Rainbow Ribbon Jello

My grandma on my dad’s side has a number of signature recipes that we can count on showing up at most family gatherings. At Christmas, it’s her famous Decker Cake. During the spring and summer you’ll see her broccoli salad, strawberry pretzel salad and ribbon Jello all at least once. I’m a total sucker for old-school Jello desserts. As a kid, both my mom and grandma would routinely have a bowl of Jello stashed in the fridge for a quick weeknight dessert with some whipped cream on top. It’s a comfort food, for sure, and I love all of the different types of fun desserts that can be made from it. My grandma’s ribbon Jello recipe has four layers of colors with white layers in between. Since I’m a stereotypical first-born that likes things just so, I needed my ribbon to be transformed into a rainbow. Such a picky girl I can be! I took my grandma’s recipe, added more colors, increased the white layer mixture, and voilà! I have a rainbow!

Aren’t old recipes just the best? I love the handwritten ones more than anything!

This is my mom’s written copy of my grandma’s recipe…

When I went to the store to buy my boxes of Jello, I was suddenly aware that I hadn’t shopped for Jello in quite some time. They have some pretty cool flavors now! When I was a kid, orange was, well… Orange. Yellow was always Lemon. This was life, right? Sort of like how the sky is blue. Now they have mango and “island pineapple”! My rainbow Jello got a little tropical kick, love these new flavors!

Doesn’t it look like I’m about to color Easter eggs?

This is the point where I am completely, totally, 100% honest with you. This recipe takes a long time. Halfway through I realized why my grandma’s recipe only contains four colors. You’ll need to devote the better part of a day to assembling this, but the result is absolutely awesome. The good news is also that once you mix everything together in the beginning, it takes less than 5 minutes to pour on each new layer; the time is just spent waiting for the layers to set up. As long as you don’t have anywhere to run off to, this is an incredibly simple recipe that you can work on while doing other things at home.

I love all of these bright colors and the accompanying bright flavors! This is such a fun dessert for any summer get-together and would be a blast for a child’s birthday party as well. I love the look of the rainbow, but you could use any combination of colors you’d like.

A few notes on the recipe:

  • My grandma recommends putting the 9×13-inch pan in the freezer while you mix together your layers so that the first layer will set up quickly in the refrigerator and get you moving on to the next layer faster.
  • You can absolutely choose to cut down on the number of colors/layers. If you do so, you just need to scale down the white filling the appropriate amount.
  • The Jello colors should not gel sitting out at room temperature, however my very last color (red) started to set before I got it on the white layer. I popped it in the microwave for about 20 seconds to bring it back to a liquid state, let it cool for a few minutes, and then poured it on. It worked just fine!
Do you have a favorite Jello recipe?! Feel free to share in the comments below!

One year ago: Easy Homemade French Fries

Rainbow Ribbon Jello

Yield: 12 to 16 servings

Prep Time: 9 hours

Total Time: 9 hours

Ingredients:

For the Jello Layers:
6 (3-ounce) boxes Jello, 1 each red, orange, yellow, green, blue & purple (or colors of your choice)
6 cups boiling water
3 cups cold water

For the White Layers:
4 cups milk
1 cup boiling water
4 envelopes Knox gelatin
24 ounces vanilla yogurt
1 cup granulated sugar
4 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Get 5 small bowls out to start. Mix 1 box of Jello with 1 cup boiling water and ½ cup cold water. Do this with all of the colors at the same time.

2. Heat the milk in a saucepan over low heat just until it reaches a lukewarm temperature. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together 1 cup boiling water with the envelopes of Knox gelatin. Whisk together until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Add the warm milk, yogurt, sugar and vanilla extract and whisk until thoroughly combined and completely smooth with no lumps.

3. Pour the first color into a 9x13-inch pan and refrigerate until set (about 45 minutes, but can vary depending on the temperature of your fridge and how full it is). Once it's set, very gently pour 1½ cups of the yogurt mixture on top. Return to the refrigerator for 45 minutes, or until set. Repeat with the colors and yogurt mixture until the last color is used (you will have some yogurt mixture leftover). When finished, refrigerate for at least another hour. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve; refrigerate leftovers.

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105 Responses to “Rainbow Ribbon Jello”

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  1. Maura @ My Healthy 'Ohana on July 26, 2012 at 12:05 am

    My mom used to always make rainbow jello, it’s one of my comfort foods too! It’s definitely a process. I love the use of yogurt in your white layer, I think my mom uses condensed milk.

    Reply

  2. Kristen on July 26, 2012 at 12:38 am

    I’ haven’t seen something like this before – looks cool!

