Cranberry Jello Salad Recipe


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Cranberry Jell-O Salad has the perfect tart and sweet balance. Serve this quick and easy old fashioned recipe as a side dish for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Cranberry Jello Salad

Old fashioned cranberry jello salad is one of my favorite holiday side dishes because it tastes so amazing with a Thanksgiving turkey.

This Jell-O salad is so delicious and refreshing. It has delicious fruit flavors from the crushed pineapple and whole cranberries. The bits of toasted walnuts also add a lovely crunch. It’s all layered in raspberry Jell-O that’s been flavored with a bit of orange juice (that citrus addition really makes the flavor pop!).

I love how festive and beautiful this salad is. It’s such a gorgeous addition to your holiday table, and it tastes just as wonderful as it looks.


Walnuts: Freshly toasted walnuts add a delicious crunch and a nutty flavor to this cranberry salad with Jell-O.

Water: You’ll need both boiling water and cold water. The boiling water is what dissolves the gelatin the best, and then adding cold water allows the fruit to float in the salad. If you only use hot water, the fruit will sink.

Flavored Gelatin: I like to use raspberry Jell-O for this recipe. The flavor combination of the raspberry gelatin, cranberry sauce, and crushed pineapple has the perfect sweet tart flavor balance.

Orange Juice: I like to use a combination of orange juice and water for the cold liquids in this recipe. The addition of the orange juice adds a little sweetness and a lovely citrus note.

Pineapple: Be sure to use crushed pineapple and do NOT use pineapple chunks. It can be a little tricky because the cans look similar, but their liquid content is very different. If you use pineapple chunks you’ll likely end up with Jell-O that doesn’t set properly.

Cranberry Sauce: It’s very important to use whole berry cranberry sauce NOT jellied cranberry sauce. The jellied cranberry sauce is too thick to mix into the salad correctly. The whole cranberries in the whole berry cranberry sauce adds a delicious taste and texture to this old fashioned cranberry jello salad.

Garnishes: I like to garnish this with a combination of homemade whipped cream, fresh cranberries, orange zest, and mint leaves. The combination just looks so festive! It also tastes great with Cool Whip if you prefer that over whipped cream.

The labeled ingredients for cranberry jello salad.

Optional Additions And Alterations

If you can’t find raspberry Jell-O I’d recommend using either cranberry or cherry Jell-O.

Try using freshly toasted pecans instead of walnuts if you like a sweeter flavor.

If you want to serve this as a layered dessert salad after Thanksgiving dinner, you can add a cream cheese topping:

  • Instead of setting it in a bowl, let it set in a glass baking dish.
  • Once it has set, top it with a cream cheese frosting layer made from 8 ounces of softened cream cheese, 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, and 1 cup of sour cream.
  • Start by beating the cream cheese with an electric mixer until it’s fluffy, then mix in the powdered sugar and sour cream.
  • Spread the topping over the congealed salad and serve.

How To Make Cranberry Salad With Jello

Start by toasting the chopped walnuts in a nonstick skillet. Once they’re toasted, transfer them to a clean bowl to let them cool. (See the recipe card below for the full written instructions.)

Before and after toasting chopped up walnuts.

Add the boiling water to a large liquid measuring cup, then mix in the Jell-O. Stir constantly until the gelatin has completely dissolved. Once the Jell-O has dissolved, stir in the cold water and the orange juice.

Mixing crushed pineapple and cranberry sauce into initial jello mixture.

To a large mixing bowl, add the crushed pineapple and cranberry sauce. Pour the Jell-O mixture over top, and stir to combine. Add the cooled walnuts, and stir again.

Before and after mixing in cooled walnuts into the mixed jello salad ingredients.

Transfer the Jell-O mixture to a serving dish large enough to hold it, then cover it with saran wrap and let it rest in the fridge until it sets. See the recipe card below for the full written instructions, including ingredient amounts and helpful tips, etc.

An image of jello salad getting covered with saran wrap before it goes in the fridge.

What To Serve Cranberry Jello Salad With

Serve this raspberry cranberry jello salad as a holiday side dish for your Thanksgiving dinner or your Christmas dinner. I like serving it with either turkey tenderloins or boneless turkey breast roast and some turkey gravy without drippings. I think it also pairs well with creamy mashed potatoes, fresh green bean casserole, and creamed corn cornbread.

An image of a serving of jello salad in a while bowl.

How Do You Get Fruit To Float In Jell-O?

If you want to add small pieces of fruit, like this recipe calls for, all you need to do is use a combination of boiling water and cold water. The boiling water dissolves the gelatin. Then the addition of cold water is what allows the small pieces of fruit to float.

If you want to get large pieces of fruit to float in Jell-O, you’ll need to let the Jell-O set for 15-30 minutes in the fridge first. Once it’s starting to set, you can mix the large pieces of fruit in without worrying about them sinking to the bottom. Move the bowl back to the fridge to let it set completely.

A garnished jello salad with whipped cream, whole cranberries, and orange zest on top.

How Long Does Cranberry Salad Last In The Fridge?

Jello salad lasts in the fridge about 4-5 days. It should be stored in an airtight container or covered with plastic wrap.

A close up image of what cranberry jello salad looks like in a glass bowl.

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A Pinterest pin image with a picture of cranberry jello salad, with title text at the top.

Thanksgiving Recipes

If you’re looking for more inspiration for the holiday, be sure to check out all of our Thanksgiving recipes! Our side dishes are especially popular. Some reader favorites are:

Yield: 10 servings

Grandma’s Cranberry Jello Salad

The best cranberry jello salad recipe.

Cranberry Jell-O Salad is perfectly tart and sweet. Serve this quick and easy old fashioned recipe as a side for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Additional Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 10 minutes


Cranberry Jello Salad:

  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 6 ounces raspberry Jell-O (2 small boxes or 1 large)
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about the juice from 1 large navel orange)
  • 1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple (undrained)
  • 1 (14 ounce) can whole berry cranberry sauce

Garnishes: (optional)

  • Whipped cream
  • Orange zest
  • Fresh cranberries


  1. Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped walnuts and toast them while stirring once a minute (to prevent burning) until they are browned and aromatic (about 5 minutes). Once they are toasted, remove them from the heat and transfer them to a separate dish to allow them to cool.
  2. Add the boiling water to a large liquid measuring cup. Pour in the Jell-O and stir constantly for about 2 minutes (to dissolve the Jell-O). Once the granules are dissolved completely*, stir in the cold water and the orange juice.
  3. To a large mixing bowl, add the undrained crushed pineapple and the cranberry sauce. Pour in the Jell-O and gently stir again. Add in the cooled walnuts, and stir to mix everything together.
  4. Choose a dish that is large enough to hold 5 cups (I prefer using a glass bowl because it’s firm enough and it allows you to see the pretty colors in this Jell-O salad). Pour the Jell-O mixture into the dish. Cover with cling wrap, and let it set in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours (it’s best if it can set overnight).
  5. Once it has set, garnish the cranberry Jell-O salad with dollops of whipped cream, a little orange zest, and fresh cranberries. Store it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve it.


*Do not add the cold water and orange juice until the gelatin has completely dissolved.

Nutrition Information:

Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 240Total Fat: 7.7gCarbohydrates: 42gFiber: 1.7gSugar: 36.3gProtein: 3.5g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.


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Make this Thanksgiving Jell-O salad as the perfect holiday side dish to complement your turkey. Everyone loves this delicious cranberry jello salad!

The best cranberry jello salad recipe.

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