Tasty jelly cubes in bowls on table on white background.

How Long Does It Take For Jello To Set?

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Jello will always remain one of our favorite simple desserts. It is perfect for any occasion, incredibly versatile in its uses, and comes in a wide variety of flavors and colors!  Unfortunately, jello can take quite some time to properly set.

But what affects the setting time of this simple dish, and how long does it take for jello to set? On average, one portion of jello (2 cups) will take between 2-4 hours to set. This largely depends on the size of your container, portion, and temperature of your fridge.

In today’s jam-packed article, we will take a look at all of the factors that affect the setting time of jello.

This includes comparing the amount of jello used, the consistency you want to set it to, and other determining factors that may inhibit the process.

What Is Jello?

Tasty jelly cubes isolated on white.

Jello is an incredibly fun and tasty dessert that has been around for decades!

There are hundreds (if not thousands) of brands that make these sweet jelly treats.  But the brand, Jell-O by Kraft Heinz, is arguably the biggest and most famous of them all.

Jell-O carries a variety of gelatin-based products, including puddings and cream fillings. Unfortunately, many people started calling all jello (or jelly) products “Jell-O” so there is often a lot of confusion when it comes to recipes.

If you ever come across a recipe that calls for “jello”, you can use any gelatin-based jelly dessert. Do not use pudding — a recipe will specifically mention “instant pudding mix” or something along those lines.

So now that we have the terminology out of the way, let’s look at what exactly jello is!

How Does Jello Differ From Other Gelatin Desserts?

As we have mentioned, there are a few different desserts that fall into the “gelatin-based category,” like jellies, puddings, and creamy pies.

The biggest difference between these and jello is that jello doesn’t contain any creamy ingredients.

The texture is completely different and unique. Jello is often a very translucent colored product. Its texture is very rubbery, but it still melts in your mouth. It isn’t creamy at all but instead has a refreshingly soft and juicy texture.

They also come in a wide variety of flavors, usually fruity ones! They are colored to further portray this flavor and make them easily recognizable.

For example, an orange-flavored jelly product would have a translucent orange color. Cherry-flavored jello will have a darker red color.

What Makes Jello Popular?

The reason that jello products have taken the world by storm since their creation is because they are super convenient and easy to make. They are sold as a premixed dry packet that contains the usual jello-making ingredients.

Once you add water to them, the powder melts and creates a clear-colored liquid. This liquid is then set inside the fridge for a couple of hours. Once set, you have jelly without the hassle of making it from scratch!

Usually, if you want to make any gelatin-containing recipe, it takes some preparation to bloom the gelatin — not to mention the hassle of figuring out how much gelatin to use to get the right consistency of jelly.

If you use too much gelatin, your jelly will be rubbery and hard. If you use too little, it won’t set at all.

What makes jello great is that these premixes already have the perfect ratio of ingredients to create an uber soft but firm jelly!

What Makes Jello Set?

Most jello premixes contain gelatin as the setting agent. They do also sometimes include other less common gelling agents and stabilizers. All these ingredients combined help create the unique texture of jellies.

As you may already know, gelatin comes from the collagen of animal bones. This means it’s not a vegan-friendly product. You can find vegan jellies that are made with agar instead of gelatin. The texture should be more or less the same!

If a packet of jello doesn’t contain enough gelatin, it won’t set. But, if it contains too much, it will become too hard and rubbery. So, it’s always important to know which brands work best.

As we have said, Jell-O by Kraft Heinz is the most popular globally. That’s because their products are delicious and have a perfect consistency. You know what you will get each and every time you make their jello!

How To Properly Set Jello: A Step By Step Guide

Tasty jelly cubes isolated on white.

The steps for making jello are always printed on the box.

Depending on which brand you use, the ratios of added ingredients may differ slightly.

However, the general concept remains the same for all jello products.

For the box premixes, you usually only need to add boiling water and cold water. Again, jello never contains any cream ingredients. So, you naturally also don’t have to add any cream ingredients.

But, despite the process being so incredibly easy, some small mistakes will cause your jelly to not set. That’s why it’s important to follow out in-depth steps with tips and tricks to make the process as effortless as possible.

Let’s have a look at how to properly make and set jello.

Step 1: Prepare Your Ingredients

First, start boiling some water. Then, separately measure out 1 cup of boiling water and 1 cup of cold water. 

Step 2: Dissolve The Jello

Next, pour the packet of jello into a heatproof mixing bowl. Then, add your 1 cup of boiling water and start stirring the mixture. Keep stirring until the jello powder has completely dissolved.

Step 3: Add The Cold Water

Only once all of your jello powder has been dissolved can you add your 1 cup of cold water. When you add the cold water, whisk the mixture well so the warm water cools down quicker.

Step 4: Set The Jello

Place the jello inside the container you want to set it in. Add a layer of plastic or saran wrap over the container, or add the lid. Then, place the container in the back of the fridge. Allow the jello to set for between 2-4 hours.

Tips And Tricks

  • If the jello powder hasn’t dissolved completely but the water has cooled, just reheat it inside a microwave. Your powder has to be completely dissolved before you can add the cold water and set the liquid.
  • It helps if you make the jello mixture directly into the container you want to set it in. After all, the point of the pre-mixes is to be as convenient as they can. So, unless that container isn’t heatproof, just make the mixture in the container.
  • The smaller the portion of jello is (in volume), the quicker the liquid will set. So, a single shot glass of jello won’t take nearly as long to set as a 2-cup liquid mixture.
  • Make sure that your fridge runs at a stable temperature. Any fluctuations may cause the jello to take longer to set.
    • Usually, the back of the fridge is the coldest — just make sure it isn’t so cold that it starts forming ice crystals in the jello! This will ruin the texture of your silky smooth jelly.

