Nov 11

Holiday Cranberry Salad {Cream Cheese Cranberry Salad}

Holiday Cranberry Salad

I honestly don't remember when this recipe first started making an appearance at our family's Thanksgiving dinner table. Somewhere along the way a lovely little slice of this made its way to a separate plate at my place setting.

Yes, I said a separate plate. Have I mentioned that I absolutely cannot stand to have my food touch? Can't. stand. it. So if you're planning to invite me to a large dinner at your house, you'd best be sure you have extra plates available for this mama.

Holiday Cranberry Salad Ingredients

Back to the cranberry salad -- if that's what you really want to call it. I'm sure I turned my nose up at it at first. After all, it was made with cranberries, and in my mind cranberries were sour, and slightly tough, and not at all appealing to my young palate. And then I took my obligatory bite... and my world was forever changed. Seriously.

Cranberry Jell-O Mixture

The pineapple adds just enough sweetness to counter the tartness of the cranberries, and the cream cheese/sour cream topping -- well, how can you go wrong with that combination?

Truthfully, it's more of a dessert, but if you're coming to my house for Thanksgiving, you'll find it served as a side with the turkey and all of the trimmings. And who's counting anyhow?!?

Cream Cheese Cranberry Salad

Yield: 16 servings

Cream Cheese Cranberry Salad


  • 2 small packages raspberry Jell-O
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1 20-oz. can crushed pineapple
  • 1 can whole cranberry sauce
  • 3/4 cup cranberry juice
  • 1 cup pecans (toasted or untoasted), chopped
  • 1 8-oz. package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream


  1. Dissolve Jell-O in boiling water.
  2. Add crushed pineapple (juice and all), cranberry sauce, Jell-O mixture, cranberry juice and pecans, reserving some pecans to sprinkle on top. Mix well.
  3. Pour into a 9"x12" glass dish and refrigerate until firm.
  4. Cream together cream cheese, sugar and sour cream until smooth.
  5. When the Jell-O mixture is firm, spread the creamed ingredients on top.
  6. Sprinkle chopped pecans on top.

by Tara | 60 comments

  • Liz@HoosierHomemade

    That looks divine Tara! I usually am the only one eating the "canned" cranberries, I'm definitely adding this to my list!
    Thanks so much for joining us for the Thanksgiving Dinner!

    • Tara

      Thanks, Liz! Hope your family enjoys it too. :)

  • Laura

    YUM! I make a similar version minus the topping. I am gonna have to try your version because the topping sounds delish!

  • MT

    couple of questions: how much cranb juice? and do we use the juice from pineapple or drain it?
    can hardly wait to try it...looks delish!

    • Tara

      Oops, I guess I left that off the ingredients list! You need 3/4 cup of cranberry juice -- or you can substitute water if you prefer the Jell-O part to be a little less tart. Use the whole can of crushed pineapple, juice and all.

      I'd love to hear what you think after trying it! Even my ultra-picky 4yo daughter loves it.

  • Aimee @ Simple Bites

    Dessert first? Count me in!! Love the vibrant color; great dish, Tara!

  • April in CT

    Best beeeee-lieve I just added this to my Thanksgiving menu!!

  • Laurie

    I used to make this all the time for a large Baptist church in North Carolina in the winter time for family suppers. It was a recipe given to me by one of the church members and I didn't think it would be very good when I saw the ingredient list.

    I was SO SO SO wrong. Amazing! It is delicious. I crave it still.

    • Tara

      It really is! I love when we have people over that have never tried it -- they'll kind of raise one eyebrow and ask for just a small piece. Inevitably they're the first ones asking for seconds on it.

      I toasted the pecans this year, and it was even better!

  • Tiffany

    My mom makes this recipe and it is so very good! I love anything that can be called a salad but is really dessert-like ;-)

  • Karen Pollard

    Oh my, this looks delicious! I'm definitely making it for Thanksgiving. It's not only tasty sounding, it's pretty to boot!

