jelly shots

Lemon Drop Jelly Shots

No need for the boxed stuff for these. These are grown up jelly shots. They are delicious and they pack a punch!


Lemon Drop Jelly Shots

Jump to Recipe

I used to live in a large group house in DC and every year we would throw a massive Halloween party. We would usually have between 150-200 people show up at this party. So yea. We needed a lot of booze.

One of the housemates was always on Jello shot duty. We’d make a few hundred of them and they were always a big hit.

While it’s pretty quick to mix some booze with some Jello and get a really tasty shot, sometimes you may want to class it up a bit.

When that times comes, ditch the plastic cups, put aside the box mix, and make these suckers.

Lemon Drop Jelly Shots

25 shots (8x8 pan)
Prep Time:
Total Time:
jelly shots
Print Recipe

Rate This Recipe

Just a moment please...

Did you make this?

Instagram logo

Snap a photo and tag @macheesmo so I can see your work.

No need for the boxed stuff for these. These are grown up jelly shots. They are delicious and they pack a punch!

Adapted from the Jelly Shot Test Kitchen.


Lemon Syrup:
4 large lemons, cut into eighths
2 Cups water
1 1/2 Cups sugar
2 Cups lemon Syrup (you may have some left over)
1/2 Cup water
4 envelopes gelatin (1 ounce)
1/2 Cup Triple Sec or Cointreau
1 1/2 Cups vodka
Large raw sugar for garnish


1) For syrup, cut lemons into eighths and add to a medium pot along with sugar and water.  Put over medium heat.

2) As syrup heats, stir regularly and mash the lemons to get out juice and oils from the rind.

3) Once simmering, stir for 5 minutes and then remove from heat to cool a bit.

4) Strain to remove any lemon pieces.

5) Add water to measured amount of syrup and sprinkle gelatin over the top.

6) Heat mixture over low heat and stir to dissolve gelatin.  It might take 5-10 minutes to get it all dissolved.

7) Remove from heat and add in booze.

8) Pour into an 8×8 dish and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

9) Cut into cubes with a sharp, hot knife (run it under hot water).

10) Serve cubes sprinkled with raw sugar.

A Lemon Syrup

Most of the bitter-sweet flavor in these jelly shots comes from a strong lemon syrup. The basics are pretty simple. Just lemons and sugar!


Cut your lemons into eighths and add them to a medium pot with the sugar. Add the water and put this over medium heat.

making syrup
This will smell good!

As this gets hot and cooks, use a large spoon or something to mush the lemons down. Try to press out the juice.

If you’re wondering why you can’t just juice the lemons and add the juice it’s because there is tons of wonderful lemon flavor in the rind. As they get hot, they’ll release all sorts of awesome lemon oils that will make your syrup way more flavorful.

So bring this syrup to a simmer, mashing the lemons the whole time, and let it simmer for about five minutes.

You should see something like this!

Syrup done
Ummm… don’t stick your finger in this.

Your syrup is done now. I recommend straining it just to get out any lemon bits and then you can immediately use it in your shots!

The Shots!

Instead of Jello, we’re using straight gelatin for these guys. This results in a really firm jelly that tastes exactly like what you put in it.

Oh. And you’ll need some booze!

Lots of gelatin!

Mix the syrup with some water and sprinkle the gelatin over the liquid. Let this sit for a few minutes and the gelatin should start to dissolve.

You’ll need to heat this up ultimately to dissolve all the gelatin. So you can either mix it in a pot over low heat, or mix it in a metal bowl and put the bowl over some simmering water (double boiler) to slowly heat the mixer.

I did it the second way just because I was worried about burning the sugar. You can do it either way though if you’re careful.

Great blooming gelatin!

Note that this is a lot of gelatin. It might take you 5-10 minutes of stirring as the liquid gets hot before all of it is dissolved. Take your time. There’s no rush.

Once all the gelatin is dissolved, pull the jelly mixture off the heat and add your booze!

Important note: Don’t continue to cook or heat the mixture after you add the liquor. Alcohol evaporates really quickly and if you continue to heat it you’ll lose all the punch in the shots!

Once everything is mixed together, you should have this beautiful shimmering liquid that will smell like an alcoholic lemonade stand.

shots mixed
All ready!

