Cranberry Jello with Mandarin Oranges and Pecans or Walnuts

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Looking for a delicious side dish for your holiday meal? This cranberry jello salad recipe uses cherry jello, canned cranberry sauce, mandarin oranges, sour cream and nuts of choice.

If there is one type of recipe that screams vintage to me, it is a recipe that is shaped into some kind of mold! Haha! Do you agree?

 While I feel that Jello molded desserts and salads are something of the past…I think we need to bring them back! Seriously, they taste so good!

 I’m sharing a recipe that my whole family all looks forward to my mother-in-law making every year. It’s one of those dishes that doubles as a dessert or a side dish!…I’ll let you decide which one you think it is!

Looking for a delicious side dish for your holiday meal? This cranberry jello salad recipe uses cherry jello, canned cranberry sauce, mandarin oranges, sugar, sour cream and nuts of choice.

When my husband and I started celebrating holidays together, I was introduced to a whole new menu of holiday side dishes. While I have to admit, I am partial to the dishes that I grew up with, like holiday ham – simply because they are what I’m used to so they feel like “home” – my favorite “new” side dish is one that my mother-in-law makes.

While my husband and I grew up in the same town, we went to college {together} two states away. With us being so far away from home, we really only came home for the major holidays. Then to make things even better, when we graduated, we moved 1,000 miles away! ha!

The struggle of who to spend the holidays with was real. We both have {much} younger siblings so it was important for us to celebrate with both sides.

For many holidays, our families combined and ate the holiday meal together to make things easier. My mom usually hosted and we would enjoy all of her holiday regulars and my mother-in-law would bring dishes that my hubby’s side of the family enjoyed.

One of those dishes was a cranberry jello with mandarin oranges and nuts. My sister LOVED it! She looked forward to that jello salad every holiday! …as did the rest of us..and now my kiddos!

Is there a side dish that you look forward to every holiday? What is it? Tell me in the comments!

Truth be told, I’m not really sure if this cranberry jello constitutes as a side dish or a dessert. It really works as both! And if you’re a kid, you say it’s a side dish and then only eat dessert for dinner! HAHAHAHA! Either way, it’s delicious, so let me share with you how to make it!

Looking for a delicious side dish for your holiday meal? This cranberry jello salad recipe uses cherry jello, canned cranberry sauce, mandarin oranges,  sour cream and nuts of choice.

Cranberry Jello with Mandarin Oranges and Walnuts or Pecans Ingredients

  • canned cranberry sauce – this recipe calls for whole berry canned cranberry sauce. If you’re unable to find whole berry, using the regular canned cranberry sauce is totally fine.
  • cherry gelatin (Jello) – cherry flavored gelatin mix is preferred, however, I’ve heard of others using raspberry Jello. This is definitely based off of personal preferences.
  • hot boiling water – gelatin recipes always call for boiling water before adding in the powder mixture, and then adding in cold water to stop the cooking process. However, with this recipe, you omit the cold water part. Less water is used and it is only hot, boiling water.
  • mandarin oranges – to avoid a watery cranberry orange jello, you must drain the can of mandarin oranges completely. I like to pour my can of oranges into a mesh strainer to ensure that all of the sugary liquid is removed.
  • sour cream – when my mother-in-law gave me this recipe, I honestly thought she mistyped it. I couldn’t picture adding sour cream to Jello. I would have thought it would have been a sugary product more like Cool-Whip. But believe me, it is supposed to be sour cream!
  • nuts – while this recipe calls for walnuts, this can be changed based on personal preferences. I’ve used walnuts and pecans and both have tasted great. The key is to rough chop them – not too small and not too big!

The Trick for Successful Cranberry Jello Salad

When my mother-in-law first shared this recipe with me a zillion years ago, she put on the recipe “read the entire recipe first!” And I will tell you, from years of making this now myself, I have messed up this SUPER easy recipe more times than I can count!

This truly is one of the most simple recipes I’ve ever made, however, it’s easy to get distracted making other side dishes, etc that I forget to add the other ingredients once the Jello starts to set up. Setting a timer for a reminder is a must!

