mom’s green jello salad

I’m going to share with you a dirty little family secret. It’s the recipe that my family can’t resist, the one that’s only served at Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you are into eating only unprocessed and organic foods, you should look away now. Seriously, look away.

Are you ready? This is the secret:

mom's green jello salad | the merry gourmet

My mom’s Green Jello Salad. It’s not really a salad, as you can plainly see from the photo, but for some reason, these concoctions made with Jello are called Jello salad. When this dish is on the table during our holiday meal, there are rarely leftovers. The kids love it, and they usually fight over who gets the maraschino cherries. The adults love it, even though guests are commonly puzzled by what’s exactly in it.

mom's green jello salad | the merry gourmet

The ingredients are very simple. Lime-flavored gelatin, cottage cheese, Cool Whip, pineapple, and nuts. And don’t forget the maraschino cherries for decoration, or you’ll have some angry children on your hands.

mom's green jello salad | the merry gourmet

I wish I could say that this dish is so much better when I whip the whipped cream by hand using heavy cream or if I avoid the artificially-sweet crimson cherries on top, but it’s really not. This is a side dish – or dessert – that must be made with all of the processed ingredients, exactly as written. I have years and years of taste memories associated with Mom’s Green Jello Salad, and those aren’t found in any altered version of this recipe.

So, while the other dishes on the table at Christmas will be made from scratch using the best fruits and vegetables I can find in my organic market, there will be this one completely processed, as-opposite-of-organic-as-you-can-get dish on my menu.

And you know what? We’ll all go back for seconds.

mom's green jello salad | the merry gourmet

Yield: 6-8 servings

Mom's Green Jello Salad


3 ounce package lime-flavored Jello gelatin
6 ounces cold pineapple juice
1 cup of Cool Whip
1/2 cup small curd cottage cheese
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
8 ounces crushed pineapple, drained
6 maraschino cherries (or more, depending on your love for maraschino cherries)


Add 1 cup boiling water to gelatin in a bowl; stir 2 minutes or until completely dissolved. Stir in the cold pineapple juice. Refrigerate 2 hours, or until half-set.

Remove from refrigerator and add in the Cool Whip, cottage cheese, chopped nuts, and crushed pineapple. Mix until very well incorporated. Garnish with maraschino cherries and chill for at least one hour before serving.

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29 Responses to “mom’s green jello salad”

  1. 1
    Kate @ Savour Fare — December 12, 2010 @ 5:40 pm

    Love it! Right up there with my grandmother’s tomato aspic (made with lemon jello, natch) for beloved family horrors.

  2. 2
    Kristina @ spabettie — December 12, 2010 @ 5:49 pm

    we have the same “salad” !! 🙂 ours is made with cream cheese instead of cottage, and we’ve never added maraschinos to it, but the rest is the same!! I have never seen anyone else make this!!

    AND… we don’t have it each Thanksgiving + Christmas anymore, in fact it has been a few years… but YESTERDAY I told my mom I was making it for Christmas this year! I can’t wait.

  3. 3
    Macaroni Mama — December 12, 2010 @ 6:39 pm

    Thanks MJ. We ALL love this green jello salad. But I do think we should give it a name instead of green jello salad. I know. Let’s let Maddie and Oliver name it.

  4. 4
    Brian @ A Thought For Food — December 12, 2010 @ 9:56 pm

    So festive! I love jello salads… which seems like a funny thing to say. Just grew up with it (one of my grandmother’s staples).

  5. 5
    Barbara @ Vino Luci Style — December 13, 2010 @ 2:51 pm

    I remember as a young cook that salads like this were a part of every pot luck get together I went to and as a result ended up on my table too. It’s been a few years but I’m salivating at the thought of that old fashioned goodness! Nice trip down memory lane Merry Jennifer!

  6. 6
    Nancy@acommunaltable — December 13, 2010 @ 10:12 pm

    I love it!!! My mother used to make a very similar salad although it wasn’t nearly that fluffy!! She would make it in a pyrex dish and cut it into triangles (to resemble a christmas tree) with a maraschino cherry at the top and an olive at the bottom for the trunk!!

    I am so glad you posted this. I haven’t thought of that salad in years and now I want to go and dig up the recipe!!

  7. 7
    Tes — December 14, 2010 @ 10:15 am

    Wow that looks so beautiful. It looks so gentle amd comforting! I definitely have to try this jello salad 🙂

  8. 8
    Belinda — December 14, 2010 @ 5:36 pm

    I have an orange jello salad that is very similar and it is Erica’s favorite. It has orange jello, Cool Whip, cottage cheese, mandarin oranges, and crushed pineapple. She will definitely have to try the green salad at Christmas and so will I! 🙂

  9. 9
    Jason Phelps — December 15, 2010 @ 10:59 am

    This is a classic!! I never pondered what was in it, I just ate it.

