Layered Cranberry Salad


This side will turn heads.

Layered Cranberry Salad on a cake stand
Photo: Photo: James Ransom; Food Styling: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Styling: Christine Keely
Active Time:
50 mins
Total Time:
6 hrs 50 mins

This Thanksgiving, why not get your jiggle on? While there's no shame in leaning on canned cranberry sauce to complete your holiday plate, this retro cranberry mold is a fun way to shake up your spread of expected Thanksgiving side dishes.

If you've never made a molded gelatin salad before, it's really quite easy. First, prepare your favorite Bundt pan by giving it a light spray with a neutral-flavored cooking spray (nothing butter flavored or olive oil–based). Next, whisk together unflavored gelatin (it's on the baking aisle near the boxes of flavored gelatin) and 1 cup of cranberry juice. After that, you heat up the remaining cranberry juice with some sugar and orange juice, then stir in the gelatin mixture.

In order to get the lovely layered effect of this dramatic salad, the cranberry filling gets divided and chilled—one portion goes into the prepared Bundt pan with the fresh (or thawed frozen) cranberries; the other portion gets mixed with sweetened condensed milk.

Be patient—the cranberry layer has to set completely in the fridge (about 2 hours) before you pour the creamy mixture on top, otherwise the two will mix together and you'll lose the lovely layered effect.

After another thorough chill (about 4 hours), this beautiful cranberry dessert is ready to unmold. To ease it free from the pan, fill a large bowl with warm water, then gently lower the pan into the water, being careful not to submerge the pan (nobody likes wet jello!). After 15 seconds, remove the pan from the water, and pat the pan dry.

Top the pan with a serving plate, and, holding the pan and plate together firmly, flip the pan and the plate. Finally, gently lift the pan away to reveal your layered cranberry masterpiece.


  • 2 cups fresh whole cranberries, thawed if frozen

  • 5 (1/4-oz.) envelopes unflavored gelatin (such as Knox)

  • 6 cups cranberry juice cocktail, divided

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 cup fresh orange juice (from 2 large or 3 medium oranges)

  • Ice

  • 1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk


  1. Lightly spray a 10-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray; set aside. Place cranberries in the refrigerator until ready to use. Whisk together gelatin and 1 cup of the cranberry juice in a medium bowl; set aside at room temperature.

  2. Bring sugar, fresh orange juice, and remaining 5 cups cranberry juice to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium, stirring often. Remove from heat; whisk in gelatin mixture until dissolved. Set aside 3 cups of cranberry-gelatin mixture.

  3. Place remaining 4 cups cranberry-gelatin mixture in a medium bowl; place that over a large bowl filled with ice. Chill mixture, stirring often, until thickened, 30 to 45 minutes. Scrape and discard any foam from top. Gently fold in chilled cranberries until evenly distributed. Pour fruit mixture into the prepared pan. Refrigerate, uncovered, until set, about 2 hours.

  4. Meanwhile, stir together reserved 3 cups of cranberry-gelatin mixture and sweetened condensed milk in a medium bowl; cover and let stand at room temperature while fruit layer chills. Slowly pour milk mixture over fruit layer, turning the pan as you pour to create an even layer. Chill, uncovered, until firmly set, at least 4 hours or up to 48 hours. Unmold as directed below.

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