Layered Rainbow Jell-O Salad

by Gretchen · May contain affiliate links

Published Updated September 8, 2023

~ No one will ever guess how much healthier this pretty, Layered Rainbow Jell-O Salad is! It’s got a hidden hit of protein … and it’s incredibly easy to make! Plus, we’ve got tips to help you customize the colors to fit any holiday or party theme! (Originally published as Layered Ribbon Jell-O Salad) ~

This Recipe Is:     Make Ahead    Gluten Free  

one square piece of this Jell-O Salad on a white plate, surrounded by colorful polka-dot napkins and striped party straws, and by the pan full of remaining Jell-O

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 recipe??

Healthier … But NO ONE Will Even Notice!

Shelley and I actually spent quite a long time discussing this (as we happily munched some of my “healthier” Layered Rainbow Jell-O 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 give it a little boost of protein, and slash some calories and fat to make it 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 Jell-O 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 …

closeup of a forkful, laying on its side on the tines of the fork so you can see the alternating cloudy and clear rainbow layers

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 shirts 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!”

overhead of the pan with a clear purple layer setting up
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 Jell-O Salad. (Oh right … and I wanted to health-ify 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.

photo of Gretchen's Grandma
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 heath-ified! 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 health-ification project I’ve ever tried! And nobody suspected a thing!

Just 4 (Mostly Hands-Off) Steps to Make Rainbow Jell-O!

Oh – and all of you who are looking at those pretty, pretty rainbow layers and thinking this Jell-O recipe 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?

clear orange layer of Jello filling in over top of the cloudy layer below it; while you can see the sides of the pan to see the rainbow layers that have been built up step by step
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 just four basic steps!

All you have to do is:

  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 … and then the next …

We’re talking stirring and pouring here, friends. That’s it! Told ya it was easy!

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!)

How to Customize Your Jell-O Salad for Any Occasion

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!)

this recipe adapted to have patriotic, red-white-and-blue layers instead of rainbow layers, with a piece on a white plate with little flags on it and a red napkin nearby
For this patriotic version of our Jello-Salad recipe, 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.

You can easily change up the colors and the thickness of your Jell-O’s layers, depending on what color scheme you’re going for. This 4th of July version is just an example to get your creative juices flowing!

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 Rainbow 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!

Make It Ahead!

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.

one piece on a white plate with a white-handled fork, with the rest of the pan of Jello Salad in the background

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

Looking for More Great Picnic Ideas? Check Out Our:

Layered Ribbon Jell-O Salad Recipe {}

~ by Gretchen

Layered Rainbow Jell-O Salad

Layered Rainbow Jell-O Salad

Yield: 30 pieces
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Inactive Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 48 minutes

No one will ever guess how much healthier this pretty Rainbow Jell-O Salad is! It’s high in protein … and actually easy to make, too! Plus, you can use our tips to customize the colors for any holiday or event!

•  Make Ahead    Gluten Free  


  • 6 (3-ounce) boxes of Jell-O gelatin (any flavors you'd like)
  • 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 1/2 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 1/2 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.


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.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 30 servings Serving Size: 1 piece
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 30Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 23mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 0gSugar: 5gProtein: 2g

Nutrition information should be considered an estimate only, and may vary depending on your choice of ingredients or preparation. No guarantees are made regarding allergies or dietary needs. Always consult a physician or dietician for specific advice and questions.

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69 thoughts on “Layered Rainbow Jell-O Salad”

  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. 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


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