Layered Ribbon Jell-O Salad

~ No one will ever guess how much healthier this pretty, rainbow-colored Jell-O salad is! It’s high in protein … and incredibly easy to make! ~

This Recipe Is:     Make Ahead    Gluten Free  

Layered Ribbon Jell-O Salad Recipe {}

Let’s just talk about the elephant in the room, shall we?

Or, rather, let’s talk about the Jell-O salad in my refrigerator.

I know what’s on your mind. Jell-O isn’t exactly the most healthy food, so why is THK running a Jell-O salad??

Shelley and I actually spent quite a long time discussing this (as we happily munched some of my “healthier” Layered Ribbon Jell-O Salad I wanted her to try). We know it’s not our typical recipe type. But we realized something …

You’re all eating Jell-O anyway, right? (I mean … we were eating it.) So why not make it high-protein and healthier? (Like, with an impressive three cups of Greek yogurt – no kidding!)

And that’s why this recipe is appearing here. Poof. Like a magical rainbow!

My grandma (who stands at a whopping five feet tall and is the cutest-darn-thing you’ve ever seen) has been making this salad for years and years and years. She’s made it for nearly every single family function we’ve had. Birthday parties, wedding showers, baby showers, holiday meals …

Layered Ribbon Jell-O Salad Recipe {}

Seriously, just look at it! It’s a party in a 9×13 dish! It just isn’t a family get-together for us without this salad!

It’s always been my Grandma who makes this. Well … until I went a little crazy …

One of the responsibilities that comes with buying a house with “great entertaining space” is hosting family parties. (Which I love!) But then I had a (totally crazy) moment where I thought I could handle every single part of hostessing, plus I’d make “The Salad.”


Do you ever do that? Especially when I’m a liiitttlllle stressed out (like cooking my first Easter dinner for the whole family, for example!), I somehow rationalize in my brain that I don’t need any help at all. Nope. I will clean the entire house from top to bottom by myself. (I have actually reorganized my closets before a party. I’m not sure why. Guests don’t usually make sure my tops are organized by season AND color.) And, of course, I also volunteer to cook the majority of the meal. “Oh no! I’m fine! I’ll make it!”

Layered Ribbon Jell-O Salad Recipe {}

The layers are really, really thin. Especially when you first begin, you may think this salad will never amount to anything! But it chills very fast and actually goes together quickly!

Please tell me I’m not the only one. Please?

So yeah, I offered to host a big family holiday AND make my grandma’s famous salad. (Oh right … and I wanted to healthify her version, without anyone knowing. No pressure.)

I was nervous. I couldn’t mess this up. I couldn’t let my super-sweet grandma down.


I love this woman. She is my role model and my rock. She is strong, adorable, funny and has a heart of gold. And … I think she’s just the cutest!

And ya know what? It turned out perfect. (Exhale …)

It was actually kind of funny when I revealed it had been heathified! Not only had no one noticed the change … but actually nobody even believed me when I confessed! (Whew!) They seriously had no idea that I’d subbed out the sour cream my grandma uses, and replaced it with nonfat (but high-protein!) Greek yogurt.

It was probably the easiest healthification project I’ve ever tried! And nobody suspected a thing!

Oh – and all of you who are looking at those pretty, pretty layers and thinking this salad is incredibly difficult to make … you would be kinda wrong. No, actually, you’d be totally wrong. It’s super simple!

Total time, from start to finish, is a long time. I’ll be honest about that. But the hands-on time is actually blissfully short. The Jell-O just needs a nice rest in the fridge to chill between layers … which requires absolutely no effort on your part.

Remember when we made Easy, Healthy Applesauce Granola? And you just had to quick stir it every little while? But you really didn’t need to do much else, right?

Layered Ribbon Jell-O Salad Recipe {}

Sometimes when you pour on a new layer, the Jell-O doesn’t completely cover the entire layer below it. Simply tilt the dish and let the liquid flow to the empty areas.

Well, this is very similar. It’s four steps:

  1. Mix up a box of Jell-O.
  2. Pour half of it into your pan and chill.
  3. Meanwhile, mix in some Greek yogurt to the second half.
  4. Pour that in and let it chill some more.