Let’s Make It Together!

In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil, add Jello.

Step 1: In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil, add Jello.

Mix in cranberry sauce and stir

Cranberry Jello with Mandarin Oranges and Walnuts or Pecans Ingredients

Add sour cream

Cranberry Jello with Mandarin Oranges and Walnuts or Pecans Ingredients

Using a whisk, mix sour cream thoroughly with the Jello

Looking for a delicious side dish for your holiday meal? This cranberry jello salad recipe uses cherry jello, canned cranberry sauce, mandarin oranges, sour cream and nuts of choice.

Place mixture into a large bowl – this bowl is just a temporary holding place until later. Place in refrigerator and set a timer for 30 minutes. The goal is to have the Jello partially set up {slightly “harden”, before adding in the other ingredients. If the other ingredients are added to the Jello mixture when it is too liquid-y, they will sink to the bottom and won’t be throughout the Jello. **Tip: if the Jello mixture is not partially solidified at the 30 minute timer, set a timer to recheck every 10 minutes. This is where I always mess up and forget to recheck!

When the Jello is partially set up, gently stir in very well drained mandarin oranges and chopped nuts. Pour the entire mixture into a pretty serving bowl or Jello ring mold. Refrigerate until fully set up. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve. (sorry, I forgot to finish taking pictures!)

Looking for a delicious side dish for your holiday meal? This cranberry jello salad recipe uses cherry jello, canned cranberry sauce, mandarin oranges, sour cream and nuts of choice.

FAQ’s

Can you double the recipe? Yes! Make everything the same way, just double the quantities of the ingredients

What other ingredients can you use? While looking over other recipes, I have found that some people add in crushed pineapples or fresh cranberries in addition to the ingredients used in my recipe. Another great “salad” is my celebration salad!

Does it matter which type of nut you use? Nope! It’s all based off of personal preference.

Looking for a delicious side dish for your holiday meal? This cranberry jello salad recipe uses cherry jello, canned cranberry sauce, mandarin oranges, sugar, sour cream and nuts of choice.

Cranberry Jello with Mandarin Oranges and Pecans or Walnuts

Stephanie | Gathered In The Kitchen
Looking for a delicious side dish for your holiday meal? This cranberry jello salad recipe uses cherry jello, canned cranberry sauce, mandarin oranges, sour cream and nuts of choice.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 8 people

Ingredients
  

  • 1 3oz Cherry Jello gelatin package
  • 1 c boiling water
  • 1 16oz can cranberry sauce
  • 1/2 c sour cream
  • 1 11oz can of mandarin oranges
  • 1/4 c chopped walnuts

Instructions
 

  • In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil, add Jello. Using a whisk, stir in sour cream. Be sure to mix it thoroughly with the Jello. Mix in cranberry sauce and stir.
  • Place mixture into a large bowl – this bowl is just a temporary holding place until later. Place in refrigerator and set a timer for 30 minutes. The goal is to have the Jello partially set up {slightly "harden", before adding in the other ingredients. If the other ingredients are added to the Jello mixture when it is too liquid-y, they will sink to the bottom and won't be throughout the Jello. **Tip: if the Jello mixture is not partially solidified at the 30 minute timer, set a timer to recheck every 10 minutes. This is where I always mess up and forget to recheck!
  • When the Jello is partially set up, gently stir in very well drained mandarin oranges and chopped nuts. Pour the entire mixture into a pretty serving bowl or mold. Refrigerate until fully set up. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
Keyword dessert salad, holiday food, jello salad
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Holiday Cranberry Jello with Mandarin Oranges and Nuts

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3 Comments

  1. Rm Parker says:

    I wondered what the inside turned out like in this recipe?

    Is it more like a jello or like a cake type jello from adding
    the add’l content ingredients?

    While I hope to perhaps try this receipe, I sort of hoped
    to learn abit more prior to jumping off the cliff…lol

    1. Hi Rm, The inside is very dense. It’s neither jello-like or cake-like per say. It’s a creamy jello (because of the sour cream) mixed with all of the nuts and fruit. It’s super yummy! Hope you give it a try!

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