Mandarin Orange Jello Salad With Dream Whip


This Mandarin Orange Jello Salad With Dream Whip is a favorite summer salad among my readers and friends. This salad is a refreshing dish that’s not only tasty, but beautiful too! It’s great to serve at BBQs, potlucks and birthday parties. If you love the taste of canned Mandarin oranges in your Jello Salad, then this recipe is for you. I know the title seems a little bit long but believe me, it’s worth the wait.


This creamy 5 Minute Mandarin Orange Jello Salad is such a light refreshing side dish or dessert.  And it’s so easy to make too- all you need is 5 minutes!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser.  All opinions are mine alone. 

The one evening I can guarantee enthusiastic cheers from all 3 kids at dinner time is pizza night.  In fact, if I happen to not put it on our $200 a Month Menu Plan that week, I know that I’ll have at least one child complaining because they miss pizza and wish we were having it!

I typically make our pizza from scratch, but when life gets busy and I’m pushed for time, I definitely don’t have a problem reaching for store bought pre-made pizza!  In fact, sometimes as busy moms, we just need to be okay with taking advantage of those little “cheats” to keep our sanity!

And this past week definitely felt like a “cheat” was in order.  I’m nesting like crazy and besides trying to get things cleaned up and organized, I’ve also been slowly working at putting some meals in the freezer before this baby arrives.

As if that wasn’t making things busy enough, we ended up being gone all day Saturday to look at houses in Philly in preparation for our move there this fall.  So I was super glad Saturday evening that I had grabbed a couple of Freschetta pizzas at Walmart earlier in the week!

They definitely were a lifesaver since I was beyond exhausted.  And because they are made with high quality ingredients, including a sauce crafted with sun-ripened tomatoes, a crust that contains no chemical leaveners and 100% real provolone and mozzarella cheese, I can feel good about feeding them to my family too!

mandarin orange salad with jello, cool whip and cottage cheese

I often serve salad with our pizza, but since I was out of lettuce, I was forced to come up with an alternative.  That’s when I remembered this refreshing cottage cheese jello salad that my Mom has made for years.

It combines canned mandarin oranges, Jello, cottage cheese and Cool Whip into a light side dish that is absolutely perfect for summer weather.

And, of course, the fact that it can be made in about 5 minutes was definitely a big win!

orange jello salad with Cool whip and Mandarin oranges

I’m not really a fan of cottage cheese, other than in my favorite No Boil Oven Ready Lasagna, so for years, I avoided eating this mandarin orange salad when Mom would make it.

Then one day, for whatever reason I got brave, tried a bite and was surprised that to discover that it was actually quite delicious, cottage cheese and all!

I think the creaminess of the salad kind of won me over.  Well, that and the juicy bitefuls of mandarin oranges.  Yum!


Triple orange flavors come from orange gelatin, orange juice concentrate and mandarin oranges.  When the tropical crushed pineapple pieces and juice are mixed in the sweet and fruity goodness in this dessert gets even better. 

Cool Whip or Dream Whip mixes with instant vanilla pudding to create a top layer that adds a lot to this orange gelatin salad. The creamy dreamy flavors of whipped topping have a hint of vanilla so more flavor is packed in each bite.

With a similar flavor profile to our Orange Cake with Pineapple Icing and Orange Dreamsicle Cake this classic Mandarin Orange Jello Salad is cool and refreshing on a hot summer day. Just like our 7-Up Jello Salad and Watergate Salad, this is a great recipe to take to a picnic or potluck.

An 8×8 or 9×9 square pan makes a thick piece of congealed orange Jello salad.   A 9×13 pan makes a thinner layer of gelatin to make smaller servings for more people.  When using a bigger pan I double the frosting because that is my favorite part and I want to make sure there’s enough to go around. 

Variations of the light and fluffy frosting also tastes great on our Pistachio Pudding Cake and Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake. 

Our Orange Delight is a Jello fluff salad of sorts, but it doesn’t use boiling water.  This Orange jello salad dissolves the gelatin in boiling water and does not contain cottage cheese like the Orange Delight. 


  • Orange gelatin
  • Boiling water
  • Orange juice concentrate
  • Crushed pineapple
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Whipped topping
  • Instant vanilla pudding


  • Orange Jello layer can be mixed up a day or two ahead of serving. The frosting should be applied within 24 hours of use and kept chilled for best results.
  • A few mandarin oranges can be set aside to garnish if desired.
  • Fresh mandarin oranges can be used in place of canned oranges if desired.
  • Dream Whip and 1 small package of instant vanilla pudding can be used for the frosting layer instead of Cool Whip.
  • Only just 1 cup of boiling water as more liquid will come from the pineapple juice.
  • Generic ingredients taste just as good as the name-brand ingredients and will help save money.
  • This jello salad can be spiked with a couple of shots of your favorite liquor.  Just make sure the kids can’t get into it!
  • A liquid measuring cup can be used to pour liquid gelatin mixture into smaller containers to make individual portions if desired.