Then repeat with the next color. We’re talking stirring and pouring here, friends … that’s it! Told ya it was easy!

So while the Jell-O chills, so can you. Or you can reorganize your closets. I won’t judge. (Actually, maybe I’ll come over and help! I’ll bring my label maker! Ohhhh … this could be super fun!)

Know what else is really fun? You could make a red and blue Jell-O salad to celebrate the Fourth of July! (Or red and green for Christmas … or orange and purple for Halloween … or shades of green for St. Patrick’s Day!)

Layered Ribbon Jell-O Salad Recipe {}

For this patriotic version, I made thicker stripes by using an entire box of Jell-O for each layer, rather than getting both a clear and a cloudy layer from each box. The set time was slightly longer since the layers were thicker.

I won’t be attending a BBQ like many of you this weekend … because I’m in my cousin’s wedding! My “peanut” (as I’ve called her since she was tiny). She’s all grown up now and I’m so excited to stand beside her when she says “I do!” to a really great man. She’s always loved fireworks, and now she’ll have honorary anniversary fireworks every year … the wedding is on July 4th! (And no, Grandma isn’t making ribbon Jell-O for the reception – I knew you’d ask!)

But for those of you who aren’t in a wedding and are doing more typical Fourth of July things like going to picnics … just imagine how impressed your friends will be when you walk in with this salad!

Oh! And total bonus … this Jell-O salad is 100% make-ahead! It keeps beautifully in the fridge for days! So no worries that you’ll be missing any part of the parade – you can make this in advance!

Layered Ribbon Jell-O Salad Recipe {}

Whichever version you choose to make, I hope you have a fabulously fantastic holiday weekend! Happy Fourth of July, friends!

THK by Gretchen


We’d Love to Hear From You!

We really value your feedback and love to answer your questions and hear how our recipes worked for you! Just head on down to the comment box located at the very bottom of this post. E-mail addresses are never published, and last names are optional. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Oh, and don’t forget … to stay even more connected and make sure you don’t miss a thing, you can like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and check out our awesome recipe boards on Pinterest. You can also be the first to know about our latest posts by simply entering your e-mail in the box at the top right corner of our page!

Looking for More Great Picnic Ideas? Check Out Our:

Layered Ribbon Jell-O Salad

Preparation 5 min. for each color 2017-08-17T00:00:00+00:00 Cook Time about 3 min. for each color (plus cooling) 2017-08-17T00:00:00+00:00
Serves About 24-36 pieces     adjust servings


  • 6 3-oz. boxes of Jell-O gelatin (any flavor)
  • 6 3/4 cups water, divided
  • 3 cups nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt


  1. Decide on your color pattern (the order for the colors of Jell-O you've selected), and begin by working with the color that will go on the bottom.
  2. Boil 1 cup of water in the microwave.
  3. Add 1 packet of Jell-O to the boiling water and stir until completely dissolved.
  4. Pour ½ cup of this liquid into a 9x13 pan to create a "clear" layer, tilting pan for even coverage if necessary (see note).
  5. Refrigerate until set (see note).
  6. While the first layer sets, add ½ cup Greek yogurt and 2 tablespoons cold water to the remaining liquid Jell-O for the "cloudy" layer.
  7. Pour the liquid for your "cloudy" layer on top of the completely set clear layer.
  8. Refrigerate again until set.
  9. Repeat this process with each color of Jell-O to create alternating "clear" and "cloudy" layers in each color you've chosen.
  10. Refrigerate until serving.


Recipe Notes

Achieving even layers: To ensure that each new layer of gelatin liquid spreads evenly across the entire pan, you may need to tilt the pan slightly.

Chilling time: The layers of Jell-O will set up rather quickly because they're so thin. At first, the layers may be set in as little as 10-15 minutes.

To make thicker layers as I did for the Fourth of July Jell-O Salad:
For each clear layer, use 1 entire box of Jell-O with 1 cup boiling water. Similarly, for each cloudy layer, use 1 entire box of Jell-O with 1 cup boiling water, plus 1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt and 2 tablespoons cold water. You can choose any colors you'd like, depending on the holiday or your party's theme colors.

