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Cranberry Jello Salad

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This Cranberry Jello Salad is a festive-looking side dish, made up from a tasty combination of raspberry Jell-O, cranberry sauce, apples, and pineapple.

With only four ingredients and ten minutes of cook time, your next holiday side dish will be a cinch to prepare!


main image for recipe of finished jello in a bowl


If you’re looking for cranberry salad recipes, I’ve got two for you.  This Cranberry Jello Salad and this Cranberry Fluff, which is also known as commonly known as cranberry salad too.  


Cranberry Pineapple Salad - all ingredients out ready to make salad


What ingredients are in Cranberry Jello Salad?

  • Raspberry Jello – Believe it or not, raspberry Jello is the main staple in this cranberry pineapple salad. You may find this misleading, but the name of the salad actually comes from the cranberry sauce and apples found within this recipe.  The raspberry flavor of Jello melds beautifully with all the other flavors creating a very popular Thanksgiving side dish.  
  • Crushed Pineapple – canned crushed pineapple is a must have for this recipe.  Not only does it add flavor but it also adds texture! Remember to include the juice and don’t skimp on this vital ingredient! 
  • Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce – If you’ve ever wondered what you can do with jellied cranberry sauce, this is one of the many recipes that you could create using it! Our family prefers the whole berry cranberry sauce. However you could just as easily use jellied cranberry sauce too!  Don’t stress over it. Simply use what you have on hand and enjoy the flavors!
  • Apple – Apple chunks floating in your cranberry salad, is as traditional as it gets!  Choose your favorite apple and dice it up into small chunks. We love a crisper apple but any will do.  Whether you leave the peel on or remove it is 100% up to you! My kids are picky about apple skins, so we naturally remove them from dishes like this!  However the apple peels won’t hurt your recipe at all.
  • Walnuts – If adding nuts to your Jello isn’t your thing, then leave them out!  Walnuts in this Jello salad is 100% optional. However if you want to make it the way grandma did when you were a kid, you’ll want to include them!  It’s the old fashioned way!


Cranberry Pineapple Salad - pineapple juice poured in pot.


Can I use fresh pineapple instead of canned in this Cranberry Jello Salad?

If this seems like an odd question, then let me give a little background. If you want to try a fun science experience, use fresh pineapple instead of canned in this recipe.  The results will be fruit soup.

There is a chemical in the fresh pineapple that prevents gelatin from setting up, thus leaving it it’s liquid state.

This is because pineapple and other fresh fruits contain high levels of proteases, which are enzymes that break down the chemical bonds in protein.

In gelatin, that protein is collagen. It’s a crucial protein that keeps the Jell-O bound together instead of a sloshy liquid.

However canned pineapple has a different effect.  During the canning process, the pineapple is heated up to a very high heat which kills off the chemical that prevents gelatin from setting up.  Thus allowing us to use canned pineapple in Jello without any side effects.

If you’d like to have your fresh cranberry salad set up in time for Thanksgiving, then use canned pineapple.


Cranberry Pineapple Salad - jello added to pineapple juice


How to make Cranberry Jello mold with step by step directions:

  1. Though you’ll be using both the crushed pineapple and juice, you’ll first need to separate them.  I suggest doing this by straining your crushed pineapple.  
  2. Once your pineapple is strained, measure out how much juice you have.  Each can will provide slightly different results.  
  3. Take your pineapple juice and add enough water to it to create 3 cups of liquid.
  4. Heat liquid up on the stove or in the microwave until boiling.
  5. While liquid is heating up, pour Jello powder into a medium sized bowl.
  6. When liquid is boiling pour over the Jello powder.  Mix well, ensuring Jello dissolves completely.
  7.  Add cranberry sauce (straight from can) to Jello liquid and stir well, breaking up any clumps.  Your mixture should thicken up quite a bit. 
  8. How long to wait to add fruit to Jello will depend entirely on what you see right now.  If your Jello mixture is fairly thick, you can add your fruit now. If it’s still pretty thin, pop it in the fridge for ½ hour – 1 hour or until it begins to thicken (not set).  Add drained pineapple, apples and walnuts and mix well..
  9. Transfer mixture to a pretty serving bowl or a Jello mold and refrigerate until set.   If using a mold, once ready, remove the lids and allow the Jello to slide out onto your platter.


cranberry sauce added to jello


Can you freeze this Cranberry Jello Salad recipe?

