This Fluffy Cranberry Fruit Salad with Pineapple is a delicious twist on the traditional cranberry sauce served at holiday meals. It’s filled with ground cranberries, crushed pineapple, mini marshmallows, and whipped cream and makes the best side dish or dessert for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.
When I was a kid, my family always had a can of cranberry "sauce" at holidays. The gelatinous goo would slurp out of its can onto a plate, and someone would slice it into rounds which my family all seemed to devour. I hated the stuff.
Nearly fifteen years ago, when Joe and I hosted our first Thanksgiving dinner, I made a gorgeous and delicious homemade orange cranberry sauce with fresh berries. It simmered on the stove all day, and it made the house smell wonderful, and I was the only person who ate it. I ended up throwing most of it away because there's only so much tart cranberry sauce you can handle, you know?
And also, my mom and dad both requested the canned cranberry sauce in the future. Not only did they request it, they brought their own the following year. #hostingfail
I haven't made that sauce in many years because we've scaled back now that there are only five people who come to Thanksgiving at our house (including the four in my own family). We do send a plate to my house-bound dad, but my sister is the only person left in either of our families who lives close enough to come.
So we cook a lot less than we used to for holidays.
This cranberry fruit salad is different from cranberry sauce. It's cold for one thing, and you soak the chopped berries in pineapple juice and sugar overnight, rendering them sweet and delicious.
Once you've tasted this salad, you will have wished you'd doubled the recipe. It's that good!
How to make fluffy cranberry salad
This recipe is pretty simple, but it requires an overnight soak plus tastes best after another overnight wait. So if you are making it for Thanksgiving, you probably want to start it on Tuesday so that you can eat it on Thursday. In a pinch, you could start it on Wednesday and assemble it first thing on Thursday morning, letting the flavors blend until dinner time.
- Chop the cranberries in a blender or food processor. My food processor is a huge pain to assemble, take apart, and clean, so I just use my blender for pretty much everything.
- Stir chopped cranberries together with undrained pineapple and sugar. Refrigerate overnight. This step is very important as it will sweeten the berries and tone down the tartness.
- The next day, stir the cranberry mixture into the mini marshmallows. Fold in the whipped topping. (Does anyone else think of Schitt's Creek every time a recipe says to fold something in? Just me?)
- Refrigerate for 2-3 hours to allow the flavors to blend. The longer, the better, up to overnight.
You can store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. The cranberry juice may separate out a bit, and that is okay. Just stir it back up to incorporate the juice into the whipped topping, and it will be as good as new.
You can serve this salad as a side dish in place of cranberry sauce, or you can serve it as dessert. It's so sweet and good that it works in either spot!
Although, truly, with desserts like the ones below, I think you have to serve cranberry salad at the main meal!
- Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Crumb Topping
- The Best Pumpkin Dump Cake
- Couldn’t Be Easier Cherry Pie
- The Best Crustless Gluten-Free Pecan Pie
- The Worlds’ Best Pecan Pie Recipe
- Pecan Crust Cheesecake (Gluten-Free)
- Chocolate Cherry Cake – Easy Black Forest Cake
- Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake
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