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Just the perfect easy English trifle recipe

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Throw together a super easy trifle in no time with our retro trifle recipe. Totally yummy dessert that’s ideal for serving at parties, celebrations or after Sunday lunch. 

Layers of jelly, thick creamy custard and topped with a mountain of messy whipped cream and chocolate flake. 

Sometimes you just need a bowlful of proper retro style trifle, the kind you used to get in the 80s…

It’s perfect for dessert after a big family dinner, great as part of a buffet for parties or even just because you fancy a bowlful.

It reminds me of happy days, parties and holidays so that’s enough of a reason to throw it together more often! 

English trifle is so making a come back in my house!

How Do You Make Trifle?

Well…. there’s all kinds of trifles and everyone has their own little twist on making one.

You get the purists who make everything from scratch, you get booze soaked trifles… and then you get my really easy trifle recipe.

My recipe is made entirely with cheat ingredients so it’s ridiculously easy to make but I promise you it tastes just SO GOOD!

homemade trifle topped with lots of cream and chocolate flakes - stood on dark grey table with glass bowls and dessert spoons.

Trifle Ingredients

These ingredients are enough to fill an 8 inch bowl. If your trifle bowl is a different size just adjust your ingredients to suit.

Ingredients for easy trifle - trifle sponges, mandarins, jelly, custard, cream and chocolate flake all on a white table ready to made into trifle
  • 4-5 trifle sponges
  • 300g tin mandarins
  • 1 pack strawberry jelly
  • 500g carton of ready made custard
  • 300ml double cream
  • 2 chocolate flakes

How To Make Easy Trifle

You are going to LOVE how easy this recipe is! Seriously, no faff and all taste!

homemade trifle topped with lots of whipped cream and chocolate flakes stood on a dark grey table with glass bowls and dessert spoons

Firstly get yourself a nice decorative bowl – I kind of love the retro cut glass ones.

The one I use was actually my grandmas so it feels good to still be able to use it now all these years later.

If you really want a retro glass trifle bowl the best place to find them is charity shops – go for a rummage and see what you can pick up.

Step One – layer up the sponges

  • Put the sponges into the bottom of the trifle bowl
trifle sponges in a cut glass trifle bowl

Step Two – add the juice

  • Tip the juice from the mandarins over the trifle sponges to moisten them.
trifle sponges soaked in juice in a cut glass trifle bowl

Step Three – add the mandarins

  • Add in the mandarins and mingle them up a little with the moistened sponges.
trifle sponges and mandarin segments in a cut glass trifle bowl

Step Four – next comes the jelly

  • Mix up the jelly as per the packet instructions
  • Pour the jelly over the top of the trifle sponges and mandarin segments.
  • Cover the bowl with cling film or reusable food wrap and place in the fridge for a few hours until the jelly sets.
trifle sponges, mandarins and strawberry jelly layer in a cut glass trifle bowl

Step Five – add the custard and cream

  • Once the jelly has set – remove the trifle from the fridge and pour on the layer of custard. I completely cheat with the custard and use a pack of ready made because I want my dessert to be lazy and low fuss!
  • Once the custard layer is on, you can then add the cream. Firstly whip the cream – I usually do this in the food processor as it takes literally minutes to whip.
  • You can either pipe the whipped cream onto the trifle or just smooth it on with a spatular whichever you prefer.
  • Then simply scatter chocolate flake or hundreds and thousand cake sprinkles over the top of the cream to finish.
English trifle in a cut class bowl with layers of jelly, custard, cream and topped with a chocolate flake. Text overlay "super easy English trifle recipe"

How To Make Trifle Your Way

You can give our simple dessert recipe your own twist! Try any of the tasty trifle ideas below!

  • Switch the mandarins for fresh strawberries or raspberries 
  • Switch the strawberry jelly for whatever flavour you like
  • Skip the jelly altogether and use chocolate mousse
  • Swap the sponge for Swiss Roll
  • Top with sprinkles or edible glitter instead of chocolate flake

What Fruit Stops Jelly Setting?

When switching the fruit in the trifles be careful not to add pineapple, mango, papaya or kiwi.

These fruits contain an enzyme which stops the jelly setting.

Can I Make Trifle Without Sponges?

Of course you can – you can switch the sponges for leftover cake or slices of swiss roll.

Can I Make Trifle Without Jelly?

Yes – just switch the jelly layer for chocolate or toffee mousse.

How To Serve Trifle

  • Perfect for serving up after the roast dinner on a Sunday
  • Great for birthday parties or celebration buffets.

Love easy desserts? Try these…

  • Oreo Cheesecakes – delicious Oreo biscuit base topped with creamy cheesecake frosting and chocolate sprinkles.
Yield: Serves 5-6

Easy Trifle Recipe

cut glass trifle bowl filled with english trifle - strawberry jelly with mandarins and trifle sponge, topped with custard and whipped cream

Super easy trifle recipe - classic retro dessert

Prep Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 5 hours 4 seconds
Total Time 5 hours 20 minutes 4 seconds


  • 4-5 trifle sponges 
  • 300g tin of mandarins
  • 1 pack of strawberry jelly 
  • 500g carton of ready made custard 
  • 300ml double cream 
  • 2 chocolate flakes 


  1. Put the trifle sponges into the bottom of the bowl.
  2. Pour over some of the mandarin juice to moisten the sponges.
  3. Add the mandarins amongst the trifle sponges.
  4. Make up the jelly as per the packet instructions and pour over the sponges and mandarins.
  5. Leave to set in the fridge for a few hours.
  6. Pour over the layer of custard.
  7. Whip the cream and pipe onto the top of the trifle.
  8. Scatter over the chocolate flake.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 623Total Fat: 45gSaturated Fat: 27gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 235mgSodium: 222mgCarbohydrates: 47gFiber: 3gSugar: 27gProtein: 9g

Nutritional content will vary depending on the exact ingredients you use and how careful you are with measuring - this nutritional information is given as a general guide only and may not be accurate - you should always calculate your own nutritional information especially if you have specific dietary requirements.

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retro trifle in a cut class bowl with layers of jelly, custard, cream and topped with a chocolate flake. Text overlay "extra tasty retro trifle recipe"

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