Looking for a deliciously boozy holiday party treat? These Candy Cane Jello Shots are red and white layered jello squares made with vodka and peppermint schnapps! They're perfect for getting guests in a festive mood, but can also easily be made alcohol-free.
The holiday season is coming to an end and you're probably tired of thinking up new treats to bring to all your parties. Or arriving at a party only to see that you're the 90,304th person to bring sugar cookies.
Solution? Jello shots, obviously. Stick with me here. I know jello shots sound kind of juvenile and like something you'd only see at a college party.
But a few years back, jello shots experienced something of a makeover and got a bit more "sophisticated." When done right, they're a perfectly appropriate adult party treat.
And these Candy Cane Jello Shots are definitely done right and will be the hit of any holiday party!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
These jello shots aren't packed with cheap liquor or served in little plastic cups. They're pretty, fun, and tasty and they make for a fun departure from the typical holiday party drink.
Trust me, party guests will be thrilled about these unique treats.
I recently made rainbow layered jello shots to a friend's party and they were a huge hit in part because they just look so cool and in part because they're so fun.
So, I immediately decided a candy cane peppermint version had to happen for the holiday season.
They look pretty fancy (as far as jello goes!), but they're actually quite easy to make!
You don't need much to make these layered holiday jello shots. I also have tips later in this post for making these mock jello shots and if you're going that route, you can omit the alcohol from the below list.
Here are all the ingredients to gather together before you begin:
- Cherry Jello
- Unflavored gelatin
- Sweetened condensed milk
- Peppermint schnapps
- Boiling water
- Cold water
How to Make Candy Cane Jello Shots
People are very easily impressed by this layered jello look, but trust me; it's not hard! It does require a bit of time and patience though. If you don't have patience and you try to rush through the process, your layers may not look great.
Plan ahead with these peppermint jello shots and for best results, let them chill overnight.
Start by lightly spraying a 13x9 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Then, mix your layers! For these jello shots, we're only making two layer colors: red and white.
Red Jello Layer
The red layer consist of cherry jello, unflavored gelatin, water, and vodka (see the end of this post for my product recommendations). That's it!
Just mix together 1 box cherry Jello, ½ an envelope of gelatin (a little over 1 tsp) and 1 cup of boiling water. Stir to completely dissolve gelatins.
Then stir in in ¼ cup vodka. Pour into the prepared pan and place in the refrigerator to set, about 20 minutes.
White Jello Layer
While the first layer is in the fridge, mix up the white layer; you'll do this all in one batch. This layer is sweetened condensed milk, unflavored gelatin, water, and peppermint schnapps.
Pour sweetened condensed milk into a medium bowl. Into a smaller bowl, add 2 packets unflavored gelatin (about 4 ½ tsp) and pour ½ cup cold water over it.
Let sit for 2 minutes and then pour in 1 cup boiling water. Stir to dissolve gelatin. Pour this mixture into the bowl with the sweetened condensed milk. Stir in peppermint schnapps.
Let mixture cool to room temperature. This is important to avoid colors running when you pour over red layer).
Layering Candy Cane Jello Shots
Pour ⅓ of the white mixture (about 1 cup) over the red layer and pop back in the fridge for another 20 minutes.
Now you'll mix up another batch of the red mixture, let it cool to room temperature, and pour it over the chilled white layer.
Alternate with another white layer, another red layer, the final white layer, and the final red layer.
If your white mixture is starting to get too thick as it sits, you can pop it in the microwave for about 15 seconds and stir.
How Long to Chill
Once your layers are finished, put the entire dish in the fridge for at least 4 hours. I like to make the jello shots the day before I need them and then slice them the next day.
In my opinion, the longer the jello chills, the easier it is to cut.
Tips for Slicing
For best results when slicing, invert the baking dish over a cutting board to release. Then slice into any size squares you want.
You may need to loosen the edges a bit first either by jiggling it a little or by running a wet knife along the inner edges of the dish.
I cut them into pretty small squares and ended up with about 36.
You can serve the candy cane jello shots as is or top them with a little whipped cream and crushed candy canes. Just make sure to add the whipped cream right before serving as it will get a bit melty.
Oh, and be SURE to tell party guests that these candy cane jello shots involve alcohol. The last thing you want is kids getting into these!
How to Make Candy Cane Jello Shots Without Alcohol
However, if you do want to make these for kids, you can make these "mock" jello shots:
- Simply add a tablespoon of peppermint extract into the white jello mixture and leave out the peppermint schnapps and vodka.
