This cranberry Jello salad recipe combines raspberry gelatin with cranberry sauce, pineapple and orange zest for a delicious side dish or dessert that’s perfect for the holidays.

No Thanksgiving dinner is complete without at least one cranberry recipe. My favorite ways to serve cranberries include cranberry relish, cranberry bread, cranberry meatballs and this easy yet elegant cranberry Jello salad.

Cranberry Jello salad in a serving dish topped with whipped cream and orange zest.

Ah, the gelatin mold. Such an old school classic that has the ability to be super delicious or not-so-appealing depending on how you make it. When I was a teenager we spent Thanksgiving at a family friend’s house and they served this amazing cranberry Jello salad. My mom asked for the recipe and we’ve been making it ever since. This is one of my must-make Thanksgiving recipes along with favorites such as slow cooker mac and cheese, corn souffle and Thanksgiving turkey!

Cranberry Jello Salad Ingredients

To make this recipe, you will need raspberry gelatin, crushed pineapple, whole berry cranberry sauce and orange zest. You can also add some whipped cream, fresh whole cranberries, orange zest and mint sprigs for garnish if you like.

How Do You Make Cranberry Jello Salad? 

Coat a gelatin mold or square baking dish with cooking spray. Place the gelatin in a large bowl, then add boiling water. Next, whisk the mixture together until the gelatin has dissolved. Add cold water, along with the crushed pineapple and its juice, cranberry sauce and orange zest. Stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the mold or pan, then cover and chill for at least 6 hours. When you’re ready to eat, submerge the bottom of the mold in hot water for 30 seconds. Place your serving dish on top of the open part of the mold, then flip it over. You can serve it as it, or whip together heavy cream and granulated sugar to make a whipped cream topping. You can also garnish with other items such as orange zest, fresh cranberries and mint.

A red gelatin mold in a serving dish.

Tips For The Perfect Dish

  • This recipe makes about 5 cups of Jello salad, so you’ll want to use a mold that’s around 6 cups in size. It’s also fine to use a 9 inch square pan or any other 2 quart baking dish.
  • I find it works best to prepare your salad a day in advance. This way there’s plenty of time for it to set up. Make the whipped cream garnish right before serving.
  • Use a vegetable peeler to peel larger strips of orange zest for a beautiful garnish. I use a microplane to finely grate the zest that goes into the recipe.
  • Leftovers will stay fresh in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  • Be sure to use canned pineapple in this salad. Do not use fresh pineapple, as it contains an enzyme that can prevent the salad from setting properly.

Quick Tip

If your mold doesn’t immediately come out when you flip it over, you can dip it a second time in warm water and try again.

Molded cranberry Jello salad with a topping of whipped cream, fresh berries and mint.

Recipe FAQs

Why is Jello salad called salad?

There are so many different recipes that are referred to as salad, with everything from a classic lettuce based Italian salad to dessert style salads such as snicker apple salad. In this particular case, Jello molds are often named as salad because they contain fruits and sometimes vegetables.

Are Jello salads still popular?

Jello salads reached their height of popularity in the 1960’s, but is not uncommon to see gelatin salads in our modern era. They are often served during the holidays or for warmer weather gatherings in the summer due to their refreshing nature.


Flavor Variations

While this recipe is delicious as-is, you can easily substitute or add ingredients to customize the flavors to your tastes.

  • Gelatin: Swap out the raspberry Jello for other flavors such as strawberry Jello, black cherry Jello or orange gelatin.
  • Fruit: Instead of pineapple, try other options including canned diced pears, peaches, mandarin oranges or even diced apples.
  • Flavorings: Feel free to add other ingredients to the salad. You can add up to 1/2 cup of pecans, chopped walnuts or mini marshmallows. You can also stir in 1/2 cup of whipped topping, cream cheese or sweetened condensed milk to make a creamy salad.

Once you see how delicious this cranberry Jello mold is, you’ll find yourself adding it to your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner menu every year!

More Great Side Dishes

Love This Recipe?

Please leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 rating in the recipe card below & a review in the comments section further down the page.

