How Long Does Jelly Take to Set?

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Jelly Setting Tips & More!

Jelly setting in a pot

Despite being one of the easier desserts to make, jelly isn’t half stressful. It starts off fairly straightforward but the doubt starts creeping in when the jelly has been in the fridge for about 2 hours and hasn’t even started to set yet and you start to wonder, how long does jelly take to set?

You start asking yourself questions like; Did you do something wrong? Is the fridge not cold enough? Had the jelly mix gone bad? Did I use the wrong fruit juice?

Doubt & stress is further intensified when you have guests arriving that are expecting a bowl of your famous jelly you’ve been bigging up for weeks, only for you to serve up a shameful portion of runny jelly. 

Well, here at Cooked Best, we are here to help put your fears at ease! In this article, we will explore all things jelly and seek to clarify a few things when it comes to setting times and if it’s possible to speed things up.

Key Takeaways

Key Takeaway Arrow

Your average jelly will take between 3 & 4 hours to set in a fridge with the temperature set to 5C.

Key Takeaway Arrow

To speed up the setting process, you might want to use your freezer. 

Key Takeaway Arrow

Jelly will take between 1 & 2 hours to set in the freezer

So...How long does jelly take to set?

In most cases, the standard jelly will take between 3 & 4 hours to set in a fridge with the temperature set to 5C. Now this will vary depending on how cold your fridge and the amount of jelly you are making but this time frame is usually how long it takes.

To keep your stress levels to an absolute minimum, its always a good idea to make your jelly the day before. This should give the jelly more than enough time to set and for the desired texture to be achieved.

setting jelly

How long does jelly take to set in the freezer?

If you are in a bit of a pinch and need to speed up the setting process, then the freezer could be your new best friend. Setting jelly in the freezer usually halves the amount of time needed for the desert to set. So instead of the 3 & 4 hours it takes in the fridge, the jelly will take between 1 & 2 hours to set in the freezer. Again, this will largely depend on how cold your freezer is and how much jelly you are making, but 1-2 hours is a good rule of thumb.

Be sure to regularly check on your jelly once it is in the freezer. The worst thing that can happen is that you leave it in there too long and it actually freezes. Frozen jelly will completely change its structure and become crystalised.

How long does jelly take to set in the fridge?

Dreams of thick, delicious jelly can become a reality. After all, the key is waiting an adequate amount of time for the jelly to set. That time period? Drumroll please…three to four hours chilling in the refrigerator! It may seem like forever, but what might come in life that isn’t worth patiently waiting on? 

Besides, while we wait there are plenty of tasks to get cracking on such as tidying your pantry, reviewing your grocery list and taking 15 deep breaths. It will be gone in no time and then you’ll know why it was worth that interminable wait.

jelly cups

How long does it take to set at room temperature?

If you’re ever waiting for something to happen, try waiting for jelly to set at room temperature! The fact of the matter is, It will never set when left at room temperature. Like never. 

Which is why we should send a petition off to Father Time himself, asking him to make jelly set up as quickly as possible…Like in only a few minutes? Now that would be something we’d all sign up for. But until then, the duration needed to meet those thick and jelly stiffness standards requires patience and a Fridge or Freezer – and more time than most of us have in our day. So if you’re thinking one pot of jelly will take you mere seconds…Think again!

Jelly Setting Table

If you are in a hurry and take only one learning from this article, then take this jelly setting table to guide you on your gelatinous adventures

What Causes Jelly to set?

Without going too deep into the scientific background of jelly making, there are three key chemical components that help jelly achieve its eventual consistency; pectin, sugar and acids.

The first component Pectin is most commonly found in fruits and is released during the boiling stage of jelly making. You can also get powered pectin if you are in a pinch. Once released, pectin chains will bind to one another and form a gel network. This gel network will be achieved once the setting point is reached, around 104C. After this network has been formed and the fruit jelly starts to cool, the pectin chains will trap the excess water content within the network, leading to the setting of the jelly.

The sugar component of jelly helps the pectin form its gel network but drawing water to itself. This decreases the ability of the pectin to remain in separate chains and promotes the creation of the aforementioned network.

The final component that makes up the triumvirate of jelly setting ability is acid. Acids commonly found in fruits such as citric acid will help balance the negative charges found on the molecules of the pectin. Just like the sugar, this will help promote the creation of the gel network and lead to a consistent setting.

What can you do to speed up the setting process?

