MaxMA Test Kitchen: My Attempt at Jell-O in a Watermelon

by Darlena Cunha

Oh, man, it is summertime, which means all those lovely hours you had to be an adult all year long are now gone. Congratulations! Your prize is this pack of wild dogs — I mean, kids. Loving, adoring children. Of course, for those of you with younger darlings, there really is no change, so welcome to yet another season of not knowing the difference between Monday and Saturday and we hope you brushed up on your five-minute-shower skills.

With the kids home, they're going to need something to eat, and you know you want to be that cool mom who does more that toss an unopened Gogurt at them and tells them to go outside. (At least you will the first week... After that, they know where the fridge is, am I right?)

So, it is with you in mind that we present Watermelon Jell-O. It's so, so simple. Literally Jell-O inside a watermelon.

What could possibly go wrong?

First step, buy a watermelon.

 Image: Darlena Cunha

Image: Darlena Cunha

Now, you're going to want to buy a big one because you think bigger is better. Don't do this. Think! Where are you going to put the watermelon once you've cut it in half? Where are you going to put the actual fruit you scooped out? Since your fridge is already over-the-top full with farmers-market vegetables and artisan bread (by which I mean string cheese and week-old spinach you swear you're going to use before it goes bad), there will be no room for a 10-pound monstrosity of a fruit. Buy according to your room.

Next you have to cut that fucker in half, and, like, that is not as easy as one would hope. Watch out for the stem knobby thing there.  It doesn't cut. DO NOT CUT YOUR HANDS OFF OR STAB YOURSELF. That cannot be overstated.

 Image: Darlena Cunha

Image: Darlena Cunha

After that, you scoop out the fruit to leave yourself a watermelon rind bowl. It doesn't have to be perfect. It's okay if your little schmoopins get a few bites of watermelon in with their Jell-O. I think.

 Images: Darlena Cunha

Images: Darlena Cunha

Speaking of Jell-O, you make that next!

HUGE WARNING: I made my mistake right here. I made Jell-O. Did you know that Jell-O is not a solid? It doesn't really... slice. I learned the hard way. Take heed right here, right now.

Make the Jigglers recipe. That's tricky because you aren't MAKING Jigglers, you're making Jell-O-filled watermelon. But still, you need that Jell-O harder than Jell-O. Ask me how I know.

I used a big box of Jell-O and a little box of Jell-O to fill my mammoth watermelon shell and it was just enough.

 Images: Darlena Cunha

Images: Darlena Cunha

Except for one thing.

Watermelons are ROUND. Hah. So, you don't want to fill it to the top because, news flash, they are going to wobble around like your Uncle Vinny at Thanksgiving dinner and boiling hot sticky Jell-O water is going to go everywhere. Awesome. This is totally worth it, guys.

 Image: DARLENa cunha

Image: DARLENa cunha

Okay, so hopefully you took my warning about your fridge space seriously and you already have a spot for this bad boy to go. If so, move it on in and make sure it's stacked and balanced so Jell-O juice doesn't splatter all over your other food. Nothing says relaxing summer days like scrubbing hardened Jell-O bits off your shelving every time you open the fridge for the next three months, right?

Read more: Nailed It? Not Exactly... My Life in DIY Pinterest Fails



If you're like me, and you didn't think about where you were putting the watermelon, call your kids over and make them hold that sucker while you reorganize and maybe finally throw out Memorial Day's leftover hot dog rolls.

 Image: Darlena Cunha /   YOU WERE WARNED.

Image: Darlena Cunha / YOU WERE WARNED.

When you've finally squeezed that red abomination in between the wall and the Thomas bagels you got buy-one-get-one, then you just have to wait for like four hours, which is only like 67 years in little kid time. According to the recipe, of course. You remembered to do Jigglers, right? Because if you didn't, you have three hours and 59 minutes before you dine on the tears of your young when their Jell-O watermelon slices dissolve into piles of goo in front of their innocent faces.


At long last, your Pinterest dreams are about to come true. Go get the biggest knife you own. Seriously. I couldn't find my big one, and I used a medium-big one. It did not suffice.

 Image: Darlena Cunha /   AFTER 67 YEARS (Four HOURS).

Image: Darlena Cunha / AFTER 67 YEARS (Four HOURS).

Any vibration or extra force to this watermelon as you attempt to slice through will make your pristine watermelon mold quiver, then tumble into an undignified lake of ungodly red.

 Images: Darlena Cunha

Images: Darlena Cunha

The great part about all this, though, is that your kids are not Martha Stewart, and they'll probably take their Jell-O any way they can get it. I know mine did. Out of a bowl, with a spoon. With a sad-looking watermelon rind as garnish.

 Image: Darlena Cunha

Image: Darlena Cunha

It's fine, okay. Happy summer snacking!

Recipe: Watermelon Jell-O


  • 1 watermelon
  • 1 double-batch box of red Jell-O


  1. Split the watermelon in half.
  2. Scoop out the fruit of one half.
  3. Make Jell-O according to box (JIGGLERS, PEOPLE, JIGGLERS).
  4. Refrigerate for 4 hours.
  5. Slice, CAREFULLY.

Psst... Or you can (try to) make it boozy as a reward for all your hard work.


Darlena Cunha is a freelance writer whose work appears in TIME, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and more. In her spare time, she stays at home to mother her twin daughters, spending hours staring adoringly into their little life-halting faces. (Just kidding, Internet. She loves them more than life, etc.) You can find more of Darlena's adventures in the kitchen at Darlena's EPIC FAILS on