How to Make Jelly

Seven Methods:Assessing gelatin quantities from the moldMaking basic gelatin leaf jellyPreparing powdered gelatin for use in jelly-makingBerry jellyMaking vegetarian friendly agar jellyAgar agar fruit jellyFrench jellies

Jelly is a cold dessert made from liquid and a gelling agent. Making jelly is an art form––the technical artist in you will be focused on getting the proportions of liquid and gelling agent just right, while the creative artist in you gets the chance to use a lot of imagination to create some fun jelly dessert outcomes!

Note: The term jelly is used here in its traditional British sense and the jelly recipes here are from scratch, not using packaged mixtures. For the proprietary preparation of Jell-O, see How to make Jello. Fruit preserve style jellies can be found doing a more general search of wikiHow, especially in the Jams and Jellies category.


Basic gelatin leaf jelly

  • Gelatin leaf
  • Liquid (water, juice, milk, etc.)

Powdered gelatin preparation

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 3 tablespoons warm water or flavored liquid

Berry jelly

  • 500g/17 oz sliced strawberries (or other crushed berries)
  • Water
  • Caster/superfine sugar for sweetening
  • 6 gelatin leaves
  • Cream for serving

Vegetarian-friendly agar jelly

  • 800ml/27 fl oz coconut milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 8 teaspoons agar agar flakes
  • 1 cup coconut cream

Agar agar fruit jelly

  • 500g/17 oz fruit (chopped, fresh, stewed or soaked)
  • 85g/3 oz sugar
  • 2-3 chopped bananas
  • 500ml/1 pint fruit juice or water (not pineapple)
  • 3 teaspoons agar agar

French jellies

  • 3 3/4 tablespoons gelatin
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 600ml/1 pint/20 fl oz water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Orange food coloring
  • Green food coloring
  • Caster sugar/superfine sugar to coat

Method 1
Assessing gelatin quantities from the mold

  1. 1
    Learn the basic combination of liquid to gelatin leaf. Once you understand this, you can determine your measurement needs from the mold's capacity. In a nutshell:
    • 1 leaf of gelatin sets 3 1/2 fl oz/100ml of liquid (water, juice, etc.)[1]
    • The liquid used to make a jelly can be almost anything edible, including water, fruit juice, soda, liqueur, wine, beer, etc.
  2. 2
    Assess the mold's capacity. Fill the mold with water. Pour the amount back into a measuring jug. Using the equation from above, assess much gelatin will be needed.

Method 2
Making basic gelatin leaf jelly

This jelly uses gelatin leaves rather than powdered gelatin––the end result will be more consistent and is usually easier to work with.

  1. 1
    Use the previous section to work out how much gelatin and liquid the jelly you're making requires, then use this recipe to make a basic jelly.
  2. 2
    Prepare the gelatin leaves. Cut each leaf of gelatin into small pieces. Place into a heatproof bowl.
    • Cover the leaf pieces with liquid. This shouldn't be a lot of liquid––just enough to cover.
    • Leave to one side. Allow it to soften for at least 10 minutes before using.
  3. 3
    Melt the gelatin. Pour some of the liquid you're using to make the jelly into a small pan. Bring to a simmer, and keep it cooking gently.
    • Place the heatproof bowl of softened gelatin leaf pieces (see previous section) on the water.
    • Keep heating gently until the gelatin melts. Stir frequently. The melting time will take around 10 minutes, longer if you're using milk.
  4. 4
    Add the remaining liquid to the bowl of melted gelatin. Stir well.
  5. 5
    Pour the liquid through a sieve. The sieve will catch undissolved gelatin (which will make the jelly gritty if not removed).
  6. 6
    Pour the jelly mixture into the mold. Skim off any surface bubbles unless they're not an issue––just be aware that any bubbles showing on the surface will set too.
  7. 7
    Place the jelly in the refrigerator. Leave to set. This will take at least six hours.
    • If you have strong odors in the fridge, cover the jelly mold with an upturned plate, plastic kitchen wrap or a lid, to prevent the flavors melding with the jelly.
  8. 8
    Unmold the jelly. This tends to be many a cook's least favorite part of making jelly, for fear of breakage. Be prepared for some trial and error. In a nutshell, here is how to unmold:
    • Place the jelly container in a bowl of warm water, the raw edge of the jelly facing upward and out of the water.
    • When you see the jelly loosening or melting a little at the sides, it may be ready to release from the mold. This can take anywhere from a few seconds to a half a minute.
    • Tip over and land the jelly on the serving plate. If you wet the plate before doing this, you will be able to align the jelly exactly where you want it to be on the plate.

Method 3
Preparing powdered gelatin for use in jelly-making

Although this can be harder to work with (powdered gelatin is more powerful), sometimes the powdered version of gelatin is all you can obtain or wish to work with. Here is how to make jelly using it.

  1. 1
    Soak the powdered gelatin in the water in a small bowl.
  2. 2
    Soak until it appears sponge-like.
  3. 3
    Heat 3 tablespoons of warm water or flavored liquid in a small saucepan.
  4. 4
    Remove the water from the heat. Add the spongy gelatin and stir through until it dissolves. Use in a jelly recipe as directed.