Pour this into an 8×8 dish and stick it in the fridge for at least 6 hours. That was enough to get mine to set completely. Ideally you can do overnight, but 6 hours should do the trick.

When cutting the squares, the easiest way to do it is to run your knife under hot water and then it should slice right through the jelly.

You could obviously make these as big or small as you want, but I found that a 5×5 cut, yielding 25 cubes, was a perfect size.

cut up
A hot knife is your friend.

I scooped these into some individual mini-cupcake tins and sprinkled them with a good amount of raw sugar.

The shots themselves are pretty tart and lemony (which is good) so the sugar helps cut that a bit.


If you’re curious, I did the math and each of these shots has about 2/3 of an ounce of booze in it. So if you eat three or four of these, it’s basically like having a martini. And you could eat a few of these way faster than you could drink a martini.

So be careful!

But yea. They are tasty and perfect on a hot summer day!

31 Responses to “Lemon Drop Jelly Shots” Leave a comment

  1. These sound good, can you make up a post of several different variations? Nothing says 4th of July like jello and booze, so something like this would be perfect. ;-)
    My recent post Bookshelves in action!

  2. Do you worry about using organic lemons when a recipe calls for the rind rather than just the juice?

  3. Substitute Tequila for the Vodka and you have a Margarita jelly shot! Maybe you could even sprinkle it with sea salt or kosher salt insteasd of sugar! The possibilities are endless!

  4. Um, this is possibly the best I idea ever. Love the tip of using plain gelatin–makes the whole thing seem slightly less tawdry than the good ol' fashioned Jell-o shots of my youth :)
    My recent post Just Cupcakes

  5. Made these yesterday for a party. They were a HUGE hit, I'll definitely make them again. A few notes of caution, though: people generally felt these were a little too big, so I'd go smaller next time. As well (this was probably obvious to some people, but not to me) you should sprinkle the sugar on immediately before eating. If you do it ahead of time, the sugar melts and makes the jello squares kinda messy. Thanks for the grecipe!

  6. In my fridge as we speak! Can’t wait to try them! Hopefully my class reunion buds will dig them as well! *S* Thanks for the idea!

  7. I made a batch of these last night for a party I’m having tonight…they smell amazing, but I think I messed something up. Yours came out a pretty pale yellow, whereas mine is much more caramelized yellow looking. Like kidney failure pee. Perhaps I burned the sugar? Either way, we’ll see how they fare at the party tonight!

    1. Hmm… weird Melissa. The only thing I can think of that would change the color is if the sugar was burned at all. Nothing else really has any color! I hope they tasted okay…

    2. I wouldn’t worry of your sugar got a little brown. It probably just started to carmelize. I would think the tart lemon and the richness of carmelized sugar would be very good, yum!!

  8. Oh my goodness, made these (and Queso Dip) for our annual Solstice party last night and they were a huge hit. I cut my 8×8 pan into 36 cubes and they were still good sized. Only had 1/3 of a lemon, so I used limes and an orange too to make “citrus” shots. With the Cointreau they were great!
    Absolutely love your blog and I’m constantly reading your recipes.
    Thanks for sharing them all!

  9. Mine did not set firm enough. I had a very difficult time getting the gelatin to dissolve. After 30 plus minutes I gave up and strained the tiny bits that just would not dissolve. Another thing-what do you mean when you say add the syrup with “some water?” I thought all the water you needed was what you made the syrup with. Any suggestions? Thanks!

    1. Hey Annette, the amount of water is listed in the recipe (1/2 cup). It just thins it a bit so the gelatin dissolves easier. Yours probably didn’t set bc you strained out some of the gelatin. It can be annoying to dissolve it all, but it’s important or they won’t set. Sprinkling it lightly over the surface of the liquid was how I had luck with it. Good luck!

  10. I’ve made these for every adult party we’ve had on our block and they are huge hit! What recommendations would you have for me if I want to turn them green for St. Patrick;s Day? Thanks!

  11. I made these for a party and were quite a hit! A little too much booze for my taste, but definitely more sophisticated than the typical Jell-O shot! I am going to make with tequila and lime, cointreau, and sea salt next time! Loved it!

Join the Conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *