These adorable gingerbread man jigglers are fun and festive finger jello treats with a sweet and delicious gingerbread cookie taste – and much easier to make!
These Christmas candies are simply a layered gelatin recipe that combines the flavors of gingerbread, condensed milk and hot chocolate. A delight for kids and adults alike!
These cute jiggly jigglers have a mellow ginger flavor that’s sweet and not spicy so even picky kids will love them. It’s the perfect finger food for holiday parties!
table of contents
You’ll only need a handful of ingredients to make these adorable Christmas treats:
- Unflavored gelatin, 3 1/4-ounce envelopes
- Gingerbread syrup, 1/2 cup
- One can of sweetened condensed milk
- Milk, 3/4 cup
- Cocoa powder or hot chocolate powder, 1 tablespoon
Unflavored gelatin: This is just pure gelatin powder, without flavors.
The easiest to find is Knox gelatin, which usually comes in boxes with 4 envelopes (from which you’ll need three for this recipe).
If you get gelatin in bulk packaging, like those of beef gelatin, use 3 tablespoons.
Gingerbread syrup: This is the simple coffee or latte syrup that you can buy in a bottle. If you prefer to make your own syrup, it’s really simple. I’ll put an an easy recipe for you under the instructions below.
How to make
Gather the ingredients, a small bowl, a saucepan and a square 9-inch pan and let’s start making our jellojoy jigglers!
In a small bowl, mix the unflavored gelatin powder and the gingerbread syrup.
Let it stand for about 5 minutes for the the gelatin to absorb the syrup and hydrate (bloom).
It’s going to swell and solidify into a big jello clump.
Add the sweetened condensed milk and the milk to a saucepan, and bring it to a simmer.
Remove the saucepan from the stove and immediately stir in the bloomed gelatin.
Mix it very well until it is completely melted.
Pour about half of the mixture into a 9-inch square baking pan. It’s okay if it’s a bit more or less.
Take it into the fridge, making sure the pan is sitting flat on the shelf (so the layers won’t be crooked).
Let it chill until set but not completely firm. This can take about 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the temperature of your fridge.
While the first layer of gingerbread jello is chilling, prepare the second layer.
Add the chocolate powder to the remaining mixture of gelatin and milk and mix until it’s smooth and without clumps.
Let it cool down completely on the kitchen counter (do not refrigerate!)
Test the white condensed milk gelatin with your fingertip: when it’s a little firm and sticky, gently pour the chocolate layer on top.
Refrigerate again until fully set, about 3 to 4 hours, or leave it overnight.
Turn the jello onto a large dish and cut the gingerbread man shapes with a cookie cutter.
If the jello sticks to the cutter, dip it into some warm water between cuts.
Decorate the jello jigglers with festive sprinkles and serve!
Gingerbread syrup recipe
If you can’t find bottled gingerbread syrup or just prefer to make your own, here’s a quick and easy homemade gingerbread syrup recipe:
- 1/4 cup of molasses
- 1/4 cup of water
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of ground ginger (choose how spicy you’d like)
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon of ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and wait until it’s fully cooled down before using in the recipe.
Adjust the spices: Use more ginger powder if you prefer it spicier or less if your children don’t like it.
Cloves and nutmeg are traditional in gingerbread but have a strong flavor, you can leave these out if you don’t enjoy them.
Make a sugar-free gingerbread syrup: Simply use golden sweetener instead of molasses.
Replace the canned condensed milk for a homemade sweet condensed milk without sugar, the cow’s milk for a low-carb/keto milk, and use a sugar-free gingerbread syrup.
You can use agar powder instead of gelatin, just follow the instructions for dissolving and setting times in the package.
As normally there’s no need to dissolve the agar in cold liquid first, just add all the ingredients to simmer together in the pan (except the chocolate).
You can use sweetened coconut milk instead of condensed milk, and any dairy-free milk you like instead of cow’s milk, such as almond milk.
Retro jigglers recipe with one ingredient
If you like the idea of gingerbread man-shaped jello jigglers but don’t have all the recipe ingredients you can go straight to my source of inspiration for this recipe:
Make this 80’s retro Jell-O recipe with just two ingredients (Well, just one really, the other is water!)
