Do Jello Shots Really Go Bad When Stored In The Refrigerator?

Jello shots are a fun and popular party beverage to consume and often are seen as a fan favorite.

While these quick shots of gelatin and alcohol are easy to consume they must be prepped out beforehand.

For some with a busy schedule and limited time it begs the question just how far in advance these awesome, easy to make bites can actually last. 

Generally speaking, homemade Jello shots will last 3-5 days in the fridge and around 2 hours outside of the fridge. Meanwhile, store-bought Jello Shots will last 3-5 days once opened in the fridge, but can last for weeks or months on the shelf or in the fridge if unopened. 

Freezing Jello Shots To Preserve Them Longer

Jello Shots should not be frozen due to the content of alcohol within them. The freezing point for most alcohols is around -110 degrees Celsius.

Upon freezing the structure of the gelatin would become compromised, leading to an unpleasant texture that your guests would not enjoy. 

You can freeze the Jello shots in theory for up to 2-3 months. The product would be stuck mostly in a state of frozen, crystallized chunks and unfrozen alcohol.

Most home freezers only achieve a temperature of -20 degrees Celsius and will not fully freeze the shots. 

Homemade Vs. Store-Bought: Which Is Better? 

If you are short on time but want these shots at your party you are in luck! You can find these at most liquor stores and some larger grocery stores.

But with these being on the market it does offer the question of why even make them in the first place? 

Store-bought shots offer you the convenience of not having to make the product and takes the stress of making them out of your hands.

They can also be bought well in advance as most are shelf stable for much longer than a homemade shot.

Finally, their packaging is convenient and can be found in fun vessels to be enjoyed from. 

The case for making the homemade shot lies within the creativity of your Jello shot making.

With your own alcohol and flavor choices you are not left with the finite and small variety of shots you would find at a liquor store.

Also, you are able to control portioning, serving vessels and can impress your friends by making them yourself!

Below is a chart for recommended storage times on different Jello Shots: 

Jello Shot TypeFridge Storage TimeRoom Temp Storage TimeFreezer Storage Time
Homemade3-5 Days2 HoursNot Recommended
Store-Bought (Opened)3-5 Days2 HoursNot Recommended
Store-Bought (Unopened)Weeks/MonthsWeeks/MonthsNot Recommended

The Risk Of Leaving Homemade Jello Shots Out Too Long

Keeping your party guests safe is always a priority when serving food and drink. Although there is alcohol and gelatin in the shot, it is best to abide by the “2 hour” rule when serving any prepared food.

Jello Shots

These homemade shots should not be allowed to sit at room temperature longer than 2 hours to prevent bacteria growth and spoilage.  

How Can I Tell If My Jello Shots Are Bad?

If you follow the “2 hour” rule and handle the product properly, the shots will likely not spoil due to their sugar and alcohol content.

If they do spoil though they will show signs of fuzzy mold on top and a foul odor will be coming from the product itself. 

Additionally, you will notice water separation and splitting from Jello that has gone bad. A foul taste would be the last and least pleasurable way to know if your Jello shot has expired.

If you notice anything off or foul with the shots it is better to play it safe and discard the product. 

Can Jello Shots Melt When Kept Out? 

Jello shots are a popular and refreshing treat that many enjoy in the summer. The tricky part with gelatin though is that it is susceptible to melting at warm temperatures.

While it truly begins to melt around 120 degrees Fahrenheit, exposure to sunlight will cause the shots to become soft and unstable. 

Additionally, pay close attention to where you intend to set them down when serving at a function.

If you keep them next to a warm stove for example, this could have negative effects and compromise the structure of the product. 

Storing Homemade Jello Shots

There are really two solid options of storing the Jello shots when making them homemade.

One option would be to cool them in the fridge directly in the container you mixed them in. Once cool this dish can act as a vessel as you portion out for guests. 

For a more eco-friendly method of storage, be sure to use glass shot glasses. This will allow the portion ability of the plastic containers without the waste!

Furthermore, it will allow you to show off any shot glass designs you have in your collection. 

How Long Do Homemade Jello Shots Last In Fridge Vs. Freezer?

Homemade Jello shots will last 3-5 days in the fridge. As stated before, freezing the product will damage the gelatin’s structure but can in theory last up to 2-3 months.

Regardless, they should not be frozen and should only be stored in the fridge due to being a fresh product.

How To Cool Down Homemade Jello Shots

Once you have picked your storage container for the shots, cooling down is the next priority.