We'd love to see your photos of this recipe! Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter and tag @TwoHealthyKitchens!


Our Layered Ribbon Jell-O Salad recipe has been mentioned or featured in:
13 Delicious 4th of July Food & Drink Recipes at Horseshoes & Hand Grenades
50 + Picnic Favorites at Eazy Peazy Mealz
35+ Easy Easter Recipes at Rants From My Crazy Kitchen
55 Non-Chocolate Desserts (Just In Case You Gave Up Chocolate For Lent) at Drugstore Divas
20 Desserts with Five Ingredients or Less at The Taylor House
20+ Lightened Up Dessert Recipes at Cookie Dough and Oven Mitt
12 Yummy Gluten Free Holiday Jell-o Recipes at Break O’ Day Farm

Layered Ribbon Jell-O Salad Recipe {}


Layered Ribbon Jell-O Salad — 59 Comments

  1. Ive been making this jello recipe for forty years, I’ve alway used cream cheese, not yogurt….and I use the same color jello in the next layer with the cream cheese, in a large round glass bowl, takes a few days but its beautiful!

    • It really is a classic Jell-O recipe – such a staple at potlucks and family get-togethers! Your version sounds delicious, too! (Although if you’re ever looking to try a new, slightly healthier twist, I’d be so interested how you like Gretchen’s new take on her family’s old fave! 😉 ) And yes … you’re so right that it really is gorgeous! I love how you can switch it up, too, with different colors for different holidays and occasions! ~Shelley

  2. Pingback: 25 Rainbow Colored Foods for Your St. Patrick's Day | Simply Playful Fare, LLC

  3. Pingback: 11 Incredibly Delicious Potluck Recipes! | Moore or Less Cooking Food Blog

  4. I made this for a 4th of July party this week. It was a lot of fun and a huge hit with the kids especially (the adults just couldn’t believe how simple it was.) I used plain unsweetened homemade yogurt. My homemade yogurt is pretty thick but a little thinner than Greek yogurt so I skipped the extra water. I also didn’t add extra sugar and everyone still liked it.

    • Hello Beth!! Thanks for featuring our recipe at your party!! It’s such a pretty dish – and can look completely different for each holiday! Just beware … you may be asked to make it for every occasion from now on! Lol! 😀

      Great suggestion on the homemade yogurt! I’ve never tried making my own … but now I’m thinking it may be a really fun idea! Thanks!!!

      Have a wonderful week!! ~Gretchen

  5. This looks great! I am making it for this weekend’s Independence Day celebration and will make red-white-blue. I love the idea of greek yogurt and will definitely use it. But, I will make one slight change to keep it pure white: I will use 1 package of Knox gelatin for each white layer of yogurt and make the other layers are directed. I think I like the thin layer look better so I’ll just use 1/2 package each time.

  6. Just found this recipe through a Bakepedia tweet – wow, I love it for so many reasons: it looks beautiful, you have great ideas for color variations, it brings back fun memories, it’s a healthier way to eat Jello which is a tender treat for people in braces (since braces-friendly recipes are my thing), and it was co-created by a Gretchen – the name I gave my second daughter :-)!!! Loving every bit of this and will try it pronto. Keep up the great THKing!

    • Hi Pamela! So happy you stumbled across our recipe!!

      This is one of our most favorite treats at family get-togethers! We just love all the colors – it really makes the table so pretty! And … you’re absolutely right – it’s perfect for those with braces! I made a batch when my oldest had braces put on – she thought she was having a fun treat, but I was thrilled with all the protein she was getting from the Greek yogurt! 🙂

      Yay for another Gretchen! As I’m sure you know, Gretchen comes from the name Margaret. Both of my parents had a favorite Aunt Margaret, so it was a fun way for them to honor each of those women!

