Pineapple Lime Jello Salad
A fresh spin on a classic! This pineapple lime jello salad is made with all-natural ingredients. Light & airy, cool, creamy, & so delicious!
When I was a kid, jello salad was a frequent dish at a lot of our family get-togethers. For some reason, it was served as a side dish and not a dessert, even though it could easily be!
Somehow it just works. Especially for spring and summertime parties. It’s cool and refreshing, a little sweet and fruity, creamy, tangy, airy and mousse-like all at once.
I’ve always loved it.
I made the old retro 1950’s version of it for Easter just a few weeks back. And it was just as good as I remembered it, but I have to say, I thought it could use a little makeover.
My old recipe card calls for some… perhaps slightly “outdated” ingredients? Some of them you might not even be able to find at a regular grocery store anymore.
Not to mention the color. It doesn’t actually exist in nature. I think it scared the kids.
When I cook or bake I LOVE the flavor of fresh, real ingredients, so I decided to give this old favorite an upgrade.
So here it is!
I absolutely adore the authentic, bright flavor of fresh lime, the sweet tropical pineapple, and the richness of real whipped cream, and I think you will too! Add this to the menu for your next cookout, and you won’t be disappointed!
What is jello salad?
There are lots of different takes on this idea out there, and they go by all sorts of names. In my family, we called it “green jello mold.” Appetizing, huh? It actually tastes way better than that sounds.
I’ve also heard it called whipped jello, jello whip, jello fluff, fluff salad, seafoam salad… you get the idea.
Most of what you’ll see out there is creamy, fruity, and wiggly-jiggly (thanks to the jello). Sometimes things like pretzels, nuts, and/or marshmallows are included. Sometimes there’s mayonnaise (don’t worry there’s none in this recipe).
You can make it in just about any flavor you like. I’ve seen a lot of strawberry and orange on Pinterest.
But in my family it was always pineapple and lime. What’s not to love about that?
Jello mold ingredients
Here’s a quick rundown of what you’ll need to make this recipe, and substitution recommendations:
I buy a small can of crushed pineapple in juice. You could also use chopped fresh pineapple + pineapple juice. Or you could use any other kind of fruit you like! Strawberries, cherries, mandarin oranges… whatever!
Plain powdered gelatin, so we don’t have to resort to artificial flavors or colors if we don’t want to. I know gelatin sheets are a thing (mostly outside of the US) but I’m honestly not sure how to swap those in so if you’re a gelatin expert I’d be grateful if you could leave a tip in the comments section!
Zest + juice gives the most incredible tart citrus flavor! Sub any kind of citrus you like. Lemon, orange, grapefruit, ponzu even!
The exact amount will depend on how much juice you can get out of your pineapple and lime. I usually end up needing a little less than half a cup.
Full fat cream cheese yields the richest flavor and the most stable final result, and I would recommend using the kind that comes in a brick. The tub kind can often fall flat. I haven’t tested this recipe with a vegan substitute, so I can’t vouch, but that might work too if you’re willing to experiment.
I don’t like things really sugary sweet so I think 2/3 cup works nicely. It’s slightly sweet but not cloyingly so. Feel free to adjust this amount to your own tastes. It won’t really change the chemistry of the recipe much since this is a no-bake recipe.
Heavy Whipping Cream:
Again, full fat is the way to go here. If you live in another country, you might know this product as “double cream.” Half and half won’t work, table cream won’t work, and light cream won’t work. You need that thick, high fat loveliness in order to get stiff peaks. Non-dairy whipped topping will also work, but you’ll want to adjust the amount of powdered sugar since it comes already sweet.
This one is 100% optional! You can absolutely leave it out. I put in just the teensiest drop, only for nostalgia’s sake.
How to make this fluff salad
This comes together really quickly and easily, plus it’s no-bake! So if you want an easy, refreshing sweet treat that keeps your kitchen cool and comfy, look no further!
Start by draining the pineapple and reserving the juice.
Use a fine mesh strainer and the back of a spoon to really squeeze out as much juice as you can.
To the pineapple juice, add in your freshly grated lime zest.
As well as the juice of the lime.
