cups of pink salad

Pink Salad

Southern Desserts, Southern Salads & Slaws, Southern Sides, Trifles & Parfaits

If you want to make a nice fluffy sweet pink salad, this will do it. It has fruit and just the right amount of fluff to make it super tasty.

Pink salad that’s both dessert and a side dish

Jell-O salad (also called gelatin salad) is a salad made with flavored gelatin, fruit, and sometimes grated carrots. Other ingredients may include cottage cheese, cream cheese, marshmallows, nuts or pretzels.

For example, a jello salad might have green from a lime-flavored gelatin, white from bits of cottage cheese, and orange from fruit cocktail, or red from the jello itself.

Therefore, it has a “salad appearance” (small pieces of food all mixed together) but is fluffy and light in texture. Its ingredients can be changed up to make it a little sweeter for a dessert or less sweet as a side dish.

Watch How to Make Pink Salad

We also love this fruit salad with peach pie filling and our strawberry sherbet homemade ice cream if you’re in the mood for some summer treats.
pink salad in a wooden spoon

How to make sure your pink salad isn’t runny or too watery

To avoid runny or watery salad, make sure you completely drain your fruit. To further remove moisture, place fruit on paper towels and let it soak up any remaining juices.

While you don’t need the fruit juices for this dish, you could save them for other uses. Some suggestions are:

  • Fruit ice cubes
  • Mixed into homemade salad dressings
  • Mix juice with corn starch, cook until it thickens, cool, and spoon over ice cream or pudding
  • Mix juice with seltzer or soda for a drink
  • Use in place of liquid in muffins or pancakes
pink salad with cherries and nuts on top in white bowl

Are there substitutions you can use?

This “pretty and pink” salad is tasty and great to look at just like it is, hence the name “pink salad”. However, if you don’t like the pink color you could substitute the red jello with lime, orange, or even blue!! It will have a different appearance but the texture should have the same fluffiness.

Select your type of cottage cheese based on the amount of milk fat: regular cottage cheese, lowfat or reduced fat cottage cheese, and nonfat or dry curd cottage cheese. The taste and texture might be different based on your selection. You can use small curd cottage cheese in place of large curd, but the taste will be the same.

Fruit substitutions still work

As for the fruit, mandarin oranges and pineapple are a classic southern duo with a tropical flare. You could try using canned peaches or fruit cocktail, but the color and flavor will be different. Also, you can select fruit in its own juice rather than heavy syrup.

Experiment to get the right amount of sugar to suit you.

Since my family has pecan trees and the nuts are always in supply, I used pecans in my pink salad. You could try substituting walnuts (less sweet) or macadamia nuts (for tropical vibe).

However, macadamia nuts are rather expensive and are high in calories. They taste like hazelnuts, but more buttery.

Another option is to roast your nuts before garnishing the salad. It releases the nutty flavor and makes the taste more intense.

ingredients for pink salad in separate bowls

What’s the difference between ambrosia salad and this?

Ambrosia is a type of fruit salad.

Most ambrosia recipes contain canned or fresh pineapple, canned mandarin orange slices or fresh orange sections, miniature marshmallows, and coconut. It is more of a retro salad from the past….still a classic. We have our own unique version of ambrosia here.

The pink salad uses some of the same fruit but relies on the jello, cottage cheese, and cool whip to create a more modern salad with a smoother and lighter texture.

pouring dry jello into bowl to make pink salad

What this salad pairs well with

The pink salad adds a pretty spot of color to almost any meal. It provides a fresh, bright taste to a country lunch of sandwiches, BBQ, or fried chicken. This is a sweet salad, but you could do a creamy cucumber salad too.

Since it is light and airy, it doesn’t fill you up but round out the meal. It would be a wonderful addition to a church potluck and could go in the salad or dessert category.

Since it is a “cold” dish, it probably isn’t up for a picnic in the park, but would be a lovely side dish at a work luncheon or neighborhood BYOD party.

It is sure to catch everyone’s eye and draw them in for a taste.


  • 16 ounces cottage cheese
  • 8 ounces cool whip
  • 14 ounces mandarin oranges, drained
  • 20 ounces crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1-3 ounce box of red jello (cherry, strawberry. or raspberry depending on your preference)
  • Pecans (for garnish)
  • 1- 16 oz. can Maraschino cherries
individual pink salads in bowls with cherries and spoons


  1. Drain pineapple and mandarin oranges.
  2. Add fruit to large mixing bowl.
  3. Add cottage cheese and cool whip. Stir until thoroughly mixed.
  4. Add in the dry Jello mix and stir thoroughly until the salad is a light pink color.
  5. Put in covered dish and chill for at least one hour in the fridge.
  6. When ready to serve garnish with pecans and cherries.
close up shot of pink salad in white bowl on marble table
pink salad in 3 cups

Pink Salad

Rachel Norman
If you want to make a nice fluffy sweet pink salad, this will do it. It has fruit and just the right amount of fluff to make it super tasty.
4.50 from 4 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Chill time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Dessert, Salad
Cuisine American
Servings 12 people
Calories 200 kcal


  • 16 oz container cottage cheese
  • 8 oz Cool Whip
  • 14 oz Mandarin Oranges drained
  • 20 oz Crushed pineapple drained
  • 3 oz box red jello dry
  • Pecans as desired
  • 16 oz Jar Maraschino Cherries


  • Drain pineapple and mandarin oranges.
  • Add fruit to large mixing bowl.
  • Add cottage cheese and cool whip. Stir until thoroughly mixed.
  • Add in the dry Jello mix and stir thoroughly until the salad is a light pink color.
  • Put in covered dish and chill for at least one hour in the fridge.
  • When ready to serve garnish with pecans and cherries.


Note: When selecting the red jello, you can use cherry, strawberry, or raspberry depending on your preference. 


Calories: 200kcalCarbohydrates: 40gProtein: 6gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 187mgPotassium: 182mgFiber: 2gSugar: 35gVitamin A: 352IUVitamin C: 13mgCalcium: 92mgIron: 1mg
Keyword cool whip, cottage cheese, jello, mandarin oranges, pecans, pineapple
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!



    5 stars
    Awesome pink salad

  2. Hi, I found your recipe in an effort to find directions for a hastily written list of ingredients. I knew what the recipe was for but haven’t made this in a long time so wasn’t sure when to add the jello. You’re instructions leave out the jello. Just thought you’d like to know.

    Chetta M

  3. 5 stars
    Can you freeze this pink salad for later??

    • Avatar photo

      Hi Debra! The pink salad can be put in the freezer and then enjoyed later as a frozen treat. I haven’t tried letting it fully thaw after freezing though, and I’m not sure if thawing it would create a problem with the consistency.

  4. Beth-Anne Hilby

    Hi, Mom used to make this recipe, crushed pineapple but did not drain, mandarin oranges drained and sliced in half, cool whip, small curd cottage cheese, lemon jello, half a cup of shredded coconut, This was just one of her many wonderful summer salads. I may just try the nuts next time.

  5. Charlie Joe

    5 stars
    I make a version of this called In the Pink Salad. With 8 ounces of cream cheese instead of cottage cheese. Boil the juice you drain from the cans. Dissolve the jello in that. Toss in the cream cheese and fruit (crushed pineapple, mandarin oranges and a cup of strawberries) and then toss it all in the blender to puree. (That part comes from me, so the finished product is a pink gelatine loaf full of fruit you don’t see). Recipe from Bettye Nelle Starr’s Cooking in High Cotton from the sixties. It’s an oldie. Finicky kids might like it better.

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