How Long Does It Take For Jello To Set?

Homemade Red Cherry Gelatin Dessert in a Bowl

There are a couple of factors that determine the exact setting time of jello.

The two main ones are what you want to use the jello for and the second is the amount of jello you are setting. Let’s look at the first.

Most people think jello is made and set into a thick jelly and that’s it, there are no other ways to use this product. However, they couldn’t be more wrong!

You can set the jelly to a specific consistency, alter it, and allow it to set again.

For example, when you make a very thick (but not set) jello, you can add fruits or candies to the liquid. This consistency won’t cause the heavy ingredients to sink to the bottom. Then, you can proceed to set it or serve it as is.

Another example is when you make layered jello. You need the liquids to merge to some extent to hold together as one big blob. If you set each layer individually on top of each other, the unmolded jelly won’t stay together. 

So, set the bottom layer until it is just set. Then, add the next liquid layer so it sticks!

Here are the jello setting times for different uses (1 portion / 2 cups):

ConsistencySetting TimesUses
Syrupy1 hourGlazes for pies and sandwiches
Slightly thick1 hour 15 minutesFor adding whipped creams to make puddings with
Thick, but not set1 hour 30 minutesWhen adding other ingredients into the jelly mixture without them sinking to the bottom
Soft set2 hoursFor making layered jellies (the stage before being completely set)
Firm3-6 hoursUnmolding and serving as a firm set jelly

Next, we look at how the size of the jello mixture affects the setting time. Naturally, the larger the mixture the longer it will take to set completely.

However, a big misconception that people have is that smaller portions of jello take minutes to set.

Unfortunately, a single shot of jello will still take about 2-3 hours to set. But, a quart (900 ml) of jello will take more like 5-6 hours. So, between the two extremes, the time difference is big. But, anything in between really is only a 2-hour difference.

Here are the jello setting times for various volumes:

Jello Amount In ContainerSetting Time
Single shot (1-1.5 fl oz / 30-44 ml)2-3 hours
1 cup (8.45 fl oz / 250 ml)3 hours
2 cups (16.9 fl oz / 500 ml)3-4 hours
3 cups (25.36 fl oz / 750 ml)4-5 hours
4 cups (33 fl oz / 1000 ml)5-6 hours
8 cups (2.11 quart / 2 liters)6-8 hours

Can You Make Jello Set Quicker?

Believe it or not, there are a ton of ways you can make a jello set much quicker than it usually does.

Method 1: Melt Powder In Less Water

The steps for this method aren’t very different from the usual. What changes a lot is how much boiling water and how much cold water you use.

Instead of using 1 cup of boiling water, combine 1/2 cup with the jello powder in a small microwave-safe bowl. Then, if the water doesn’t melt all of the powder, heat it again slightly and whisk it again.

Then, add the boiling mixture to 1 1/2 cups of ice cold water. Whisk the ingredients and set them in the fridge.

By essentially using colder and less warm water, your liquid is automatically much cooler than when using the regular ratios. This will help start setting the liquid sooner.

Method 2: Use Ice Cubes Instead Of Water

This is pretty self-explanatory. Still melt your jello using 1 cup of boiling water. Then, add 1 cup (or the equivalent of 1 cup) ice cubes instead of water.

Again, it helps cool the liquid much quicker and a lot more so it can start setting sooner.

1 cup of water is the same as 8.92 ounces (250 grams) of ice cubes.

Method 3: Chill In The Freezer

Once your liquid has been made, pour it into your container, add a lid, and place it inside the freezer for 20 minutes.

You cannot set the jello inside the freezer for hours. Ice crystals will form which will ruin the texture of your jelly. After 20 minutes, transfer the liquid to the fridge and allow it to set completely.

By just cooling the liquid quickly in the freezer for 20 minutes, your jello will start setting almost immediately in the fridge.

Method 4: Place The Liquid In A Chilled Container

Even a step as basic as this one will help make a massive difference. Chill the container you want to set the jelly in before you start the process. You can quickly chill it in the freezer for 10-20 minutes.

Then, after making the jelly liquid, you can pour it inside this container. Set the jello in the fridge as you normally would. 

The cold container will help cool the liquid quickly and continuously so that it sets quicker.

Method 5: Set In Smaller Portions

You can also make the jello liquid set much quicker by dividing the liquid into individual portions. You can combine this method with any of the above-mentioned.

You will only shave off an hour or two, but that still makes a big difference if you’re in a pinch.

Method 6: Use Instant Jello

Last, but certainly not least, you can always just buy instant jello. This product contains other ingredients that help the liquid set in virtually no time at all. 

It’s a simple solution for when you are in a pinch, but it’s still a good one!

What To Do If Your Jello Doesn’t Want To Set

If you have jello that simply doesn’t want to set, you can try some of these tricks.

But before trying to fix the jello, just give it another couple of hours. Some jello products take longer to set than others. 

Method 1: Re-Set The Jello

It may be that your jello wasn’t properly mixed the first time you made the jelly.

Remember we mentioned that it is crucial to completely melt the powder before setting it. Well, if you don’t, not all the gelatin has been melted. Thus, not all the gelatin can do its work.

So, if you remelt it and set the liquid again, it may just work the second time. But, don’t overheat the liquid. Use gentle low heat to melt your jello. Otherwise, too much heat could also cause the gelatin to become deactivated.

Method 2: Remove The Fruit

Many people add fruit to their jellies. However, some fruit inhibits the setting ability of gelatin.

So, if you see that your jello isn’t setting, remove the fruits, melt the jelly, and set it again.

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