Here are a couple of tips and tricks you can use to speed up the process of setting jelly:

  1. Position your homemade jelly in the coolest part of your fridge. This is usually right at the back on the bottom shelf.
  2. Use an ice bath to rapidly cool down your jelly once it’s finished cooking. In a large bowl place a decent amount of ice cubes and fill it with cold water. Place your jelly mould into the ice bath and allow to cool rapidly. Before all of the ice cubes have melted, remove the jelly and repeat this process necessary.
  3. Place your jelly moulds into the fridge in advance. This will cool the mould down and should speed up the setting process.
  4. Use smaller moulds for your jellies.
  5. Use your freezer to set the homemade jelly in half the time.

What's slows down the setting process?

Have you ever wondered why it takes jelly so long to set in the fridge? Does it ever feel like time is standing still, or worse yet, that jelly is stuck defying even the trusty forces of Newton’s physics!? While some impatient souls slowly lose their ability to resist the urge to give it a little tap test, others bravely venture out in an attempt to crack the mystery of the painfully slow setting process.

 Does altering quantities or room temperature really do any good? Is sugar truly one’s enemy in this race against refrigerator time? So many questions, so few answers! Unless of course you decide to experiment with your own batch of homemade jam — then you’ll be trading in mysteries for sticky stained aprons (and a delicious pucker inducing treat when all is said and done)

There are a couple of things that can slow down the setting process of jelly. One of the more common things is the addition of alcohol. When making jelly adding alcohol will slow down the entire setting process quite considerably so it’s a good idea to make your alcoholic jelly even further in advance.

The enzymes found in fresh pineapples will also affect the setting time of your jelly mixture. These enzymes will actually break down the natural pectin and slow down the creation of the gel network that causes the jelly to set.

6 Reasons Why Your Jelly Didn't Set

  1. You didn’t cook the jelly long enough to reach the setting point. The setting point for jelly is around 104C so bring the mixture back to rolling boil and continue to cook for around 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. It hasn’t completely cooled. If possible, try to make your jelly the day before so it has more than enough time to cool completely.
  3. You overcooked the jelly. Overcooking the jelly will break down the pectin chains and stop the gel network from forming.
  4. You didn’t follow the recipe. Jelly making is a science. The ratio of ingredients is important and if you didn’t follow them, you jelly will likely not set.
  5. The pectin has gone bad. If you are using old pectin that has not been stored correctly, it is likely your jelly will not set.
  6. You added too much water. If you’ve added too much water, the solution is to add more pectin to balance things out.

We independently research, test, and recommend the best products just for you. In order to keep this site going,  we may receive commissions on some of the purchases made from the links below.

Our Favourite Jelly Making Equipment

Jelly making is simple and only requires a few pieces of equipment. Below is a list of our favourite jelly making equipment:

Are you looking to make a knockout jelly? Not a soggy, sad sandwich add on we’re not even sure what it is anymore? Well here’s some good news, it’s super easy – the hard part is narrowing down which items you need! 

But don’t worry, here’s our roundup of the best jelly making equipment, so that you can leap frog to be topping everyone else’s jellys with ease. So fancy yourself a jelly boss, because you’re about nine items away from knocking ’em out: 

Jars. Who doesn’t love a novel sturdy jar? Keep your jelly tasting its best by keeping all the flavor bliss inside, safe and warm in these containers.

Jar lids or covers. They don’t just look pretty! These crucial watertight seals will lock in flavour unbelievably, without fail.       

Flavorings like Fresh herbs or Frozen juice concentrate. Yearning jelly flavours galore? Tickle your taste buds with tantalizing combos made just for you! 

Jam sugar–AKA pectin . Pucker up for tartness or go sweet as sugar with that perfect pectin/sugar recovery! 

Jello Molds–Take home slime and raise it to six stars! Assort shapes? Drama filled stacks of yumminess and sugary centerpieces? Pass me my mitts full of gelatin treats pronto! 

Candy thermometer to get perfect potent results. You won’t want fussy flavors when the temperature isn’t correctly checked—It’ll keep contents tasting irresistibly hoppin’ hot! 

Canning funnel aside with fewer dribbles? Genius thought right there. Potent flavors makes fuller flavours —everything is better spilling way less  

Andy Canter


Ever since I started cooking I’ve been fascinated by how different people’s techniques are and how they best utilise the ingredients around them. Even the person living next door will have their own unique way of frying an egg or cooking a salmon fillet.

This fascination led me on a journey across the globe to discover the countless practices and traditions the world of cooking has to offer. I thought you’d enjoy and find value in sharing that journey with me so I created Cooked Best!