Jello Salad

$7.87 recipe / $1.12 serving
by Marsha - Budget Bytes
5 from 3 votes
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When I say Jello, you say Salad! :) Friends, we’re taking you back in time today…way back! We’re making Jello Salad! A simple, sweet treat and potluck classic. This recipe has been popular for many years; maybe because it’s a simple, inexpensive dessert that can feed a large group. Or maybe it’s because it’s so good that family and friends are always asking for it. Either way we couldn’t wait to share our version with you. Keep reading for all the deets!

Overhead photo of jello salad.

What is Jello Salad

Jello Salad is a retro American dessert that was really popular in the 1960s. It’s usually made with flavored gelatin, fruit, and sometimes marshmallows, nuts, or even pretzels. Over the years this popular dish has transformed, to say the least, and now you can find several variations of jello salad.

I vividly remember my mother making a similar version of jello salad every Christmas. It was the perfect light & airy dessert to cap off a heavy holiday meal. Although this nostalgic dessert was super popular “back in the day” it’s still a big favorite today. Go ahead and make this jello salad for your next get-together, BBQ, potluck dinner, or holiday occasion!

Ingredients Needed For Jello Salad

We’re keeping this Jello Salad recipe simple, sweet, and delicious! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Strawberry Gelatin: Choose your favorite flavored gelatin powder. Since we are including fresh strawberries in our jello salad, a strawberry flavored gelatin is the perfect choice.
  • Cottage Cheese: Yes, cottage cheese! It adds a wonderful creamy texture and a tangy flavor to help balance the sweetness of the dessert. And if you don’t like the texture of cottage cheese, don’t worry! We use a blender to whip the cottage cheese and gelatin together until they form a smooth and creamy consistency.
  • Homemade Whipped Cream – Whipped cream is the foundation for this salad, but you can totally use cool whip instead. More details on the difference between the two is listed below.
  • Strawberries and Crushed Pineapple – Finally add in your favorite fruit or other mix-ins. Fresh strawberries and canned crushed pineapple taste heavenly with this version. As a side note, you can’t use fresh pineapple with this recipe because it contains an enzyme that prevents the gelatin from setting.

Homemade Whipped Cream vs. Frozen Whipped Topping

We try to make things from scratch when we can, so we opted for homemade whipped cream in this jello salad. However, homemade whipped cream isn’t as stable as frozen whipped topping. If you plan to set this dessert outside at potlucks or parties, consider using cool whip or a store-bought whipped topping as these will hold their texture a bit longer. There are also ways to stabilize homemade whipped cream and make it last longer, usually by adding additional ingredients. Here’s a great article from Food52 about ways to stabilize whipped cream.

How to Store Jello Salad

We stored this Jello Salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator and it was still delicious the next day. It will last a day or two in the refrigerator, any longer than that and the whipped cream starts to slowly deflate. So be sure to share this dreamy dessert with your family and friends or gobble it all up yourself within a day or so!

Jello salad in 3 mason jars with sliced strawberry on top.

Let us know in the comments if you remember this classic, sweet dessert! ;)

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Jello Salad

5 from 3 votes
Jello salad is a sweet, creamy, popular dessert that’s easy to make and always a crowd favorite for potlucks, picnics, and holidays!
Overhead photo of a whole full of jello salad topped with sliced strawberries.
Servings 7 (about 1 cup each)
Prep 15 minutes
Refrigerate Time 2 hours
Total 2 hours 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 oz strawberry flavored gelatin ($0.89)
  • 2 cups cottage cheese, small curd ($1.86)
  • 20 oz canned crushed pineapple in juice (drained & juice reserved)* ($1.49)
  • 1/2 lb fresh strawberries ($1.49)
  • 1 cup cold heavy whipping cream* ($1.37)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract ($0.72)
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar ($0.05)
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Instructions 

  • Wash, remove the stems, and quarter the strawberries. Feel free to cut any large pieces in half again. Set the strawberries to the side.
  • With a strainer and a small bowl, drain the crushed pineapples really well and reserve the pineapple juice.
  • In a blender*, add the strawberry gelatin, cottage cheese, and ⅓ cup of the reserved pineapple juice. Blend until smooth then add the mixture to a large bowl.
  • Next make the whipped cream. In a separate metal or glass bowl, preferably a bowl that has been chilled in the refrigerator, add heavy cream, vanilla extract, and granulated sugar. Use a hand mixer or stand mixer to whip the cream on high until stiff peaks form. Stop the mixer occasionally to test the stiffness of the peaks and to avoid over whipping.
  • Now carefully fold the whipped cream into the strawberry gelatin mixture.
  • Add the crushed pineapples and chopped strawberries to the bowl and carefully fold them into the whipped cream mixture until everything is evenly distributed.
  • Refrigerate jello salad for at least 2 hours so the ingredients have a chance to set and chill before serving. Enjoy!

See how we calculate recipe costs here.


Notes

*You can’t use fresh pineapple with this recipe because it contains an enzyme that will prevent the gelatin from setting. 
*An 8 oz container of store-bought whipped topping can be used in place of the homemade whipped cream.
*We use a blender to whip the cottage cheese and gelatin together until they form a smooth consistency. This helps break down the texture of cottage cheese.
 

