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Retro One Two Three Jello on a silver tray

One Two Three Jello

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Doctoring up a box of Jello turned ordinary gelatin into this retro One Two Three Jello! This tasty treat from the 1970s is easy to recreate!

Jello Desserts are definitely throwback dishes, but with them come delicious memories of childhood. What’s your favorite throwback recipe???

Retro One Two Three Jello on a silver tray

One Two Three Jello

One of my favorite childhood treats was Jello brand’s 1,2,3 Jello. My childhood was full of these jellied salads. Some I loved. Others, like lime gelatin with grated carrots, were just plain nasty.

Back in the day, Jello was touted as a source of protein and my youngest sister was given bottles of jello water to pacify her. She was the only sibling to have a mouthful of cavities. I wonder why?

Back to recreating this retro Jello Recipe. My siblings and I loved how the mixture magically separated into layers when chilled. Sadly, it was discontinued, but I did find copycat recipes on the web. Unfortunately, they all contained Cool Whip, which doesn’t sit well with me. Substituting whipped cream worked perfectly!

Close up of 123 Jello on a silver tray

How to Make a Layered Jello Salad

My parents went all granola on me in the 1970s. Powdered milk to avoid hormones or pesticides, no salt to help my dad’s blood pressure, carob instead of chocolate. We were tortured. So when my mom brought home a box of this layered gelatin “salad”  from the neighborhood Hy-Vee grocery store, my sisters and I were ever so grateful for the SUGAR!

Here’s the process to make this retro recipe at home. First, divide the dry jello mix into two bowls. Add hot, then cold water as directed in the recipe and divide this mixture into serving dishes and chill. When the bottom layer has jelled,  whip the cream until it holds peaks (this will be the Cool Whip replacement that’s used in some other homemade versions). Mix the remaining gelatin with hot water, then slightly cold hot water. Whisk in the cream and divide this mixture between the dishes. The goal is to have this layer divide into two separate layers, each lighter in color than the one beneath.

So when I heard my friends were sharing Retro Recipes today, I thought of the era of molded salads, quiche that real men didn’t eat, and Hamburger Helper, and chose that magic gelatin dessert. Did you grow up eating gelatin salads? Are they ever on your holiday table? You know, those salads that taste like desserts? If you have a favorite, let me know.

1-2-3 Jello Box


More Recipes with Gelatin You’ll Love:

Retro One Two Three Jello

One Two Three Jello

A retro Jello dessert that was a childhood favorite!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Yield 6 servings


  • 6 ounce box of Jello (flavor of your choice, I used cherry)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream, whipped


  1. Divide dry jello into two medium sized bowls.
  2. Add one cup boiling water to first bowl and stir till all sugar is dissolved. Add one cup of cold water and mix till combined. Pour mixture into clear glasses (6-8 depending on size) filling to halfway point. Chill till slightly jelled, about 30 minutes.
  3. When the bottom layer is slightly jelled, whip the cream and repeat the process with the second bowl of dry gelatin, decreasing the cold water to ¾ cup. Whisk in the whipped cream and pour the jello mixture on top of the first layer. Chill till set, about 4 hours.


Note: 4 hour chilling time.

Nutrition Information:



Amount Per Serving: Calories: 125Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 134mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 0gSugar: 25gProtein: 2g


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43 comments on “One Two Three Jello”

  1. Oh, you called it! Jello is exactly what comes to mind when I think of retro, and to be honest, I still miss the lime jello cubes we used to eat every Christmas growing up. I’m definitely making this for some throwback event 🙂 delish!

  2. The Jello is so fun! I can’t imagine you (of all people) having to eat carob instead of chocolate! I’m glad you let that go:@)

  3. Love this! Retro is the bestest.

  4. How did the original work, Liz? It sounds like Jello magic to have it separate on its own! As always, your little glasses of deliciousness are beautiful!

  5. Not only were these yummy but I loved the cottage cheese jello salad that was always on the potluck table at church! Your presentation is so pretty!

  6. Ooh, what a classic! Indeed a throwback food! Great post, Liz!

    Julie & Alesah
    Gourmet Getaways xx

  7. Love this Lizzy! I have to make to the twins ! Im sure I never made. I loved these jello desserts.!
    big hugs dear!

  8. Magic gelatin for sure! I haven’t had a Jello dessert in ages. This looks SO pretty.

  9. Yes, jello salads were all the rage, but this one looks scrumptious

  10. Layered Jello! I love that stuff! Jello just puts a smile on any kids face that is for sure!

  11. I have never heard of that Jello product, but I have always liked the jiggly stuff, especially when I’m not feeling well. This is a great way to amp it up!

  12. I love jello (actually just posted a jello recipe today, too) and even though I’ve never heard of one-two-three jello, this sounds like something I can easily devour!