    Reply

  3. Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes on July 26, 2012 at 12:50 am

    This looks awesome! I’ve never been a fan of jello but this looks so pretty that I will have to try it :)

    Reply

  4. Angelyn on July 26, 2012 at 1:19 am

    I love Jello! This is so bright and pretty … looks delicious!!

    Reply

  5. Dani @ andcute on July 26, 2012 at 1:29 am

    Wow, these colors are so vibrant. This would be perfect for a summer party!

    Reply

  6. j3nn on July 26, 2012 at 2:35 am

    I love the colors!!! So pretty and fun.

    Reply

  7. myxtyplx on July 26, 2012 at 3:21 am

    At 45 min chill per layer, it takes 11(45) = 495 min = 8 1/4 hrs. for this???
    Pretty but definetly not worth the bother.

    Reply

    • Phyllis on July 26th, 2012 at 8:12 am

      Oh, my goodness, it is definitely worth the bother, and it really is not much bother at all: “The good news is also that once you mix everything together in the beginning, it takes less than 5 minutes to pour on each new layer; the time is just spent waiting for the layers to set up. As long as you don’t have anywhere to run off to, this is an incredibly simple recipe that you can work on while doing other things at home.” This dish is tasty and cheerful and and is one of those legacy recipes that families count on for special occasions.

      Reply

      • DEBRA on March 30th, 2013 at 9:50 pm

        i made this jello today in a bundt pan for easter, the only trouble i had for some reason was after the 3rd layer, the other jellos already made and the yogurt mixture got pretty thick……next time i will only make a few ahead……

        Reply

  8. Becca @ Amuse Your Bouche on July 26, 2012 at 5:38 am

    This is goooorgeous! Takes a long time but as you say, very little of that is actually hands-on. I can imagine this being perfect for a kid’s party or something :)

    Reply

  9. Marie on July 26, 2012 at 5:55 am

    This is SO COOL!!! My daughters would absolutely love it! I want to make it for them ASAP! One question though, if you don’t mind… To keep the white layer from setting up, would it have to be kept at room temperature? Since it’s such a long process, is it okay for the milk/yogurt to be out that long? I would have thought the milk would spoil! Thank you!

    Reply

    • Michelle on July 26th, 2012 at 9:41 am

      Hi Marie, If you refrigerate the white layer it will definitely set. My grandma has been making this for eons and has always just left everything out while assembling and never had a problem.

      Reply

      • Marie on July 26th, 2012 at 10:04 am

        Great! Thanks for your reply! :)

        Reply

  10. Leia on July 26, 2012 at 6:17 am

    Sugar Free Jello?? Loved the picture of the recipe card!! My husband’s aunt used to make this but used different ingredients for the white layer.

    Reply

    • Michelle on July 26th, 2012 at 9:43 am

      Hi Leia, My grandma always uses sugar-free, low-fat, etc. but it’s not necessary, you can use whatever type of Jello, milk and yogurt you like, from skim/no-fat to full fat. It’ll all work!

      Reply

  11. Penny Wolf on July 26, 2012 at 7:08 am

    I adore the colors! And I don’t think the time is that bad. I mean throw in some laundry in between layers,empty the dishwasher,whatever. Time management
    and you have a cheerful dish! My Mom made a whipped jello back in the 70’s when I was a kid. It sat up kind of like foam. A friend’s Mom gave us hot jello to drink in the winter.I have not encountered either one of these since I was a kid,and they were good.

    Reply

    • Michelle on July 26th, 2012 at 9:44 am

      Penny, My grandma makes the whipped Jello too! In fact, she just made it for a graduation party a couple of weeks ago!

      Reply

  12. Sprigs of Rosemary on July 26, 2012 at 7:33 am

    MY SIL always makes this at Christmas — I think she’d be shot if she didn’t. All the kids love it. Me? I know it’s pretty but I’m not a big Jello fan. (But I like mousse!?! Why’s that?!?)

    Reply

  13. Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers on July 26, 2012 at 7:37 am

    Wow, this is so cool looking!!! I should make this for the family, they would love it!

    Reply

  14. Jaime on July 26, 2012 at 7:38 am

    We make Rainbow Jello here too! My MIL’s recipe used sour cream and some of the last color applied for the creamy layer – that way you have color in each layer – sort of like the bright color followed by a pastel version. I substitute vanilla soy yogurt in mine instead. Another fun variation that we’ve tried…make it in a Bundt pan. When you’re ready to unmold it, put the pan in hot water for about 20 seconds and flip it. It looks really impressive!

    Reply

    • Michelle on July 26th, 2012 at 9:46 am

      I have seen the Bundt version and you’re right – it looks totally impressive, so pretty! I definitely need to try that.

      Reply

  15. Musing mar on July 26, 2012 at 7:55 am

    What fun! I can just imagine how this colorful dessert will appeal to children of all ages, including adults with a sense of fun!