Check how much liquid you have. You need 1 full cup. If you’re not quite there, add water up to the line.
Next you just want to warm the liquid up so that the gelatin can dissolve in there. I do this in the microwave, but stovetop will work too. Just until it feels hot to the touch. It doesn’t need to boil or anything.
Pop in the gelatin and give it a whisk.
Set this mixture aside and allow it to cool to room temperature.
While that’s happening, place the cream cheese and powdered sugar in a large mixing bowl.
Beat these together on medium speed, just until smooth.
The next step happens just like in my favorite whipped cream frosting. Add the cream in a very slow, very steady stream, stopping frequently to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula (so there are no lumps!).
Continue whipping on high speed until the mixture can hold stiff peaks.
Now here is where it all comes together. Add the pineapple to the whipped cream, and start adding the fruit juice/gelatin as well.
I usually add the liquid in a few additions, folding gently. Do your best to keep as much air in the mixture as possible, you don’t want to knock all the fluffiness out!
That said, the mixture will become a lot looser once these ingredients have been added.
At this point, you can add the tint, if desired.
Use a very light hand! You don’t want it to end up looking like toxic waste. Subtle and classy is the name of the game.
Pour the mixture into a lightly greased mold (or dish) and chill until set. This usually takes about 2 hours.
How to unmold jello salad
To get the ring out of the mold, dip the pan in very hot water for about 15 to 30 seconds.
Use clean fingers to gently press/pull the salad away from the sides of the mold.
Then place your serving plate on top, and flip.
The whole thing should slide out easily, but if it doesn’t, give it another dip in hot water to persuade it.
How to serve jello salad
Like I said, I’ve always known this as a side dish. Doesn’t make a whole lotta sense but somehow it works.
Serve it chilled or at room temperature.
It goes great with ham dinner, or as a brunch item.
It’s also really good with barbecue. You know, like burgers and dogs, or pulled pork or smoked ribs? Along with baked beans, etc., it’s a really delicious complement.
But it is definitely on the sweeter side, so I wouldn’t feel bad about eating it for dessert too! It’s refreshingly cool and mousse-like. Perfect on a warm summer night!
Can this be made ahead?
You’ll want to make this at least a couple hours ahead of time, just so it has time to set.
And it keeps very well in the fridge for at least a week or so. I’d recommend keeping it in the mold until just before you’re ready to serve it, so it doesn’t dry out.
Once it’s set out on your buffet it should be fine at room temp for a few hours. I’d try to keep it out of the sun though, if you want it to really hold its shape.
What to do with leftovers
If you have any leftovers, they should keep for a week or so in the fridge, covered.
Sadly you can’t freeze jello salad! Putting it in the freezer will cause it to separate and weep.
A few more of my favorite warm weather side dishes:
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Pineapple Lime Jello Salad
- 8 ounces (226.8 g) crushed pineapple in juice
- 1/4 ounce (7.09 g) plain gelatin
- 2 tablespooons (60 g) lime juice, (from 1 fresh lime)
- 2 teaspoons (4 g) lime zest, (from 1 fresh lime)
- 3 ounces (85.05 g) cream cheese, (the kind in a brick)
- 2/3 cup (80 g) powdered sugar
- 1 cup (238 g) heavy whipping cream
- 1 drop green food coloring, (optional)
- Drain the pineapple, squeezing out as much liquid as possible, and reserve the juice.
- Add the lime juice and zest to the pineapple juice.
- Add enough water to total 1 cup of liquid.
- Heat the liquid (in the microwave or in a small pot over medium-low heat) until steaming, then whisk in the gelatin.
- Set aside until completely cooled (or chill in the fridge for about 15 minutes).
- Beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar together until smooth.
- Add in the cream, a little at a time, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula every so often.
- Whip the cream mixture until it can hold stiff peaks, then fold in the pineapple and the gelatin mixture in 3 additions.
- Tint with food coloring, if desired, then transfer to a lightly greased 5-cup bundt pan and chill until set (approximately 2 hours).
- To unmold: Dip the bottom of the pan in hot water for a few seconds, then flip onto a serving plate.