPER firm after 30 minutes, so it helps to pour the new layer of jello into a spoon and then onto the jello…that way the liquid jello won’t make a hole in the existing layer.

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You probably could use any combination of jello flavors you want, as long as you keep the clear-opaque-clear pattern going.

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In fact, I inadvertently did this pan differently than I did my last one. Here’s the original one I posted:

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Anyway, it’s quite customizable, and no matter what flavors you choose, your jello will probably still look all fancy-like. ;)

Seven Layer Jello

Printable Seven Layer Jello Recipe

Empty each of the following 3 oz. Jello packages into separate bowls:
black cherry, lime, raspberry, orange, peach, lemon, strawberry

Mix in the order given above.

For the 4 clear layers, mix cups hot water, stir, then add cups cold water.

For the 3 creamy layers, mix 1/2 cup hot water, stir, then add 1/2 cup cold water, and 1/2 cup evaporated milk. This will use up one can of evaporated milk.

The 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th layers are clear.
The 2nd, 4th, and 6th layers are creamy.

Mix all and then pour the 1st layer into a greased 9x 13 pan. Set the timer for 30 min. Then add the next layer and repeat the process until all layers are finished. Make sure pan is level.

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Leave a Comment

{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jo@simplybeingmum May 3, 2013 at 8:10 am

Woo Hoo! Guess who’s got a can of evaporated milk in the cupboard with no predetermined destination?
Now I just gotta track down a whole pile of assorted jelly…
What we do for our kids eh? ;-)

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2 Becky aka SimplyBurbs Mama May 3, 2013 at 8:13 am

I’m not a jello eater (we are a family of vegetarians), but that has to be the prettiest dessert EVER!!

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3 Ellen S May 3, 2013 at 8:27 am

my mom makes this once in a while… Me I am not a big jello fan. But it does look pretty….

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4 valerie May 3, 2013 at 8:29 am

My mom used to make this in the early 1980′s but instead of milk it called for sour cream, which probably makes it a bit creamier.

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5 Ann May 3, 2013 at 9:52 am

Same here but I changed that up a bit and use vanilla yogurt! Very good!

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6 Lili@creativesavv May 3, 2013 at 8:54 am

Kristen, is this less water than the box of jello usually calls for? Just trying to “translate” this for my use. I buy plain gelatin in bulk for less than flavored, and mix up my own flavors with fruit puree, juice, or Koolaid powder.

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7 Kristen May 3, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Yes, I believe it is. That way the jello is firm enough to slice.

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8 Economies of Kale May 3, 2013 at 9:00 am

Okay this clears it up a bit more :) Although, I’m a bit confused by you calling it a salad – I’m guessing you mean it as a dessert, like a fruit salad, rather than an actual salad :)

I’ve made layered jelly before, sometimes with vodka, but never with that many layers. Yours stays together very nicely when you cut it and it looks very pretty :)

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9 Sally February 1, 2014 at 3:26 pm

I’ve known this as a salad also

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10 Ruth May 3, 2013 at 9:19 am

You want to make sure that the jello is not warm at all when you add the next layer. That is the advantage of mixing them up all at once to start with. Plus there is no more boiling water, etc. After the initial mix, you just have to be around for 3 hours to add the next layer every 30 min. which takes almost no time at all.

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11 Elaine in Ark May 3, 2013 at 9:30 am

I love jello, and I haven’t seen this dish for ages. I’m printing out your entire post and putting it in my folder.

YUM!

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12 The Norwegian Girl May 3, 2013 at 10:13 am

this looks so cool! have to try this once!

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13 Melissa May 3, 2013 at 10:32 am

This has always been my kids’ first choice at church potlucks. With all those great colors, who can blame them! We have had fun making it with themes or holidays in mind (trying just red and blue jellos for July 4th and selecting flavors for the full rainbow have been two favorites.)

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14 Renee McD May 3, 2013 at 10:36 am

I have to ask the question – how does it taste wth all of the different and very bold flavors? To me it would seem very odd taste but maybe I’m wrong.

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15 Kristen May 3, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Well, it’s just sort of a fruity mix of flavors…the combo is not as jarring as you might imagine!

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16 Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl May 3, 2013 at 12:16 pm

Jello is such a favorite from my childhood, thanks for the smiles this recipe brought!

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17 Elizabeth May 3, 2013 at 12:36 pm

Jello kind of freaks me out. I can’t bring myself to eat it. I think it’s a texture thing. However, I do make it on occasion for the rest of the house. I think this would be a fabulous surprise for the kids. Thanks so much.

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18 Kristen @ Joyfullythriving May 3, 2013 at 1:06 pm

This is the same 7 layer jello recipe my family uses and loves! Well, except for the one year when my cousin requested it for her wedding dinner, and the cousins stood around stirring pans and pans of jello to make enough for around 200 guests! :-) It took a long time, but was enjoyed by all.

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19 Emily May 3, 2013 at 1:15 pm

My mom has made this for years, but she calls hers Rainbow Jello. She does purple on the bottom, then blue, then green, then yellow, then orange, and finally red, so the layers form a rainbow. It is really pretty. :)

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20 Mona May 3, 2013 at 1:28 pm

That looks quite tasty! It is understandable that you need to buy the boxed jello but I’m very sad to hear that you purchased the boxed pudding as well :( you were the reason I started making my own pudding from scratch and I believe it tastes much much better. I believe you even did a post breaking down the costs and it turned out to be cheaper.

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21 Kristen May 3, 2013 at 1:53 pm

Oh, I DO make pudding from scratch when I’m actually making pudding. But the jello recipe I was making calls for mixing the jello and pudding mixes all together in a pot with water, and I am just not smart enough to figure out how that would translate to a homemade version.

