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Holiday Cranberry Jello Salad

cranberry salad feature

Every family has a dish or two that is a traditional Thanksgiving “must have”.  I can’t remember a Thanksgiving when my mother did not have this cranberry salad on the table. Now, my sisters and I each serve this salad at our Thanksgiving meal. I’m making my sister Emily’s improved version which has added orange zest and a decorative piped cream cheese topping. Emily married into a large extended family. Every year, the family gets together for a Thanksgiving feast. This cranberry salad is one of the most requested dishes. Emily describes the salad as a perfect combination of cranberry, raspberry, orange and pineapple flavors.

new casserole dish

Both of my sisters insist that the cranberry salad looks best in a glass bowl. Not having one, I made a quick trip to my local thrift shop in search for a glass bowl that would show off my salad. I was lucky and found this fancy glass, oven proof casserole dish. It’s not as gorgeous as a cut crystal bowl, but it will do fine. It also came with a lid which makes it super handy for future uses.

mini cups

Last year, Emily had a Holiday party for her co-workers. She filled individual little party cups with the jello salad and piped a big rosette of cream cheese on top. What a wonderfully creative idea!

ground cranberries

As for making the cranberry jello salad, grind the cranberries by giving them a few pulses in a food processor.

cranberries and sugar

Mix in the sugar.

covered cranberries

Cover and refrigerate over night.

cranberry orange zest

Add the zest of an orange.

cranberry pineapple

Drain the pineapple and reserve 1 cup of the juice.

cranberry jell-o

Dissolve the jello in boiling water.


Stir in the pineapple juice. Add the crushed pineapple and the ground cranberries. Chill until well set, or overnight.

cranberry salad piping

My mother used to thin some cream cheese with a bit of milk and spread it over the top of the salad. Years ago, Emily started piping the cream cheese in a decorative design. For my photo, I tried my hand at piping the cream cheese. I’m definitely not as proficient at piping as Emily. I’ll admit, piping the cream cheese, does make the cranberry salad  look festive. But, I usually take the lazy way out and spread the cream cheese on like Mom did. To dress it up a bit, I sprinkle chopped nuts on top.

Turkey Post Card

 Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving full of fun, family and good food !


P. S. Fantastic the next day in a sandwich. From the top: bread, cream cheese, cranberry salad, sundried tomato turkey, habanero ham, mixed baby greens, mayo, bread.

cranberry Turkey sandwich

Holiday Cranberry Jello Salad

Occasion Christmas, Thanksgiving


  • 1-12oz. bag fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • zest of one orange
  • 1 - 20 oz. can crushed pineapple
  • 2 - 3oz. Boxes raspberry jello
  • 1 - 8 oz. Package cream cheese
  • milk (for thinning the cream cheese)


Step 1. Wash and drain the cranberries. Remove any undesirable berries. In a food processor, pulse the cranberries until finely chopped.
Step 2. Place the ground cranberries in a bowl and stir in the sugar. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Step 3. Add the zest of one orange to the cranberries. Mix to combine.
Step 4. Drain the crushed pineapple, reserving the juice. If necessary, add water to the pineapple juice to make one cup. Set aside.
Step 5. Dissolve the jell-o in 2 cups of boiling water. Stir in the reserved pineapple juice. Add the cranberries and crushed pineapple. Stir to combine. Pour into serving dish. Chill until set or refrigerate overnight.
Step 6. Several hours before serving, add milk (approximately 2 tablespoons) to the softened cream cheese. Mix well until it is the consistency of icing, or soft enough to pipe. Decorate the cranberry salad with piped rosettes. Or alternatively, spread an even layer of the cream cheese mixture on top of the salad and sprinkle with chopped nuts.

Special Notes:

Plan ahead, so that the ground cranberries and sugar can macerate overnight. I do not recommend putting the cream cheese topping on the day before. It has a tendency to absorb the coloring from the jell-o and turn pink.

A "Family Favorite" recipe from

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1 Comment on "Holiday Cranberry Jello Salad"

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  1. Cory says:

    Lisa, yet another “winner”! This salad is wonderful as a side dish, but also is great used as a relish for left over turkey sandwiches. If I use as relish, I leave off the cream cheese topping. SO DARN GOOD! And we ALL know how good cranberries are for you.


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