Many have different opinions on Jello cooling times but to be safe, especially with the addition of alcohol, 6 hours is recommended. This will allow the shots to set fully and gain the structure they need. 

Can You Speed Up Your Jello Shots By Cooling In A Freezer?

I would not suggest the route of trying to cool down your Jello shots in the freezer in order to save time.

When the gelatin sets the time between the ideal temp and freezing can be very limited. If you do not do this properly you will end up ruining the batch of shots you spent time and resources making. 

If left too long in the freezer the shots will separate and not set in your container properly. This will happen due to the freezer causing the gelatin to crystallize and lose the structure needed.

In my opinion, it is not a risk worth taking when trying to speed up Jello shots. 

The Proper Way Of Speeding Up The Cooling Process 

The best way to cool the shots down fast is to cool in small amounts, in separate containers.

This process allows the liquid to cool much quicker due to not being in one, large container.

It could also shorten the setting time by an hour. This is the ideal way to not only cool down the shots faster, but also serve them without much effort. 

When Cooling Jello shots in a home fridge aim for the bottom shelf. This is often the coldest part of the fridge due to air flow.

This and the small amounts cooling will always be faster than one big bowl of Jello sitting in the middle shelf trying to cool and set. 

How Do You Avoid The Jello “Skin”?

The dreaded skin. This unpleasant part of Jello can ruin the experience of a shot if it forms during the cooling process.

There are many small steps to ensure this does not occur though and can be solved relatively easily. 

When mixing the gelatin mixture into the shot, be sure the mixture is completely dissolved. Any pieces left unmixed will form chunks of Jello that are unpleasant to eat. 

Whether it is vodka, gin, or any other alcohol it is smart to put it in the fridge hours before you begin mixing the Jello shot.

Once the alcohol is chilled, you should add it in after mixing the gelatin with the warm water. This will speed up the cooling process and leave less time for the skin to form.

Finally, good coverage over your product will prevent air exposure and the drying out effect of the gelatin.

For small plastic containers, ensure the lid is tightly fitted around the cup. For large bowls or containers cling wrap should be used to  cover the product. 

Carrying Jello Shots On The Go

A small cooler with ice packs would be ideal for transporting Jello Shots. This will keep the shots cold enough to reach your destination and will mitigate any potential food safety concerns.

Jello Shots in Cooler

Once you have arrived at your destination, take them out and put them in the fridge. 

How Long Do Store-Bought Jello Shots Last In The Fridge?

Store Bought Jello Shots can last for weeks to months depending on the brand if unopened.

If opened, the shots will have a 3-5 day shelf life typically. It is always best to check packaging for best handling practices.

How Long Do Store-Bought Jello Shots Last Out Of The Fridge? 

If unopened, the shots will last to the expiration date on the package, typically within a few weeks to a few months.

If opened, as with any prepared food, it is best to refrigerate after two hours. 

Freezing Store Bought Jello Shots

Store bought Jello shots should not be frozen. Although they may be shelf stable, when frozen the gelatin will crystallize and ruin the texture of the product.

The Proper Way To Store Store-Bought Jello Shots

The best way to store these shots is by following the direction on packaging. If shelf stable, holding them in a cool area away from sunlight is best.

If in the refrigerator, keeping near the bottom of the fridge for maximum coolness is best.

Can You Eat Store-Bought Jello Shots After Expiration?

If a Jello Shot product has expired it is best to not consume. Discarding and buying new product is the best practice.

Non-Alcoholic Jello Shots

Non-alcoholic Jello shots do exist and can be quite popular! You can replace the amount of alcohol with water.

You can also get more creative and many people add fruit juices, tonic water, drink mixes and even sweetened condensed milk!

With Jello Shots, Safety And Fun Are Equally Important

Jello shots have the potential to be a creative and fun way to not only show your skills in the kitchen, but also display your knowledge of flavors and your ability to pair them.

But before you get into the mixology of Jello making it is important to recognize how long the shots will last. 

It also cannot be stressed enough the care needed to ensure food safety is followed when preparing these for guests.

The fastest way to ruin a great party or cut short an impressive meal is someone becoming ill due to bad food handling practices. 

Whether you buy them or make them, Jello shots are a party favorite. When you are able to plan and execute making them they can be the highlight of the cocktail show.

With this knowledge you now can be sure to ensure the shots will not only last, but also hold their best flavor and structure for you and your guests. 

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