This Cranberry Salad with Mandarin Oranges and Pineapples is the perfect change from traditional cranberry sauce. Thanksgiving is only a few days away and now’s the time to start planning your menu. I love to incorporate fruits into my Thanksgiving table because it’s a great way to offer something different and add some color!
Cranberry Jello Salad Recipe
Yummy Cranberry Jello Salad with pineapple, oranges, and pecans. This amazing cranberry salad is sweet, tart, and crunchy and the beautiful color makes it a perfect addition to your holiday meal.
Why Make This Cranberry Salad Recipe:
- The Cranberry Salad recipe is sweet enough to be considered a dessert and is perfect for those that don’t like straight-up cranberry jelly from the can.
- The sweet fruit and fresh tart cranberries come together perfectly in this salad. The apples and nuts provide just enough crunchiness to give it great texture. By stirring up the salad instead of serving it in a mold, it makes the best sweet cranberry relish for your turkey.
- I love that the fresh cranberries are not cooked, so less time in front of the stove. The Jell-O does need time to set up, so it can be made ahead of time.
- This salad is perfect for holiday potlucks – even a non-cranberry lover (like me) will enjoy it.
Growing up, I was NOT a fan of cranberry sauce.
Turns out, I actually DO like cranberries, as long as there is enough sweetness to balance out the tartness. (Like as in a cranberry scone or white chocolate cranberry cookie.)
I’ve been on the hunt for a cranberry recipe that I had at a potluck several years ago. It was so good and completely changed my opinion on cranberry relish-type recipes.
I never found out who brought the dish, so couldn’t ask how it was made. Over the years I’ve tested out a few recipes that sounded interesting, but ended up being not quite right. (One was this Cranberry Relish with Pomegranate and Orange – while delicious, it was not the one I was looking for.)
After trying a few different cranberry recipes, I decided the cranberry salad I was trying to replicate had to be jello-based. After a bit of tinkering and combining recipes, I hit the jackpot!
The Most Amazing Cranberry Jell-O Salad Recipe
This Cranberry Jello Salad is my new favorite holiday side dish, lol.
It was so good, we could not stop eating it!!! (I am surprised there was enough left for the table by the time I finished “taste testing”.)
Ingredients + Tips
Want to try this yummy and easy Cranberry Salad? These are the ingredients to add to your list.
(Ingredients at a glance, find the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.)
- Raspberry gelatin (the larger box – .6 oz) | Strawberry and Black Cherry will work too, but Raspberry is my fave.)
- 1 Apple | Cored and chopped. Up to you if you peel the apple or not.
- Canned Pineapple tidbits | You’ll need 16 oz. You will drain the pineapples and save the juice for later
- Can of Mandarin oranges
- 12 oz of Fresh cranberries | You want fresh cranberries for this recipe.
- Granulated sugar
- Pecans | You can sub other nuts (or leave the nuts out altogether) but pecans are my favorite.
Amazing Jell-O Cranberry Salad (aka Cranberry Crack)
Yummy Cranberry Jello Salad with pineapple oranges and pecans. This amazing cranberry salad is sweet, tart and crunchy and the beautiful color makes the perfect addition to your holiday meal.
For the Jell-o:
- 1 box of Raspberry gelatin (strawberry works fine too) (box that provides 8 and 1/2 servings)
- 2 cups boiling water
- 1 apple cored and chopped
- 2 – 8 oz cans of pineapple tidbits. Drained, but reserve the juice for later.
- 1 – 11 oz can mandarin oranges, drained.
- 1/2 cup pecans, chopped into small (use more if you especially like nuts – I usually do)
- 1 12 oz package of fresh cranberries
- 1 cup granulated sugar
Minimum of 6 hours before serving, but best if night before:
- In large bowl, dissolve jello in 2 cups boiling water.
- Add pineapple juice to measuring cup and add water until you have 1.5 cups pineapple juice and water combined.
- Add pineapple juice/water to jello, stir.
- Place cranberries and sugar into food processor and pulse till sugar is thoroughly combined and the cranberries are in small pieces
- Add chopped apple, pineapple, mandarin oranges, nuts and cranberry pieces to large serving container..
- Add liquid jello to dish and stir everything around.
- Place in fridge.
- When ready to serve, with a fork, stir cranberry jello salad around with a fork, breaking up the jello.
- Transfer to a serving dish and enjoy!
Jello box should be the size that serves 8 and 1/2 servings. The sugar free box is .6 oz and the regular sugar jello is 6 oz.
- The gelatin box used should be the size that serves 8 – 1/2 cup servings. The sugar-free box is .6 oz and the regular sugar jello is 6 oz.
- Yes, you can use sugar-free jello in this recipe.
Can I Make This Salad Ahead Of Time?
Yes, I recommend you put this salad together the day before (you’ll need 4 to 6 hours for the jello to set anyway.) I don’t recommend any farther ahead than 24 hours, as the salad ages, the fruit will drain liquid and will “loosen” the salad.
Can I Use Other Jell-O Flavors?
Yes, if you can’t find raspberry, the strawberry or black cherry flavors work great too.
Can You Make Jell-O With Pineapple?
You can use canned pineapple in Jell-O, but not fresh. Pineapple contains an enzyme that breaks down proteins and since gelatin is made from protein, the enzyme affects Jell-O’s ability to set up. The reason you can use canned pineapple is that the canning process breaks down the enzyme. (Just make sure to drain the pineapple as well as possible.)