They'll still be quite a tasty jello treat!
Additional Alterations to Jello Shots
There are certainly other ways you can alter these candy cane jello shots, too. Use your imagination and flavor them however you like! Here are a couple ideas:
- If you like the idea of an alcoholic jello shot, but don't want them to be too boozy, you can just use the vodka in two of the red layers. In the other two red layers, replace it with an extra ¼ cup boiling water.
- If you love the look of these candy cane jello shots for the holidays, but aren't a fan of peppermint, just stick with the vodka.
There are SO many different ways you can serve these!
Also, word on the street is that Santa loves candy cane jello shots and would totally appreciate a couple of these instead of the typical milk and cookies. Not that you want to encourage impaired sleigh driving, but you know...
More Fun Party Recipes
One of my favorite things about attending holiday parties is coming up with fun recipes to bring to them! Here are some of my favorites:
- Cheddar Cups with Avocado Feta Mousse
- Bacon White Pizza Dip
- Sausage, Grape, and Gorgonzola Flatbread Pizza
- Dark Chocolate-Dipped Figs with Gorgonzola
- Christmas Party Popcorn
- Eggnog Cookie Dough Bars
- Orange Gingerbread Meringues
- Chocolate Peppermint Sour Cream Crinkle Cookies
- Eggnog Gingerbread Cookies
- Candy Cane Cookie Dough Bars
- No Bake Peppermint Oreo Cheesecake (from Lemons + Zest)
And if you're making a selection of desserts, be sure to check out my guide on how to put together a holiday cookie platter.
But I absolutely love the layers on these peppermint jello shots. I feel like they look so complicated when in fact, they're quite easy!
Of course, these candy cane jello shots are perfect for Christmas, but think about all the ways they can be altered for any holiday. I'm already dreaming up some super cute Valentine's Day jello shots!
New Year's Eve is also the perfect time for serving jello shots and these are definitely still totally appropriate for the holiday (in my opinion, Christmas season sticks around until January 1).
Have you ever had a more "grown up" jello shot?
Candy Cane Jello Shots
- 4 3-oz. boxes cherry Jello, divided
- 4 0.25-oz enveloped unflavored gelatin, divided
- 1 cup vodka, divided
- 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
- ½ cup peppermint schnapps
- 5 cups boiling water, divided
- ½ cup cold water
- Lightly spray an 13x9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a small bowl, mix together 1 box cherry Jello, ½ an envelope of gelatin (a little over 1 tsp) and 1 cup of boiling water. Stir to completely dissolve gelatins. Stir in in ¼ cup vodka. Pour into the prepared pan and place in the refrigerator to set, about 20 minutes.
- While jello is chilling, make white layer mixture. Pour sweetened condensed milk into a medium bowl. Into a smaller bowl, add 2 packets unflavored gelatin and pour ½ cup cold water over it. Let sit for 2 minutes and then pour in 1 cup boiling water. Stir to dissolve gelatin. Pour this mixture into the bowl with the sweetened condensed milk. Stir in peppermint schnapps. Let cool to room temperature (this is to avoid colors running when you pour over red layer).
- Pour ⅓ of white mixture (about 1 cup) over chilled red layer. Place in the refrigerator to set, about 20 minutes.
- Mix second red layer, repeating process in step 2. Cool mixture to room temperature before pouring over chilled white layer. Place in fridge for 20 minutes. Pour ½ of the remaining white mixture (about 1 cup) over the chilled red layer. Place in fridge for 20 minutes. Mix third red layer, cool to room temperature, and pour over chilled white layer. Place in fridge for 20 minutes. Pour remaining white mixture over chilled red layer (if white mixture starts to thicken while it sits, place in microwave for about 15 seconds). Place in fridge for 20 minutes. Mix final red layer, cool to room temperature, and pour over chilled white layer.
- Chill entire dish for an additional 4 hours or overnight before inverting dish onto a cutting board to remove jello (you may have to loosen edges first). Slice into about 36 squares. Top squares with whipped cream and crushed candy canes and/or sprinkles right before serving, if desired.
- If you like the idea of an alcoholic jello shot, but don’t want them to be too boozy, only include vodka in two of the red layers. In the other two red layers, replace the vodka with an extra ¼ cup boiling water (to keep layers relatively even).
- If you do want to make alcohol-free candy cane jello shots, simply add a tablespoon of peppermint extract into the white jello mixture and leave out the peppermint schnapps and vodka.
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