Yes you can. However the flavor and texture may be affected.  I suggest making this several days in advance and keeping it in the fridge rather than freezing. 

We are all about making life easier when it comes to a big dinner party, but in this case I suggest using the fridge instead of the freezer.  


jello mixture added to bowl, ready to chill


How long does this Cranberry Jello Salad last in the fridge?

From the day it’s made to the day you toss it, you’ve got between 5 – 7 days to enjoy your easy cranberry salad.  So if you want to make this in advance AND save the leftovers, I suggest making it 2 – 3 days in advance and using it within 3 – 4 days after your dinner.  This gives you a total of 5 – 7 days with the Jello.  


chilled jello with added pineapple and apples.


PRO TIP:  If you plan on making this in advance, using a traditional bowl (not jello mold) then you’ll want to cover it well.  To do this, place a layer of plastic wrap ON TOP OF (touching) your cranberry salad.

This will help prevent any odors from your fridge from touching or seeping into your jello.  Once you place a layer of plastic wrap on your dish, then add a second to the top of your bowl ensuring a nice tight seal.  


mixed jello ready to be chilled for a second time.


What kind of fruit can you NOT put in Jello?

Because of a natural chemical reaction, there are certain fresh fruits like pineapple that cannot be mixed in with Jello.  These are:

  • Fresh Pineapple
  • Kiwi
  • Fresh Papaya
  • Fresh Mango
  • Guava
  • Fresh Figs
  • Ginger Root

If you’ve got your heart set on using one of these fruits then you have two options.  

  1. Buy canned fruit.  During the canning process the fruit is heated up to a very high heat killing off the enzyme that reacts to gelatin.  
  2. Boil your fruit before adding it to your Jello.  Though this isn’t a guarantee of perfect setting Jello, it may just work.  The downside is that your fruit may be mush instead of beautiful chunks.  

This Raspberry Cranberry Jello Salad has become a family staple at our Thanksgiving dinner.  It’s a great make ahead side dish that brings the festive flavors of cranberries to the table with a pop of holiday color!


large spoon full of jello with bowl in background


More Cranberry Recipes You’ll Love…


jello on plate ready to be served.


More Thanksgiving Dishes You’ll Love…


This Cranberry Jello Salad is a vintage recipe that has never gone out of style!  Easy to make, packed with flavor and texture and always requested! It’s an easy make ahead side dish that wont take up room in your oven!


Yield: 14 servings

Cranberry Jello Salad Recipe

chilled jello salad ready to be served

This Cranberry Jello Salad is delicious and festive looking! Raspberry jello, cranberry sauce, apples and pineapple make for a delicious and easy side dish to your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Inactive Time 5 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 5 hours 45 minutes


  • 1 can (20 oz) crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 2 packages (3 oz) or 1 package (6 ounce) raspberry flavored gelatin
  • 1 can (14 oz) whole berry cranberry sauce
  • 1 medium apple chopped (Any will do. We like honey crisp.)
  • 2/3 cup chopped walnuts (optional - tastes great if you choose to use them)


  1. Open can of pineapple and drain pineapple, reserving juice. Pour juice into a 4 cup liquid measuring dish.
  2. Remove 1 Tablespoon of the crushed pineapple and set aside for garnish {if desired}
  3. Add enough cold water to pineapple juice until it measure 3 cups; pour int a large saucepan.
  4. Bring juice to a boil then remove from heat immediately.
  5. Add gelatin. Whisk mixture at least 2 minutes until completely dissolved.
  6. Add cranberry sauce and stir. {Gelatin mixture should be thick}.
  7. Pour mixture into a large bowl. Refrigerate 15 - 30 minutes or until slightly thickened.
  8. Remove from fridge and stir in pineapple, apples and walnuts; stir gently.
  9. Pour into a medium serving bowl. & refrigerate for 4 hours or until completely firm.
  10. Top with reserved crushed pineapple just before serving.
  11. Store leftover gelatin in refrigerator.


