Creamy Cranberry Salad (Cranberry Fluff)
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The best, classic, easy, creamy cranberry salad recipe, homemade with simple ingredients in one pot or bowl. Packed with fresh cranberries, pineapples, apples, pecans, marshmallows, coconut. Also known as cranberry fluff salad.
Unlike most salads made with spinach and lettuce, this salad is similar to a dessert salad and a “must make” item for Christmas parties and Thanksgiving parties. The fresh cranberries add that extra pop of tartness and red color, just like this Cranberry Relish and Homemade Cranberry Sauce. It’s bright, colorful and crunchy!
Please note this is not a “cranberry jello salad,” which is gelatin based nor is this a “cranberry chicken salad,” which is made with mayo-based sauce, shredded chicken and dried cranberries.
How to make easy cranberry salad?
- Chill cranberries– In a large bowl, mix together cranberries and sugar. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 3 hours.
- Add remaining ingredients– Such as pineapples, apples, pecans, mini marshmallows, shredded coconut, Cool Whip, and mix until fully combined.
- Enjoy– Garnish with some mint leaves, if you like and dig in!
What to serve with apple cranberry salad recipes?
It’s typically served as a side dish dish and is very popular at Thanksgiving dinner parties. Serve it alongside proteins like turkey, chicken, ham, pork.
Here are some classic options:
Since it’s so sweet, rich and creamy, it can totally be enjoyed as dessert too.
Add cream cheese– Use full fat cream cheese to add a little tanginess and richness.
Add Greek yogurt– This would be a healthier alternative to cream cheese. It also adds a subtle tanginess and creaminess.
Add other nuts– Such as almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews. Make sure they are roasted and roughly chopped.
Add other fruits- Such as grapes or pears for a pop of color and more fruity flavor.
Tips and Techniques
Make ahead instructions– This salad can be made a day in advance and stored in the fridge until you are ready to serve.
Can this salad be frozen? No, it releases too much water when it thaws and alters the creamy consistency.
Cool Whip vs. Homemade Whipped Cream– Either can be used. I prefer Cool Whip because it’s more stable and obviously more convenient. Make sure you are using full fat Cool Whip/ full fat whipped cream for maximum richness and creaminess.
Fresh Cranberries vs. Dried Cranberries– You must use fresh cranberries. Dried cranberries cannot be substituted.
Do you drain cranberry juice? I don’t drain it because it adds a lot of color and juicy flavor to the overall dish. Some people like to drain it because they feel that the juices make the salad consistency thinner. I don’t think it affects it at all.
Use mini marshmallows– The large sized ones are just too big and not bite sized.
Adjust quantities of ingredients– This is such an easy and versatile recipe that there is no way to go wrong. If you love marshmallows, add more of those. If you love coconut or nuts, add more of that.
More Thanksgiving Side Dishes
- Sweet Potato Casserole (One Pot)
- Candied Sweet Potatoes (One Pot)
- Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes (One Pan)
- Thanksgiving Turkey Stuffing (One Pot)
- Green Beans and Potatoes (One Pot)
- Mashed Sweet Potatoes (One Pot)
- Oven Roasted Sweet Potatoes (One Pan)
- Honey Glazed Carrots (One Pan)
- Hasselback Sweet Potatoes (One Pan)
- Baked Sweet Potato Wedges (One Pan)
One Pot Cranberry Salad
- 1 bag Cranberries, 12 oz. bag, Fresh, Washed, Patted dry, Roughly pulsed in food processor
- 2/3 cup Granulated sugar
- 1 cup Pineapples, Finely chopped
- 1 cup Apples, Finely chopped, Red or Green
- 2/3 cup Pecans, Roughly chopped, Or walnuts
- 3/4 cup Mini marshmallows
- 1/4 cup Shredded coconut, Sweetened
- 1 container Cool Whip, 8 oz. container, Full fat
- In a mixing bowl, add cranberries, sugar and mix until combined.
- Cover and chill in fridge for about 3 hours to allow the cranberries to macerate and release juices. You can do this overnight too.
- In the same mixing bowl, add pineapples, apples, pecans, mini marshmallows, shredded coconut, Cool Whip and mix everything together until fully combined.
- Serve and enjoy!
- Read all my tips above.
- Leftovers can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Happy cooking everyone!