22 Retro Gelatin Salad Recipes for Your Holiday
There’s nothing that says retro more than a Jell-O salad. Jiggly and brightly colored, gelatin salads were once regulars at Southern gatherings. Although Jell-O salads might not sound appetizing to younger generations, they bring back memories of family holidays, church potlucks, and luncheons galore for plenty of Southerners. This holiday season, we’re bringing congealed salads back—in all their jiggly, wiggly goodness. Like many “salads” in the South, congealed ones aren’t green and leafy. Instead, these salads are filled with various ingredients and molded together in a gelatinous masterpiece. Jell-O salads can be sweet, savory, or a combination of both (seriously), and congealed salads can stand in as side dishes or desserts. Regardless of when you serve your Jell-O salad recipe, the presentation is sure to impress guests. Vintage gelatin molds come in all shapes and sizes, and they’re so much fun to play around with. If Nana didn’t pass her retro gelatin molds down to you, many of these congealed salads can be made in your Bundt pans or 13x9 baking dishes. If there’s one thing we know for sure, these recipes will get a reaction (whether good or bad) out of your holiday guests. Create holiday memories, continue traditions, and steal a few laughs with these incredibly intricate Jell-O salad recipes. These recipes are sure to serve up some nostalgia this holiday season.
Christmas Snow Salad
Recipe: Christmas Snow Salad
Top this colorful treat from our November 1982 issue with as many maraschino cherries as you’d like for an even more festive look.
Recipe: Emerald Salad
Straight from the pages of our June 1981 issue, this bright green gelatin salad looks festive for Christmas or springy for Easter.
Ranch Tomato Aspic
Recipe: Ranch Tomato Aspic
Tomato aspic was the luncheon queen of congealed salads, and this ranch-infused one from our September 1983 issue is reminiscent of the longstanding love affair Southerners have with ranch.
Molded Egg Salad
Recipe: Molded Egg Salad
You’d be hard pressed to find any church gathering, potluck, or cookout in the South that doesn’t have egg salad on the menu, and in 1972, we served it up in jiggly fashion.
Jellied Chicken Salad
Recipe: Jellied Chicken Salad
Every Southern cook has a go-to chicken salad recipe, and thanks to Mrs. Charles Quinn of Fort Worth, Texas, we have a go-to congealed chicken salad recipe, too.
Double Summer Salad
Recipe: Double Summer Salad
This congealed salad from the Southern Living Fondue and Buffet Cookbook packs a double dose of vintage fun—a citrusy gelatin mold also serves as the serving dish for a beautiful mound of crab salad. Double the salad, double the delicious!
Cherry Cola Salad
Recipe: Cherry Cola Salad
If we’re talking retro congealed salads, we can’t go without mention of a recipe with soda. From the pages of our May 1980 issue, this salad sticks out among others because it can easily be made in your 13x9 if you don’t have a gelatin mold.
Orange Sherbet Salad
Recipe: Orange Sherbet Salad
Although many congealed salads have graced the pages of Southern Living over the decades, in April 1966, this orange beauty became the first.
Festive Cranberry-Walnut Salad
Recipe: Festive Cranberry-Walnut Salad
This sparkling congealed salad is perfectly suited for your Thanksgiving or Christmas table, especially when it’s made in an intricate mold.
Recipe: Three-Layer Mold
This layered congealed salad amps up the presentation value. Wow guests with this bright and cheery salad that has tons of flavor.
Pickled Peach Salad
Recipe: Pickled Peach Salad
Instead of the usual fruit salad you bring to the cookout, try this peachy congealed salad that guests will love during the summer months.
Sea Breeze Spinach Mold
Recipe: Sea Breeze Spinach Mold
Unlike many congealed salads that combine sweet and savory or go all sweet, this one goes all in on savory. It even has bacon in it (no joke).
Strawberry Pretzel Salad
Recipe: Strawberry-Pretzel Salad
If you grew up in the South, there’s a good chance you remember this vintage delight. Sweet strawberry gelatin and salty pretzels meet up for the perfect bite.
Aunt Laura’s Stained Glass Cake
Recipe: Aunt Laura’s Stained Glass Cake
If you want a presentation that stands out, look no further than this colorful cake.
Berries and Bubbles
Recipe: Berries and Bubbles
This bright salad is perfect for summer. Filled with fresh berries and prosecco, it’s certainly one to celebrate.
Lime Gelatin and Cottage Cheese Salad
This jiggly salad has us remembering dinners and Grandma’s house, and we think it’s a throwback that should be brought back for good.
Recipe: Tomato Aspic
There was a time when “company’s coming” meant there would be a plate of tomato aspic at the ready. This savory salad is truly the epitome of congealed salad fame.
Lemon Cupcakes with Lavender Frosting
The presentation of these cupcakes is more modern than most congealed salad recipes, but they have the nostalgic jiggle we crave.
Molded Cranberry Salad
Recipe: Molded Cranberry Salad
There won’t be any canned cranberry salad at your Thanksgiving feast. This year, cranberry salad has gone retro—and jiggly.
Nana's Lime Delight
Recipe: Nana’s Lime Delight
Nana would be honored to see this old-fashioned recipe on the holiday table this year. If you don’t have a gelatin mold, you can make this in a normal baking dish for ease.
Spiced Coconut-Cherry Mold
Recipe: Spiced Coconut-Cherry Mold
This merry salad has all the flavors you could want for a Christmas congealed salad.
White Sangria Salads
Recipe: White Sangria Salads
Perfect for luncheons and a new use for your mini Bundt pan or muffin pan, this sparkly salad is packed with fresh fruit.