This colorful, striking Layered Jello Rainbow Salad is a holiday tradition in many households. Use only red, green and white for Christmas. It’s sure to impress!

Only requiring gelatin in a variety of flavors, plain gelatin, sweetened condensed milk, and water, this vibrant Ribbon Jello salad recipe isn’t difficult to make, just time-consuming.

Layered Jello Rainbow Salad squares stacked on a white plate

Why You’ll Love Rainbow Jello

  • There is nothing difficult about this recipe, it’s just time-consuming with waiting on layers to chill.
  • You only need 3 Ingredients.
  • Your kids or grandkids will be so very impressed!!!
  • It’s fun, whimsical, and can be cut into different shapes!

I used to love it when my mom made a box of 1, 2, 3 Jello when I was a girl, so I recreated that recipe a few years back.  Instead of 3 layers, this Jello rainbow salad, often called a ribbon salad, has an impressive nine!!!

Easy, though time-consuming, this layered rainbow jello can easily be made a day or two ahead of serving, and will create quite a presence on the dinner table! Just set aside an afternoon when you’re home reading a book or binge-watching your favorite series to make this fun treat.

Slices of Layered Jello Rainbow Salad on a white oval dish

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Jello Still Make from Bones?

My dear mother-in-law, a former RN, used to tout the virtues of gelatin as a decent source of protein, especially for growing children. She went to nursing school in the 1950s so maybe more horse hooves were used to make gelatin back then? I had my doubts, so I thought I better check it out!

Jello contains four main ingredients: gelatin, water, sweetener, and food coloring. So where does the gelatin come from? It’s actually a processed form of collagen, the fibrous protein that provides structure to certain body parts. We more mature women know that we are losing collagen in our faces as we age. Sigh. But I digress. According to one source, most gelatin now comes from pigskin. So maybe my MIL was right? The heating and cooling of the collagen strands as we make Jello allows the gelatin structure to break apart, then reassemble into their triple helix formation once again. Food Chemistry 101.

So yes, Jello is a source of amino acids, the building blocks of protein, but it does not contain a complete protein. I learned something today. Jello is not vegan. Jello contains an incomplete source of protein. Plus, Jello was never made from horse hooves. There.you.go.

How Long Does It Take to Make Ribbon Jello?

ith a 30-minute chilling time for each layer, then an overnight chilling the hands-off time is about 12-14 hours.

How Do You Store Ribbon Jello?

Ribbon Jello should be kept chilled in the refrigerator, covered with foil (plastic wrap is fine, too, but it can mar the surface if it comes loose and falls into the dish). This jello salad should be safe to eat for 3-5 days.

A square of Jello Rainbow Ribbon Salad on a square white plate

Tips for Making Ribbon Jello

I had a free afternoon over the Thanksgiving weekend, so I pulled out 5 small boxes of Jello, a box of unflavored gelatin, and a can of sweetened condensed milk to make this layered Jello salad. A Pyrex 9 x 13-inch pan and liquid measuring cups completed my supplies.

  • PRO-Tip: Shake up the colors depending on the occasion. I chose a rainbow of colored Jello flavors, but using only red and green would be perfect for Christmas. Red, white and blue for the 4th of July. Or school colors for game day. The options are endless.
  • Make this ribbon jello salad in parfait glasses or high ball glasses for individual servings.
  • Look for unflavored gelatin, like Knox brand, on the shelves near the Jello. It is added to the sweetened condensed milk to make it gel.
  • Measuring accurately is important so you don’t run out of the white mixture.
  • PRO-Tip: Use liquid measuring cups (affiliate link), not dry measuring cups for the best results.
  • Read through the directions once or twice before starting. Since this recipe has numerous steps and each layer needs to chill, you don’t want to mess up!
  • Start with a colored jello layer for the best appearance.
  • PRO-Tip: If you want a true rainbow jello, pattern your layers after the colors of the rainbow. Do you remember ROY-G-BIV? That’s how we remembered the order of a rainbow’s colors. Red-Orange-Yellow-Green-Blue-Indigo-Violet! This version has just 5 colors: Blue – Green – Red – Yellow – Orange. Use that as a guide to layer your jello flavors.
  • If the sweetened condensed milk mixture happens to gel while you’re waiting on the previous layer to set, just set it in a bowl of warm water and it will liquefy.
  • When layering, make sure to give each batch of jello some time to cool as if it’s too hot it will melt the top layer as you pour. But remember that if it gets too cold, it will gel.
  • I like having a teapot full of hot water so I can just reheat it and pour the necessary amounts for each step.
  • I’ve seen other recipes for this layered rainbow salad using sour cream sweetened with sugar or even sweetened and colored with some dry jello, but I liked the ease of using sweetened condensed milk.
  • Slice cubes with a straight edged, not serrated, knife for clean slices.

