Cranberry Jello Salad is a sweet-tart dessert salad loaded with crushed pineapple, chopped pecans, cranberries and a tangy cream cheese topping! It's perfect to serve for Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas dinner, or any night of the year!
If you love cranberry desserts, be sure not to miss my cranberry orange bread and fresh cranberry shortbread bars that make a beautiful addition to any cookie plate! Or create a showstopping holiday dessert with my festive cranberry coconut cake that is decorated with sugared cranberries!
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It's pretty well established on this blog that I love a good jello like this cherry pineapple jello salad, triple layer Christmas jello, apricot jello salad, or this lemon pineapple jello with pineapple whipped cream topping. If jello isn't your thing, I'm sorry. Maybe you would like to try this fresh green bean casserole instead!
But it should really be no surprise to long-time readers of this blog that I would be all about a cranberry jello salad with cream cheese topping and chopped pecans sprinkled over the top. I love the flavors and textures going on in this sweet side dish, from the creamy topping to the crunchy filling to the jiggly gelatin!
Make it with fresh homemade cranberry sauce or just use the canned stuff - whichever you prefer.
I know that this recipe for cranberry salad is really more of a dessert and not a salad, but I'm not going to let that stop me from enjoying a slice of this sweet-tart deliciousness with my meal! If you want a real salad, definitely try this winter pear, pomegranate & swiss salad with poppy seed dressing!
How to Make Cranberry Jello Salad
All it takes to prep a cranberry Jell-O salad is a few minutes to dissolve a couple of packages of gelatin into hot water and then stir in the other ingredients. Give it a couple of hours to set, then mix up the sour cream and cream cheese topping to spread on top before sprinkling with nuts and slicing to serve with your favorite holiday meal or Sunday dinner.
Like many jello dishes, cutting a clean slice isn't always easy, but nobody will care once they take their first bite!
Even More Thanksgiving Recipes to Add to Your Holiday Menu
Fresh Green Bean Casserole
Easy Creamy Corn Casserole
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.
Cranberry Jello Salad
- 2 (3-ounce) pkgs. cherry Jell-O (or raspberry or cranberry, if you can find it)
- 1 ½ cups boiling water
- 20 ounces crushed pineapple (do not drain the juice)
- 1 (15-ounce) can whole cranberry sauce (or 2 cups homemade cranberry sauce)
- 1 cup chopped pecans divided
- ¾ cup cranberry or apple juice
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 1 cup sour cream
- Add both packets of Jell-O to the boiling water in a large bowl, stirring until completely dissolved.
- Stir in the crushed pineapple (juice and all) and whole cranberry sauce, using the back of the stirring spoon to break up any chunks of cranberry sauce a bit against the side of the bowl.
- Add in ¾ cup of the chopped pecans and the cranberry or apple juice and stir to combine, then carefully pour into a 9x13-inch glass dish or jello mold and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.
- In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese on high speed with an electric mixer until smooth.
- Add the powdered sugar and sour cream and mix well until completely combined, then spread over the top of the set Jell-O.
- Sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup of chopped pecans, then serve.
Reader questions and reviews
This would be a hit with the crew at my grandma's during the holidays. I can't wait to bring it and watch it disappear!
What an amazing and festive retro dessert! It looks gorgeous and is so easy to make with just a few ingredients from a pantry. It would be perfect for potlucks also!
I haven't had Jello salad in years, but I love how fun and seasonal this one is!
Such a delicious dessert and for me, a fantastic reminder of my childhood Christmas fun!
This is the best jello salad everyone’s favorite.
I grew up with cranberry jello salad being the star of Thanksgiving. It was also the dish everyone looked forward to! Now that I'm grown up and contributing, I'm going to have to bring this next time! Such an improvement over our usual recipe!
Made this with the homemade cranberry sauce and EVERYONE loved it. This recipe is a total keeper. Thank you!! 😋
You are welcome! I'm glad it was enjoyed by all!
I love Jello salads! But only have the same two. One is a lime-jello, the other a strawberry.I was looking for some new ones for spring & summer....then ran across this.I was wondering if I could make this w/walnuts instead? I think the pecans would be great for the holidays, we just prefer walnuts?!
Absolutely you could use walnuts! I have a lemon pineapple jello that uses walnuts and I love it. I think that they would be fantastic in this.
