Cranberry Fluff Salad is practically a required side dish for Thanksgiving. Both my mom and mother-in-law occasionally served their delicious versions of Cranberry Fluff Salad for Thanksgiving.

Ground cranberries, crushed pineapple, mini marshmallows, and whipped cream are the basic ingredients in this Cranberry Salad. There are so many tasty variations. This is mine.

Cranberry Fluff Salad in a white bowl.

Why You Must Make

  • My mom would add nuts to this mixture and so did my mother-in-law along with chopped apples and sliced grapes. The options are endless. My version is very basic. No nuts in case one of my children or hubby would dare to take a taste.
  • It’s a winner whether it’s scaled-down or packed full of a variety of textures and flavors.
  • It’s one of those “salads” that is more like a dessert.
  • This is a blast from the past. I first had it back in the 1970s, when jello salads were de rigeur. That was my mom’s version. But then later in life, my MIL served it one holiday we were visiting them. It’s still a classic Thanksgiving recipe decades later!
Labeled cranberry fluff ingredients on a metal sheet pan.

Ingredient Notes:

  • Pantry staples: Regular granulated sugar
  • A bag of fresh cranberries – You can even use frozen cranberries
  • Crushed pineapple – Drain well so your salad isn’t watery
  • Mini marshmallows – Or cut regular marshmallows in half or in quarters
  • Heavy cream – Should be 36% butterfat

How to Make

Numbered process shots 1, 2 for making cranberry fluff.
  1. Chop cranberries in a food processor.
  2. Combine with sugar and refrigerate overnight.
Numbered process shots 3, 4 for making cranberry fluff.
  1. Gather the ingredients, toss them together, and whip the cream.
  2. Fold the cream into the cranberry mixture. Chill until ready to serve.
Cranberry Fluff Salad in glass dishes.

Best Thanksgiving Side Dishes

You’d think a Thanksgiving salad would be full of classic autumnal ingredients like an Apple, Cherry, Walnut Salad. Plus I’d expect an actual salad with fresh greens and vegetables. But on holidays, the rules can be bent, and salads full of cream and marshmallows like this cranberry fluff salad fly under the radar!

When it comes to Thanksgiving, I’m really not allowed to shake up the menu. I can always add an extra dish, but there are some that are a tradition and must be included. My Spinach Souffle, Holiday Fruit Salad, Creamy Mashed Potatoes, Stuffing or Dressing, Turkey (of course!), and Gravy are a given. Classic Pumpkin Pie for dessert plus a second, usually chocolate, pie.

But sometimes I add a little something that only I will eat. In homage to both my moms, I recreated this fresh cranberry salad (more like a dessert, but heck, it’s Thanksgiving!) for our holiday table. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Grind Cranberries?

It’s easy to grind cranberries in a food processor. Just pulse until the cranberries look finely chopped. This can be done with either fresh or frozen cranberries.

Can You Make Cranberry Fluff Ahead of Time?

Yes! In fact, it must be started the day before, so the cranberries and sugar have a chance to meld. This salad will last for a few days in the refrigerator, just stir again before serving if needed.

Does Cranberry Fluff Freeze Well?

The Cool Whip version might freeze well because of all the artificial ingredients and nature of that ingredient. I haven’t frozen this cranberry fluff made with real cream before, but I’d be concerned the whipped cream could deflate, separating into solids and water.

Instead, I’d prepare all the ingredients ahead of time. Grind the cranberries, drain the pineapple, measure out the marshmallows, and store them in an airtight container. This will definitely streamline the process.

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Cranberry Fluff Salad in a white bowl

Cranberry Fluff Salad Recipe

Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Yield 8 servings

A dreamy cranberry salad perfect for Thanksgiving.


  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries, frozen, then thawed cranberries (fresh or frozen also work)
  • ½ cup sugar (may add another ½ cup if you find the mixture too tart after has time to meld.)
  • 8 ounces crushed pineapple, drained
  • 2 cups mini-marshmallows
  • 1 cup heavy cream


  1. Chop cranberries in a food processor. Remove to a bowl. Mix in sugar, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Add well-drained pineapple and marshmallows. Mix to combine.
  3. Whip heavy cream to stiff peaks. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the cream into the cranberry mixture.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


The mixture of sugar and ground cranberries needs to be refrigerated overnight. So start this salad the day before you plan to serve it.

Total time does not include chilling time.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 232Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 34mgSodium: 20mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 2gSugar: 27gProtein: 1g


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This recipe comes with sweet memories. We lost my MIL this year and my mom the year before. Both were terrific cooks, with my mom being more adventurous with her palate and recipes and my MIL the queen of good old-fashioned comfort food. Eating at either home was always a pleasure and I am blessed to have many of their handwritten recipes.