Helpful Tools and Ingredients

  • 9 x 13-inch Pyrex dish – A clear dish will showcase every layer
  • 5 varieties of 3-ounce boxes of Jello, flavors to be determined by your theme. Note that this link is only to show the product, as it’s much less expensive to purchase Jello at your local market.
  • Knox Unflavored Gelatin – Use this to gel the sweetened condensed milk layers. Find it in the baking aisle with the jello.
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk – Needed to make the white layers (do not use evaporated milk).

Have you heard of or made this layered jello before? What colors/flavors did you use? What is it called at your house? Jello rainbow salad or Jello ribbon salad?

If you like a gelled dessert, this Strawberry Panna Cotta is as delicious as beautiful, and I’m dying to try this Dr. Pepper Jello Salad next!

Jello Rainbow Ribbon Salad slices on a square white plate

Layered Jello Rainbow Salad

Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Yield 12 servings

A vibrant layered Jello salad that will impress both young and old!

Ingredients

  • 5 3-ounce packages of Jello, various colors and flavors
  • 4-5 envelopes Knox unflavored gelatin
  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

Instructions

  1. Mix 1st flavor of Jello with 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin and 1 cup of boiling water. Let cool (not as important with the first layer), and pour into a 9 x 13-inch pan. I like using a Pyrex pan so I can see the layers.
  2. Refrigerate for  30 minutes while making the next layer.
  3. Mix 1 envelope of unflavored gelatin with 1/2 cup of boiling water and mix until dissolved. Add half a can of sweetened condensed milk* and another 1/2 cup of boiling water. Mix until combined.
  4. When the first layer has chilled, pour 3/4 cup of the sweetened condensed mixture over the top. Chill for 30 minutes while you make the next colored layer.
  5. When layer two has chilled, pour layer 3, the second colored layer over the top. Chill for 30 minutes.
  6. When layer 3 is chilled, pour the rest of the sweetened condensed mixture over the top and chill for 30 minutes while making the next layer. If the sweetened condensed mixture has started to gel, just place the measuring cup in a bowl of warm water and mix until it liquefies. Use as directed.
  7. Since the sweetened condensed mixture has been used, you'll need to make another batch from the rest of the can. Mix 1/2 cup boiling water with 1 envelope of unflavored gelatin, then mix in the rest of the sweetened condensed milk, then another 1/2 cup boiling water.
  8. Continue until you've used up all 5 boxes of Jello and all the sweetened condensed mixture in the same manner as before.
  9. After the last layer is poured, refrigerate overnight, covered with plastic wrap. Cut into squares or fun shaped to serve.

Notes

*Half a can of sweetened condensed milk is about 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons

Total time does not include chilling time.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1 slice

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 73Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 8mgSodium: 29mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 0gSugar: 12gProtein: 2g

Thatskinnychickcanbake.com occasionally offers nutritional information for recipes contained on this site. This information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although thatskinnychickcanbake.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased can change the nutritional information in any given recipe. Also, many recipes on thatskinnychickcanbake.com recommend toppings, which may or may not be listed as optional and nutritional information for these added toppings is not listed. Other factors may change the nutritional information such as when the salt amount is listed “to taste,” it is not calculated into the recipe as the amount will vary. Also, different online calculators can provide different results. To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in any given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information obtained is accurate.

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