Boil 1 cup of water and dissolve two small boxes of gelatin in the boiling water.  Whisk together until the gelatin is completely dissolved; at this point you should not be able to see individual grains or pieces of the gelatin mix.

Remove from the heat and stir in orange juice concentrate, crushed pineapple with juice and the drained mandarin oranges. Pour into a pan, cover and store in a level spot in the refrigerator until firm.

Crushed pineapple stirred into dissolved orange gelatin

In a mixing bowl whisk together defrosted whipped topping and instant vanilla pudding mix. Spread over chilled and set Jello layer. Serve immediately or store covered in the refrigerator.

Mandarin Orange Jello Salad + Video

Mandarin Orange Jello Salad tastes like an orange Dreamsicle ice cream treat. Bright citrus flavor with a creamy, mousse-like texture, it’s a sweet addition to any meal.  

Today I am sharing a longtime Family Favorite recipe – Mandarin Orange Jello Salad (tastes like a Dreamsicle!).  My sister-in-law (Hi Cheryl!) shared this little gem with me many years ago.

closeup of bowl of mandarin orange jello salad on a wooden cutting board

My family loves this salad. A LOT! I can’t even begin to guess how many times I’ve made it over the years.

It’s a mainstay at our holiday and special occasion meals. And I’ve also prepared it for countless potlucks and parties. 

And sometimes I make it “just because”. You know, those times when a family member requests something ever so nicely. It’s all about keeping your people happy, right?

Should I serve it as part of the meal or as a dessert?

This question has sparked many debates. Like similar Midwestern (and Southern) dishes, this jello salad with mandarin oranges is considered a salad. Perhaps there’s less guilt associated with eating something with “salad” in the name? 

But this is a sweet salad. Not to be confused with a plate-of-greens-and-veggies salad. 

And it always (always!) sparks a debate as to when to serve the dish. Should you serve it as part of the meal? Or serve it as a dessert? 

Traditionally we’ve served it as part of the meal. But you can be a rebel and serve it as a dessert if that’s how you want to roll.

labeled ingredients for mandarin orange jello salad

Ingredients Needed for Orange Fluff Salad:

You’ll need just a handful of common ingredients to prepare this recipe (scroll to the bottom for the full recipe and a printable recipe card): 

  • orange gelatin
  • cook & serve vanilla pudding
  • water
  • whipped topping – thawed
  • mandarin oranges – drained

How to Make Mandarin Orange Jello Salad

collage of photos of ingredients before and after cooking

Start by combining the pudding and gelatin mixes with water & cook until clear (about 5 minutes). The mixture will be “cloudy” in appearance when you first start. As it cooks, the liquid becomes a clear orange (not cloudy) color.

cooked gelatin mixture in a clear bowl with a bowl of oranges in the background

Pour gelatin mixture in a bowl and refrigerate until it’s set up. I usually make this the night before and let it chill overnight.

collage of photos showing whipped topping being added to the cooked gelatin mixture

Combine chilled gelatin mixture with whipped topping. A potato masher works great for this step. Add mandarin oranges and stir gently. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


  • Instant pudding mix is not recommended for this recipe.
  • Make sure you drain the oranges before adding.
  • I use a potato masher to combine the gelatin mixture & whipped topping.
  • You can use fresh whipped cream but keep in mind the whipped cream will break down faster than the prepared whipped topping. Leftover jello salad may separate and become watery if using fresh whipped cream.
  • You can add a second can of mandarin oranges to up the citrus flavor. 
  • Swap out for strawberry gelatin and make Strawberries & Cream Salad.
clear glass bowl filled with orange fluff salad

Helpful tools to make the Mandarin Orange Salad with Cool Whip recipe

Sometimes the right tools can make or break your cooking experience. These are the tools I used to make quick work of the orange jello salad with cool whip recipe:

Whisk – I use this for cooking the mix. It’s the perfect size for dressings & sauces.  Dishwasher safe with sealed barrel.
Prep bowls – This set is versatile enough for most kitchen tasks.
Hand held potato masher – I use this to combine the pudding mixture & Cool Whip.

Can I freeze Orange Jello Salad?

We don’t recommend freezing because the jello will break down.

Can I prepare this in advance?

Yes! We usually make the base a day or two ahead of time and store in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to serve combine the base with the whipped topping and oranges as directed.

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