How to Make Apple Cider Jello

Pull on a woolly sweater and let’s do this.

My life used to be different. Every time someone had a party, every time someone had people over for dinner or drinks or to watch a movie or anything, I would dutifully go to the store and grab a bag of tortilla chips, some guacamole, and a bottle of pop. Chips and guac, ya know? It was a cheap and easy way not to arrive empty-handed.

Years went by. Chips. Guac. Chips. Guac. An endless parade of fried tortilla triangles and avocado goop. And then I got into Jell-O. Specifically, I got into elaborate, ’50s-style Jell-O molds. You know the kind? I used to get served allll types of Jell-O desserts at Mormon social events in Wisconsin: mandarin orange Jell-O with whipped cream! Jell-O with pineapples and marshmallows! And I loved them, but then I grew up and moved away, and no one ever served Jell-O desserts to me anymore. Fortunately, Jell-O molds are easy to make, and so last April, I started bringing them to parties. You guys, you can’t even imagine how excited people get over these things. Everybody wanted to poke the Jell-O! Suddenly, where there had been shyness and groups of people who didn’t know one another, there was a party! And Jell-O just so happens to be less than a dollar a box. Much cheaper than chips and guac.

One day, while standing in my kitchen, simmering a saucepan of lime-flavored Jell-O, something occurred to me. There is such a thing as unflavored gelatin. I’d seen it in the store. And if they make unflavored gelatin—why, YOU COULD “JELL” ANY LIQUID. And this is where our journey begins today, folks: it’s fall, why not make apple cider “jello”? (Note: this is not the actual Jell-O brand.)

After trying a lot (a lot) of recipes, I got the basic formula for gelling liquids from Sally Schneider’s fantastic cookbook The Improvisational Cook. (She also suggests apple cider, but I swear to god I came up with it all on my own before reading her book.) It is so, so delicious and unexpected.

You will need:

  • Four cups of apple cider. The best kind is usually next to the apples in the produce section, or from the farmer’s market, but any apple cider will work.
  • Two packets of unflavored gelatin powder. You can find unflavored gelatin next to the Jell-O in the baking aisle. (Note: If you can’t find unflavored gelatin powder, you can use two boxes of lemon-flavored Jell-O, in which case you won’t need sugar or lemon juice.)
  • Lemon juice. Between four to six tablespoons, depending on how tangy you want this to be.
  • Sugar. Between four to six tablespoons, depending on how sweet you want this to be.
  • One gelatin mold. A gelatin mold is usually metal or plastic, and looks like this or this. I found my gelatin molds at thrift stores for less than a buck each.
  • A tablespoon of vegetable or olive oil.

1. Drizzle the tablespoon of oil onto the inside of your gelatin mold, and use a paper towel to spread it over the inside surface evenly. Set the mold aside.

2. Pour one cup of apple cider into a medium-size bowl. Add two packets of unflavored gelatin (or lemon-flavored Jell-O), making sure the powder evenly coats the top of the cider.

3. Pour the remaining three cups of cider into a saucepan. Heat on medium until you see little bubbles form around the rim of the cider. Add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, while stirring, and taste. (Is it sweet enough? Do you want it sweeter?) Stir the sugar until it dissolves.

4. Add the lemon juice, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is tangy enough for your liking.

5. Turn off the heat. Add the cider with the gelatin to the hot cider mixture in the saucepan. Stir until everything is dissolved.

6. Let the mixture cool. Then carefully—carefully, because there will be stickiness for daaaays if you spill—pour the cider mixture into your gelatin mold.

7. Cover the mold with aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Put it in the refrigerator.

8. Wait at least four hours, and take the gelatin mold out of the fridge. Using your hands, gently pull the sides of the jello away from the outer rim of the mold to loosen it. Place a flat plate on top of the mold and flip. The jello should slide right out.

You can serve this in slices, with whipped cream and cinnamon! You can do this while wearing a woolly sweater and leg warmers, as leaves flutter down. And let us never forget: YOU CAN MAKE ANY LIQUID A GELATIN. IMPRESS EVERYONE FOREVER. (But, P.S., you know what surprisingly doesn’t taste good when gelled? Coca-Cola. LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES, PEOPLE.) ♦


  • Belinda November 6th, 2012 7:22 PM

    A Rookie article on jello. My life is complete.

  • Claire November 6th, 2012 7:29 PM

    I thought of Diet Coke Jell-O at the beginning of this article – even worse, probably. Rookie should do a piece on aspics next!

  • vintagewhimsy November 6th, 2012 7:41 PM

    I surprisingly have all the ingredients for this! I never have all the ingredients for these things! This is happening. Tonight.

  • DreamBoat November 6th, 2012 7:43 PM

    Omg. I’m dying. This is like WAY TOO PERFECT UGH KRISTA I LOVE YOU <3
    totally gonna make this this weekend

  • Microbyte1 November 6th, 2012 7:49 PM

    i feel like eating Jello now !