  • Jan

    Any chance this can be made the day before it's to be served? Is it equally tasty and fresh?

    • Tara

      Oh, you can definitely make it the day before -- I usually do! Or you could prepare the Jell-O base the night before and then put the cream cheese mixture on the next day.

  • Edie

    This looks delicious!!! Thanks! Please tell me why Deal Seeking Moms posts quit showing up on my page? I used to get them. Someone told me to unlike, then relike....that didn't are not hidden or blocked....I tried to type you in under 'show more posts' and your name doesn't come up.....but fb still shows me liking DSM???? I miss you!!!!!!!!!

    • Tara

      Hmm, I don't know why that would happen. You could try subscribing to the Networked Blog feed and see if that helps: Thanks!

    • AndreaK

      Dunno if this is true for you, but I know I subscribe to 4 blogs on Facebook. Sometimes Facebook will choose to show me 1 of their posts then say something like "4 more posts from Network Blogs". If I click that, it'll show the others in their correct order on my page. hth

  • AndreaK

    Awesome! And I'm so gonna make this. We do one veery similar with strawberries instead of cranberries, but I know this one will be just as scrumptious! Thanks for sharing! Just found this blog tho I've been a DSM fan for over a year. :)

  • Joyce

    Looks & sounds great, but is there a printer friendly link?

    • Tara

      I added a printer-friendly link for you, Joyce. It's not the most attractive thing, but it will work for now!

  • Gail

    We have been having this in my family for Thanksgiving and Christmas for at least 40 years. It's been passed down for 3 generations that I know of. It's always a huge hit. I skipped it one year, and my family kept asking for it. Will never do that again :-)

  • Pamela

    Looks wonderful and I am printing it to try at Christmas or later this week with leftovers! I am no way, not, nada going to the store anymore today! :)

  • Sarah

    YUMMY!!!!!!!!!! Can't wait to try it!!! Thanks for sharing!!!

  • Tammy

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! I am going to add it to the menu and show up with it at my Mom's house for Thanksgiving, and maybe even for Christmas! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

  • JaiKai

    I've made this for many years but I've never used Cranberry Jello, I use lemon, I use ginger ale instead of the cranberry juice, and I have never tried adding sour cream. Your version is one that will go out the door this year and I will wait to see if anyone Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    • Joann Byrd

      I have been making this for several years my family loves it but I don,t use no kind of juice plus I use 1 cranberry jello and 1 raspberry jello and 2 cups boiling water. 1 -15.oz. crushed pineapple undrained and 1 can wholeberry cranberry sauce mix all this together and place in fridge until sets well, then mix 1 - 8 oz.softened cream cheese with 8 oz. sour cream 1/2 cup white sugar and 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla mix well and place on top of cranberry mixtureplace nuts on top. and enjoy

  • Connie

    I am going to try this recipe. It's sounds delicious! It's always nice to find new things to try. Thanks:)

  • Devonna Malesky

    I make a similar version with ground cranberries and celery and cool whip topping. I cannot wait to try this.

  • April in CT

    I made this as part of our Thanksgiving dessert and it's fantastic!! I did a half recipe and didn't use the juice (thank you for mentioning water as a substitute, I didn't want to buy juice just for this) and it worked great. This will definitely be something we make every year.

  • Kay

    This recipe was very good! I made this for Thanksgiving and got a few requests for the recipe. The topping is wonderful with the jello. I personally would cut down on the water a little because the jello seemed to be a little watery when I dished it. Thanks for the great recipe!

  • MT

    Just wanted to let you know that this was an "over the top" salad! That topping is just WOW. You should have heard the expressions made when it was tasted. I used strawberry jello instd of raspb. and added addt'l water for juice. i've made one similar for years, but mine has chpd apples and celery in the salad too. Thanks again for a wonderful recipe.

    • Bubbie

      Clear, ifnrmoatvie, simple. Could I send you some e-hugs?