      Have a wonderful day! And please stop by again!! ~Gretchen

    • Oh, no! I’m sorry you don’t have so many fun colors to play with, but not to worry – this can be really terrific with just a couple of colors, like Gretchen’s example of a red and blue Fourth of July Jell-O dessert (although, of course, you’re probably not looking for a Fourth of July dessert in Germany, I realize! 😀 ). But really, I think it’ll be lovely and very delicious with whatever colors you can find! And psssst … if not, there’s always FedEx, lol … let me know … 😀 ~Shelley

    • Awww, thanks for the sweet words, Christine! I hope you try it – and then take it to a picnic and enjoy every moment in the glory – you’ll be the most loved person there! 🙂 It’s a yummy treat for sure … and just so pretty! ~Gretchen

    • Hi Chris! Yes – this Jell-O will totally impress your friends at a BBQ! It’s so fun to eat – makes you feel like a kid again! But … with all that healthy Greek yogurt (3 cups!) you can have seconds without feeling guilty! Have a great day! 😀 ~G&S

    • Aw … thanks for all those wonderfully sweet words, Erin! Every time I make this I just think of my sweet grandma – she’s the best! And it really brings a smile to everyone’s face – it’s so colorful and fun! 😀 ~Gretchen

    • You are absolutely right – the adults love this almost as much as the kids! We all really look forward to this fun splash of color on the table! Hope you have a great week, as well! 🙂 ~Gretchen

  7. Oh why do we offer our services and then get stressed about it? No, you aren’t alone on that one! Not even close. In fact, I was pretty proud of myself this week. Someone asked me to make some appetizers for her party. I said sure. By the time the conversation was done, she was saying that I would make all the food for her party and she would make a cake. Mind you, I’m leaving on vacation the day after her party! D’oh! So, I called her up later and politely said I made a mistake and that I couldn’t cook for her party. Yay me!
    But, I digress, your jello salad looks SOOO pretty! Both the holiday and the rainbow version. Maybe I’ll make that rainbow version for my niece once she’s a little older. 🙂
    Pinning for later! Thanks!

    • Oh Debi – you are SO brave!!! I don’t think I’d have the guts to call a friend and tell her ‘no’ – I’m too weak! Ahhh! And now my secret is out – so it looks like I’ll be cooking for everyone’s parties from here on out! Lol!! Well, I will think of you and try to muster your strength when I just can’t seem to stretch myself any thinner! 🙂
      Thanks for the pin – and I hope your niece loves this! It’s a hit with all ages! 😀 ~Gretchen

  8. I remember making this a long long time ago.. With marshmallow-gelatin layers for the whites. But this one with yogurt sounds so much fresher! (and definitely healthier!) Ah, I should really make this again.. (but healthier!)

    Congratulations on not exploding your house while hosting a party! I always think I can do everything myself as well, and run around like a headless chicken, but my closets have never gotten more organized because of it!

    • Well, I may be near explosion! And, we just found out we will be having guests stay with us in a few weeks. I spent the morning reorganizing drawers. I think I may have a problem!!! I choose to focus on the silliest details …

      Ohhh … I’ve never heard of marshmallow-geletin! That sounds really fun! 🙂 Hope you try making this again – and healthier! 😀 ~Gretchen

  9. Your grandma is absolutely beautiful – she is the cutest! Recipes passed down like this one are such gems! I am glad your dinner worked out great and that you managed to healthify such an old classic with high protein greek yogurt (that stuff it seriously like magic in everything!). The colors in your jello salad are so vibrant and cheerful looking! Happy 4th of July Weekend ladies – hope you have a great one!

    • Thank you, Ceara! I just spent the past weekend with my grandma – I loved every minute of it! She is just so sweet! I remember reading about when your grandma came to visit you! Maybe we should get together and bring our grandmas … could be a really fun visit! 🙂

      We love the bright colors, too! It really looks beautiful on the table! And it one thing that I don’t need to feel guilty about eating – even seconds! 🙂 ~Gretchen

    • You really will feel so artistic and wonderfully creative when you show up at a party with this … and no one will ever guess how easy it actually was to make! Even better, they’ll never suspect that nestled in those pretty layers are a whopping three cups of high-protein, nonfat yogurt! 😀 ~G&S

  10. Very impressive! I don’t think I have the patience to make something like this, but you’re welcome to send some my way 😀 Love the layers, I’ll pass this to my daughter and let her have a go at it.
    Oh, and I too go crazy cleaning and organzing everything before guests. Once I had company and someone opened my junk drawer and I was mortified. Never again 😀 haha

