Pink Jello Pie is the ultimate no bake dessert. This simple pie is a family classic, but is often difficult to recreate outside of the US. My new recipe will help you make jello pie without Cool Whip, without loosing out on the flavour or texture of the finished product!
What is Jello Pie
A classic Jello Pie is a retro no bake cream pie in a graham cracker crust. The filling is made with the simple combination of Jell-O and Cool Whip.
The Classic Jello Cool Whip Pie
My family's recipe calls for:
- 1 small (3oz) package of Jell-O
- 1 standard (8oz) tub of Cool Whip
- ⅔ cup boiling water
- 2 cups of ice
In a large bowl, you would simply mix the Jell-O with the boiling water, until the powder is fully dissolved. Then add the ice, stirring for a few minutes to help cool down the mixture. After 2 minutes, remove any remaining ice cubes. Then add the Cool Whip and stir to thoroughly incorporate. Spread in your pie shell and refrigerate until set.
Ingredient Issues for Jello Pie in the UK
Now, if you're in the US, there's no issue with this recipe - all the ingredients are readily available in grocery stores. But, unfortunately, outside the US, this simple recipe poses a lot of problems!
In the UK there are three key issues that need to be confronted when trying to make Jello Pie:
- Jell-O as a brand is not widely available in the UK.
- Cool Whip does not exist in Britain (nor does any similar pre-made thick set whipped cream).
- Graham crackers are also only available as a specialty import.
Making Homemade Jello Pie without Cool Whip
Of the three key issues with Jello Pie in the UK, the lack of Cool Whip is the most difficult to overcome. There are suitable direct substitutes for both the Jell-O and the graham cracker crust, but nothing quite like ready made Cool Whip.
Now you may think: can I substitute homemade whipped cream for Cool Whip in Jello Pie? The answer is unfortunately no. A basic homemade whipped cream will not be sufficient for setting a Jello Pie. This is because Cool Whip actually has quite a few stabilisers in it as a product that help to ensure it sets more solidly than average whipped cream.
You need, therefore, additional gelatine in the recipe to make sure your pie sets.
To mimic the flavours of Cool Whip, I use my stabilised vanilla whipped cream. Along with this, I add an extra teaspoon powdered gelatine to the flavoured gelatine liquid. This helps to ensure your pie will set and not turn out runny.
So I cheated a little bit on using local British ingredients - I did use Jell-O brand jello for my most recent pie. The jello in Britain is called jelly and generally comes in condensed jiggly jelly cubes. These dissolve in boiled water the same way as the powdered Jell-O, so can be substituted directly in this recipe. Jell-O brand is also found in many import stores and available on Amazon or other online American grocers.
Step by Step Jello Pie
Step 1: Bloom the extra gelatine
In order to add in the extra 1 teaspoon of unflavoured powdered gelatine, this needs to be softened first before use. Sprinkle your 1 teaspoon of powdered gelatine over 1½ tablespoons of water. Let this sit to soak for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, you can whip your cream.
Step 2: Make stabilized vanilla whipped cream
My stabilized whipped cream recipe provides the perfect basis for the cream for this pie. You will use the ratio of 1 cup heavy double cream (or whipping cream), 1 tablespoon of powdered icing sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
Whip this to stiff peaks, but avoid overwhipping, for best smooth cream quality.
Once whipped, set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Step 3: Make the Jello (or Jelly)
Next, make the jello!
Whether you are using powder of cube, place this in a large bowl and pour over your boiled water. Stir until fully dissolved and add in your softened extra gelatine. Continue stirring for a minute or two to make sure it is all smooth liquid.
Add about a cup of ice cubes (or a large handful). Stir again for about 2 minutes while the ice cubes begin to melt. This is to cool the jello down prior to the addition of the cream. After 2 minutes, remove any ice that hasn't melted.
Step 4: Putting it all together
The last step is to stir it all together!
Add the chilled whipped cream to your jello and stir well to thoroughly mix through. Ideally, you want to avoid pockets of unmixed cream or jello. Though, in practice, these won't massively impact the flavour or texture of your pie, so don't worry too much!
Once you have your filling mixed, pour this into your prepared pie shell. Refrigerate until set (about 4 hours).
I used a homemade crushed lotus biscuit pie shell, but you can also find cookie crumb/biscuit bases pre made in most grocery stores. In the US, preprepared graham cracker pie crusts are readily available.
Jello Pie Flavors
Jello Pie is conventionally pink and made with strawberry jello. There's no formal rule to this though.
For a pink pie, my family's favourite is often Cherry Jello Pie, instead of strawberry, but you could also make this recipe with raspberry or even watermelon.
Use orange jello for a Creamsicle Jello Pie or lime for a zesty green Lime Jello Pie alternative.
FAQs for Jello Pie
Jello Pie is at its best the day after it is made (allowing it to set overnight) and leftovers easily last in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
It is not recommended to freeze Jello Pie. Jello in the freezer can loose its ability to gel, which means that the filling for the pie may become runny when defrosted.
If you have white spots in your pie, this will be because the cream hasn't been stirred through enough. This is unlikely to cause any real issue with texture or flavor.
Similarly, if your pie has some dark pink/red spots in it, don't worry - your powdered Jell-O likely didn't fully dissolve. This is not normally a problem and shouldn't impact the flavour or texture of the pie. Sometimes, if it really hasn't dissolved enough, the texture may become a bit grainy.
If you find larger lumps of uncoloured undissolved gelatine this is likely from the additional gelatine you have added to the mixture. This most likely will result from not soaking the gelatine long enough to soften prior to use. Lumps from the extra gelatine will be less pleasant and more noticeable in your pie's texture, so be sure to soak this for the full 10 minutes - ensuring that all of the gelatine is soaked and none remains dry. Stir it into the boiling water thoroughly to dissolve.
If you like this recipe, you might also like these other classics:
Pink Jello Pie
- 1 prepared 9" cookie crumb pie crust
- 1 cup heavy double cream or whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon powdered icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon powdered gelatine
- 1 small (3oz) packet of Jell-O or 1 standard (135g) packet of jelly cubes
- 1 cup ice
- ⅔ cup boiling water
- 1½ tablespoon tap water
- Place 1½ tablespoons of tap water in a small bowl and sprinkle the 1 teaspoon of powdered unflavoured gelatine over this. Ensure all gelatine is soaking and allow to soften for 10 minutes.
- In a medium bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the cream, icing sugar and vanilla to stiff peaks. Avoid overmixing. Place in the refrigerator until ready for use.
- In a separate large bowl, add the Jell-O or jelly cubes and pour over boiling water. Stir to dissolve and add the softened gelatine, stirring to fully melt.
- Add about 1 cup (or a large handful) of ice cubes to the flavoured gelatine liquid. Stir for about 2 minutes to cool the mixture down and remove any remaining unmelted pieces of ice.
- Spoon the whipped cream into the flavoured gelatine liquid and stir to fully incorporate.
- Pour the jello pie filling into the prepared pie crust and spread evenly. Place the pie in the refrigerator to set (about 4 hours, but best made the night before).