Jello is a timeless treat. The jiggly treat can be made in a variety of colors and flavors. And it can be a popular hit at parties. But can you freeze jello — or jello shots? Or will that sacrifice the texture?
We haven’t made regular old jello for quite some time, mostly because our kids are well into their teens now. But I remember whipping up a batch with them when they were younger and always wishing it would set faster.
So on a whim, I decided to stick some in the freezer and see if that would help. So can you freeze jello?
The short answer is jello does not freeze well. The only way to come close is if you put the liquid jello mix in the freezer. But even then, it won’t freeze fully. Either way, you’ll likely end up with a soupy, watery mess when you try to thaw it out.
But there are other ways to speed up Jello making without sacrificing texture or taste.
Keep reading to find out:
- What happens to jello when you freeze it
- How to make jello (and jello shots) and get them to set more quickly without freezing
- How to store jello
Let’s get started!
What is Jello?
The term “Jell-O” is a brand name for a powdered, gelatin-based food that’s available in various flavors. It also is attached to a line of instant puddings and pie fillings.
But the word “Jello” has become synonymous with a host of fruity, gelatin-based desserts and treats.
It’s easy to make, can be made in various shapes as it takes on the form of whatever mold it is poured into, and it’s relatively inexpensive. Plus, it’s fun to eat. All of which has made Jello a popular snack item.
What happens when you freeze jello?
Jello takes about 4 hours to set in the fridge. That can be a long time, especially if you’re in a hurry or have kids that really want some of that Jello!
So it can be tempting to stick the liquid Jello mixture in the freezer to try to get it to set more quickly. But that’s really not a good idea, for a few reasons. The biggest one is that harms the texture.
Jello is made with gelatin, a substance made from animal collagen that can help thicken and solidify foods. If you use enough, like in Jello, it can also make foods fully set, albeit in a wiggly form.
It’s that gelatin, though, that prevents Jello from fully freezing. In fact, if you do manage to get your Jello cold enough that it starts to freeze solid, it will break the gelatin bonds that give it that tell-tale jiggle.
As a result, when the Jello thaws out, you’ll be left with a sort of chunky, liquidy mess. It will also affect the taste of the Jello, making it blander.
How to get Jello to set more quickly
If you’re looking for ways to make your Jello set more quickly, there is a method that doesn’t require freezing. And it significantly reduces the amount of time it will take your Jello to set – from 4 hours to about 1.
Here’s how to do it using store-bought Jell-o mix:
- Step 1 – Boil 1 1/2 cups of water.
- Step 2 – Mix the boiling water with the dry Jello mix and stir until it’s dissolved.
- Step 3 -Add ice cubes to 1 cup of cold water until you get a total of 2 1/2 cups.
- Step 4 – Add the cold water and ice to the gelatin mix and stir until it starts to thicken up.
- Step 5 – Remove any remaining ice cubes and place the mixture in a bowl or other container uncovered in the fridge. (Covering it will slow down the process).
The jello mix should solidify in 30-90 minutes.
Will Jello fully freeze?
Due to the gelatin used in the mix, the Jello will not really freeze well all the way through. After a couple of hours, it will still have a sort of firm wiggly texture. But you’ll likely notice some hardening on the sides.
Of course, the longer you leave it in the freezer, the more it will solidify. But that will also just make it less appetizing when you defrost it, as the texture will become runny and mushy.
Will putting Jello in the freezer help it keep for longer?
Nope, trying to freeze Jello won’t extend its shelf life. Once you make it, Jello typically will last 7-10 days in the fridge, depending on how it’s stored. If you’ve added other foods to the mixture, like fruits for example, it’s a good idea to discard it after 2-3 days, as the fruit will start to spoil.
Can you freeze jello shots?
Jello shots are little servings of Jello made by adding alcohol to the mixture. The boozy shots are popular at celebrations and at bars because they’re easy and fun to eat. We made some Champagne Jello shots for last New Year’s Eve… and let’s just say they were a hit!
The process to make them is similar to that for regular jello, except you add your booze of choice to the mixture before you place them in the fridge to set.
But what if want to make and freeze a batch of them before a party? Or you have some leftover jello shots afterward and you want to freeze them?
Unfortunately, you’ll be out of luck.
We know that Jello by itself doesn’t free well. Jello shots are no different.
Alcohol freezes only at very cold temperatures. So alcoholic spirits, like vodka or tequila, won’t freeze at all in a typical household freezer either. They just don’t get cold enough. So Jello shots won’t freeze well.
But they will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days or so if covered. So if you have leftover Jello shots, think of it as a chance to have another party!
What’s the best way to store Jello?
To make your Jello keep for as long as possible, the best place to store it is in the fridge.
After you make your Jello, let it cool in the fridge uncovered for about 30 minutes. Covering it right away will lengthen the setting process.
Once it’s cooled down, that’s the time you want to cover it with foil or plastic wrap. Or you could transfer it to a sealed airtight container. This will help keep the cold air away from the Jello and prevent it from drying out. It will also help reduce odors from other food items in the fridge from seeping into the Jello.
Jello stored properly like this should last up to 10 days in the fridge.
This storage method also works for Jello shots. So you can make some a day or two ahead of time before a party or get-together, and just keep them covered in the refrigerator until you’re ready to eat them.
Just avoid keeping set Jello out at room temperature, as it will only keep for a few hours.
Unopened Jello packets have a long shelf life. They can keep in the pantry for up to 18 months. The package will have a best-by or expiration date, so it will be freshest before then.
How to tell if Jello has started to spoil
What if you think you’ve left your Jello in the fridge – or just out at room temperature — a little too long? How do you know if it’s gone bad?
Here are the signs to look for:
Mold is one of the most obvious ways to detect spoilage in Jello, so look for any signs of mold or unusual discoloration.
Smell is also great way to tell if Jello has started to spoil. If it smells sour, rancid, or simply “off,” that’s a sign it may be bad.
Texture is another way to detect spoilage. If you notice that it’s harder than usual or dried out, chances are the Jello is past its prime.
Finally, moisture can indicate rotten Jello. If you notice settling water on top of the Jello, that could mean it’s going bad, as the ingredients are beginning to separate. This will also make the Jello bitter rather than sweet, as the large amount of sugar in Jello begins to spoil.
If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to just discard your Jello.
A few reasons could be behind Jello not fully setting. Failing to thoroughly dissolve the gelatin while mixing it with liquid is one common factor. Using too much liquid is another, as it makes the Jello too runny. Adding certain types of fruits can also be to blame. Kiwi, mango, and pineapple all contain specific enzymes that prevent Jello from setting. These will all affect the consistency of the Jello.
Pre-packaged, unopened jello cups or containers will keep for up to 4 months in a cool, dry place like a pantry. Once opened, they’ll stay good for about a week in the fridge.
Like with most foods, Jello shots are fresher if you eat them soon after you make them. So you’ll get the best-tasting Jello shots if you make them no more than 1-2 days in advance. Avoid making them longer than 5 days ahead of time as they can start to lose flavor and texture the longer they’re stored.
More food storage answers
Looking for more answers on how — or if — you can freeze certain foods? We’ve got you covered. Check out these popular posts!