    Reply

  16. Carol on July 26, 2012 at 9:10 am

    My grandson is going to have some surgery this summer and this will be a special treat waiting for him when he comes home. I can understand how this could become a special tradition in any family.

    Reply

    • Michelle on July 26th, 2012 at 9:47 am

      Good luck to your grandson! I’m sure he’ll enjoy the special treat when he gets home! :)

      Reply

  17. Jennifer on July 26, 2012 at 9:21 am

    This is so pretty and a great idea. Thanks for mentioning how long it takes. That way I can be prepared when I make it.

    Reply

  18. Jessica@AKitchenAddiction on July 26, 2012 at 9:23 am

    I love being able to make the recipes that my grandmother made! It’s so fun and brings back a lot of good memories!

    Reply

  19. Eileen on July 26, 2012 at 9:27 am

    My grandma was a huge Jell-O maker too. I think that’s why I like it so. The down side is I ruined a batch of Red, White and Blue Jello-O Shooters I was making for the 4th. Now who can’t make Jello-O come out right! Me apparently…

    Reply

  20. Kelly on July 26, 2012 at 9:33 am

    My grandmother’s “in the fridge” summer jello was red jello with sliced bananas, and mini marshmallows on top. My favorite!

    Reply

    • Michelle on July 26th, 2012 at 9:48 am

      Jello with fruit was always a big thing with my grandma, too! I love the idea of strawberry Jello mixed with sliced banana, sounds delicious!

      Reply

  21. Lisa on July 26, 2012 at 9:40 am

    My Grandma and Mom made a variation of this and now I do too. You do mix sour cream with the jello to add a pastel version of the main color. I sub plain yogurt for the sour cream.

    My Grandma also a wonderful broken glass jello salad with a graham cracker crust. My Mom and I can’t find this in her recipe box and I’d love to make it again. It had a creamy white base with pieces of four or five jellos broken and stirred in. The entire thing set on a graham cracker crust in a 9×13 pan. Has anyone every had this?

    Reply

  22. Restaurant supply gal on July 26, 2012 at 9:48 am

    Gotta love a recipe that the kids will enjoy not only eating, but looking at and helping to create!

    Reply

  23. Mi Vida en un Dulce on July 26, 2012 at 9:50 am

    This is wonderful, look at that color, I guess my kids and I can have a good time trying to make it. They are on middle year vacations (school is from March – December) so we are looking for things to do together.

    Reply

  24. Annie @ Annie's City Kitchen on July 26, 2012 at 10:04 am

    I never really thought I’d try a recipe that lists a 9 hour prep-time but this one definitely looks like it’s worth it. I haven’t had jello in years!

    Reply

  25. Mal @ The Chic Geek on July 26, 2012 at 10:08 am

    This is so pretty!

    Reply

  26. Kathy Miller on July 26, 2012 at 10:51 am

    For years this has been my classic, “You better make this at Christmas” jello…the red and green are beautiful as well… And it works great for patriotic holiday gatherings too! Your grandma’s white layer is different from my recipe…I will try yours next time…thanks for sharing this timeless treat!

    Reply

  27. Connie on July 26, 2012 at 11:17 am

    Your rainbow jell-o is beautiful, love all the colors. I think this might be the first version of rainbow jell-o I’ve seen made with yogurt, which makes this all the more interesting. I love old recipes, especially hand-written ones ♥. I love the stories behind heirloom recipes.

    Reply

  28. Susanna on July 26, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Looks amazing, I definitely have to try this. I have never tasted Jello :) Luckily, we have an American store which sells Jello. Hope they have it in as many colors as you have!

    Reply

  29. Erica on July 26, 2012 at 11:48 am

    I love Jello, particularly the sugar free kind. I also love a Jello Dream Pie. Jello, cool whip and a graham cracker crust. Super simple and a great light, tasty treat. Sometimes I just make the filling and don’t even bother with the crust!

    Reply

  30. jody on July 26, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    This just makes me smile. My great grandma always had oodles of boxes of jello in her pantry and made so many jello desserts and salads.
    Cooking the foods she made makes me miss her but feel close to her. One of my most cherished possessions my collection of her recipes.

    She never made this particular style, but I am definitely going to buy a bunch of jello and make this in her honor. It is beautiful. I miss jello!
    She cooked with cream cheese often, so i think I may try adding some cream cheese in the cream layers.

    Thank you for posting this :-)

    Reply

  31. Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet on July 26, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Oooh, so pretty! Kiddos will love it!

    Reply

  32. sally @ sallys baking addiction on July 26, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Michelle, I’m completely blown away. what a BEAUTIFUL, bright, summery dessert. I love making my mother’s and grandmother’s recipes. It brings them back to life. :)

    Reply

  33. Katie @ Blonde Ambition on July 26, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Neat! I’ve always wondered how to do this!