Worry not, though…the jello is a once or twice a year kind of thing, usually for a birthday, and that’s why it was so odd for my cart to have all those boxed products. Normally my grocery cart is filled with ingredients (produce, seafood, cheese, and so on), not with processed foods.

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22 Susan May 3, 2013 at 2:02 pm

No one in my house eats Jello but that is really cool looking. Why wouldn’t you use sweetened evaporated milk in the opaque layers? just curious.

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23 Kristen May 3, 2013 at 2:08 pm

I think it would be way too thick and also sickeningly sweet. Condensed, sweetened milk is super sugary, and combined with the jello, it would just be too much.

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24 Amy B. May 3, 2013 at 8:59 pm

The Pioneer Woman makes a version of this (red and green for Christmas) and she uses sweentened condensed milk – it’s super yummy!!

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25 Kristen May 3, 2013 at 10:05 pm

Well, what do you know? You learn something new every day!

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26 Kris May 3, 2013 at 4:06 pm

My mom used to make this many many years ago. Thanks for bringing back a fun memory.

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27 Sarah Walker May 4, 2013 at 12:01 am

This makes me so happy!! I might have to join Pinterist just so I can pin this. Such happy memories from childhood….and last weekend :)

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28 Family Fandango May 4, 2013 at 7:10 am

I’ve seen my gal pal make this too, it’s super impressive. But isn’t it weird having that many flavors mixed in together? Does it LOOK better than it tastes? In any case, thanks for posting! The tip about using the spoon to pour the mixture onto the next letter is a very helpful hint :)

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29 Kristen May 4, 2013 at 8:37 am

It’s really not as weird as one might think…just sort of a mixture of fruity flavors.

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30 Melissa May 6, 2013 at 3:21 pm

I love this! We have a Christmas party every year for all of our friends and this would be so festive and fun!

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31 Kim May 6, 2013 at 4:32 pm

Love this recipe. The last time I made it though, my pan was a little crooked in the frig. My family still talks about the “lop-sided” jello to this day!

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32 Kristen May 6, 2013 at 5:03 pm

Tell them it’s a more modern, abstract take on the boring, level seven layer jello most people make. ;)

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33 Jacqueline Powers May 6, 2013 at 6:39 pm

How funny I just made a rainbow version like this but I did use sweetened and condensed milk and it came out just fine.

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34 Little Miss Moneybags May 10, 2013 at 4:09 pm

This is so fun and pretty! I have a question on the chilling of it, though – the layers were nowhere near solid enough to pour more on top after 30 minutes in the fridge – even after 30 minutes in the freezer, the next layer would still make holes in the layers below. I don’t think my fridge or freezer are too warm, so what do you think I’m doing wrong?

Thanks!

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35 Kristen May 10, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Gosh, that’s really weird. You just used one box of jello and a total of 1 1/2 cups of liquid for each layer, right?

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36 Little Miss Moneybags May 10, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Right, 1.5 cups liquid and a 3 oz box of jello for each layer. Some other recipes I found on Pinterest say to chill for an hour and a half, so I’ll try that next time. After just 30 minutes, the layers are still basically juice so I’m stumped.

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37 Kristen May 10, 2013 at 5:14 pm

And you’re doing part boiling water, part cool water, right? So that the jello isn’t super hot when it goes into the fridge.

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38 Little Miss Moneybags May 10, 2013 at 10:57 pm

Right – and I made all the layers up ahead of time, so they were all room temp by the time they were added.

39 Little Miss Moneybags May 10, 2013 at 4:19 pm

I should add that I am doing that spoon trick and still getting holes.

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40 Jamie June 15, 2013 at 5:37 pm

I’m making it right now and having the same issue. My layers are nowhere near set after 30 minutes. Ah, well … as long as I can have it finished it time for tomorrow afternoon when I need it!

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41 Rachel May 10, 2013 at 6:58 pm

I think the second version is prettier. I like the creamy green layer =)

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42 Jesse September 26, 2013 at 7:09 pm

When my mother made this she would always put a thin layer of whip cream on the top. So good!

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43 Jonas November 2, 2013 at 6:54 am

Hey, I tried this recipe three times and I finally got it ! But the thing is it supposed to be wobbly and not firm ? And also I would like to ask if it’s possible to add fruit into this

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44 Kristen November 2, 2013 at 7:53 am

Well, it’s supposed to be a fairly firm Jello consistency, if that makes sense. It should be able to stand on its own when you slice it.

You’d have to chop the fruit super fine to add it to this jello, since the layers are so thin.

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45 Becky April 17, 2014 at 3:37 pm

I made this and it was a hit but when I placed the tiny bit of leftovers in the fridge, I didn’t level the pan again and the clear layers slid of the opaque ones. We ate it anyway!

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46 Becky April 17, 2014 at 3:45 pm

My Daddy used to call jello “Nervous Pudding!”

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47 Kristen May 11, 2013 at 9:50 am

So, did they firm up eventually, but just not in 30 minutes?

Do you by any chance know what temperature your fridge is set to?

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48 Kristen May 11, 2013 at 9:51 am

Oh, and your pan was 9×13, right? If it was smaller, then the layers would likely take longer to firm up.

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49 Little Miss Moneybags May 12, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Fridge is at 38 degrees, and the pan was 9×13. I didn’t use cooking spray, but that doesn’t seem like it would make a difference. I don’t know, maybe it was just really humid here? I’m stumped!

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50 Kristen May 12, 2013 at 3:48 pm

I am too, apparently! Every variable I can think of appears to be the same as my situation.

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51 Becky April 17, 2014 at 3:46 pm

Mine needed 45 minutes.

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