If you're feeling patriotic, there are plenty of red, white, and blue jello mold recipes out there, but the kicker is that most start out with boxes of flavored gelatin. Let's go for a tastier version, shall we? One with real fruit juice and lots of fresh fruit suspended in the layers, and no artificial colors.
This dessert is quite the showstopper — especially for kids. Plus, who doesn't love a sweet-tart red layer filled with strawberries, a creamy vanilla-based middle layer that tastes a bit like whipped cream, and a dark-blue layer chock-full of plump blueberries? Having it all in one slice is the best part. Not only will you get an amazing, satisfying feeling as you cut into the three gorgeous layers, but your taste buds (and guests!) will also thank you.
Time, Time, Time
So let's get some straight talk out of the way: Gelatin molds are not hard. You're basically just whisking gelatin, sugar, and juice together and letting the refrigerator set everything up. The tricky part comes into play when you want to make layers — especially layers with fruit suspended inside. You want each layer to be set so the next layer doesn't run into it, but not too set that they won't stick together.
Read more: How To Make a Layered Jello Mold
If you're still nervous, don't fret! I've basically timed everything out to be as efficient as possible. You may wonder why some layers are going into the refrigerator while some are sitting at room temperature, but just make sure you set timers and it'll all work out in the end. In fact, I highly recommend you print the recipe out and jot down the start times next to each step so that you're tracking everything in case you forget to set a timer.
This is a great make-ahead dessert since it takes a couple of hours of stop-and-go work to get to the final product. Make it the day before to give it plenty of time to set, and save the day you're going to serve it for other cooking tasks.
Red, White, and Blue Jello Mold
For the red layer:
2 cups cranberry juice cocktail, divided
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup thinly sliced fresh strawberries
For the white layer:
1 cup cold water
1 cup boiling water
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
For the blue layer:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup fresh blueberries
Make the red layer: Coat a 10-cup Bundt cake pan or gelatin mold with cooking spray; set aside.
Place 1 cup of the cranberry juice in a medium bowl (with a volume of at least 4 cups). Sprinkle with the gelatin and let sit at least 5 minutes for the gelatin to bloom and absorb the juice. Place the remaining 1 cup of cranberry juice and the sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a full simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour over the gelatin mixture and whisk until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
Refrigerate until thickened, gel-like, and a piece of strawberry dropped inside remains suspended in the middle instead of floating, about 1 hour and 20 minutes (check after 1 hour). Meanwhile, make the white layer.
Make the white layer: Place the cold water in a medium or large bowl. Sprinkle with the gelatin and let sit for 5 minutes for the gelatin to bloom and absorb the water. Add the boiling water and whisk until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
Add the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla and whisk to combine. Set aside at room temperature. Set a timer for 45 minutes. When the timer goes off, make the blue layer (leave the white layer at room temperature).
Make the blue layer: Place 1 1/4 cups of the blueberry juice in a medium or large bowl. Sprinkle with the gelatin and let sit for 5 minutes for the gelatin to bloom and absorb the juice. Place the remaining 1 cup of blueberry juice and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour over the gelatin mixture and whisk until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
Refrigerate the mixture until it is quite thick and a blueberry dropped inside remains suspended in the middle instead of floating, about 1 hour 20 minutes.
Finish the red layer: When the red layer is ready, gently fold in the strawberries. Spoon into the pan or mold and spread into an even layer. Refrigerate until set but not firm, and still slightly sticky when you touch the top, about 15 minutes more.
Finish the white layer: When the red layer is ready, pour the room-temperature white layer (re-whisk again if a skin has formed) over the red layer. Return to the refrigerator and chill until set but not firm and still slightly sticky when you touch the top, about 45 minutes.
Finish the blue layer: When the blue layer is ready, gently fold in the blueberries. Spoon into the pan or mold on top of the white layer. Refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight. Do not unmold until ready to serve.
Unmold and serve: To remove the gelatin from the mold, carefully invert the mold onto a serving plate and let the jello fall gently from the mold onto the plate. This will take 2 to 3 minutes. (If it does not come out, fill the sink or a large, wide pot — wider than your mold — with warm tap water. Dip the outside of the mold in the water for 10 seconds. Remove from the water, dry the outside of the mold, and flip out onto a serving plate.) Cut into slices and serve.
- Make ahead: It's highly recommended that you make the gelatin mold 1 to 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated in the mold and only unmold when ready to serve.
- Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.