    Reply

  34. Rachel @ Baked by Rachel on July 26, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    I love old hand written recipes too. This looks like a fun way to brighten up a gloomy day.

    Reply

  35. Penny Wolf on July 26, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Hey I’m thinking favorite team colors, a little booze and in layers….The white
    yogurt can be switched out with melted vanilla ice cream. Very interesting
    thoughts thanks to this post :)

    Reply

  36. Tanya on July 26, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    How fun is this!

    My mom makes a whipped jello “salad” that has whipped cream, pineapple and cottage cheese in it. It makes an appearance at least once a summer. So yummy!

    Reply

  37. Taz on July 26, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    I make this but without the white layers – instead I mix a coloured jello mix with evaporated milk instead of water to make an opaque colour and assemble green, green opaque, yellow, yellow opaque or whatever order you want – but always a clear layer followed by an opaque one of the same colour.

    Reply

  38. Jenny on July 26, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Handwritten recipes are priceless. For a bridal shower gift my aunt requested family members write out their favorite recipes on 3×5 cards. She collected them and gave them to me a few weeks before our wedding. The one I treasure is the divinity recipe from my great-grandma that my grandma gave to me from her own collection. I plan to frame it and put it on my kitchen wall some day. My mother made a ribbon jello recipe at Christmas: green layer, red layer, and some sort of cream cheese pineapple mixture in between.

    Reply

  39. Tesei on July 26, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    This is such a lovely treat! Any kid would love it, I know my kid will, thank you!!!

    Reply

  40. carrian on July 26, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    This was my favorite thing that kids would bring for their birthday treat in elementary school! Love it!

    Reply

  41. Suzanne on July 26, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    My only problem with this particular jello recipe is that, though very pretty to look at, all the flavors are muddled- ironically there is no brightness at all. I wonder if one could use knox gelatine with food coloring and a bottle of flavored extract to achieve the same pretty result with a clear flavor.

    Reply

    • Michelle on July 28th, 2012 at 7:23 pm

      Hi Suzanne, I actually really feel like the flavors are so bright and fun! No real muddling at all. I can taste the different flavors and with so many, it’s like a big tropical Jello party in my mouth :)

      Reply

  42. Stephanie on July 26, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    Is it a mom thing? haha My mom use to make rainbow Jello without the white layers in between. Loved it!!

    Reply

  43. Katrina on July 26, 2012 at 11:36 pm

    I make this a couple times a year, too. Such a big hit! Your layers look perfect!

    Reply

  44. heidid26 on July 27, 2012 at 2:44 am

    I was thinking – and pinned the blog with my idea, lol – This would make a fun treat for our church’s Olympic Opening ceremony party tomorrow, doing the layers in the colors of the rings. Then I saw the bundt pan idea and now I’m completely over the moon. I’ll let you know if I end up making it.

    Reply

    • Kelly on July 27th, 2012 at 9:01 am

      That sounds like a fabulous idea!!

      Reply

  45. Beth Cook on July 27, 2012 at 9:24 am

    I have no interesting Jell-o tidbits, but my mother has saved handwritten recipes from women in our family and gotten the new women (me, my cousins, etc) to write favorite recipes. When I got married, she gave me a box of handwritten recipes from the women in our family. She’s kept the orginals but made copies and laminated them. My cousins got them, too. Wonderful gift!

    Reply

    • Michelle on July 28th, 2012 at 10:50 pm

      Aww, I love this tradition!

      Reply

  46. Taira on July 27, 2012 at 9:26 am

    How do u get it to not stick to the pan?

    Reply

    • Michelle on July 28th, 2012 at 10:50 pm

      Hmm, I don’t think I’ve ever had an issue with Jello sticking to a pan. I just use a knife and spatula to cut it and lift it out of the pan, no issues!

      Reply

  47. Andrea on July 28, 2012 at 12:03 am

    Just curious but… I don’t care for the appearance of the white layer. Will it have the same result if you layer the colored jello right on top of each other?

    Reply

    • Michelle on July 28th, 2012 at 11:09 pm

      Hi Andrea, It won’t have the same look or the same flavor, so the result won’t be the same, but you can certainly do it.

      Reply

  48. Tracy {Pale Yellow} on July 28, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    Awesome recipe! Such an awesome looking dessert and so easy!

    Reply

  49. chicago foodie girl on July 29, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    So adorable!!

    Reply

  50. Chay on July 30, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    My mom used to make this every Labor Day and Christmas (with x-mas colors), but she would use sour cream instead of milk. Your recipe sounds much tastier, I’ll give it a try this Labor Day!

    And you’re right, it doesn’t look as good or set the right way without the ‘white’ layer (we tried multiple times).

    Reply

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