Bright and festive Cranberry Jello Salad is the perfect side dish or dessert for the holidays. Made with raspberry gelatin, fresh cranberry relish, and crushed pineapple, this sweet and tangy jello salad is always a hit!
Besides politics and religion, cranberry sauce is probably the most divisive issue at the Thanksgiving table. Aunt Karen loves cranberry sauce plopped out of the can and sliced along the ridges, but Uncle Jim insists on a homemade fresh cranberry sauce. The cousins don’t care which kind is on the table, as long as none of it ends up on their plates.
Cranberry Jello Salad provides a delicious, peacemaking middle ground in the cranberry sauce wars. It provides the pleasantly jellied effect of canned cranberry sauce while also carrying the bright flavors and textures found in fresh cranberry sauce.
My family has been serving this cranberry jello salad recipe for years, and it seems to please everyone at the table. It’s light and refreshing, a little sweet and a little tangy, and, perhaps best of all, EASY to make!
What’s in Fresh Cranberry Jello Salad?
Many jello salads are made with canned cranberry sauce, but what sets this recipe apart is the fresh cranberry relish. Don’t be scared off by the name!
The relish is made with just a few simple ingredients:
- Fresh Cranberries
Time Saving Tip: Most grocery stores carry cranberry relish around the holidays, so you can just pick up a pound of relish at your local deli if you prefer!
The other ingredients you’ll need are:
- Raspberry Jello
- Canned Crushed Pineapple
- Whipped Cream (for serving)
Tip: If you want to make jello salad throughout the year, be sure to stock up on fresh cranberries around the holidays. They can be difficult to find other times of year, and the bags of whole cranberries freeze beautifully.
How Do You Make Cranberry Jello Salad?
- Start by making the relish. In a large food processor, combine 12 ounces fresh cranberries, half an orange (peel on but seeds removed), and half a peeled apple. Pulse until the mixture is in a fine dice. Set aside.
- Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Dissolve 2 small packages of raspberry jello in the water. Add 1 cup cold water.
- Stir in half of the cranberry relish (set aside the other half for another use) and a 20 ounce can of undrained crushed pineapple. Pour the mixture into a jello mold. Do not overfill. If your jello covers the top of the center piece, spoon a bit out and place it in a separate container. Refrigerate for at least 7 hours or up to 3 days.
- To unmold, place a large, flat platter on top of the jello mold then carefully flip over. If the jello doesn’t release easily, flip it back over, and submerge the bottom of the pan in 2-3 inches of very hot water before trying again. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Decorate with homemade whipped cream, fresh cranberries, and orange zest right before serving.
Note: The jello mold I use comes with three pieces and makes unmolding so easy! When you’re ready to unmold, flip it over onto the platter, then remove the center piece. This seems to eliminate suction and keeps the lovely shape of the mold! I love that it has a lid as well!
How Long Will Jello Salad Keep?
You can make jello salad up to 3 days in advance, which is perfect when you’ve got a slew of dishes to make on Thanksgiving or Christmas day.
I recommend storing the jello salad in the mold until the day of the event. Unmolded jello salad should also be kept refrigerated. Whipped cream should be added right before serving or served on the side.
Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge for an additional few days, though they may start to get runny.
Can Cranberry Jello Salad be frozen?
I do not recommend freezing jello salad recipes.
More Favorite Holiday Side Dishes:
This Cranberry Pineapple Jello Salad is a must at our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. It makes an absolutely beautiful centerpiece, and the sweet and citrusy flavor is the perfect foil for all of the classic holiday fixings. Here are our favorite savory side dishes to pair with jello salad:
Cranberry Brie Crostini: Another beautiful use for fresh cranberries!
Make Ahead Butterhorns: The perfect fluffy, tender roll, and another dish you can make ahead of time!
Baked Mac and Cheese Recipe with Breadcrumbs: Everything you love about Creamy Mac and Cheese, but with an extra layer of melty cheese and panko breadcrumbs on top!
Creamy Mashed Potatoes– This recipe makes fluffy, rich, and creamy mashed potatoes without the need for a ricer!
Southern Collard Greens– A good friend taught me how to make these savory, meaty greens.
For the cranberry relish (See note):
- 12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1 orange, halved with seeds removed and peel left on
- 1 apple, halved, peeled, and seeded
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
For the cranberry jello:
- 2 small raspberry jello packages
- 1 (20 oz) can crushed pineapple
- Whipped cream and mint leaves, for serving
- Start by making the relish. In a large food processor, combine 12 ounces fresh cranberries, half an orange (peel on but seeds removed), and half a peeled apple. Pulse until the mixture is in a fine dice. Sprinkle the cranberry mixture with the sugar and allow to sit for 20 minutes, or until sugar is mostly dissolved.
- Divide the cranberry relish in half (about 1 1/2 cups each). NOTE: This makes enough for TWO jello salads. Feel free to halve the relish recipe or refrigerate the second half for another use-it's a great side dish on its own!
- Meanwhile, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Dissolve 2 small packages of raspberry jello in the water. Add 1 cup cold water.
- Stir in half of the cranberry relish and a 20 ounce can of undrained crushed pineapple. Pour the mixture into a jello mold. Do not overfill. If your jello covers the top of the center piece, spoon a bit out and place it in a separate container. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 3 days.
- To un-mold, place a large, flat platter on top of the jello mold then carefully flip over. If the jello doesn't release easily, flip it back over, and submerge the bottom of the pan in 2-3 inches of very hot water before trying again. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Decorate with homemade whipped cream, fresh cranberries, and orange zest right before serving.
The relish will make enough for 2 jellos. If you would like, you can cut the relish recipe in half, or make the full recipe and use the relish as an additional side dish for Thanksgiving or spread it on leftover turkey sandwiches.
You can also substitute the homemade cranberry relish with one pound of store-bought deli relish.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 127 Total Fat: 0g Saturated Fat: 0g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 10mg Carbohydrates: 33g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 29g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 1g