Christmas/ Desserts/ Gluten Free Recipes/ Holiday Food/ Seasonal/ Side Dishes/ Thanksgiving/ Vegetarian Recipes

Cranberry Fluff Salad

An easy 6-ingredient creamy Cranberry Fluff Salad. A delicious twist on traditional cranberry sauce that serves as a delicious cranberry side dish or dessert. This Cranberry Fluff Salad gets rave reviews from family. It couldn’t be any easier to make for the holiday season!

For more cranberry recipes, try this Cranberry Cream Cheese Bruschetta, or these Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies.

Cranberries mixed in a bowl with marshmallows and whipped cream.

If you’re looking for the next potluck side dish or dessert to bring to Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, I have you covered. This vintage cranberry fluff recipe has been a family favorite for years.  You may even hear it go by the name fluff salad. It’s the same great dish and there are so many different ways to change up the recipe, but this is always how my grandmother made it.

Now that fall flavors are here and Thanksgiving and Christmas are approaching, it’s the perfect time to head to the grocery store and stock up on fridge fresh cranberries.

It’s best to make this salad the night before to allow the flavors to develop and for it to sweeten up some and let it chill in the refrigerator. Cranberries are tart but when mixed with sugar, they are a real treat.


  1. Chop cranberries in a food processor for a nice crunch.
  2. Combine in a medium bowl with sugars, orange juice, pineapple, and salt.
  3. Let cranberry mixture sit for several hours or overnight.
  4. Stir in cups miniature marshmallows and whipped cream with a spatula.
  5. Serve cranberry fluff salad cold as a side dish or dessert.

If you’ve ever wondered how to use fresh cranberries for the holiday season it’s easy. Once you learn to make Thanksgiving recipes for the holiday season, this recipe will always come to mind.

This cranberry fluff salad is traditionally served for Thanksgiving but we love to make it for Christmas dinner and Mother’s Day. I even made it for Easter one year, too. It’s such a classic potluck recipe that I’ll stock up on fresh cranberries and freeze them over winter to use in the spring. Please note that it is not a savory recipe but rather a sweet cranberry recipe.

Cranberry Fluff Salad with fresh minced cranberries, whipped cream, and marshmallows. The perfect Thanksgiving side dish or dessert recipe.


■ CRANBERRY: Use seasonally fresh cranberries to make this dessert salad. Chop the berry very finely, almost minced like garlic. A food processor works best for this step.

■ PINEAPPLE: Pineapple adds a little citrus sweetness to the mix. Traditionally, it is a very common ingredient in dessert salads. Crushed pineapple, pineapple chunks, or fresh pineapple all work. Be sure to drain any liquid from the can otherwise it will dissolve the marshmallows.

■ WHIPPED CREAM: Creamy topping such as cool whip or homemade whipped cream adds a rich, silky texture to the salad. In addition, a homemade whipped cream also works. Whip heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form.

■ MARSHMALLOWS: Use mini marshmallows instead of regular size marshmallows. The use of these mini baking puffs adds texture, and flavor.

■ SUGAR: Cranberries should be sweetened with sugar to transform the tartness. I like to let the rushed cranberries marinate in sugar.

This cranberry salad doesn’t have jello, sour cream, or cream cheese it in, but once you try my recipe it will become a family stable for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. It’s even great with nuts like pecans, almonds, or walnuts. Grapes also make a tasty addition.

Do you have a special recipe that you make during the holidays? I have a few, like my Sweet Buttermilk Cornbread, Jingle Juice Holiday Punch, and Pecan Snowballs. Every year, my family asks me to make one of these special recipes for the holiday season and this cranberry salad always makes the list, too.

When I think of Thanksgiving in the Midwest, this vintage cranberry fluff salad comes to mind for potluck-style holiday parties. The holiday season has always been my favorite time of year. I have fond memories of baking with my mom in the kitchen while she would host all the holiday parties at our house. We made a lot of retro or vintage recipes like a red and green jello mold with canned pineapples and juice. This cranberry salad is just another vintage recipe we’d make in the early 1990s.

Cranberry Fluff Salad is the perfect potluck side dish to serve for Thanksgiving and Christmas. You'll love this 6-ingredient holiday classic for an easy Thanksgiving recipe.

Cranberries are a hard fruit and it’s perfectly fine to eat them raw. However, they are a little bitter and tart so it makes sense to serve them with sugar. In this recipe, I prepare the fruit ahead of time by finely chopping it and allowing it to soak in sugar overnight.

This way, the cranberries have time to slightly soften in the sugar as it turns to liquid. This step makes for an amazing salad that is so delicious, you’ll eat it by the spoonfuls! If you can’t get your hands on fresh or frozen cranberries or you want to bring this dish to a potluck party out of season, try canned cranberries. Be sure to cut the amount of sugar back since canned cranberries are packed with sugar.

Cranberry Fluff Salad is the perfect potluck side dish to serve for Thanksgiving and Christmas. You'll love this 6-ingredient holiday classic for an easy Thanksgiving recipe.


For a taste of Thanksgiving, try my no-bake Cranberry Fluff Salad. Featuring seasonal fresh cranberries, pineapple, marshmallows, and whipped cream, this fruit salad has a lot of fresh and satisfying ingredients that will satisfy your taste buds this Thanksgiving.

Can I make this a day or two in advance before a holiday party?

Yes. However, just chop the cranberries and mix them with everything but the whipped topping and mini marshmallows. Adding the marshmallows any more than 15 hours in advance may change the texture and appearance of the dish since the marshmallows will dissolve in any liquid.

Cranberries mixed in a bowl with marshmallows and whipped cream.

Cranberry Fluff Salad

Cranberry Fluff Salad is the perfect potluck side dish to serve for Thanksgiving and Christmas. You’ll love this 6-ingredient holiday classic for an easy Thanksgiving recipe the whole family will love.
4 from 1 vote
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Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Cranberry Dessert, Cranberry Salad, Fluff salad, No Bake dessert, Thanksgiving Side Dish
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Resting Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 219kcal


  • 12 ounces ( about 3 cups ) fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 20 ounces crushed pineapple, juice drained
  • cup granulated sugar
  • teaspoon salt
  • cups mini marshmallows
  • 8 ounces whipped cream topping


  • Drain and discard pineapple juice.
  • In a food processor/chopper, chop fresh cranberries. If using frozen, make sure any liquid is drained then chop.
  • In a large bowl, combine chopped cranberries, crush pineapple, sugar, salt, and marshmallows. Stir to combine. 
  • Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
  • Whip up 8 ounces whipped cream or use premade whipped cream.
  • Fold whipped cream into cranberry fluff to combine.
  • Serve cold.


Calories:219kcal | Carbohydrates:53g | Protein:2g | Fat:2g | Saturated Fat:1g | Cholesterol:5mg | Sodium:71mg | Potassium:155mg | Fiber:3g | Sugar:42g | Vitamin A:111IU | Vitamin C:12mg | Calcium:45mg | Iron:1mg
Cranberry Fluff Salad - Creamy cranberries with marshmallows, whipped cream, and crushed pineapple. A vintage Thanksgiving and Christmas recipe served as a side dish or dessert salad.

updated 11/2020

updated 8/2022


  • Avatar for Swankyrecipes
    11/11/2019 at 11:32 pm

    4 stars
    My family has served this salad for as long as I can remember. The one exception is we use fresh whipping cream instead of whipped cream topping

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