Grandma’s Signature Jello Dessert

Jello dessertRyan’s grandma is 94 this year and she is still spunky as ever. This awesome Jello dessert is her signature dish. She would make this for all the family get together, or when she gets invited to dinner somewhere, or just to bring it to her favorite restaurant to treat the staffs there. The flavor is simple and delicate but sooooo addicting!! Just have one bite, and you won’t be able to resist the second, third, fourth…

Jello dessertJello dessertJello dessertWhenever grandma made the Jello dessert, she would start the night before. Mind you, she doesn’t have a food processor or a stand mixer, so everything is made the old fashioned way. She chopped all the walnuts by hand, just as well or even better than my food processor. (A couple years ago, one of the family members took over her task to make this Jello dessert, and the crust was full of walnut chunks!) She creamed the butter and the cream cheese with a little hand mixer. She used an old rectangular cake pan that’s been beaten to death. Then she cut out small squares and carefully placed them into cupcake liners to make little individual Jello dessert. But they were too small for my tummy; I could never eat just one piece!

Jello dessertGrandma uses coolwhip in her original recipe, but I’ve modified it here to use heavy whipping cream instead. If you want to use coolwhip, just replace the sugar and the heavy whipping cream in the middle cream layer ingredients list.

Jello dessertI made this recipe in 2 round pie pans, but I prefer using the 9” x 13” cake pan or baking dish. I was faking it so I can categorize it under pie, but I settled on cookies & bars instead… I think the problem with the pie pans was that they were too shallow, so the layers are not as thick. It doesn’t feel as substantial when you bite into it. So do as I say and not as I do, use a rectangular baking dish! Then, cut them up into 1.5” x 1.5” squares, or larger. They are so good as dessert, or as mid afternoon snack with tea… or even breakfast! (Yup, I eat dessert as breakfast, and breakfast as dinner!)

Grandma’s Signature Jello Dessert
Makes plenty, enough for 30 (2"x2") - 50 (1.5"x1.5") squares
For the crust
  1. 8 oz unsalted butter (2 sticks) – soften, at room temperature
  2. 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  3. 1/2 cup walnut – finely chopped
  4. 2 cup all-purpose flour
For the middle cream layer
  1. 8 oz cream cheese (1 package) – soften, at room temperature
  2. 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  3. 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  4. 1 – 3 oz package of lemon Jello
  5. 1 – 0.25 oz envelope of plain gelatin
  6. 1 cup boiling water
For the top Jello layer
  1. 1 – 6 oz package of strawberry Jello
  2. 1 – 0.25 oz envelope of plain gelatin
  3. 3 cup of boiling water
  1. Preheat oven at 350°F. Butter and flour a 9” x 13” baking dish and set aside.
Prepare the crust
  1. Finely chop the walnuts in a food processor or by hand.
  2. Cream butter and sugar in a mixing bowl with the paddle attachment.
  3. Add the finely chopped nuts and flour, mix until combined.
  4. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking dish and flatten to create a bottom crust layer.
  5. Bake 30 minutes to get a lightly brown crust.
  6. Allow to cool completely, about 2 hours.
Prepare the middle cream layer
  1. Dissolve the lemon Jello and the plain gelatin in 1 cup of boiling water. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
  2. Whip the heavy whipping cream on medium-high speed to stiff peak and set aside.
  3. Cream sugar and cream cheese together with the whisk attachment on medium speed.
  4. Fold the whipped cream back into the cream cheese mixture using the whisk attachment on low speed, scrape the side and bottom of the bowl with a spatula to ensure thorough mixing. Leave out on the counter at room temperature.
  5. Pour the room temperature gelatin mixture into the cream cheese mixture and mix on low speed until smooth.
  6. Pour this mixture on top of the cool crust and chill in the refrigerator for about 2 hours or until set.
Prepare the top Jello layer
  1. Dissolve the strawberry Jello and plain gelatin in 3 cups of boiling water.
  2. Let cool to room temperature and pour over the already set middle cream layer.
  3. Chill in the refrigerator for about 2 hours or until set.
  1. For the middle cream layer, if you pour the room temperature gelatin mixture in to a cold cream cheese mixture, the gelatin will coagulate too quickly and create chunks, so make sure everything is at room temperature or slightly warm.
Adapted from Ryan's grandma's recipe
Adapted from Ryan's grandma's recipe
Wild Wild Whisk


  1. Patty
    October 1, 2014 /

    Oh my gosh, my favorite great aunt used to make this! I found your site on Zite. Everything looks so great. Thank you for subbing for Cool Whip. I do the same. Can’t wait to try the apple pie scones and other great recipes you post. So glad to have found you!

    • Trang
      October 1, 2014 /

      Thanks for visiting Patty! It makes me so happy to see someone as excited about a recipe as I am! 🙂 Glad to have you here!

  2. huntfortheverybest
    July 31, 2014 /

    it looks yummy!

    • Trang
      July 31, 2014 /