    • Haha! Not the dreaded junk drawer!!!! I would have been mortified, too!! (Pardon me while I go straighten up my junk drawer!! 🙂 )

      Ohhhh … let me know how your daughter does with this! I’d love for you to come visit and we can chat over ribbon Jell-O! I’m thinking it wouldn’t ship too well … it might be layered ribbon Jell-O soup by the time it gets to you! Lol! ~Gretchen

    • Thank you, Kelly! Hope you make this sometime – everyone is so impressed (but it’ll be your secret how easy it really is!).

      If you ever figure out how to delegate all that work for the parties, could you please let me know?!? It gets so stressful trying to get it all done! ~Gretchen

  11. My new favorite word is “healthification!” I will be using it from now on! 🙂 Also, I can’t wait to make this beautiful jello salad. I was just online looking for something light and at least a tad healthy to make for dessert for when we go camping this weekend. I can pop this in the camper fridge before we go– We don’t really rough it when we camp, ha! ha! and pull it out and have lots of happy campers! Yay for another great recipe!

    • Healthification is absolutely a word! 🙂 And when Shelley and I have made something much healthier, it has been ‘THK-ified’ – also a word! 😀

      Oh, what a fun idea to make this for the weekend of camping! Everyone will be so impressed when you pull this out! I love camping – when it involves staying at a hotel!! Lol! I’m not really one to ‘rough it’ either … I’ve never slept in a tent before!

      Have a wonderful weekend! Happy 4th!! ~Gretchen

    • Thank you, Maureen! My grandma is just so cute and sweet – ya can’t help but love her! She’s a fantastic lady! 🙂 Hope you try this salad – your family won’t be able to tell it’s healthy, either! And you can customize to your favorite colors – but we love the rainbow! 😀 ~Gretchen

  12. Gretchen, your recipe photo this week is stunning! So colorful and so well thought out. You know what the best element is? The peeking 9×13 pan with several pieces removed! Bravo.

    • Oh my goodness, Sue! Thank you so much for the wonderful compliment! (I know you can’t see me – but I’m blushing!!) You literally made my day! Thank you, again, for brightening my day! Have a fabulous Fourth of July!! ~Gretchen

  13. I’ve made this for years – my go to when the kids are sick or for holidays. When my kids were little they loved to decide the color order. Mine was definitely not so healthy as the jello was mixed with vanilla ice cream rather than Greek yogurt. I can’t wait to try your version. With the vanilla ice cream I don’t have to do the two step process to get the clear and cloudy layer, it just separated as it set. I wonder if it would do that with the yogurt or not… Anyway, looking forward to making this version for my family to see if they can tell the difference!

    • Jell-O and ice cream! I’ve never even heard of that!!! And it divides into layers all by itself? That’s magical!! These layers don’t separate at all when you put the yogurt in. I hope your family loves it – and can’t tell you healthified it! 🙂 Happy 4th!! ~Gretchen

  14. omg! My mother used to buy something from jello that divided into three layers. They don’t sell it anymore. We loved that. But now there is this. And this looks so much better. What fun. And we are a lot alike. I clean and cook and drive everyone crazy before a big event. I do not organize my closets, though. I guess I should call you for that! Have a fun wedding!

    • Ohhhh … Abbe! I would love to help you organize closets! I looooove to clean and organize!!! And we could make Jell-O and chat and put everything in order! (I’m ridiculously excited about this idea!!)
      I’ve never seen anything that divided the Jell-O! And bummer that you can’t get one now! Well, I hope you try this version – and love it! 🙂 ~Gretchen

  15. These are picture perfect! And I love your grandma. She is such a cutie. :)There’s nothing like recipes handed down to you and carrying on traditions. Love it!

    • Thank you, Sharon! I think she’s great, too! 🙂 I love having favorite recipes from family members. Such wonderful memories are made around the table! And then I love thinking about that special person when I make the recipes again later. 😀 Have a great weekend! ~Gretchen

Please Leave Us a Comment! We Love Hearing from You!

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