Method 4
Berry jelly

  1. 1
    Place the sliced strawberries or crushed jellies into a large bowl or basin. Cover with foil, pulling it on tightly.
  2. 2
    Place the bowl or basin into a large saucepan. Pour water into the saucepan, causing it to come two-thirds the way up the sides of the bowl or basin. Set on a low heat and simmer for one hour.
  3. 3
    Strain the hot juice from the bowl or basin into a measuring jug or pitcher. Add 1/2 cup of hot water to the berries and simmer for a further 15 minutes.
  4. 4
    Pour the next lot of berry juice into the first lot. Sweeten to taste with the sugar.
  5. 5
    Top up the juice. Add enough extra water to the berry juice to make 600ml/1 pint/20 fl oz.
  6. 6
    Mix the berry juice with the gelatin leaves. Stir to dissolve.
  7. 7
    Pour into serving glasses or bowls. Allow to set in the refrigerator.
  8. 8
    Serve with cold whipped cream and fresh berries.

Method 5
Making vegetarian friendly agar jelly

  1. 1
    Pour the coconut milk and the sugar into a saucepan.
  2. 2
    Sprinkle the agar agar flakes over the top.
  3. 3
    Bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes, occasionally stirring.
  4. 4
    Stir in the coconut cream. Remove from the heat.
  5. 5
    Pour into a mold.
    • If you want fairly flat or square jelly pieces, pour into a deep sided baking pan lined with parchment paper. This will allow you to cut cubes from the set jelly later.
  6. 6
    Leave the mixture to cool. Once cooled, transfer to the refrigerator. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, then test to see if it needs longer to set.
  7. 7
    Remove for serving. Either unmold from your chosen container (see above) or cut into cubes if you molded it in a baking pan.

Method 6
Agar agar fruit jelly

  1. 1
    Mix the bananas and fruit together in a bowl or in the jelly mold. If mixed in the bowl, place in the mold after mixing.
  2. 2
    Place the agar agar and sugar into a pan. Add the liquid.
  3. 3
    Bring to the boil, while stirring constantly.
  4. 4
    Remove from the heat. Allow to cool a little.
  5. 5
    Pour the agar mixture over the fruit in the mold. Place in the refrigerate to set. This will be at least 4 hours, perhaps longer.

Method 7
French jellies

These jellies are a candy rather than a dessert. The pan molds should be very small, so even candy molds might be suitable as long as they're non-stick.

  1. 1
    Place the gelatin, sugar and water in a medium saucepan.
  2. 2
    Cook over low heat. Cook for 25 minutes, checking frequently to ensure it is not burning.
  3. 3
    Remove from the heat. Set aside to cool. While waiting, oil or grease a small muffin or tartlet pan if using. Otherwise, use a silicon small muffin pan.
  4. 4
    Once cool, stir in the lemon juice.
  5. 5
    Divide the mixture into halves, each half in a different bowl. Use glass or ceramic bowls, not metallic.
  6. 6
    Add little green coloring to one half. Add a little orange coloring to the other half. Keep the tinting lightly colored.
  7. 7
    Pour the mixture into the molds.
  8. 8
    Place in the refrigerator. Allow to chill for at least 6 hours, or overnight.
  9. 9
    Once set, remove the jellies from the molds. Roll in caster or superfine sugar. They're now ready to serve as after-dinner candies or as treats.


  • Unmolded jelly should be kept refrigerated until it is time for serving it. This keeps it soft and of a nice texture. In Victorian times, jellies used to deliberately be made harder so that they could withstand sitting on sideboards for display. Unfortunately for diners, this meant chewy and rubbery desserts!
  • Jelly can also be set straight into serving glasses or dishes. This alleviates the need for any fiddly unmolding.
  • Jelly can be made from a commercial jelly preparation. While easy, be aware that many of these formulations contain a lot of sugar and artificial colors and flavorings.
  • Aspic jelly is a clear, savory jelly made from meat juice stocks. Aspic will occur naturally where the meat contains a lot of gelatin, such as in veal knuckle and bacon hock. Where there isn't gelatin naturally, it can be added to make aspic. Aspic has fallen out of favor in recent times as it can be difficult to make well and isn't much enjoyed by the modern palate. However, if you add such elements as spices and tomatoes, it can actually be quite an enjoyable jelly. Larousse Gastronomique has some good, albeit time-consuming, versions if you're keen to make aspic jelly.[2]


  • Don't use pineapple juice or pineapples for making jelly. The enzymes in pineapple prevent the jelly from setting.

Things You'll Need

  • Jelly mold
  • Saucepan
  • Heatproof bowl
  • Mixing spoon
  • Refrigerator
  • Baking pan (optional, for jelly cubes)

Sources and Citations

  1. Bompas and Parr, Jelly, p. 26, (2010), ISBN 978-1-86205-879-8
  2. Larousse Gastronomique, Aspic, (2009), ISBN 978-0-600-62042-6
  • Bompas and Parr, Jelly, (2010), ISBN 978-1-86205-879-8 – research source for basic gelatin jelly
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Article Info

Categories: Desserts and Sweets