Creamy Cranberry Salad

Special occasion. That’s what this salad is screaming. If you can’t hear it, just take my word for it. I made it last year and have spent approximately 11 1/2 months waiting to share it with you. To me, it belongs to Christmas, but you really could make it anytime you can get your little hands on fresh cranberries.

Creamy Cranberry Salad

I don’t generally use mini marshmallows in anything but the occasional rice krispie treat for the kids and was skeptical last year when I made this that I could justify the marshmallow-effect, but after making, loving and devouring, I’ve decided that once a year, mini marshmallows belong in my salad and on my table.

The entire combination – tart cranberries, sweet pineapple, marshmallows, a touch of cream cheese, and rich cream – is so amazing, it almost defies words. Make sure to plan ahead as the salad tastes worlds better after hanging out in the refrigerator for a while (at least 4 hours but up to 12 is even better) – the texture goes from ordinary to fluffy, creamy, fruity magnificence.

Beautiful, festive and delicious!

Creamy Cranberry Salad

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Cranberry Fluff Christmas Salad

Yield: Makes about 10 or so 1-cup servings

Cranberry Fluff Christmas Salad

The salad may seem a bit liquidy when you first stir it all together - don't worry - that's why it's important for it to chill for a while (and to make sure your cream is beat to stiff peaks when you add it) before serving. It will set up perfectly and the flavors will have a chance to blend together.


  • 12-ounce package fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream


  1. In a food processor (you can use a blender or by hand, also), pulse until the cranberries are coarsely chopped. I don't like really large pieces so I chop them until they are somewhat finely chopped without turning to complete mush.
  2. Add the sugar and pineapple, pulse once or twice, and pour into a container - cover and refrigerate for at least an hour to let the flavors blend.
  3. Stir in the marshmallows.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Pour in the cream and whip until stiff peaks form. Fold the creamy mixture into the salad.
  5. Cover and refrigerate for four hours or up to overnight. It tastes best, in my opinion, if it has at least 8 hours to hang out before serving.

Recipe Source: adapted from Sally at Good Dinner Mom (omitted the nuts, added cream cheese for texture and to stabilize the whipped cream)

46 Responses to Cranberry Fluff Salad

  1. Sheree L says:

    Second Christmas in a row that I’ve made this, but I forgot to comment last time 🙂 We adore this stuff. Like a few others, I cut down the sugar to about 2/3 cup. We were joking around the table on Christmas about how pretty much everything I make is from Mel. You have made me a rock star in the kitchen, so THANK YOU!

  2. Jana says:

    Hi Mel! My sisters introduced me to your site and I have been enjoying it so much. Just wanted to share that we have enjoyed this cranberry fluff recipe tremendously. I am always looking for something to make for Christmas dessert that is fruity, light and festive, but not too prep-intensive. Strawberry pretzel jello “salad” (the “salad” moniker always cracks me up on recipes like this!) has been our tradition for years but I spend most of Christmas Eve morning in the kitchen making it and it’s time for a change. This is exactly what we needed, and has that great retro feel as if it came from my Mom’s recipe box (she loved serving us all manner of jello “salads”) but has such a refreshing and pure flavor due to the real whipped cream. I did cut the sugar down to 2/3 cup and with the marshmallows and pineapple it was still nicely sweet for our tastes. In addition, I did find that draining a bit of the liquid that seeped out of the macerated and processed cranberry/pineapple mixture (before stirring in the whipped mixture) helped the fluff to set up more quickly and firmly. Thanks so much for sharing this, which will allow me more time to sip my tea and savor the moment on future Christmas Eve mornings!

  3. Dawn says:

    Thank you so much for this excellent recipe! I’ve made it several times over the holidays. It’s such a nice tangy/sweet counterpart with heavier holiday meals, and I love the cream cheese addition. I’ve found that it holds fine for a few days in the fridge, and I’ve also partially frozen it in individual ramekins – lovely. This will be an accompaniment to our roast suckling pig on New Year’s Eve as well. THANKS!!

  4. Leslie Anderson says:

    We are using this salad recipe for a church Christmas Dinner for 200 people. The ladies helping are questioning the cream cheese/whip cream directions. Do you whip the whipping cream before adding it to the cream cheese?

    • Mel says:

      That’s ambitious! Good luck! I don’t whip the whipping cream before adding it to the cream cheese. I whip it all together until it is very thick and creamy. Your cream has to be very cold otherwise it won’t whip up well.

  5. Judy Yates says:

    So easy and so delicious. Made it for thanksgiving for my son who loves fluffs.

  6. Hope says:

    Glad I found your recipe. Found a generic one using Cool Whip on Pinterest and that just wouldn’t do. Thx!

