Cranberry Jello Salad

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Cranberry Jello Salad is made with cherry Jello, whole cranberries, pecans, and crushed pineapple. It’s a favorite congealed salad to serve as a holiday side dish!

a spoon of cranberry pecan congealed salad being lifted out of a dish.
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Why You’ll Love This Salad

It’s not the holidays unless Cranberry Jello Salad is on the table! I have fond memories of my mother-in-law, Mareta, serving congealed salad at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

It goes perfectly with roasted turkey and glazed ham. It’s also a great side to Grilled Pork Tenderloin and Crunchy Parmesan Chicken.

If you need something to take to a potluck dinner, Cranberry Jello Salad is easy to make and as quick as lightning to throw together.

But, you don’t have to wait until the holidays to make this congealed delight. Momma used to make it every week and eat it all year long! It’s sweet, tart, and crunchy all at the same time.

Ingredient Notes

See recipe card for quantities.

  • cherry gelatin (ad) – you can substitute other flavors, but cherry is delicious
  • boiling water – use the hottest water you can to help dissolve the gelatin
  • cold water – add ice cubes if needed to make the water very cold
  • pecans – nuts give this salad its crunchy flavor
  • whole cranberry sauce – make sure it’s the kind with berries
  • crushed pineapple – be sure to use canned crushed pineapple because fresh won’t work
ingredients needed for cranberry pecan salad.

How to Make Cranberry Jello Salad

1 – Start by emptying cherry Jello into a mixing bowl. Add 1 cup of boiling water and stir until gelatin is mixed well. Next, add 1 cup of cold water to cool things down.

cherry jello being dissolved in hot water.

2 – Drain a can of crushed pineapple and add it to the mix. Chop 1 cup of pecans, and open a can of whole cranberry sauce. Pour both into the dish and mix everything together.

cranberries, pineapple and pecans added to jello in a glass bowl.

3 – Pour the mixture into a 13 x 9 decorative dish and place it in the refrigerator. Let it work its magic for at least a couple of hours. Once the gelatin is set, this delicious side dish is ready to serve!

cranberry salad ready to pour into a decorative dish.

FAQS

Can I make substitutions?

Some folks add celery to this salad, and others love it with chopped apples. You could also grate an orange and add a couple of tablespoons of orange rind to zest things up. If you’d rather use fresh cranberries, go for it! Just remember that they will be more tart than the canned version.

Can I use other flavors of Jello?

I’ve also made this salad with different flavors of gelatin like orange, lemon, and raspberry, but I love the color and intensity of cherry Jello. (ad) This is one of those recipes you can tinker with and it still packs a lot of punch.

Can this congealed salad be made ahead?

Yes! You can make this side dish up to 3 days in advance of serving it, so it’s the perfect choice for holiday meals. Wrap it tightly or store it in an airtight container for best results.

cranberry salad after it has been congealed.

Top Tips

  • Be sure to whisk the Jello with boiling water until it dissolves completely before adding cold water to the mix.
  • Only use 1 cup of boiling water and 1 cup of cold water or the Jello won’t set.
  • The longer this congealed salad stays in the refrigerator, the better it tastes. Allow it to set at least two hours or overnight if possible.
  • Make sure to use crushed pineapple instead of chunks and drain it completely before adding to the mixture.
  • Fresh pineapple will keep the Jello from setting. Use only canned pineapple for best results.

Make in Advance

The best part about this recipe is that you can make it several days in advance. Store it in a mold or wrap tightly with foil up to 3 days ahead of time.

Storing and Freezing

Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Keep in an airtight container for best results.

This recipe doesn’t freeze well, so it’s recommended to enjoy it while you can!

More Salads to Love

If you’re looking for more salads to enjoy, try these favorites…

Recipe Card

spoonful of cranberry pecan salad out of a white bowl.

Cranberry Jello Salad

Cranberry Jello Salad is made with cherry Jello, whole cranberries, pecans, and crushed pineapple. It's a favorite congealed salad to serve as a holiday side dish!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Salads, Sides
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Refrigeration: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 143kcal

*See notes in blog post for detailed tips, photos and instructions.

Equipment

  • 13 x 9 inch baking dish
  • mixing bowl and spoon

Ingredients

  • 2 small 3 ounce boxes cherry gelatin (ad)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 cup pecans chopped
  • 1 can 14 ounces whole cranberry sauce
  • 1 can 20 ounces crushed pineapple, drained

Instructions

  • In a mixing bowl, stir both boxes of gelatin with 1 cup of boiling water until well blended.
  • Add 1 cup of ice cold water and mix well.
  • Chop 1 cup of pecans and add to mixture.
  • Pour in a can of whole cranberry sauce and crushed pineapple (drained).
  • Whisk together and transfer gelatin mixture to a 13 x 9 decorative dish or Jello mold if desired.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until gelatin congeals.

Notes

  • In addition to 15 minutes prep time, this recipe requires at least 2 hours of refrigeration. 6 hours or overnight is preferred. 
  • Other flavors of gelatin can be used in this recipe if desired. You can also add fruit like chopped apples or grated orange rind. Some folks also like to add chopped celery to the mix. 
  • Fresh cranberries can be added to this recipe instead of whole cranberry sauce, but it will be more tart and less sweet than the original recipe. If you use fresh cranberries, be sure to grind them first.
  • Make sure you use canned pineapple (not fresh) in this recipe. If you use fresh pineapple, it has a chemical in it which prevents the gelatin from setting up. Canned pineapple works because it is processed at high temperatures which kills the chemical. 

Nutrition

Calories: 143kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 12mg | Potassium: 102mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 15mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition info is an auto generated estimate.

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8 Comments

  1. We love this salad too! I add the orange as you mentioned because my husband likes the citrus bite. But I have to confess…I go to the “trouble” of chopping fresh cranberries in the food processor. And I freeze several bags to use throughout the year. But I never thought to use the canned whole cranberries! Nice to know because I always run out of the fresh….and this will keep my hubby happy year round!

    1. Oh, wow..Connie…I bet the fresh cranberries taste really good in this! I’ll try that next time!

  2. 5 stars
    One of my favorite holiday sides. My mom loved the ease of this when preoccupied with all the other holiday preparations.

  3. Going to make this for Thanksgiving, but I’m going to add a cream cheese/sour cream topping…..should be yummy…thanks Debi

    1. That sounds amazing Tammy! Be sure to send me your recipe for the topping. I’d like to try that!

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