  • Hunter

    While I have never had Cranberry Salad, Blueberry Salad AND Strawberry Salad are at every family gathering we have. The recipe is very similar, instead of a can of cranberry sauce, you just use canned blue berries and frozen strawberries. It is definitely a crowd pleaser!!

  • Anna @ Morsels & Musings

    i'm totally with you on the "food touching" thing.

    i always wonder if those people who pile all their food on their plates might be happier throwing the whole lot in a blender and ingesting it with a straw.

    a bit too harsh? perhaps :)

  • Jun

    It looks sounds so yummy! And the photos are beautiful!

  • BrandyU

    Just wanted you to know that I made this over for our second Thanksgiving dinner (at Dad's) and it was a big hit! Thanks for sharing!

  • Valerie

    Tara, this looks delicious. I've had it but never made it. I don't think the version I had included pineapple and pecans. Now that I have the recipe, I'll have to try it.

  • Terra

    Every year I look for a new cranberry dish, I adore cranberries during the holiday's! This dish is just gorgeous, and a perfect mix of flavors! Take care, Terra

  • Linda Tubbs

    I have been looking for this recipe for a long time. I have found others, but this looks just like the one my mom used to make. She passed in 2003. Thank you. It was and will be served at the table also, definately not a dessert here.

    • Tara @ Unsophisticook

      So glad you found my site, Linda. Hope it does your mom's recipe justice!

  • edna cook


  • lanno

    Hi! This will be on my table for Thanksgiving tomorrow! :) But I just need one more detail.... Do we use instant jello or the regular? Looking forward to it! :)

  • Jenna

    I just wanted to let you know that your Cranberry Salad was a big hit with my family yesterday. My dad asked me to make a cranberry salad for Thanksgiving this year, and I said "What on earth is cranberry salad?". I googled it and, after some searching, found your recipe, which looked much better than any of the others that came up. It was very easy to make, and turned out beautifully. Everyone that tried it loved it. Thank you so much for posting it!

    • Tara @ Unsophisticook

      Yay -- thanks for sharing, Jenna!

  • Juli

    My grandma used to always make this for everything. We call it "port au fino" salad cause the lady that gave her the recipe always made it with port. Now I make it with home bottled grape juice.

    • Juli

      I also for got the mention that I have started adding grated apple and I love it in there.

  • Deborah

    How long does it take for the jello to solidify?

    • Tara @ Unsophisticook

      It shouldn't take more than a couple of hours, Deborah.


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  • Laura

    Wow! This is nearly identical to my grandmother's recepie, except she added 1/2 sugar and 1 cup chopped celery to the jello mixture. I will have to add the topping to her recipe. Best of both worlds!

  • Connie

    What are you referring to by "liquid mixture"?

    • Tara @ Unsophisticook

      I'm referring to the Jell-O that was dissolved in the boiling water. Sorry if that was unclear, Connie!

  • Jill

    This is what my mom calls our holiday salad we have it only on thanksgiving and chistmas. But you are missing bananas and we parfait it with tge cream in the middle yum

  • jackie

    What is "liquid mixture"?

    • Tara @ Unsophisticook

      The liquid mixture is the boiling water/Jell-O mixture. I'll update the recipe so that's clear, Jackie!

  • Elise

    This taste fantastic! But mine still isn't set after 8 hours:/. Do you think it's from using fresh pineapple instead of canned? Any tricks to make it gel? ie. Cook over... add more water...Thanks!

    • Tara @ Unsophisticook

      Hmm, I'm not sure if fresh pineapple would cause it not to gel. Did you mix the Jell-O with the boiling water before adding the other liquids?

  • Elise

    I did everything correct. It was the fresh pineapple. Apparently there is an enzyme in fresh fruit that isn't in canned. So canned is always better. I salvaged it by draining the liquid and mixing the fruit with cream cheese, sour cream and sugar. Still taste great just not jello. Haha!

    • Tara @ Unsophisticook

      Wow, I had no idea... Thanks for sharing, and I'm glad it still tasted great!

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