This vintage – like me 😉 – gelatin jiggler recipe is super simple: You’ll only need 4 small (4-serving size) packages of jello and 2 1/2 cups of boiling water.
Dissolve the gelatin in the boiling water, pour into an 8 or 9-inch square pan, chill until firm and cut with a gingerbread man cookie cutter.
I suggest you use red and/or green jello colors for a Christmassy look. It won’t taste like ginger, but it sure is cute!
Expert tips and FAQ
The difference between jello and jello jigglers
The larger ratio of gelatin to liquid is the only difference between jello jigglers or finger jello and regular jello that you eat with a spoon!
For making jello jigglers you need the jello to set hard, otherwise you won’t be able to use a cookie cutter or to eat it by hand without breaking or tearing the jello into pieces.
So even though the package instructions tell you that one envelope of gelatin will set two cups of liquid, please use the whole 3 envelopes for your jigglers to come out bouncy perfect!
Do not let the first jello layer fully set
When you put the first layer of gingerbread gelatin in the fridge to chill, keep an eye on the time not to forget it in.
You’ll need to pour the second layer before the first layer is fully set, while it is still sticky on the surface.
Jigglers set faster and stronger because they are made with more gelatin. If the bottom jello layer is completely set and hard and dry on the top, the layers won’t stick together properly and might separate as you are cutting the jigglers with the cookie cutter.
Avoid scratching your metal pan
Do not try to use the cookie cutter straight inside the pan, specially if the pan has a non-stick coating. The metal cookie cutter will scrape the walls and/or bottom of the pan and ruin the finish.
How to easily unmold jello
To unmold the jello, you can quickly dip the pan for a few seconds into warm water (not hot). This will melt just a very thin layer all around the pan and ensure the gelatin will slide off onto a plate or cutting board with ease.
Cut the jigglers close together
It may seem obvious but jello is not like cookie dough that you can just press and cut anywhere and then re-roll the dough and cut the shapes again. Be thoughtful of cookie cutter positioning to maximize the amount of jigglers you can get from the recipe.
With careful placement of a 3-inch cookie cutter and using a 9×9-inch pan, this recipe makes 12 jello jigglers that are half an inch high, with a minimal amount of delicious scraps to “clean up”.
Making it ahead
You can prepare the jello jigglers ahead of time, up to one week before serving. You can prepare the jello and leave it in the pan to unmold and cut shapes on the day you wish to serve.
After the jigglers are fully set, cover the pan so it won’t dry out or take up smells.
You can also cut the jigglers ahead and carefully place them in a container. They might stick together a little, but if they do, they unstick quite easily and remain mostly unscathed.
If you worry about them sticking because you need them to look their best (to serve in a party) and have space in the fridge, you can cut the jigglers and place them side by side in a cookie sheet wrapped in cling film.
Decoration with sprinkles should be done just before serving, as the sugar in contact with the jello starts to melt away after some time and the colors can run.
They keep well refrigerated for up to one week. They need to stay covered or they might absorb smell and taste from the other items in your fridge.
I do not recommend freezing, as they can develop ice crystals which will ruin the silky gelatin texture.
Gingerbread jello jigglers
- 3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
- ½ cup gingerbread syrup
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- ¾ cup milk
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder or hot chocolate powder
- festive sprinkles optional
- In a small bowl, mix gelatin powder and gingerbread syrup. Let it stand for about 5 minutes, the gelatin will absorb the syrup and hydrate.
- Meanwhile, add the condensed milk and milk to a saucepan, and bring it to a simmer.
- Remove from the heat and immediately stir in the gelatin. Mix until it's fully melted.
- Pour about half of the mixture into a 9-inch square baking pan, and take it into the fridge, making sure the pan is sitting flat on the shelf. Let it chill until set but not completely firm.
- Meanwhile, add the chocolate powder to the remaining gelatin and milk mix and whisk until it's smooth and without clumps. Let it cool down completely on the counter.
- Test the first layer of gelatin with your fingertip: when it's a little firm and sticky, gently pour the chocolate layer on top. Refrigerate again until fully set, about 3-4 hours.
- Turn the jello onto a large plate or cutting board and cut the gingerbread man shapes with a cookie cutter. Carefully and gently remove the jigglers to a serving dish. Decorate them as you like and serve.
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