Can You Use Canned Cranberries In This Recipe?
Truthfully, I have not tried using canned cranberries, but I think it could be ok.
I do think in a pinch, you could replace the fresh cranberries with canned Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce.
If you try this, my suggestion would be to break the canned cranberries up and mix in a bit more sugar. Then mix the canned sauce in with the other fruits and nuts. I would not process the canned cranberries in the food processor.
Keep in mind, I have not tried this. If you have made this substitution before, please chime in in the comments.
Can This Cranberry Salad Be Made And Served In A Mold?
Yes, you can make this Cranberry Jell-O Salad in a mold and serve it in slices if you prefer. One thing to note is, do not use fresh pineapple or the jello will not set.
How Long Will The Cranberry Jello Salad Last In The Fridge?
The Jello salad will be fine to eat for at least 4 days in an air-tight container, in the fridge. After a day or two, the salad will start to loosen as the fruit softens and loses water. The salad will still be fine to eat, just a looser texture.
RASPBERRY CRANBERRY JELLO SALAD
Jello salads totally remind me of my grandmother. Her vintage recipe box is full of tattered cards with handwritten recipes for all different types of gelatin mold dishes, from salmon mousse to vegetable sides and this cranberry jello salad. I’m not adventurous enough to try the savory jello salads that are studded with veggies like celery and tomatoes, but I sure do love a sweet fruit salad!
This easy cranberry salad recipe is perfect for the cooler weather months, thanks to ingredients like pineapple, oranges, and cranberries! Whether you serve it at Thanksgiving, on Christmas, or just for your next Sunday supper with a roast chicken, this simple and delicious side dish or dessert takes the stress out of mealtime. You can’t beat the ease of a 5-ingredient prep-ahead recipe!
INGREDIENTS FOR CRANBERRY PINEAPPLE JELLO SALAD
This is a quick overview of the simple ingredients that you’ll need for cranberry orange jello salad. As always, specific measurements and complete cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.
- Raspberry jello or cherry jello: the gelatin base that flavors the salad and holds everything together. Pick your favorite flavor!
- Water: both boiling water and cold water to make the jello.
- Orange: I prefer diced fresh oranges here, but canned mandarin oranges are also a great option.
- Canned pineapple: I use crushed pineapple that’s very well drained. Pineapple tidbits would also work.
- Whole berry cranberry sauce: I like Ocean Spray cranberry sauce for this dish, but you can also use homemade cranberry sauce.
- Pecans: add a bit of nutty crunch and flavor to the salad. Walnuts are also a great option!
HOW TO MAKE CRANBERRY JELLO SALAD
You don’t need a special jello mold to prepare this easy cranberry salad. Just a large bowl and an 8-inch square dish will do the trick!
- Dissolve the Jell-O in boiling hot water. Whisk for 2 minutes, and then add cold water.
- Chill the Jell-O in the fridge and allow it to thicken for about 1 hour.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl; stir.
- Transfer the mixture to a square dish that’s lightly greased with cooking spray.
- Chill in the refrigerator until it’s completely set (at least 4 hours or overnight).
- Slice into squares and serving on a larger serving platter or individual plates.
If you’re serving the dish for dessert, top the cranberry jello salad with cool whip or homemade whipped cream. For a side dish with Thanksgiving dinner, garnish the salad with fresh parsley or other chopped herbs for a bright, savory contrast.
Wrapped tightly, the jello salad will keep in the fridge for 4-5 days.
CAN YOU FREEZE CRANBERRY JELLO SALAD?
No, I do not recommend freezing this dish. The jello changes structure when frozen and will not hold its structure when thawed.
- The recipe calls for raspberry jello or cherry jello. Really, any similar jello flavor will work. Try cranberry jello, strawberry jello, or orange jello, too. Just make sure to use the small 3 ounce box.
- To serve a larger group, double all of the ingredients and prepare the salad in a 9 x 13-inch pan.
- Instead of 1 small orange, substitute with two smaller clementines or mandarin oranges, or use a can of well-drained mandarin oranges.
- Some cranberry salads with Jell-O also call for celery. I leave that out of my salad, but you can feel free to add about ½cup diced celery to the mix.
- Use chopped walnuts or almonds instead of the pecans. You can also omit the nuts if you don’t like that added crunch.
- Instead of crushed pineapple, use pineapple tidbits. Do not use fresh pineapple, since an enzyme in the fresh pineapple will prevent the Jell-O from setting (a great tip from a blog reader)!
TIPS FOR THE BEST CRANBERRY JELLO SALAD RECIPE
- You can easily boil water for your Jell-O by microwaving the water on high for about 2 ½ – 3 minutes.
- Once you put the Jell-O in the refrigerator to thicken slightly, be sure to set a timer so that you remember to go back and check it after about 45 minutes or an hour. You want the Jell-O to thicken slightly, but you don’t want it to set completely before you stir in the remaining ingredients. Don’t forget about it!
- Whisking the Jell-O mixture will likely result in some bubbles or foam on the top. That’s fine! Just use a spoon to gently skim off the foam before you stir in the rest of the ingredients.
- Prep the cranberry salad well in advance of when you want to serve it. You don’t want to be stressed out wondering if it will set in time! The salad should only require about 4 hours of chilling time, but you can certainly cover it with plastic or foil and leave it in the refrigerator overnight.
- Garnish with fresh parsley for a savory touch, or top it off with whipped cream or Cool Whip for a sweet, creamy contrast!