  7. Barb says:

    I didn’t get to try this last year, but I am Definitely making this year. I have some old fashioned pedestal dessert cups from Grama that would be beautiful with this in them.
    But I think I would drain off the pineapple- is it really ok to not drain? (I’m like you about things that are soggy/soupy.) Btw, luuv this website. spend alot of time daydreaming about the perfect menu.

  8. Samantha says:

    I made this for Christmas ans everyone loved it (of course!).
    I was wondering what your thoughts are on using raspberries or strawberries for easter. I would maybe just lightly smash the raspberries or chop the strawberries in small pieces given the liquid they both contain? Also I’m trying to guess how much of one of those I’d use. Anyway just trying to brainstorm with someone who knows this recipe. Thanks! Sam

    • Mel says:

      I think either fruit could work well although I’d probably somehow reduce the sugar since the cranberries need it to adjust the tartness but it might be overly sweet with the raspberry/strawberry fruit.

  9. Carol Waltman says:

    I love ‘Cranberry Salad’ and have been making it for Thanksgiving and Christmas meals for our family dinner since my husbands mother taught me fifty years ago. I also put in diced apples and celery but have not made it with pineapple. Most of my family love it, but some don’t like it with walnuts. It is so festive!

  10. LindsayP says:

    I made this as part of Christmas dinner and it was fabulous!! Thanks!

  11. Bess says:

    This was a hit with my whole family at Christmas. It was perfect. Thanks!

  12. Emily Myers says:

    this was a huge success with my family. Made it for Christmas evening with pigs in a blanket and left over sweet potatoes. We’ve been pulling out the leftovers of the salad for every meal since and then I finished it off as a midnight snack last night 😉 Thank you for your no-fail recipes!

  13. So it’s laughable of course that this qualifies as a “salad” — we must have had the same grandmother? — but thanks for the inspiration! I added this to the “sweet table” in a big clear glass bowl (very pretty!) for a Christmas Eve open house, it was fun to hear everyone guess what was in it. PS I found peppermint marshmallows but they weren’t very pepperminty — but kept the pepto-bismol color theme going.

  14. JanaBananaGirl says:

    I think this will be a new Christmas favorite! We made it this year and loved it. We’ll definitely be adding it to the holiday food recipe collection.

  15. Jennifer says:

    I made this for Christmas dinner and it was fabulous. I love the taste of the fresh cranberries. I’ve kept going back to the fridge for another little bowl over the last couple of days. I had previously made a similar frozen salad with canned cranberries and it doesn’t hold a candle to this one. Fresh is the way to go. Thanks for posting this. I will be making it every Christmas.

  16. Linda Turco says:

    Oh my, this is a keeper! I made this as one of my desserts for Christmas ( the other being the “real” tiramisu, since I had a Bishop once tell me as long as I’m chewing my coffee and /or alcohol, I’m good, so I took him at his word (lol) Ok, to get back to this yummy to my tummy dessert. It is delicious and pretty, perfect for the Christmas dessert table ! Everyone LOVED it! Thank you Mel and Merry Christmas 🙂 Enjoy your precious time with your family. See you after the New Year:-

  17. Kimberly says:

    Wow, this is traditional fair at our Thanksgiving table, but we make it with cool whip. The kids won’t let me get away with not making it. I can’t wait to try it with this cool whip substitute. Real cream with cream cheese has to be better than cool whip. We make ours by combining cranberries and sugar in one bowl, pineapple and marshmallows in another. Then we stir them together. One bowl of stuff sitting would also be much easier. I can’t wait to try this version. My boys will be way excited to see it pop up not at thanksgiving. 🙂

  18. Lisa says:

    Do you know if this can be made ahead and frozen?

    • Mel says:

      I’m not sure since I haven’t tried it but several people have commented they make a similar recipe to this but serve it frozen so I assume it would work ok.

  19. Jane says:

    I just made this today. I didn’t pulse the pineapple, just chopped them into smallish chunks to give the salad some texture and only used about half the amount of sugar.
    It tasted good after three hours when we had it for dessert after lunch because we are greedy like that and could not wait and truly great after dinner when it had spent the recommended 8+ hours in the fridge!

  20. Juniper Riddle says:

    We have pineapple allergies in my family. Could we make it with mandarin oranges instead?

    • Terri says:

      I love pineapple, but in this recipe I think subbing the pineapple with manderin oranges is a brilliant idea. That’s what I’m gonna to-thanks for the inspiration.

      • Mel says:

        Several people have suggested alternatives in the comments, like apples. You could certainly experiment with mandarin oranges, too. It seems to be a pretty forgiving recipe.

  21. I am with the commenter who said, ” You must have read my mind.” Bingo—mine too. I saw this somewhere and kind of mentally filed it away that I would look for a recipe. Of course I forgot. Thank you.

