Cranberry Fluff Salad
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. They each had their own variations. This is mine.
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!
- 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
- Chop cranberries in a food processor.
- Combine with sugar and refrigerate overnight.
- Gather the ingredients, toss them together, and whip the cream.
- Fold the cream into the cranberry mixture. Chill until ready to serve.
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
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.
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.
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.
You May Also Like:
- Thanksgiving Spinach Salad with Dried Cranberries, Almonds, and Goat Cheese from Kalyn’s Kitchen
- Spinach Salad with Pears, Cranberries and Candied Pecans
- Holiday Lettuce Salad
- Rainbow Jello
- Ambrosia Salad
- Plus, more of my Best Holiday Recipes
Cranberry Fluff Salad Recipe
A dreamy cranberry salad perfect for Thanksgiving.
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries, frozen, then thawed cranberries (fresh or frozen also work)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 8 ounces crushed pineapple, drained
- 2 cups mini-marshmallows
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Chop cranberries in a food processor. Remove to a bowl. Mix in sugar, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
- Add well drained pineapple and marshmallows. Mix to combine.
- Whip heavy cream to stiff peaks. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the cream into the cranberry mixture. 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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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 232Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 34mgSodium: 20mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 2gSugar: 27gProtein: 1g
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.
90 Comments on “Cranberry Fluff Salad”
I love a good fluff salad! This looks delicious. Perfect side for the holidays!
Who could resist a pink salad?! I think my family’s version involved marshmallow fluff. What a great way to keep family traditions going.
So, my mom used to make a version of this salad that used cottage cheese instead of marshmallows. Have you ever heard of it? I love it, I suppose because I grew up with it, and if you set a bowlful down on a table in front of my siblings and cousins, we’d devour it … but all my friends are completely freaked out by it – which is fine with me, because if i make it, I get it all to myself. Oddly enough, they’re not freaked out by the marshmallow version! They’d love your dish to death, I’m sure!
What a fun way to present the quintessential holiday cranberry side dish. And I love that it’s a family tradition. Hope you and yours had a wonderful Thanksgiving! 🙂 ~Valentina
Lizzy hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving, love your cranberry salad, looks awesome !!
hugs to you
Is it still okay if you don’t refrigerate over night?
Hi, Brenna, It will probably be a little looser, but I think it should still be tasty! Hope you enjoy!
Happy Thanksgiving ! This is beautiful Liz ! I think I couldn’t stop eating it !!!
I have been making this recipe for the last couple years and it is always a hit. I follow your recipe to a T! It really is SO good! Thank you!
I’m so glad, Kelley! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!!
My husband would really love this. It would make a great dessert.
Have not had this salad in ages. It is such a nostalgic recipe. Love it as a dessert at the end of a heavy thanksgiving meal because it is so light and fluffy.
Could I put the cranberries in a blender and pulse them? Can I use cool whip or do I really need the cream? I want to make it for this Thanskgiving. We are invited down to our son and his wife.
It should work with the pulse setting on your blender. You may need to hand chop any pieces that are left a little bigger. As far as the Cool Whip, it should work, but I haven’t tested it. I’d suggest decreasing the sugar a bit as the Cool Whip is already sweet. Good luck and have a great Thanksgiving with your family!
What a wonderful memorial of your mother and MIL, thank you for sharing that.
What a great looking salad! This looks so fluffy and flavorful. Perfect for a Thanksgiving side!
Zoe would love this! I do a frozen version, but alas no marshmallows. We save those for Manservant’s sweet potatoes! Happy Thanksgiving Liz!
Love the color of this — it’s SO outrageous! Such a fun recipe — I can see why this could easily become a family tradition. Thanks!
I always have a chuckle when I see this “salad”, it’s just crazy! Although, having said that, it would probably be very popular on our thanksgiving table! Happy Thanksgiving!
The cranberry salad looks so pretty and festive! Something that I need to try too.
Sounds like a colorful, nice chilled side dish for Thanksgiving! I have to laugh, I wonder if the boys secretly look for a Jello salad these days:@)
Our family has been making cranberry fluff for many many many years. We use the same ingredients except the cranberries, crushed pineapple, marshmallows, and walnuts are all ground in food processor (handful at a time). Then it’s refrigerated overnight with the sugar. Make the whipping cream the next day and mix it all together. Delicious, and you’re right, thanksgivings not the same without it.
Your version sounds yummy. I must give it a try now.
My Mom always made this recipe, only we used cut red grapes opposed to pineapple. I had honestly never seen it anywhere else before. Thank you for sharing it with everyone!