Nutritional Information is estimated, not exact.

Nutrition Information:



Amount Per Serving: Calories: 114Total Fat: 0.1gSaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 50mgCarbohydrates: 27.3gFiber: 1.2gSugar: 24.5gProtein: 1.4g
Originally Posted: November 7, 2014

Photos & Text Updated: October 27, 2020


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Gwen Henry

Wednesday 8th of June 2022

I love to make this salad, and my friends love it too. However I have one friend who is allergic to the red dye in the jello. Is there a way I could adapt the recipe for her using plain gelantin instead of the commercial jello? Perhaps using fresh puréed raspberries for a part of the liquid to give color and flavor?She loves the salad but not the reaction to the red dye (a lot of people have allergies to the red dye, including my husband). Thanks for any suggestion you can offer.


Sunday 3rd of July 2022

Hmm. Great question Gwen. I have never done it but this is what I'd try my first time. I can't guarantee the results, but if you wan to try it give this a try. What if you used clear jello with juice to create the flavor. Place 1 cup water in a heat proof bowl. Sprinkle 3 packets of clear gelatin over the water and let sit for 2 minutes or until thickened. Bring 2 cups Cran-Raspberry juice to a boil (unless there is dye in that too...then maybe 2 cups fresh raspberry juice??), pour over gelatin mixture and whisk well. Then start at step 6 of the recipe. Let me know if you try it! Good luck!


Sunday 21st of November 2021

I make this every Thanksgiving and Christmas! My kids always request it. I add a cup of finely choped celery. Adds a little bit of crunch!


Monday 22nd of November 2021

I have never had it with celery but sounds delicious! Thanks for the tip!


Sunday 21st of November 2021

I make these in cupcake liners (start in the tins) and my family LOVE them. Helps keep separate on the plate from other foods, lovely of a serving try and so handy to send leftovers with guest.


Monday 22nd of November 2021

What a great idea! I am going to try this the next time I make it!


Wednesday 17th of November 2021

I'm the third generation to make this salad for Thanksgiving and Christmas it always comes out great the only thing different is we add 3/4 cup sugar, I going to try it your way and see if the sugar is really needed. :)


Wednesday 25th of November 2020

Max RBI’s yesterday still not jelled. Used canned pineapple. Followed directions. Now what

Phyllis Nicholau

Sunday 25th of July 2021

@Janelle, I made this July 24, 2021. Delicious salad!! But we called it Jello Soup! It would not completely set up. I followed your instructions. Am wondering about your comment to make sure jello dissolved before adding cold water. Your recipe says add cold water to juice to make 3 cups, bring to boil, remove from heat, add jello stir until dissolved, add cranberry sauce & should be thick. There is no instruction to add cold water after dissolving Jello. I even put it in the freezer to cool it as would not thicken at all when in frig. Did I miss something in your directions? Like I said before though, this is a great tasting Jello Salad and will try it again!


Wednesday 25th of November 2020

There are multiple reasons a gelatin wont gel. 1. the gelatin was not fully cooked before the cold water was added. Gelatin needs to be cooked in order to gel. 2. Too much liquid in the fruit or too much water/ice added. 3. Fresh pineapple.

We know it wasn't #3 since you used canned. The only way to save it is to boil 1 cup of water and add it to a 3 oz box of gelatin. Make sure it's boiling water. Then mix well. Once gelatin is dissolved, add it to your other mixture and refrigerate it.

I'm sorry this happened.

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