I love trying new recipes for jello, when I read this one I couldn’t wait to get the ingredients to make it. It was made tand taken to any event starting after Halloween and usually ad one in our refrigerator for our pleasure. Just sat all ingredients on counter to make when I wake up in the morning. My Mom gave me her jello small paper phamplete filled with jello recipes which has been a favorite for years. I have been teased for most of my life about my love of jello, doesn’t bother me at all. And as long as I live, will continue to enjoy eating it.
Do you think rehydrate cranberry would work in this??
My guess is that it would be okay but they would still be quite a bit chewier than jellied cranberries.
I tried this for Thanksgiving. I think the liquid to jello ratio is off. It never really firmed up like other jello recipes and once it was on the table for a bit, was soupy. I think you could reduce the boiling water or DRAIN the pineapple and that might be the trick. The water, plus pineapple and cranberry juice is just too much liquid. Or, you could add an envelope of unflavored gelatin to help firm it up.
This is a family favorite. Going to double the topping this time. It's so good, it could be a dessert!
I remember back in the late 1950's and early 1960's my Mom used to make something very similar, using raspberry jello, a can of the jellied cranberry (in a can) and also she used her meat grinder thing (with the attachment with the big holes) to grind up some whole cranberries. I do not remember her using pineapple in this recipe at all, but I suppose it's a matter of taste. This was always a holiday staple even though as a kid I wasn't that crazy about tart cranberries!
What I'm wondering about is the "frosting/topping" because I know she made hers with cream cheese, just a small amount of powdered sugar (It was very expensive back then), finely finely chopped bits of celery, no sour cream (I don't think that was even available back then) and she also used mayonnaise in hers, which gave it a bright tangy taste. We kids would eat the topping off and leave the jello. 😉
Do you know of such a recipe? I can't remember if her topping had walnuts or not but if it did they were certainly not "toasted" because no one knew about that technique back then either.
I remember the celery because it, too, gave it a marvelous flavor and a wonderful crunchiness.
If you could locate a recipe with that type of topping (containing the mayo) I'd sure appreciate it. I have dozens and dozens and old cookbooks from that era (some were my Mom's and some I ordered from cookbooks.com) but I can't find anything like it. The reason I ask is that it was simply delicious!
I don't know that recipe, which surprises me since I've eaten a lot of vintage jellos! And I glanced through some of my vintage cookbooks and didn't see one like it either! It sounds interesting though!
I remember the jello salad with FINELY chopped celery, pecans, crushed pineapple. My Mom would use raspberry jello, & occasionally black cherry jello(probably what was on hand) & would add canned, halved black cherries to the mixture. There was mayo in the topping, but don't know what else. I too would Love to find that recipe. I'm going to see ifI can find it, but will make this one in the meantime....it sounds delicious!
My family makes a cranberry salad similar to what you’re looking for. It has bits of celery and apples and walnuts in it and it uses nutmeg and cloves, as well. We serve it as a side, which is delicious with a turkey. Afterwards, we use it a a spread on leftover turkey sandwiches. I think I’ll try a combination of the two recipes for Thanksgiving. The addition of pineapple would add a little sweetness and texture, along with the sweet cream cheese topping with the tart, crisp cranberry salad sounds like a winning update to a recipe that my family has been making for 4 generations! Although, I’m not sure how the topping would be as a spread, so I may make a small dish without it to save for the leftovers. I hope this helps! Happy Hollidays!!
This recipe is to die for. I made it on a whim because I like retro Jello desserts. The cranberry flavor is insanely good paired with the creamy topping and the crunch of the nuts. This is my new favorite Jello dessert and we're going to shock family this year with something different because it is that good. Oh, I made it with orange juice since I didn't have apple or cranberry and it gives it a more Christmas-y holiday taste. LOVE IT. Thank you.
Is there a recipe for cranberry jello salad without the pineapple and apple juice. I’m looking for a recipe for this salad with celery and chopped walnuts
Look up - Grandmas Cranberry Jello Salad
I used strawberries and strawberry jello instead, it was wonderful!
Thankyou... back in the day my mom made this salad using fruit cocktail I've looked and tried to figure it out...I believe this is the recipe.
I make a similar cranberry jello salad. It has chopped apples, along with the other ingredients. The sour cream and cream cheese is mixed in the salad.
That sounds delicious!
I love the taste but it didn’t set. Are there any tricks to getting it to set so it’s not jello soup? Thank you!
