Vegan jello shots are just as delicious as the non-vegan version, but without the cartilage! And this recipe is super simple with only two pre-made ingredients.
What are jello shots?
Jello shots are alcoholic cocktails made with a gelling agent added. This causes the chilled shots to become semi-solid and extra fun to slurp up!
Is there an added nutritional value? I mean, maybe a little protein..? But these are supposed to be fun, not healthy. So don’t come into this recipe thinking I’m going to give you the fountain of youth or heal your gut or anything.
This is purely for funsies. Vegan funsies.
Jell-O isn’t vegan??
No, no it is not.
Traditional Jell-O shots are made with gelatin. Gelatin isn’t vegan, so we are going to get rid of that and swap it for something animal-free.
Gelatin (or gelatine for non-Americans) is made by boiling the connective tissues (skin, tendons, cartilage, etc.) of animals. It gels once it comes to room temperature and is the base for the Jell-O brand’s variety of gels.
It’s usually made from pork, with some kosher varieties made exclusively from beef.
So no, it’s not vegan at all.
What can we use to make it vegan?
Thankfully, there are a few options for gelling things that are vegan-friendly!
The two main ones are both made from seaweed:
Agar agar – This is used heavily in the vegan baking world for substituting gelatin in things like marshmallows, mirror glaze, and and even as an egg sub.
It is also the easiest to find in your local market. I use the Telephone Brand because I can find it!
Carrageenan – This is mostly used in vegan cheese-making because it gives a more dairy-like texture to the cheese than agar does. It has a creamier mouthfeel, and can set up firmer.
You’ll want kappa carrageenan rather than iota carrageenan. It is harder to find in person, but can easily be obtained online.
What about vegan alcohol?
The good news is that pretty much every unflavored hard liquor out there is vegan. That means you’ve got your choice of these main guys, plus lots more:
The problem comes when you start going for flavored varieties – especially those containing ‘cream’.
Wines are also problematic because many are filtered using egg whites or gelatin made from fish bladders (isinglass). They can also have milk sugar (lactose) added for sweetness.
So if you want to use wine in your vegan jello shots, you’ll need to do a little research to find one that fits the bill.
Barnivore is a really wonderful website that has a directory of alcohols and whether or not they’re vegan.
How to make easy vegan jello shots
You’re gonna either hate me or love me right now, so just prepare yourself. It’s because the recipe is so easy that a child could but A CHILD SHOULD NEVER EVER MAKE THIS.
Please make sure you’re of age before making and/or consuming jello shots, and do so responsibly.
Step One: get your vegan jello
Rather than leave room for error on the math to make vegan jello from scratch, this recipe calls for a little bit of cheating.
Did you know the popular budget jello brand Snack Pack by ConAgra is totally vegan? They’re made with carrageenan! And the Kool-Aid brand is made with carrageenan, as well!
So step one of these vegan jello shots is go out and buy some Snack Packs or Kool-Aid gels in whatever flavors you want.
Keep in mind that the Snack Packs are a bit more firm than the Kool-Aid gels, which are softer and may require some additional starch or agar to solidify well for cut outs or 3D shapes..
Snack Packs are also labeled as being gluten-free while Kool-Aid’s variety is not. In addition to that, Snack Packs use carob bean gum, while Kool-Aid’s has locust bean gum – in case the gums make a difference for you.
Step Two: Get your alcohol
As noted above, most unflavored liquors should be vegan. Most wines are not. Check with Barnivore to see if you want to use is, if you’re in doubt.
Step Three: Melt your jello
Open up your jello packs and dump them into a large glass measuring cup if you want to microwave it to meltiness, or a saucepan if you prefer to do it over the stove.
And in 30 second increments in the microwave or over low heat, stir and melt and stir until nice and liquidy. Once you have liquid, either take it out of the microwave or off the stove.
Step Four: Add your alcohol
Just pour it in and stir.
Step Five: Portion it out
There are a few different ways you can choose to portion out your vegan jello shots:
1. In plastic condiment cups – This is the most common way to do it. I use compostable 2oz cups and they work great. Plus, you can put lids on them to prevent my dumb cats from hopping up on the table and ingesting some.
2. In shot glasses – Either plastic or glass, these work well, too.
3. In syringes – Yes, syringes. People love this idea, especially for Halloween. Just make sure to use the kind without the needle. Feeding syringes from the pet store work great. The 60ml variety is the one I’ve seen used the most.
or go the easy route and get Jell-O shot syringes from Amazon:
4. Jelly roll pan – Pour into a pan and cut out after it’s set. This is especially cute for holidays like Valentine’s Day where you can cut out hearts and other shapes to keep with the theme. Just make sure it’s the right size to be able to get your cutter through the amount of jello. And you’ll likely have to triple the batch or more for most pan sizes.