  • HollinsCollins November 6th, 2012 8:00 PM

    Best. Recipe. EVER.

    And I still want to try Coke jello, even though you said it was bad.

    • Tiger November 7th, 2012 8:02 PM

      I know, coke jello sounds so good :)

  • Katy November 6th, 2012 8:03 PM

    I’m going to host a Thanksgiving-themed party, and I have two boxes of lemon jello waiting in the cupboard—this recipe came at the perfect time!

  • Tiger November 6th, 2012 8:03 PM


  • creaturefeature November 6th, 2012 8:05 PM

    I haven’t been tempted to eat animal products in like three years, but YOU GUYS, I’M VERY TEMPTED TO HAVE JELLO NOW.

    • kittenmix November 6th, 2012 10:26 PM

      agar agar is your friend!

  • imsexyandyousmellfunny November 6th, 2012 8:07 PM

    I’m the kind of person who is extremely lazy and hates cooking, but yet I still really want to make this.
    While wearing sweaters and leg warmers.

    Too bad my mom is a psychotic health freak who will buy gallons of ice cream, but refuses to own sugar in its pure form.

  • Kathryn November 6th, 2012 8:36 PM


    I haven’t had Jell-O for agesssssss

  • Moxx November 6th, 2012 9:44 PM

    Jello is sort of the perfect food and this article is the best because cider + Jello
    the possibilities oh god

  • mudcat November 6th, 2012 11:46 PM

    Aaaaand, suddenly I know exactly what I’m bringing to my family Thanksgiving dinner. You know. Instead of chips.

  • Abby November 7th, 2012 12:56 AM


  • Madeleine Angel November 7th, 2012 3:13 AM

    Going to make this Jello for Thanksgiving!!! Thanks Rookie for this yummy “How to”

  • sneakybacon November 7th, 2012 5:24 AM

    i’m guessing apple cider means something different in america? back in england this is alcohol..?

    • Tavi November 7th, 2012 9:37 AM

      Yes! Here it is just an apple-flavored non-alcoholic drink!
      Omg imagine a Rookie post like “HOW TO GET DURNK”

      • HollinsCollins November 7th, 2012 1:07 PM

        I can imagine it…”Today I learned how to get drunk! Courtesy of Tavi Gevinson!” ROOKIE IS THE BEST.

        But yeah, around here in Virginia cider is just like brown apple juice and it is LIKE THE BEST THING EVER. Hard cider is just cider that sucks (lol jk it’s just fermented till it could make you drunk. I’ve never had it XD).

        • sneakybacon November 7th, 2012 3:35 PM

          ah, back in the uk cider is alcohol and what we’re dealing with here is apple juice

      • farawayfaerie November 19th, 2012 2:46 PM

        oh myyyyy, in south africa apple cider is VINEGAR. i was sooo confused, i was like how does this taste good?!?! ugh. i was even more confused when everyone thought this WAS A GOOD IDEA…TO MAKE JELLY (we don’t call it jello) OUT OF VINEGAR!! yikes! hmmm, apple juice jellly :) yum

    • carogenous November 7th, 2012 12:16 PM

      we call alcoholic apple cider just “hard cider” stateside!
      How to make one really massive jello shot from your friends at Rookie!!!

      • Loops November 11th, 2012 2:15 AM

        Is apple cider the same thing as apple juice? I’m so confuuuused!

        • Tavi November 19th, 2012 5:01 PM

          I don’t know what makes the two different! This was so bugging me!

          ah, here:
          “Apple juice is juice that has been filtered to remove solids and pasteurized so that it will stay fresh longer, apple cider has not gone through this process. A press is used to extract the juice for apple cider. ”

  • taste test November 7th, 2012 3:55 PM

    here’s a somewhat-related tip for people who want something to drink beside hot chocolate, coffee, and tea this winter- you can drink hot jello. as in, you can just put it in hot water and drink it without letting it set or anything. it’s probably unhealthy as fuck, but it’s really good!

  • nurirachel November 7th, 2012 6:53 PM

    This sounds sooo yummy. Okay, this might sound silly, but I have exactly one envelope of unflavored gelatin right now and lots of juice. Is it okay to half the recipe, using 1 cup of juice to soak the powder and boil the second cup?

  • Krista November 8th, 2012 1:12 PM

    I bet it would work!!

  • Mary the freak November 29th, 2012 2:02 PM

    My friend and me will have a huge sleepover party for two tomorrow, and I know what we’ll make and eat now. <3

  • Nimble February 7th, 2013 5:47 PM

    I must try this and I must try it now. Let the fun begin!!!

  • book_kitty November 2nd, 2013 8:59 PM

    Is there a way to do this with agar-agar powder to make it vegan?