  22. Kristin says:

    An all time family favorite.

    Although we don’t use cream cheese, we use flavorless gelatin and it sets great! But I’m excited to try cream cheese in it!

  23. Michele says:

    Mel, I love your blog and your recipes as does my family! Cranberry Fluff is a family tradition at our house for close to 50 years, but I never met anyone else who heard of it. Ours has chopped apples, grapes, and nuts, but no pineapple. The cream cheese is an interesting idea to stabilize the whipping cream though ours doesn’t weep too badly. I just make sure to whip it good! Might have to try the cream cheese. For those who asked, Cool Whip works fine too.

  24. Megan Buhler says:

    This is a tradition for us, too!! My recipe is almost the same – just chopped apples instead of pineapple and no cream cheese. I’ll have to give your version a try. With 4- and 6-year-old girls “pink marshmallow salad” is a favorite. In fact, I have several ziplock bags right now in my fridge of food processed cranberries and sugar so that we can make this as long as the bags last…. It’s great for valentine’s day! And, just in case you are wondering, you can find frozen cranberries at Fresh Market in August when your mother-in-law insists that she really needs some of this salad!! 🙂

  25. Melanie from SLC says:

    This has been a family recipe in my family for as long as I can remember–it’s not Thanksgiving dinner without it! Although we add diced apples just before serving–try it!

  26. Brynn says:

    Yes!! I needed a yummy cranberry recipe!! Thanks Mel! As usual, I can count on you for deliciousness!

  27. This IS amazing, huh? Like you, I’ve been waiting all year to make it again! I love the idea of adding the cream cheese to stabilize the whipped cream, Mel. I’ll add that when I make it for our family Christmas party. Your pictures make me want some NOW. Merry Christmas to you, my friend, and your super cute family. Making your Pots de Creme for my friends tomorrow!

    • Mel says:

      Love your guts, Sally! Oh, and the cool thing about the cream cheese is that it helps the whipping cream not get so weepy/liquidy but because of the other flavors, you can hardly taste the cream cheese flavor.

  28. Emma says:

    We have something like this every year- Cranberry Salad. The kids love it! And so do I! I’ve never tried it with cream cheese. I let the cranberries and pineapple soak the marshmallows over night, and add the whipped cream with sugar right before serving! Yum!

  29. Jane says:

    This is very similar to what our family calls “Frozen Salad” – no marshmallows, but nuts instead. It is served straight from the freezer on Thanksgiving. Interesting to see this version, thanks.

  30. Nicole H says:

    My mom makes a cranberry salad like this but uses cool whip and there is no cream cheese. That one is delicious, but this one sounds AMAZING!!! It’s a Christmas Only salad in our family too, and I look forward to it every year!

  31. Jennifer says:

    Okay…don’t throttle me for asking this, but do you think I could possibly sub cool whip for the whipped cream? We’ve recently discovered that my oldest daughter is sensitive to milk and cream. Cream cheese and yogurt in moderate amounts is okay, but milk, and ice cream give her tummy pain! I know my grandma used to make a similar salad (and I’m sure it used cool whip) and I’d love to make it for Christmas, but not if my kiddo can’t eat it! Do you think I could cut down the sugar to compensate? Maybe I should just skip the whole recipe, but it looks delish!! 🙂

    • Mel says:

      Hey Jennifer – I’ve never tried it with cool whip but I just did a quick google search and there are other recipes out there that use cool whip. You might try a glance at one of them to gauge the sugar content – I’d probably decrease if using cool whip.

  32. Stephanie C says:

    Love this stuff!!! My Mom makes this every Easter, Thanksgiving & Christmas. Funny thing is that she hates pineapple but she loves this too.

  33. Okay…I love this kind of stuff…its a very distant cousin of a favorite lime jello salad that my family teases me about because they don’t like it…but this has neither jello or nuts in it…I think we could all go for this one…

  34. Andreya says:

    I am super excited to make this wonderful side dish! I have been looking for something to add besides Jell-O. Hope you have a great Christmas!

  35. Michelle T. says:

    So fun to see this recipe! This is a family favorite made originally by my grandma and Thanksgiving and Christmas wouldn’t be the same without it!

  36. It is so pretty! The health benefit of cranberries might offset the mini marshmallows.
    Hmmm. Sugar and whipped cream too?
    Ok, so it isn’t a going to be the healthiest thing at the table but I’m still making it.

  37. Norabel says:

    YOU READ MY MIND! I was looking around the internet the yesterday and came across “cranberry salad.” I added the ingredients to my shopping list for this weekend, but I wasn’t convinced it was worth making. Then, here you are posting your recipe. Now i’m making it for sure!

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