  13. This is such a pretty Jello dessert!

  14. Now, this is a fun one! Such a great presentation of an old favorite!

  15. Your parfaits are beautifully done! I love the colors!

  16. I love how creative you got with recreating a childhood recipe! Now can you pass me one?

  17. These look so refreshing and they are perfect for spring and parties!

  18. And now I will be singing J E L L O for the rest of the night.

  19. Oh, the memories!!! I loved all those jell-o desserts my mom made. Thank you for the memories dear Lizzy. xo Catherine

  20. We had Jell-o but not very often. My mother thought it had too much sugar – seriously. I remember squishing my bowl of Jell-o with a fork until it was mush. I have no idea why I did that but I did it every time we had it. I never thought of it until now.

  21. I tortured my kids too Liz. I don’t think they have fogetten or forgiven me to this day. Actually rather strange because they have some odd eating habits that may just mimic my torturing and pretty much for the same reasons. Go figure:)

    This sure does sound like a fun share. Looking at some of those recipes up there had me cracking up. All I remember about food in the 60s was watching Julia Child on TV. I do believe she started the wave of international foods entering the kitchen. Lots of Chocolate Pudding Pie too, My-T-Fine!

    Your Jell-O dessert looks so retro and yummy. Oh the memories! Thanks for sharing, Liz…

    P.S. Don’t forget Meatball Day tomorrow!

  22. I do remember the 1-2-3 Jello! I loved the way that it magically separated into three layers. This is a fun Sunday Supper. 🙂

  23. Liz, I do remember this dessert and by coincidence I was just thinking of it the other day. My mom made it on several occasions, but when I think of retro desserts popsicles come to mind. I love your clean version (real cream v. CoolWhip). Well done!

  24. Love this throw-back recipe! And, I’m a huge jello fan, so this is perfect for me! 🙂 And that color – girl, gorgeous!!!

    • I suggest specifying that the whipped cream should be sweetened.  Otherwise, you end up with a newly flavorless levels 1 and 2.  Also, I suggest increasing the jello quantity that gets combined with the cream and decreasing the portion with just the water.  Old 1-2-3 had an intensely sweet and quite dense lowest layer – not the “ordinary jello” density you get with this recipe.  

      I appreciated excluding the Cool Whip. 

  25. The jello use to separate into 3 layers on its own, that is so cool. Love that your version you made doesn’t use cool whip. I am not a fan of it and it is impossible to get here in the UK.

  26. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of 1-2-3 jello; how cool is that! My kids would love this recipe!

  27. I went through high school having jello and milk for lunch thinking that was a complete meal!

  28. I absolutely love these! They look so pretty, and who doesn’t love Jello?

  29. I remember making these! Perfect ending to a retro dinner…..

  30. I remember this dessert so well! Your photos are beautiful! Takes me back!!! (We thought mom was a gourmet!)

  31. I used to LOVE one two three jello! Why on earth did they stop making that stuff?? Your homemade version looks awesome.

  32. WOW I had totally forgotten about 1 2 3 Jello! Oh and I feel ya on the whole carob thing *Blek* Oh and now that your mentioned it, I want to make a quiche LOL

  33. LOVE this post. Liz. Jello is not my greatest thrill either. Although with whipped cream I might change my mind =) Thank you! And thank you for bringing back memories of the lime jello salad made by Nona (my grandma.) And yes my sister who’d moved to the US in the 70s went all granola and carob…=)

  34. Glad you substituted whipping cream – I’m not a cool whip person either. Such a fun recipe and great memories shared this week.

  35. The funny thing is that I don’t remember the 1-2-3 Jello mix. So strange because Jello desserts were so popular. It must have been just that my parents never bought it. Nice that you were able to re-create it without the cool whip.

  36. I remember my grandmother used to let us eat these jello cups (my parents did NOT), and I think there were layered pudding cups from the same company? I love this homemade version, what a great throwback!

  37. Hmmm…. for some reason I associate jelly with being sick. Guess it was the food Mom gave us when we had a sore throat. Plus, I don’t really enjoy food that moves on its own. Freaks me out. LOL! But you jelly does look pretty! 🙂

    • I believe I know why you associate Jello with being sick. From the time of Dr’s putting people in Hospitals at the drop of a hat to todays giving birth in the AM, go home at 5PM Jello has always been the first thing you could eat after surgery, the only thing you can eat when your test is delayed 5 hours and the cup that went back to the kitchen never being touched.

      The only difference today is it’s premade and you can get it sugar free. Green was my Mom’s favorite color except when it came to Jello. They still make that “Flavor”. I have never figured out what that flavor was supposed to be.

  38. You made me giggle re your jello experiences as a child. 😀

  39. I made this, but only got 2 layers?  Maybe i did not whip it enough or too much?  Also, how thick should the whipped cream have been?

    • Hi, Donna, I adapted this recipe from one using Cool Whip so I’d say whip the cream until it’s a similar texture to Cool Whip. I’ll add this detail to the recipe to help other readers. Good luck!

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