You have to try this creamy, sweet, and classic cranberry fluff salad! Perfect on your holiday table, this dessert salad is packed full of tangy cranberries along with other sweet fruits. Creamy whipped topping and mini marshmallows bring it all together.
I had my first taste of Cranberry Fluff Salad while visiting with a friend’s family in college, and I’ve been slightly obsessed with the idea of it ever since.
This dessert salad is creamy and sweet, with the tangy flavor of fresh cranberries and pineapple and the creamy texture that can only come from a tub of cool whip.
I’m adding grapes and mini marshmallows to my version of cranberry fluff to give it some extra bulk and sweetness. This is a fruit salad, taken to an entirely new level.
Looking for more recipes with cranberries? I have a Cranberry Sauce Recipe that is out of this world delicious.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Dessert Salad – These “salads” that are really desserts are so fun. Serve dessert salads with the main course or after, it doesn’t matter, they fit in anywhere.
- Holiday Flavor – Cranberries are perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas parties.
- Vintage Charm – Jello salads and creamy dessert salads were so popular in the middle half of the 20th century. Making and eating this Cranberry Fluff Salad is a fun way to relive that era.
- Easily Customized – You can add your own spin to Cranberry Fluff depending on your preferences or what you have in the pantry. There are many variations of this vintage recipe, and they’re all delicious.
Complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below.
- Fresh Cranberries: You can use fresh cranberries, which are easily found at Thanksgiving time, or frozen cranberries that you’ve thawed and drained. Avoid sweetened cranberries, we don’t need that for this recipe.
- Sugar: Sugar sweetens the cranberries just enough so that they don’t make your mouth pucker.
- Pineapple: A can of crushed pineapple, drained, gives additional sweetness. The texture of crushed pineapple is perfect, it allows the pineapple to blend in and be a part of every bite.
- Red Grapes: Cut the grapes in half lengthwise, or into quarters if they are large.
- Whipped Topping: Often known by its most popular brand name, Cool Whip, whipped topping is the creamy addition that binds everything together. I prefer to use the regular version, but you can try the extra creamy or light varieties too.
- Toasted Pecans and Mini Marshmallows: These add-ins are all about texture. The nuts add crunch while both the nuts and the marshmallows add chewiness to the cranberry fluff salad.
How to Make Cranberry Fluff
- Chop Cranberries: To a food processor, add cranberries and sugar and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer the cranberries to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least two hours, and preferably overnight. This step takes the strong tartness out of the cranberries and pulls out all of their delicious flavor.
- Mix: After cranberries are ready, remove them from the fridge and add in crushed pineapple, grapes, pecans, and marshmallows. Mix until combined. Then gently fold in the whipped topping.
- Chill: Refrigerate your cranberry fluff for at least two hours before serving.
- Serve: Garnish with a few chopped cranberries, grapes, chopped pecans, and mini marshmallows before serving.
Before chopping the cranberries in the food processor, set a few of them aside to use as a garnish later.
Cranberry Fluff Recipe Tips
Make a pretty presentation. Set aside a few marshmallows, pecans, grapes, and cranberries to create a garnish for the serving bowl.
Drain the fruit. You want to drain away all of the liquid from the canned pineapple. You want to keep the liquid that comes from the cranberries, but if it looks like a lot, you can drain it off and add it back in at the end to adjust the texture.
Grapes are optional. I like the flavor and texture of grapes in this salad, but you can leave them out if you want to.
Don’t Skip the refrigeration steps. Letting the cranberries and sugar combine for at least two hours is the key to making sure that your salad is sweet and tasty. Skipping that step will make the cranberries much too tart to enjoy.
The pecans will get soft after sitting. This is normal and to be expected, as they will absorb liquid from the fruits. If you want the nuts to stay crunchy, add them in right before serving.
You could also top cranberry fluff with candied pecans for an extra sweet treat!
What to Serve with Cranberry Fluff Salad
On Any Dessert Table. This dish is a potluck favorite. You might see it next to other classic desserts such as Orange Pretzel Salad, Hot Milk Cake, Sweet Potato Pie, Pumpkin Cookies, or Strawberry Oatmeal Bars.
More Dessert Salads You’ll Love
Using a food processor is definitely the easiest way to chop the cranberries finely. You can also use a high-powered blender. Chopping the cranberries by hand is possible, but not recommended. You want the pieces of cranberry to be quite small.
You can prepare this recipe up to 3 days ahead of time. Over time the marshmallows will start to melt, so I suggest eating your salad within 1 to 2 days for the best texture experience.
An 8-ounce tub of Cool Whip is 3 cups of whipped topping. If you buy a larger container of cool whip, you can measure out 3 cups, rather than trying to eye-ball how much half of the container is.
This cranberry salad is considered a dessert salad, as it obviously isn’t a typical vegetable salad. These types of salads are more of a pudding than a salad and more of a dessert than a side dish.
I love toasted pecans, and I add them to lots of things, including cheese balls and sweet potato casserole! It’s easy to toast them yourself.
Add your chopped raw nuts to a dry skillet. Cook over low to medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. The nuts are ready when you can smell their nutty aroma.
Enjoy a trip down memory lane with this classic cranberry fluff dessert salad! Be sure to pin the recipe so you can make it again later.
- 12 ounces (340g) fresh cranberries or frozen and thawed
- ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 8 ounce (225g) can crushed pineapples drained
- 1 cup (150g) red seedless grapes sliced into halves
- 1¼ cups (155g) chopped toasted pecans
- 1½ cups (90g) mini white marshmallows
- 8 ounces (225g) whipped topping
- To a food processor, add cranberries and sugar and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or preferably overnight.
- Remove from the fridge, and add in crushed pineapples, grapes, pecans, marshmallows and mix until combined.
- Add the whipped topping, and gently fold it in. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
- Garnish with chopped cranberries, grapes, chopped pecans, and mini marshmallows. Serve chilled.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.
© Little Sunny Kitchen