Mom's Thanksgiving Cranberry Salad

Mom's Thanksgiving Cranberry Salad

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Gary Hancq


This has been a family Thanksgiving Tradition for as long as I can remember. Mom passed away in 1988 and I revived the tradition a year later.

I've made this ever since and it's been one of my contributions to the family table for this Special Day. The Cream Cheese Topping makes this dish. Cut into squares to serve.

It could be modified for other Special Occasions. It takes a little effort, but well worth it.


★★★★★ 2 votes

15 to 20 servings
2 Hr


  • 2 lb
    fresh cranberries (2 bags)
  • 2/3 c
  • 1 3/4 c
    water for boiling cranberries
  • 1 c
    celery diced fine
  • 2 c
    white or light grapes seedless cut in half
  • 1 can(s)
    crushed pineapple with juice 20 oz.
  • 2 pkg
    cherry jell-o 3 oz. each
  • 1 pkg
    cream cheese 8 oz.
  • 1 c
    whipping cream or cool whip
  • 16
    marshmallows cut up or 2 cups miniature
  • 2/3 c
    english walnuts (optional)
  • 1 c
    carrots shredded (optional)
  • 1 pkg
    additional box of jell-o for backup see note

How to Make Mom's Thanksgiving Cranberry Salad


  1. In large pan or bowl rinse cranberries and pick through for bruised or undesirable cranberries. Drain and place in pan with 1 3/4 cups of water. Bring to boil and low simmer. Add the 2/3 cup of suger and stir well. Simmer until cranberries pop open and are tender. 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Remove cranberries from heat, ladle off about a cup of the juices and allow to cool for 10 or 15 minutes. I put them in a 9" by 13" cake pan of which it will be served from.
  3. Add 2 packages of dry Cherry Jell-O (You could use any red Jell-O), and stir well. Add the can of crushed Pineapple, Celery and Grapes and stir well again. Shredded Carrots are optional but work well.
  4. Place above ingredients in a 9" by 13" cake pan. (I use a covered cake pan with lid). Refrigerate overnight so Jell-O sets.
  5. In separate bowl combine Cream Cheese, Cool Whip and Marshmallows (large cut up or miniature), stir well. Refrigerate this overnight so Marshmallows melt somewhat.
  6. Next morning with hand mixer beat the Cream Cheese mixture until smooth and combined. Spread on top of firm Cranberry Jell-O.
  7. To serve mark off and score squares in pan and top each serving with English Walnuts (Optional). Slice into squares and serve in individual small bowls or plates.
  8. Note: Jello has to be firm and hold it's shape in the cut squares, to be nicely presented. Covered this holds up well for a week in the fridge. Brother and Sisters always opt to take a serving or two home with them.
  9. My biggest fear is that the Jell-O wont firm up in 3 or 4 hours. There have been times when it hasn't. Notably this past Thanksgiving. There is some guess work in the amount of liquids being used, from the Cranberry juice from cooking and the crushed canned Pineapple. To save and resurrect what might be a failure, I add the contents of another package of Jell-O to one cup boiling water and dissolve well. Then mix and thoroughly combine this with the failed to set Jell-O. This has worked on every attempt, the Jell-O has firmed up and has saved the day.

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