Kinsey Herzog: How to Make Jell-O Shots

Everyone loves to get shit-faced, but you know what everybody doesn’t love? Your shitty taste in alcohol. I swear to God, every time a couple of dudes come up to me and tell me they got alcohol, it’s the same damn thing every time: some Captain Morgan, a bottle of cheap vodka, and maybe some tequila. That’s depressing, especially when you have nothing to mix it with. Some people may not care, and chug whatever you’ve got, but people like me can’t stomach that crap. But you know what everyone does love? Jell-O shots. Now, I know what you may be thinking: Really? Jell-O shots? What am I, some kind of frat boy? Some kind of teen girl going to a music festival, trying to sneak in alcohol? Well, newsflash sweetie, Jell-O shots taste fucking good, and are a convenient way to get alcohol in your system. They are extremely popular at parties and people will never turn them down. They’re really not even that hard to make. I’m not even an alcoholic (though I may sound like one) and I make about two hundred of ’em for parties I go to. So if you don’t want your next party to fucking suck, follow this guide to make some delicious Jell-O shots.

Let’s start off with what you’re going to need. So write this shit down before you go to the store, or you’re probably gonna forget, let’s be honest. Just booze and Jell-O mix right? WRONG! You need the cups to put the shots in! I get mine on eBay because they conveniently come in packs of fifty along with lids. Lids aren’t completely necessary, but if you have to transport these shots anywhere, you’re gonna want lids. Or you’re gonna have a big ol’ mess of alcoholic gelatin on your hands. So you can get these online or probably at a grocery store, they’re essentially portion containers like restaurants have for sauces. I do two hundred shots, but you don’t have to do that many if the gathering is smaller. I recommend you do at least fifty or else it’s worthless. These things go fast, you’d be surprised. You will also want some kind of cooking spray like PAM—also not required. But I do think oiling the cups up first, helps the Jell-O slide out easily, just so your party guests don’t have to struggle—unless you want them to—your call. A pitcher is needed to pour the Jell-O/alcohol mixture into the cups. Don’t try and use a bowl, you’re gonna fail, these cups are small, you need a pitcher. If you have no cookie sheets at home, buy paper plates to stack your shots onto, so they can solidify in the fridge. If you have no measuring cups (why don’t you?). Buy at least a one-cup measuring cup. If you are transporting these shots, get a cooler. Depending on how many you make, get a fairly large one. You don’t want super warm Jell-O shots, that’d be fucking gross.

Now moving on to the Jell-O and alcohol part. So, for alcohol, don’t be a cheapskate and get some shitty, no-name, huge bottle of vodka. Your shots will taste like shit and you will look bad, and you should feel bad. Buying flavored vodka makes the shots taste A LOT better. Also the leftover alcohol can be used for mixed drinks! So here are my go-to alcohols, you may choose whatever fits your tastes, or if you’re rich, go ahead and buy the expensive shit. These alcohols are fairly cheap, but still flavored and get the job done: blue raspberry (UV blue), cherry (UV red), strawberry (Strawberry Smirnoff), apple (New Amsterdam Apple), and orange (New Amsterdam Mango). Orange vodka exists, but mango vodka tastes better in my opinion. Now for the Jell-O, just get the matching flavor. DON’T GET LIME JELL-O! IT TASTES FUCKING BAD AND NOBODY LIKES IT! Trust me, it is the most unpopular flavor. At Pride fest, where they were selling Jell-O shots, lime was so unpopular the volunteers started selling ’em to minors, since they were the only ones who would take ’em. Lime is just bad and doesn’t work well with alcohol either.

So most of these Jell-O flavors are pretty easy to find except green apple. It’s a special Jolly Rancher flavor and is sometimes harder to find. Flavors like blue raspberry, orange, and cherry come in big boxes. Apple and strawberry come in small boxes. So get one of each big box, and two of each small box. Lemon is an option, but I’ve found it’s not a super popular flavor. Not as bad as lime, but still not great.

Now, can you do this with normal vodka? Yeah, but if you’re going through all this effort you might as well get flavored, to be honest. So now that you got everything you need let’s start making these shots. I always do this with another person. I’ve found it’s way easier and doesn’t take as long with two people. If you’re lonely or none of your friends wanna help you (get new friends), that’s fine. Lay out the trays/plates and place the cups on them. Make sure you spray the cups with PAM or cooking oil first. Like I said before, it just makes for easy dispensing. Now you can start boiling the water for the Jell-O. I always have two pots of water boiling to make the process quicker, but you don’t have to. So for the big boxes (six ounces), you dump one box of the Jell-O mix, for the small (three ounces), just dump in two boxes, two cups of the boiling water, one cup of the correct alcohol flavor, and one cup of ice-cold water. Now, don’t try to add more alcohol. You may be thinking, Huh? If I add more alcohol, that means the shots will be more fun! No, they won’t be. They’ll taste like shit and barely have the consistency of Jell-O. If you add too much alcohol it can ruin the gelatinous state of the shots, and that’s the whole fucking point. Just don’t. So mix this little concoction up with a spoon. Try not to have it too close to your face. The alcohol fumes are a little strong when mixed with boiling water. The first time I made the shots, I inhaled too much and felt lightheaded.

Now begins the pouring process. Fill the cups as high as you can. Nobody wants to get a half empty cup, they’d be fucking pissed. Make sure you have enough space for the lid to go on top, don’t overfill either. Once you’re done and your pitcher has run out, do the next flavor. Like I said, easy, right? Once finished, you will stack your trays/plates on top of each other in your fridge. You may have to clear some space, take out anything you don’t need. Yes, that means the Chinese takeout that’s been sitting in some tupperware at the back of your fridge. I let these babies sit in the fridge overnight. I’ve never had them in the fridge for less than, like, twelve hours. So, if you’re on a time-crunch, you shouldn’t have made these in the first place.

Next morning they should be jiggly, wiggly, alcoholic Jell-O raring to go! If you’re transporting them, put the lids on ’em all and stack them in the cooler. I always put some ice packs or ziplocks of ice to keep ’em cold. So that’s it? That’s it! Every party is more fun with Jell-O shots! Even if you’re a fucking loser you can make a party fun with these! You can even sell them at concerts or festivals. Hell, I’ve seen ’em go for $3 a pop! Some people will put straws in the shots to pry them out easily, but my trick is use your finger. I slide my finger around the edge of the cup, and it slides right out! Then I just drop it down the hatch! Or you can use your tongue—apparently I’m a pussy for using my finger, but it’s way easier. That sentence sounded more sexual than I intended. Oh well!

Obviously, Jell-O shots are not equivalent to an entire shot of alcohol, but three or four of these things will get you somewhere. They’re just easy. When you don’t wanna chug, but also don’t wanna have to deal with shitty tasting alcohol, a Jell-O shot is a delicious and convenient option. Have them in between drinks. Take them earlier before drinking! Remember to drink responsibly. Or don’t, I don’t really give a shit!


Kinsey Herzog lives in Omaha, Nebrasks after graduating from Columbia College Chicago in 2018. Her most recently published piece is "The Right Place and the Right Time" on