Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Tequila Sunrise Jello Shots

Tequila Sunrise Jello Shots are fruity and fun, and full of bright colors and tasty toppings that just can’t be beat! Orange juice, grenadine, tequila: the three things that make the original Tequila Sunrise that we all know and love. So why not throw all of that into a jello shot recipe? 

titled (shown stacked): tequila sunrise jello shots
Between the sweet strawberry Jell-O and the tangy orange juice in the top layer, I’m totally addicted to these tequila Jello shots!

And with whipped cream and a cherry on top? These heavenly little treats make the PERFECT summer dessert cocktails!
They take only 10 minutes to prep and less than 3 hours to set in the fridge. Plus, they store well, so they’re great for making whenever you have a quick second before a weekend party.

jello shot recipe ingredients

Tequila Sunrise Jello Shots

A layer of red, a layer of orange, and sweet all the way down. It’s your favorite Tequila Sunrise Recipe, but the cocktail is combined with gelatin in a cute little cup!

And you just can’t miss tequila when you start talking summer cocktails. After all, summer is all about margaritas! Check out my 5 Favorite Margaritas and let me know which is your favorite!

There are actually so many fun ways to use this liquor in cooking, not just in cocktails. Grilled Tequila Lime Chicken is one delicious example that you absolutely have to try. It’s a summertime grilling must-have!

pouring water into red gelatin powder

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Gelatin - You’ll need a layer of red Jello-O for the bottom, so I recommend using either strawberry or cherry. I use plain, unflavored gelatin for the orange layer. That’s where the orange juice comes in!
  • Orange Juice - I like to use good ol’ Sunny D! It’s sweet, tangy, and so yummy — perfect for this recipe! If it’s too sweet for you, you can use your favorite brand of OJ instead. Personally, I wouldn’t use any brand with pulp because it messes with the texture, but it’s your call!
  • Tequila - Use your favorite brand of tequila for the alcohol portion. In my opinion, silver tequila is the best candidate for mixed drinks.
  • Optional Ingredients - It isn’t totally necessary, but I think a nice dollop of whipped cream and a maraschino cherry on top really takes the tequila Jello shots over the top!! 

red layer of tequila jello in plastic cup

Kitchen Tools You Will Need

  • 2-ounce shot cups - These typically come in quantities of 50-100, perfect for making plenty of tequila jello shots for a huge party!
  • You need a good, steady pouring instrument to get smooth, even layers. I like using a kitchen injector/syringe because it’s so easy, but any funnel or pouring pitcher will work!

adding water for tequila jello shots with orange juice

Tequila Jello Shots FAQ

Are Jello shots better with vodka or tequila?

Honestly, it depends on the recipe. The juices, flavors, and toppings you want to use affect which alcohol is best. These tequila Jello shots mimic the classic Tequila Sunrise cocktail, so of course, tequila is the way to go!

How much alcohol can you put in a tequila Jello shot?

Don’t add more than half a cup of alcohol per layer. You absolutely can put too much alcohol in your Jello shots! If you do, there’s a chance the gelatin won’t set correctly.

If you really want more alcohol, you can booze up the red layer as well by swapping out half of the cold water with tequila.

How can I make Jello shots easier?

Jello shot recipes can be really messy and tricky, but they don’t have to be! Have an injector or pitcher with a spout handy can help you create super clean, even layers.

Also, be sure to let the first layer fully set before adding the next. You really need at least an hour for the red layer to set up.

Finally, do NOT add hot water to the unflavored gelatin without dissolving it in cold water first! Otherwise, it gets a weird, clumpy texture.

clear plastic cup with layers of orange and strawberry gelatin

Prep Ahead Instructions 

Assemble the shots in disposable plastic cups, and keep them covered after the second layer sets. I like to use plastic shot cups that come with lids so they're easier to transport.

Just don’t leave them out of the fridge for longer than 2 or 3 hours.

If you'll be prepping tequila sunrise Jello shots in advance, wait until you're ready to serve before topping them with whipped cream and cherries. In my experience, the garnishes get pretty gross if they're left in the fridge for longer than an hour or so.

How To Store Tequila Sunrise Jello Shots

Keep lids on your plastic shot cups, and remember to store them without the whipped cream and cherries on top. If you store them this way, Jello shots keep well in the fridge for up to 2 weeks!

Because they last for so long, and because they’re so easy to make, I don’t recommend freezing them. Doing that absolutely ruins their consistency and texture.

stacked jello shots in plastic shot cups


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woman's hand holding tequila jello shot topped with whipped cream and a cherry

Yield: 15 2-ounce shots
Author: Donna Elick
tequila sunrise jello shot topped with whipped cream and maraschino cherry

Tequila Sunrise Jello Shots

Tequila Sunrise Jello Shots are a fun way to enjoy a classic cocktail. This tangy sweet tequila shot recipe is perfect for summer parties!
Prep time: 10 mins  Inactive time: 2 hours 30 min  Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes


  • 3-ounce box red Jell-O
  • 2 packets unflavored gelatin
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup tequila
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup cold water
  • whipped cream (optional)
  • maraschino cherries (optional)


  1. Add the red Jello powder and 1 cup boiling water to a medium mixing bowl; stir until gelatin dissolves. Add the cold water and stir to combine.
  2. Using an injector or cup with spout, fill each shot cup about ¼ of the way full.
  3. Place cups in the fridge for an hour or until gelatin sets.
  4. Add the orange juice to a medium mixing bowl and sprinkle the unflavored gelatin over the top of it. You may need to gently help the gelatin powder all get wet to start the process.
  5. Leave the mixture set until the gelatin has dissolved and looks no longer clumpy.
  6. Add in the half cup boiling water and stir until the gelatin has dissolved.
  7. Add the tequila and stir.
  8. Using the injector, fill the shot cups until they’re about ¾ of the way full. Place Jello shots in the fridge for 1.5 hours or until set.
  9. Top each with whipped cream and a cherry, if desired, and enjoy responsibly!
  1. Do not add hot water to the unflavored gelatin powder before it’s been dissolved in cold water. You’ll make it clumpy and stringy. It’s salvageable, but definitely not as easy to use or as nice looking.
  2. If you want to make the red layer alcoholic, swap out half a cup of the cold water for more tequila.
  3. Do not go beyond half a cup of alcohol per jello layer or you chance the layer not setting up.
  4. I like using Sunny D for the orange juice as it’s just a better and sweeter flavor. It really rounds out the flavor of the shot well. However, Sunny D will make it sweeter, so if you don’t want that, stick with your usual orange juice.
  5. I would skip using an orange juice that has pulp. It’s not very pleasant in a shot, texture wise or looks wise. However, it’s totally up to you!
  6. I like using the injector because it’s quicker and easier. However, I’ve been able to use a pourable measuring cup and make it out with little mess as well.
  7. Only add garnishes right before serving or within a couple hours of serving. Garnishes have a tendency to get gross sitting in the fridge for long periods.
  8. Store without garnishes, with lids on, for up to 2 weeks. Do not freeze.

titled pinterest collage for tequila sunrise jello shots

Originally published May 2022

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