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 295kcalCarbohydrates: 33gProtein: 9gFat: 15gSodium: 256mgFiber: 2g
Read our full nutrition disclaimer here.
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Jello salad in 3 mason jars with sliced strawberry on top.

How to Make Jello Salad – Step by Step Photos

Chopped strawberries on a white cutting board.

Wash, remove the stems and quarter 1/2 pound of strawberries. Feel free to cut any large pieces in half again.

Crushed pineapples with the juice drained into a separate bowl.

Drain a 20 oz can of crushed pineapples really well and reserve 1/3 cup of the pineapple juice.

Strawberry gelatin, cottage cheese and pineapple juice in a blender.

In a blender, add a 3 oz package of strawberry flavored gelatin, 2 cups of small curd cottage cheese, and 1/3 cup of reserved pineapple juice.

Strawberry gelatin, cottage cheese and pineapple juice blended in blender.

Blend until smooth then add the mixture to a large bowl.

Whipped cream in a mixing bowl.

In a separate metal or glass bowl, add 1 cup heavy cream, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and 2 Tbsp granulated sugar. Use a hand mixer or stand mixer to whip the cream on high until stiff peaks form. Stop the mixer occasionally to test the stiffness of the peaks and to avoid over whipping.

Strawberry gelatin mixture and whipped cream folded together.

Now carefully fold the whipped cream into the strawberry gelatin mixture.

Chopped strawberries and crushed pineapple added to strawberry gelatin.

Add the crushed pineapples and chopped strawberries to the bowl and carefully fold them into the whipped cream mixture until everything is evenly distributed.

Jello Salad fully mixed together.

Refrigerate the jello salad for at least 2 hours so the ingredients have a chance to set and chill before serving.

Jello salad in 4 mason jars with one jar being filled

Enjoy by serving in a serving bowl or portion them into fun, individual sized mason jars. Either way this is sure to be a big hit at your next occasion! ;)

Overhead photo of a bowl of jello salad, topped with sliced strawberries and a spoon scooping a small serving out.
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Comments

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  1. My grandma used to make a variation of this, with peaches and peach Jell-o. She didn’t use a blender, but she would mix the Jell-o with the peaches, then fold in the cottage cheese, and lastly, she would fold in the Cool Whip.

  2. We also make it with orange jello and drained mandarin orange slices put walnuts in it for some crunch. Our family calls it Pink Stuff or Orange Stuff. It was a holiday staple in my family growing up.

  3. I remember my aunt making this with Jello brand pistachio pudding instead of jello.

  4. But what if I don’t have a blender? Is there another way I can blend the ingredients? 😢

    1. If you have an immersion blender or food processor you can use those OR just do it the old school way and don’t blend them at all. :) Most people don’t blend them, but we preferred the smooth texture to having the cottage cheese curds.

    2. Christina T. – Check out your Goodwill or similar store. It should be easy to pick up an inexpensive blender with which you can do many things.

      Now, I’m ready to make this Jello Salad for my church supper.

  5. I make orange fluff, similar but with mandarin oranges, pineapple and orange jello. I don’t blend the cottage cheese, just dump everything together. So good!

  6. Pink Fluffy is demanded at every holiday dinner in my family. You make it complicated though! Red jello, any flavor. Lg container small curd, large container cool whip, large can crushed pineapple. Drain the cottage cheese and the pineapple getting as much liquid out as possible. Dump them in a big bowl. Add the small box or half a large box jello. Fold in cool whip. Refrigerate overnight. Smack hands to keep people out of it. Stir well before serving if your family didn’t eat it all first. Make sure you hide some for yourself.

  7. YESSSSSSSSSSSS

    Get real midwest with it and add some of the mini multi colored marshmellows. Never fewer than 3 flavors of this when I go home to small town Wisconsin for family gatherings.

  8. This recipe reminds me of summer as a kid. I never would have thought to add cottage cheese, I think my relatives just used all whipped cream instead? In any case, I can’t wait to try this version.

  9. Did you mean 3 Oz or did you mean 0.3 Oz for the amount of gelatin used? A box is usually about 0.3 Oz and 10 boxes seems like a mistake to me.

    1. Hi Ruth, I just checked the product packaging and it is a 3 oz. box of strawberry gelatin (Jell-O). Perhaps you’re thinking of the small packets of unflavored gelatin?

    2. I think the confusion might be due to the recipe calling for a flavored gelatin that is sweetened by sugar.

      If you are using a sugar free flavored gelatin, such as sugar free Jello, a 0.3 oz box makes the same amount of Jello as a 3 oz box of regular, old-fashioned, sugar sweetened Jello.

      Either kind of Jello would work in this recipe. If you are using the normal, sugar sweetened kind, use a 3 oz box. If you are using the zero sugar kind, use a .3 oz box.

  10. Looking forward to making this! I haven’t had Jello salad since I was a kid. You may want to add a note stressing that you MUST use canned pineapple in this recipe, as fresh pineapple prevents gelatin from setting.