This creamy cranberry salad is a blend of fresh cranberries, pineapple, marshmallows, pecans, coconut and apples, all tossed in a creamy dressing. A unique and colorful salad that’s perfect for the holidays!
I love to serve cranberry salad alongside herb roasted turkey or crock pot ham for an easy and festive side dish. This is always one of the first side dishes to disappear on Thanksgiving!
I’m always looking for fun ways to serve cranberries other than your standard cranberry sauce. This cranberry salad is perfectly sweet and full of different flavors and textures.
How do you make cranberry salad?
This recipe starts with a bag of fresh cranberries. The cranberries are chopped, then mixed with sugar. The cranberries need to sit in the sugar for at least 3 hours to temper some of the natural tart flavor of the berries.
When the cranberries are ready, pineapple, marshmallows, chopped pecans, shredded coconut and diced apples get added to the mix. The final step is to add whipped topping as a dressing, then you’re ready to eat. I like to decorate my finished salad with more cranberries, marshmallows and fruit, but that’s an optional step.
Tips for cranberry salad
- I use a food processor to chop my cranberries. You can also roughly chop them with a knife or even use a blender.
- Don’t want to use whipped topping? You can use lightly sweetened freshly whipped cream instead, or vanilla yogurt.
- I typically use Granny Smith apples because they add a nice crunch and I like the color contrast of the green apples against the red cranberries. That being said, feel free to use your favorite variety of apple. Other great varieties include Pink Lady or Honeycrisp.
- You can use fresh or canned pineapple for this salad, either will work just fine.
- Sometimes I substitute diced mandarin oranges for pineapple for a different take on this dish.
- Don’t like pecans? Omit them altogether, or try walnuts or sliced almonds instead.
- This salad can be made up to 8 hours before you plan to serve it.
How do you make cranberry salad with Jello?
There are a couple of different types of cranberry salad. While this is a creamy salad, a Jello salad is also a very popular option. I have a super delicious gelatin based salad recipe that you can find here.
Can you use frozen cranberries for cranberry salad?
You can substitute thawed frozen cranberries for fresh cranberries in this salad, although the texture will be a little different. Fresh cranberries will have a little more crunch and texture than frozen cranberries.
Are cranberries healthy?
Cranberries are considered a healthy food because they’re high in nutrients and antioxidants. Cranberries have been proven to prevent certain types of cancer, improve your immune system and decrease blood pressure. While this cranberry salad isn’t the healthiest choice because of the whipped topping, you could substitute something else such as yogurt for more nutritional benefits.
Once you try this salad, you’ll be hooked. It is a big favorite with the kids too, because no child can resist mini marshmallows!
More delicious side dishes
- Bacon Ranch Green Beans
- Butterflake Rolls
- Glazed Carrots
- Slow Cooker Creamed Corn
- Apple Pecan Rice Pilaf
Cranberry salad video
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries chopped
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup chopped apple I use Granny Smith
- 1 cup chopped pineapple fresh or canned
- 1 cup miniature marshmallows
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 1/4 cup shredded coconut
- 8 ounces frozen whipped topping thawed
- fresh cranberries, apples and marshmallows for garnish optional
- Place the cranberries and sugar in a glass or plastic bowl (do not use metal). Stir to combine.
- Cover the bowl and chill for at least 3 hours.
- Add the apple, pineapple, marshmallows, pecans and coconut to the bowl.
- Add the whipped topping to the bowl and fold gently to combine all the ingredients. Garnish with additional cranberries, apples and marshmallows if desired, then serve.
This post was originally published on October 30, 2018 and was updated on October 28, 2020 with new content.
Can I omit the marshmallows ??
Yes that’s fine!
I made this last year and now its my most requested side dish for Thanksgiving this year! Yummy
This is a great addition to my Holiday menu!
Mmmmm…. it looks so inviting and irresistible! The best salad ever!
Loving this. Adding to my Thanksgiving menu!
This is such a delicious salad! A must-make for Thanksgiving!
This ranberry salad is is seriously making me hungry!
I love the tartness of the berries mixed with the sweet ingredients. It is so pretty too!
I can’t wait to make this for thanksgiving!
Can you use frozen cranberries ? ?? Would like to try for Easter with turkey,,,Looks spring like Thank You
Yes just thaw them first!
This is always a big hit at Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s so easy. I came across it last year and it has become a tradition now. I use half the sugar because I like it a bit more tangy.
Can this be made the night before ?
yes it can!
This cranberry salad looks so delicious! I am going to have to make it for Thanksgiving!