We are talking Jell-O shots here. If you’ve never had one, well it’s about time you did. Jell-O conjures up memories of a Great Aunt’s Christmas gelatin mold dish or those cubed, brightly colored desserts served with the fake whipped cream at the school cafeteria. But let’s not judge. Gelatin has huge potential to be so much more. In fact, it’s the perfect summer treat for your next pool party.

But first, let’s give credit where credit is due. Singer and songwriter Tom Lehrer is believed to be the inventor of the Jell-O shot. He was in the Army but served in a naval base from 1955-1957. Necessity is the mother of invention. Alas, what to do when there is a Christmas party at the base and you can’t bring in alcoholic beverages. In 1955, good ol’ Tom tried various combinations of vodka and orange Jell-O poured into molds and the Jell-O shot was born. He was able to bring the shots to the navy base undetected.

Fast forward 63 years later and there are thousands of recipes for Jell-O shots. We have taken the Jell-O shots to the next level and we don’t even need to sneak them in. They only take minutes to prepare and these recipes can impress your guests. The hardest part about making them is waiting for them to set. Here are some of my favorite recipes.

Margarita Shots – The Classic


¾ cup boiling water
¼ cup sugar
1 packet Knox unflavored gelatin
¼ cup fresh lime juice
½ cup blanco tequila
Salt for rim

Fully dissolve the sugar and gelatin in the boiling water.  Add the tequila and lime juice. Pour into plastic shot glass molds. Refrigerate for 2 ½ hours to set. Salt the glass rims with salt and add a mini slice of lime on the edge of the glass.


Lemon Cake Shots – Yes, You Can Have Your Cake


1 (3 oz) package lemon Jell-O
1 cup boiling water
½ cup cake flavored vodka
½ cup cold water
Corn syrup and sprinkles

Dip each glass upside down on corn syrup or honey, and then dip in sprinkles. Stir together Jell-O and boiling water until powder is dissolved. Mix in vodka and cold water.  Pour into the sprinkle-rimmed shot glasses. Chill for 3 hours.

Watermelon Shots – Fruit Serving


1 12 to 16 pound watermelon
4 (3 oz) boxes of watermelon Jell-O
2 (1 oz) unflavored gelatin
4 cups boiling water
4 cups vodka

Cut the watermelon in half lengthwise. Cut along the inside edges of the watermelon half about ½ inch from the rind with your knife at an angle or facing inward. You are trying to take out the flesh of the watermelon being careful to not pierce the rind. Cut out the sections of the watermelon then finish by scooping out when you get close to the bottom. Scrape out the watermelon creating a smooth bowl with ½ inch of red flesh remaining.

Combine the boiling water, Jell-O and gelatin. Stir until completely dissolved. Stir in the vodka. Pour the mixture into each watermelon half. Refrigerate for 4 hours. To serve, cut each half into 1 inch slices, and then cut each slice into wedges.

Pina Colada Shots – Island Getaway


1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
¼ cup cold water
2 tablespoons sugar
½ cup boiling water
¼ cup pineapple juice
2 tablespoons coconut syrup (Torani or Coco Real)
½ cup silver rum (or coconut rum)
Maraschino cherries rinsed and dried

Mix the gelatin powder and the ¼ cup cold water in a small bowl and let it soak for about 2 minutes. Add the sugar to the boiling water and stir until dissolved. Pour the sugar water into the gelatin mixture. Whisk until gelatin is dissolved. Add pineapple juice, coconut syrup and rum. Whisk to combine. Pour the mixture to shot glasses. Refrigerate uncovered for about 30 minutes. Remove from fridge and press one cherry on the center of each glass (partially submerged).  Refrigerate for another 3 hours until fully set.

You can make these recipes the night before. No stress entertaining gives you more time to spend at the pool and with guests. So stir, pour and chill. See you poolside!