For cut outs, you’ll want to add a bit of starch (corn, tapioca, or potato) to the mix to help firm them up. Add about 1.5 tsp per four-pack of jellos as you’re melting it. You’ll need to make sure to bring it to a boil to activate the starches.
5. Silicone molds – This is fun to do 3D shapes. I also like using my hot cocoa ball hemisphere mold to make boozy raindrop cakes.
Just like for the cut outs, you’ll want to add a bit of starch (corn, tapioca, or potato) to the mix to help firm them up. Add about 1.5 tsp per four-pack of jellos as you’re melting it. You’ll need to make sure to bring it to a boil to activate the starches.
6. Jello cups – You can simply reuse the cups the jello came in! This is a little more ecologically friendly, although you’ll get a double shot in each cup (which may or may not be a bad thing). Empty yogurt cups also make a great recycled option!
7. Fruit rinds – Wash well and then cut some thick-skinned fruit in half (like oranges, pomegranates, kiwis, or even watermelons if you’d like to go big or go home). Then scoop out the flesh and pour in your vegan jello.
You can serve the halves if they’re small enough, or portion out slices once the jello has set – though you may want to score them before filling if the skin is very tough.
Step Six: Chill
Pop your vegan jello shots into the refrigerator and allow them to firm up. This will take anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours, depending on how cold your fridge is and the size/shape of your containers.
Step Seven: Enjoy your vegan jello shots responsibly!
Sip, slurp, spoon, or plop upside down and enjoy. 🙂
How to store your vegan jello shots
You’ll want to keep these in the refrigerator until you’re ready to enjoy them. Discard after about a week.
You can technically freeze them, but they may be gritty and kind of off-putting once they thaw, so I don’t recommend doing that.
Fun ways to spruce them up
Do I have some ideas on how to make these a little more exciting? Heck yeah, I do!!
1. Try adding a little something extra to the rims of your shot containers. My personal favorite is lime juice and Trechas because it’s just beautiful with all kinds of fruit. Lime juice and salt is always yummy with tequila. Agave and toasted coconut is also scrumptious!
2. Mix in some edible glitter! Make sure that it’s actually edible and not just “non-toxic” – those aren’t meant for eating, just for looking at.
3. Edible confetti is a fun topper. Gold stars are my favorite! Make sure to add these at the last possible moment so they don’t dissolve.
4. Whipped cream on top! You can either go with store-bought vegan squirty cream, or make my American meringue buttercream and super-whip it up to light and fluffy. Add a dollop on top and enjoy!
If you don’t want the added fat, just go with plain meringue. You can use my recipe for meringue kisses – just put it on top of your shots instead of dehydrating them.
5. A lot of folks like to add chopped fruit or vegan candies and gummies to it. I’m not a fan of this, but if you are then mix those in just as the gel starts to set in the fridge, at about 15 minutes or so.
6. Add a splash of vegan heavy cream like Silk or Elmlea double cream (or some melted ice cream if you can’t find one of those!) to each shot and swirl with a toothpick.
Making them without alcohol: Virgin vegan jello shots
So how can you make these without alcohol? You can just omit it! Though, the only real reason to do this is to mix something in or make smaller portions.
Or you could swap the alcohol with something else like juice, vegan cream, or sparkling water.
Making them with extra alcohol
Go ahead and add more alcohol if that’s your thing. Keep in mind that the more you add though, the softer the jello will be.
What if I want to make them from scratch? Or make them without dyes?
Well, that’s a whole different recipe. Lol. I haven’t written that one yet, but there are plenty out there on the interwebs in the meantime!
- 8 Pack Vegan Gel Snack Cups (Snack Pack or Kool-Aid brand)
- 1/2 c (120ml) vegan liquor or wine of choice
- Empty snack cups into a large microwave safe measuring cup if microwaving, or into a saucepan if using the stove.
- Microwave for 30 second intervals, stirring between until gel has all melted, or if using stovetop, melt over low heat while stirring.
- Mix in your alcohol.
- Pour into your preferred containers (options listed in the blog post).
- Chill the shots in the refrigerator until firm - 30 minutes to 3 hours depending on the size and shape of your shots.
- Serve and enjoy responsibly!
1. Snack Pack gels are firmer than Kool-Aid gels. If you want yours firmer, add about a teaspoon and a half of starch (corn, tapioca, or potato) before melting and bring it to a boil.
2. If you'd like to rim the shots, do so before pouring in the jello.
3. Replace the alcohol with juice, sparkling water, or vegan cream for virgin shots.
4. Feel free to add in edible glitter or confetti, or whipped cream on top for extra fun.
Please enjoy these responsibly!
*The total amount of jello in the 8-pack ends up being exactly 1.5 cups, or a little over 350ml