How Long Does it Take for Jello to Set

Jello is a favorite childhood snack and is one of the easiest treats to make. However, it’s definitely not the quickest – thanks to the extensive setting time required. Typically, jello takes up to four hours to set in the fridge. There are many ways to speed up this process, though.

Hi! I’m Michelle, and my kids and I love jello. I make jello at least once or twice a month, especially during the school year – it makes for a tasty option in lunchboxes. With plenty of jello-making experience under my belt, I’ve figured out how long it takes for the jello to set.

Are you planning to make a batch of jello? Not sure how long it will take, or want to speed up the process? Then keep reading. Below, I’m sharing how long it takes for the jello to set, plus some handy ways to quicken the process.

Let’s make some jello!

How Long Does it Take for Jello to Set?

When refrigerated, most jello will take up to four hours to set. This is true whether you’re using a boxed mix or creating healthier homemade varieties. However, instant jello can take as little as 30 minutes to set, while large portions may take up to six hours in the fridge.

The setting time can also vary depending on your method. For example, if you utilize the freezer, it may take as little as one hour to set fully. If you don’t use a fridge or freezer, the setting time can take as long as six or more hours (and will only be semi-set).

How to Make Jello Set Faster

Most jello will set in four hours, which means this isn’t precisely the quickest snack out there. If you don’t want to wait the full four hours, you can use one of many techniques to quicken the process. Here’s how.

1. Make Instant Jello

One of the best options for quick jello is to buy the instant variety. Instant jello is exactly how it sounds: jello that sets almost instantly. While you still need to wait about 30 minutes for instant jello to set, it’s a lot better than having to wait a full four hours.

2. Prep with Ice Cubes Instead of Water

If you look at the back of the jello package, you will notice the “Speed-Set” directions. These directions are specifically added for those that don’t want to sit around waiting for their jello for four hours. 

To do the “Speed-Set” option, simply do the following:

Step 1: Place the jello powder inside a large bowl.

Step 2: Pour hot water over the powder to dissolve.

Step 3: Add ice cubes instead of water.

Step 4: Stir for three whole minutes.

Step 5: Remove ice cubes that have not melted.

Step 6: Place jello inside the fridge and wait for it to set, approx. one hour. 

3. Place In a Chilled Container

Another great choice is to chill a container ahead of time (at least an hour before making the jello). 

Place a container inside the freezer for an hour (or longer). Make the jello, then pour it into the pre-chilled container. Place in the refrigerator for about one to two hours, or until fully set.

4. Place in the Freezer

Perhaps the most popular way to quicken the jello setting is to place the container inside the freezer. However, you need to be extra careful by doing so. You do not want to put the jello in the freezer and forget about it.

Only leave it in the freezer for 20 minutes before moving it to the fridge. Jello loses its gelling powder when frozen. So, if the jello becomes frozen, it will turn into a watery mess – rather than a delicious bowl of jello.

That said, make sure you keep an eye on the clock when utilizing your freezer. After 20 minutes, move it into the fridge and wait. Your jello should be done in as little as one hour but may take up to two.

5. Use Smaller Containers

Most people mix and refrigerate their jello in the same bowl, which is fine. But if you want to speed up the setting process, you can pour your jello into smaller containers. For example, you might consider pouring the jello into a muffin pan instead. (This is a great way to make perfectly-portioned snack-sized treats for lunchboxes!)

How to Fix Jello That Won’t Set (4 Ways)

Have you waited a total of four hours only to realize your jello isn’t set? You can potentially fix it as long as it wasn’t caused by a calculation error (for example, using too much water). Here are a few ways to fix jello that won’t set.

1. Wait for a Little Longer

The first thing to do is give your jello a little more time, especially if you created a large quantity of jello. Remember that larger portions can easily take up to six or seven hours to set fully.

That said, I recommend waiting until the six-hour mark before trying to “fix” your jello.

2. “Remake” It

Jello might not set if there was a problem with the original mixing. With that in mind, the best option is to “remake” it. Here’s how.

Step 1: Place jello inside of a saucepan over medium heat.

Step 2: Heat until the jello is melted but do not let it come to a boil.

Step 3: Pour into a container and stir generously.

Step 4: Place inside the refrigerator.

Step 5: Wait four hours and recheck it.

If your jello isn’t set, you may need to start from scratch.

3. Take Out the Fruit

It’s not uncommon for people to add fruit to their jello – it just makes it that much tastier. But not all fruits are jello-friendly, as some (pineapple, kiwi, papaya) contain protease enzymes that inhibit the gelatin from solidifying.

If you think your fruit might be the culprit, try removing the fruit, then stick the jello back into the fridge. Wait a few hours and recheck it. If it’s solid, you can push the fruit into the jello (if desired) without compromising the solidity.

4. Try Again

If your jello just won’t set, it might be time to toss in the towel and start with a fresh batch. Be extra careful to use the right amount of ingredients and stir generously. Using too little or too much water and not mixing enough can wreak havoc on solidification. 


When it comes to jello, the standard amount of time for setting is four hours, but this can vary depending on portion size and technique. If you want to learn more about the jello sets, check out these frequently asked questions.

Can you put Jello in the freezer to make it set up faster?

The freezer is a great tool to speed up jello setting time, but it should never be left in the freezer for longer than 20 minutes. Otherwise, you may end up ruining your jello altogether.

How long does instant Jello take to set?

Instant jello will typically set in as little as 30 minutes, but it can sometimes take as long as one hour. 

How do you know when jello is set?

To tell whether or not your jello is fully set, gently wiggle the bowl. The jello should not move much and should have a solidified texture. If it’s still watery and loose, it needs more time. You can also poke it with a (clean) finger. If it’s hard and doesn’t come off on your finger, it’s done.

Final Words

Most jello will take up to four hours to set in the fridge. If you want to quicken the setting process, you can make instant jello, place it inside a chilled container, prep it with ice cubes rather than water, or place it in the freezer for 20 minutes before moving it to the fridge.

How long does your jello typically take to set?

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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