Molded Cranberry Jello Salad


I know it’s not cool to admit this and I’m definitely dating myself, but I like love jello, especially the molded salads made with Jell-O gelatin that you can count on to show up on holiday dinner tables all around America this time of year.

They certainly classify as “retro” or “vintage side dishes,” the topic of this month’s Recipe Redux.

Jello salads were one of my favorite side dishes growing up in the 60s and 70s. I loved their colorful, sweet, jiggly presence on our table, most often for Sunday dinners and holiday meals.

I first learned to make jello salads with my grandmother, who seemed to pass on her love of them to my mother. The flavor and ingredient combinations were endless.

Molded Cranberry Jello Salad

Unfortunately, most of those salads, while tasty, were loaded with less than healthy stuff – sour cream, cream cheese and mayonnaise – for example. Making regular appearances were orange jello with cream cheese, cool whip and mandarin oranges; lime jello with cream cheese, mayonnaise, pineapple and marshmallows; and red jello with cranberry sauce and sour cream.

So for this month’s Recipe Re-dux I’ve decided to resurrect the jello salad of my youth, but give it a healthy makeover by removing a lot of the excess fat. It’s an easy-to-make American cranberry classic perfect for the holidays. I made it with regular jello, but you could always use sugar-free jello instead. With just 2 PointsPlus per serving it’s a fun guiltless indulgence.

Food snobs may be tempted to turn up their noses. I’m unapologetic. You like what you like. I think a simple jello salad has the power to bring a smile to the child lurking within each of us.


Cranberry Jello Salad in a Vintage Tupperware Mold

{Recipe Redux} Vintage Side Dish
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
An easy and delicious cranberry jello salad perfect for the holidays
Recipe type: Salad, Side Dish
Serves: 8
  • 1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, in it's own juice
  • 1 package (3 ounces) raspberry flavored gelatin
  • 1 can (14 ounces) whole berry cranberry sauce
  • ¼ cup chopped celery
  • ¼ cup chopped nuts
  1. Drain pineapple, saving the juice. Add enough water to the juice to total 1-1/4 cups of liquid. In a saucepan, bring the liquid to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the gelatin until it's dissolved. Break up the cranberry sauce with a fork and stir it into the gelatin mixture. Cool until the mixture begins to thicken and then stir in the crushed pineapple, celery and nuts. Pour into a mold and chill until set.
Cook's Notes
Nutritional Estimates Per Serving (1/8th): 77 calories, 2.2 g fat, 14.2 g carbs, 0.9 g fiber, 1.3 g protein and 2 PointsPlus value Just saw a variation that includes 2 (6-ounce) cans mandarin oranges, drained and skips the celery. May try this next time.

*PointsPlus® for molded cranberry jello salad calculated by Simple Nourished Living; Not endorsed by Weight Watchers International, Inc.

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  1. says

    My grandma always brought her lime jello to all family gatherings…it still makes me smile to eat it and think of her! Thx for the vintage favorite!

  2. says

    My grandma made jello in a mold for EVERY family function. She knew that if she didn’t I wouldn’t be a happy camper :) It was never “Will Grandma make jello?” it was “What FLAVOR of jello will Grandma make?” Thanks for the great recipe!

  3. Diane says

    I do a cranberry relish that is a bit of a take-off on my mother’s Jell-o holiday salad that was similar to this recipe. But the calories and points are really paired down. First I pulverize 2 or 3 bags (I make a lot) of fresh cranberries in my food processor. Using Splenda Blend, I sweeten to taste. Add orange jest (I use the jarred type found in the spice aisle), celery diced fairly fine, and pecan pieces. If it seems a little thick after chilling for a while, I add a dash or 2 of water. You could add a squeeze of orange juice. Sorry that I do not have amounts of each ingredient. I add the celery and pecans until it “looks right.” It’s delicious as a side to poultry or pork. The only problem is that I cannot get fresh cranberries except at the holidays.

    • says

      Hi Diane,

      Thanks for the delicious sounding cranberry relish recipe. It sounds familiar to an old one my mom used to make. To have fresh cranberries all year round buy several bags when they are available and then pop them in the freezer for when you want them. I’ve been doing this for years.

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