    Thanks for sharing some secrets.


  10. 10
    rebecca — December 16, 2010 @ 8:12 am

    love the green and red color very festive

  11. 11
    Amelia — January 20, 2011 @ 10:10 am

    We make this with yogert instead of cottage cheese and call it “watergate salad” or “green junk”, lol.

  12. 12
    sweetsugarbelle — June 8, 2011 @ 6:56 am

    Hahahaha, okay now I’m back at familiar. We eat this stuff. And if you had askeme before finding this post I’d of lied and said I don’t know what you’re talking about. We only eay it twice a year too, but over processed and inorganic or not, it’s good stuff!!!

  13. 13
    Doralee Young — November 25, 2011 @ 9:27 pm

    I just made this for my daughter to take to her first pot luck dinner as an adult.
    Making it with her brought back sweet memories of Holiday dinners when she was a child. The children always fought over the cherries and now all of those children are grown up and at this party now. I wonder if there will be trouble at the buffet table?!

  14. 14
    Margaret — September 10, 2012 @ 8:57 pm

    Great to see this — my mom’s green jello salad was made in a ring mold, and she used sour cream instead of cottage cheese — but had all of the same lovely ingredients, maraschinos included!

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  17. 15
    Susan — May 23, 2013 @ 1:58 am

    Thank you so much for posting this. I lost my mom last year and this was one of my favorite recipes she made. I wanted to make it for a potluck recently, even though I’d never made it myself. I found her recipe, but it was just a list of ingredients on an index card with the instructions “let set three hours in refrigerator”. I wasn’t sure exactly what to do. I probably would have mixed everything together without dissolving the jello first, had I not found this post 🙂

    I too, try to cook fresh organic ingredients whenever possible but I also agree, there is no substitute for the years and years of memories we have with certain foods. Now that she is gone, I plan on making my mom’s rotation of different jello salads through the seasons. I know it isn’t popular anymore to bring jello salad, but in my experience, everyone usually likes it!! Cheers to all for carrying on this tradition.

    I appreciate this post and I’m happy I figured out to dissolve the jello first! Thank you again, and best wishes to everyone.

  18. 16
    Linda — November 27, 2013 @ 4:39 pm

    Wow, if I hadn’t read your About section, I would have sworn you were from Utah. I’m a Canadian now living in Utah, and Utah is the king of these kinds of salads. One I can think of (that I won’t go near, even with a 5-foot pole) comprises mayo, sweet relish, shrimp, olives, etc. It terrifies me, but my husband’s family gobbles it up.

  19. 17
    Krysta — December 2, 2013 @ 7:32 pm

    We’ve been making this in my family for years and years. We make it exactly the same, but we add Mandarin oranges to it. I can’t think of eating it without them. 😛 It’s magical. It’s rare to find people who know about it, and who actually want to try it because they’re so grossed out by cottage cheese. BUT it’s sooooo gooooood.

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  23. 18
    Wendy — August 3, 2014 @ 6:42 pm

    My grandmother always made this, but with miniature marshmallows added. I may have to make it this year, just for fun.

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  26. 19
    Joy Raskin — September 26, 2017 @ 7:29 pm

    My grandma used to make King salad, as it was the name of this salad. We all grew up on this salad, however, we called it Throwup Salad, for it looked so disgusting, but it was so good. To this day, even through my grandma has been gone for more than 30 years, my mom and I still make Throwup salad time to time. However, grandma used mayo in the recipe. Now, I’m hungry for Throwup salad.

  27. 20
    Cheri Cody — November 21, 2017 @ 2:33 pm

    Can this recipe be doubled?

    • 20.1
      Merry-Jennifer — November 21, 2017 @ 3:05 pm

      Yes, you can definitely double it. I double it if I’m serving more than 8 people (or lots of kids).

  28. 21
    Anonymous — January 7, 2020 @ 5:02 pm

    Thanks for posting this reciepe. It is a favorite for my entire family. After the death of my grandmother in 2005, I have not had the opportunity to make this delicious reciepe, because she never wrote it down, she made it by memory. After visiting with my sister today and telling her I could just taste that green jello salad, I decided to surf the web and and see if there might be a possibility someone had heard of this green salad. And what a SURPRISED I GOT. THERE IT WAS! Lots of people have ate this deliceous ugly GREEN salad. Thanks again!

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