4.90 from 19 votes

Cranberry Jello Salad

AuthorSara Welch
Raspberry gelatin is combined with cranberry sauce, pineapple and orange zest for a delicious side dish or dessert that's perfect for the holidays.
This cranberry jello salad is made with raspberry jello, cranberry sauce, pineapple and orange for a festive treat that’s a welcome addition to any holiday table.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time6 hours
Total Time6 hours 10 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Serves 8 servings


For the salad

  • 6 ounces raspberry gelatin 2 small boxes or 1 large
  • 20 ounce can crushed pineapple in its own juice do not drain
  • 14 ounce can whole berry cranberry sauce not jellied
  • the zest of 1 orange
  • Cooking spray

Optional garnishes

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
  • fresh cranberries, mint sprigs and orange zest for garnish


For the salad

  • Spray a 6 cup gelatin mold or a 9-inch square pan with cooking spray.
  • Place the raspberry gelatin in a large bowl. Add 1 cup of boiling water, and stir or whisk until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
  • Stir in 1/2 cup cold water.
  • Add the pineapple with its juice, cranberry sauce and orange zest. Stir until everything is well combined.
  • Pour the mixture until the mold or pan. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
  • To unmold the gelatin, submerge the bottom 2/3rd of the mold in very hot water for about 30 seconds. Place your serving platter on top of the open part of the mold and flip it over. If it doesn’t immediately come out you can repeat the hot water dips until it comes out.
  • Place the gelatin mold back into the fridge until you’re ready to serve it.

Optional garnishes

  • Right before serving, make the whipped cream if you’re using it. Beat the cream with a mixer until stiff peaks form, about 3-4 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for another 30 seconds. Place the whipped cream on top of the gelatin and top with cranberries, mint sprigs and orange zest.


  1. The gelatin mold can be made 3 days in advance and stored, loosely covered in the fridge. Add the whipped cream and garnishes right before serving.
  2. Don’t have time to make your own whipped cream? Store bought whipped topping is also a great choice.


Calories: 214kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 23mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 34g

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    My brothers mother in law makes this recipe for Thanksgiving and I begged it from her…and lost due to moving. Now thanks to you I have it again. Thankyou.

  2. 5 stars
    This was delicious; my family of 11 loved it! I didn’t give it enough time to set (I neglected to read the time requirement when I was planning dinner, oops!), but the flavor was still delish. I put it on my plate beside a fruit salad (blueberries, strawberries, mango). They sort of slipped into each other, so I ate them together – WOW what a nice discovery/addition to this already-delicious recipe!!

  3. Made this every thanksgiving but I placed them in muffin cups, no orange zest but I used chopped pecans. Always a hit and requested by everyone.

  4. 5 stars
    I just made this. I put it in two smaller molds so I can have it at both ends of the table for our Thanksgiving dinner. I had a little left so I put it in a small bowl in the fridge. Apparently my husband got up during the night and ate the whole amount in the small bowl. He usually won’t touch anything cranberry…
    I did add a layer of cream cheese.
    The cream cheese layer consisted of 16 oz. Cream cheese, about 3/4 cup of the made up 1 packet of flavorless gelatin mixed with the 1 cup boiling water and 8 fresh Mandarin oranges (usually called “Cuties”). I put the cream cheese and the cooled to warm flavorless gelatin in my KitchenAid mixer with the whipping attachment and whipped it up to a lighter consistency adding enough powdered sugar until it was just lightly sweetened. Then I folded in the fresh manderins and refrigerated it while making the cranberry Jello. I placed the
    cranberry Jello in the molds, leaving about 2 inches from the top of the molds. Then I filled the molds with the cream cheese mixture and placed the two molds into the refrigerator.
    The result? It was loved by all. Thanks for a wonderful recipe!

    1. The cranberry sauce in this recipe helps to bind the Jello because cranberries release pectin when cooked, which is a natural gelling agent. What I would recommend is using those fresh cranberries to make your own cranberry sauce to use in the recipe, you’ll need 1 1/2 cups of cranberry sauce. Here are two different cranberry sauce recipes of mine that would work: and

  5. I have made this for many years, as my mother did before me, but add chopped walnuts instead of orange zest. I love the added crunch of the nuts. This recipe is delicious!

  6. Sounds delicious! My family makes a version of this for Thanksgiving, but it doesn’t have orange zest. What a nice touch!

  7. Love the East meets west flavor you have here! Cranberries and pineapples bring so much freshness and flavor to this beautiful gelatin mold! Passing this on to my mom and sis as I am sure they would love to make this for Christmas!

  8. That is the prettiest cranberry mold I’ve ever seen. Too pretty to eat 🙂 Imagine it is absolutely delicious. Perfect for the holidays.