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Sweet, fruity, and such a treat, this throwback Cherry Pineapple Jello Salad is the perfect chilled side dish (yes, we eat jello as a side dish) or dessert to make ahead this summer! It goes really well with grilled or smoked meats at cookouts, and it takes just 15 minutes to throw together!
We love making Jello Salads for potlucks! They’re so much fun, and everyone loves to try them. Our Coca-Cola Jello Salad is like cherry cola in jello form (delicious!), and our Triple Layer Vintage Christmas Jell-O Salad can be made with blue jello on the bottom instead of green for an easy Patriotic version!
Cherry Jello Salad
If I didn’t already know this was called a Jello Salad, I would assume this is a dessert! I mean, it kind of is. Jello is mixed and set with chunks of cherries and pineapple, topped with a vanilla pudding whipped cream. But yes, we’ll call it a salad and frequently serve it next to some ham or smoked meat!
Jello salads began to appear at the turn of the twentieth century, peaking in the 1960s. Although now considered quite retro, I love bringing this jiggly, fruity concoction back for any holidays that I can sneak it into! It’s perfect for summer shindigs like July 4th and Memorial Day as it’s nice and chilled, however, add some cranberry or a green layer and you have a tasteful Christmas side dish for the holidays!
This Cherry Pineapple Jello Salad is ridiculously easy to make. I stuck with classic boxed cherry Jell-O (although you could use black cherry flavor too, if you can find it), vanilla pudding, and canned cherries and pineapple to make it even easier to throw together, however, my Homemade Cherry Pie Filling is also perfect for this recipe if you want to have a go at making your own.
Prep and cooking take just 15 minutes, and then let the fridge do the rest. I always like to make it the day before serving, just to get one side dish out of the way!
Ingredients for Cherry Pineapple Jello Salad
- Jello: To add extra cherry flavor, and to create that beautiful, rich red color I used cherry jello.
- Cherries: I kept it simple by using a can of cherry pie filling this time around. There’s nothing easier than opening a tin and pouring it in! But if want to make your own cherry pie filling, try my homemade cherry pie filling recipe.
- Pineapple: Just like the cherry pie filling, I used a can of crushed pineapple. Make sure you don’t drain it before adding. We want that extra pineapple juice added to the jello!
- Vanilla pudding: Again, this is a semi-homemade dish and to keep everything easy I used a package of instant vanilla pudding. It has the perfect fluffy consistency for the creamy topping.
- Cream: Both milk and heavy cream were added to mix up the topping and give an extremely rich taste.
- Powdered sugar: Just a little extra powdered sugar is in the topping to make it even more decadent!
How to Make Jello Salad with cherries and pineapples
- Make the jello layer. Firstly, add the cherry jello into 2 cups of boiling water, stirring for 1 minute until dissolved. Next, add the cherry pie filling and crushed pineapple with its juices and stir to combine.
2. Set! After that, pour into a 9×13-inch pan and carefully transfer to the fridge to set for 3-4 hours.
3. Make vanilla pudding. Next, in a large bowl, whisk the vanilla pudding powder with the cold milk for 1 minute, then let it sit for 2 minutes to set up.
4. Whip the cream. Meanwhile, beat the heavy cream with a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form, but be careful not to overbeat and turn it into butter.
5. Fold & spread. Fold the whipped cream into the vanilla pudding until combined. Finally, spread the vanilla pudding evenly over the set jello, then refrigerate until ready to slice and serve.
How do you Store this Cherry Pineapple Jello Salad?
Store this easy side dish in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Keep it in the fridge when it’s not being served as it has milk and cream in the topping and leaving it out will cause it to spoil. You can even make it a few days ahead of time to save you the effort on a busy holiday like July 4th or Memorial Day!
Why is Jello Salad called a salad?
Although encased in sweet, jiggly jello, jello salads were originally called salads because they would often have grated vegetables in them (like carrots) and were served as a side dish as opposed to a dessert. The naming convention has kind of stuck around although it’s been ages since I’ve seen a green jello with grated carrots. I totally remember them from growing up though!
Where did jello salads come from?
The original Jello Salad was a dish called Perfection Salad (what a name!) which was made by Mrs. John E. Cook. She won third prize with it in a Better Homes and Gardens contest in 1904.
Jello salads became extremely popular throughout the US, especially in the 1960’s, as they are easy to make, cost-efficient, and delicious. Utah in particular loves its jello salads, with Jell-O being the official state snack, and there being plenty of potlucks to serve them at in the “Jell-O Belt”.
Almost all of our family lives in Utah and we did school there, so we definitely have some experience when it comes to seeing jello served at the dinner table!
More Jello Recipes Like This
- Raspberry Pretzel Salad
- Cottage Cheese Jello Salad
- Orange Jello Salad with Pudding Whipped Cream
- Lemon Pineapple Jell-O with Pineapple Whipped Cream Topping
- Easy Cranberry Fluff Salad
- Layered Rainbow Jello (with Video!)
- Strawberry Mousse Jello Parfaits
- Fresh Raspberry Jello Dessert
- Apricot Jello Salad
Cherry Pineapple Jello
- 6 ounces cherry jello 1 large box
- 2 cups boiling water
- 21 ounces cherry pie filling
- 20 ounces crushed pineapple, do not drain
- 1 box instant vanilla pudding
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- Add the cherry jello into 2 cups of boiling water, stirring for 1 minute until dissolved. Add the cherry pie filling and crushed pineapple with its juices and stir to combine.
- Pour into a 9x13-inch pan and carefully transfer to the fridge to set for 3-4 hours.
- In a large bowl, whisk the vanilla pudding powder with the cold milk for 1 minute, then let it sit for 2 minutes to set up.
- Meanwhile, beat the heavy cream with a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form, but be careful not to overbeat and turn it into butter.
- Fold the whipped cream into the vanilla pudding until combined. Spread evenly over the set jello, then refrigerate until ready to slice and serve.
- You can use store-bought cherry pie filling or just use 2 1/2 cups of my homemade cherry pie filling if you have some in the freezer or want to make it from scratch.
Recipe only slightly adapted from This Grandma is Fun.