This cranberry jello salad combines raspberry gelatin with cranberry sauce, pineapple and orange zest for a delicious side dish or dessert that’s perfect for the holidays.
Jello is a classic side dish at my Thanksgiving dinner and this cranberry version is fun, festive and elegant.
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. My husband’s grandmother used to make a red jello mold with celery and mayonnaise. No thank you! 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.
How do you make cranberry jello salad?
This recipe starts with raspberry flavored gelatin. After the gelatin is melted cans of whole berry cranberry sauce and crushed pineapple are stirred in. The final touch is the zest from one orange, then the whole mixture goes into a gelatin mold to set up. Don’t have a gelatin mold? A 9 inch square pan will work just fine, or you could put it in a pretty glass bowl like a trifle dish. I love all of the flavors and textures going on here – most of the cranberry sauce melts into the jello but you end up with plenty of whole cranberries and pineapple in each bite.
You can serve this cranberry jello salad plain as a side dish or dress it up with a little whipped cream to transform it into an impressive looking dessert.
How pretty is that? It’s fun, festive and quite easy to make. The hardest part is getting it out of the mold. It took me a few tries, but after a couple of brief dips in hot water I was able to safely get the gelatin out of the pan and onto the serving platter. Your guests will be delighted to see this treat on your holiday table, and they’ll be even more delighted to find out that it doesn’t contain any celery!
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More great side dishes
- Slow Cooker Creamed Corn
- Southern Cornbread Dressing
- Sweet Potato Casserole
- Roasted Butternut Squash
- Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese
Cranberry Jello Salad
- 6 ounces of raspberry gelatin 2 small boxes or 1 large
- 20 ounce can of crushed pineapple in its own juice
- 1 14 ounce can of 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
- Spray a 6-cup gelatin mold or a 9-inch square pan with cooking spray. This recipe makes approximately 5 cups of gelatin, so you could also use a 4 cup mold and have some leftover to put in a separate container.
- Place the raspberry gelatin in a large bowl. Add 1 cup boiling water and stir with a metal spoon continuously for 2 minutes until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir in 1/2 cup cold water. Add the pineapple and juice, cranberry sauce, and orange zest. Stir with a metal spoon until all ingredients are completely incorporated. Pour the mixture into the prepared mold, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, for a minimum of 6 hours or up to 3 days in advance.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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!!
This jello has become a new Thanksgiving tradition! We love this recipe!
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.
Do yummy and looks festive! I always make it the day before then unmold an hour early so it can firm back up!
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!
That sounds amazing with the cream cheese, I want to try it that way next time! Happy Thanksgiving!
Can I use fresh cranberries? I don’t have a can of the cranberries but I do have fresh.
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: https://www.dinneratthezoo.com/cranberry-orange-sauce/ and https://www.dinneratthezoo.com/homemade-cranberry-sauce/
love this recipe, instead of orange zest, I use canned little oranges and also add walnuts
Love those additions, so glad you enjoyed it!
I love jello salad. This jello salad came out sweet and nicely tart. It is a real winner.
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!
Thanks so much Stacey, love the idea of the walnuts!
Sounds delicious! My family makes a version of this for Thanksgiving, but it doesn’t have orange zest. What a nice touch!
This looks absolutely stunning! Great alternative to the standard cranberry sauce 😀
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!
How much fun is this recipe?! What a great presentation for the holidays.
That is the prettiest cranberry mold I’ve ever seen. Too pretty to eat 🙂 Imagine it is absolutely delicious. Perfect for the holidays.
Yum! This looks amazing! I definitely want to try this!