Oh dear! If it was soup, then that's indicating that there is possibly too much liquid (a measurement issue?) or that it just didn't have a long enough time to set in the fridge and could have used another hour or two. Or possibly the gelatin had expired? I don't even know if that's a thing with jello, to be honest, but I have never had an issue with this recipe not setting.
Can I make this the day before I need it or
Will it dry out the topping?
Thanks Heather 🦃
You could make it the day before and just cover it well with plastic wrap! Or make the jello and wait on the topping until you plan to serve it.
Exactly what I just thought lol
Thanks for taking the time to answer Amy!
Have a nut allergy coming should I sub celery?
That's a great idea!
Don’t care if my family’s tastes differ than mine, I like sweet tart! So here’s the plan: If they don’t try this, ALL THE MORE FOR ME!
Mine did not set after 3 hours so I added another box mixed with 1 cup boiling water and it set up fine. Does have a lot of liquid but considering each box calls for 2 cups of water, (1 boiling, 1 cold) the recipe probably does need the liquid as stated. Anyway, can’t wait to taste it.
I had a little snip of it with the topping. I added an extra heaping tbls. of sour cream. Yummy!
I also used sugar free raspberry Jello. Will make again.
I suspect, if your jello doesn’t set up, one of two things happened: you didn’t fully dissolve the jello OR you tried using fresh pineapple. Fresh or frozen pineapple has an enzyme that prevents the gelatin from setting up. However, for the record, this recipe is so good, I would gladly eat it as cold soup! By the way, toasting the pecans is totally worth the effort. Toasting wakes up the flavor of the pecans, so they become flavor AND crunchy texture. Even if you don’t think you are a fan of jello, try this...you’ll change your mind!
We made this for thanksgiving and I will be making this all year round! This reminds me of something my grandmother used to make. Thank you for posting this wonderful recipe!
Can you make the cream cheese topping the day before? Thank you!
Yes! Just keep it in the fridge until you are ready for it.
Amy, thanks for pinning this recipe, it so reminded me of family get togethers at my grandma's. She is the one who made this. I made it tonight and it was so delicious.
What a great salad, my family absolutely loves it. I made it for Thanksgiving and just finished a dish for our Christmas dinner tomorrow. Thank you for sharing this simple and awesome dish.
This looks so good! What a fun side dish to bring to a party!
Thanks for sharing! How far ahead of time can I make it?
You could make the jello at least a few days in advance. I would wait to top it until day of or the day before.
I just finished making this, adapting it as necessary to match what I had on hand. It still has to gel, but the taste was terrific. Thanks for sharing your recipe.
This is really good. I'm going to be making this to go with our Thanksgiving dinner, I love jello desserts and salads. They're so much fun, and everyone enjoys them.
Thank you so much for sharing this amazing cranberry jello salad recipe! Will surely have this again! It's really easy to make and it tasted so delicious! Highly recommended!
This dish is always a hit at our holiday family gatherings! Love all the tastes and the pretty color!
It was great! Used my homemade cranberry sauce that has a little orange juice in it. For the topping I used half the cream cheese and sour cream then blended whipping cream into it and only used a couple tablespoons of powdered sugar. Definitely a keeper.
I'd like to make this with a crust on the bottom, like the strawberry pretzel salad.. would it get soggy pouring the jello right over it? Any recommendations?
Great idea, Abby! Yes, if you pour the jello directly onto the pretzel crust it will get soggy. BUT if you do a creamy layer between the two, it would be excellent! Use my raspberry pretzel salad recipe but just switch out the raspberry flavor for the cranberry one!
Can you substitute greek yogurt for the sour cream for the topping.
Yes, you can.
Great recipe! I adjusted it to make it similar to the dessert I grew up with. Used raspberry jello, walnuts instead of pecans, and added a good amount of celery (halved lengthwise then chopped). For the topping I replaced the sour cream with plain nonfat Greek yogurt.
I look forward to this every holiday season. I love the cream cheese topping! It's beautiful and so scrumptious!
Love this! Reminds me of church dinners as a child. Someone always made a similar recipe and It was my favorite. I cant wait to make this.
I put mandarin oranges in mine also! My dil requests this every Thanksgiving. Been making this for years!
10 stars👍 TERRIFIC RESULTS AND EASY TO FOLLOW👌
Mary Lou’s recipe!!