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Easiest Cranberry Salad

November 21, 2015



My mother and grandmother’s recipe and process for making cranberry salad was long and complicated. But it was one of the traditions of our Thanksgiving that I loved. It involved getting out Momma’s hand cranked grinder, which had to be attached to the edge of a table with a clamp. Then you poured cranberries (we bought them frozen) into the chute of the grinder, and cranked that handle. Yeah. I loved it then: it was like making Christmas cookies or dyeing Easter eggs or carving pumpkins: you loved it because it was a tradition, and you could make a mess.

After grinding the cranberries, which became my special job, mother chopped up oranges, apples, celery, and nuts. This recipe doesn’t eliminate those steps, but for many years as an adult, not having a way to grind up cranberries kept me from enjoying the lovely tang and twist cranberry adds to the Thanksgiving taste palette. And I wasn’t about to buy a grinder to use once or twice a year.

So, once we stopped driving the 1200 round-trip miles in crazy Thanksgiving traffic to my parents’ house, I greatly missed my mother’s cranberry salad (and home, of course!). But I would satisfy part of my craving by just buying expensive cranberry salad from delis for years.

Finally, a few years back, I got this much easier recipe from my church friend, Alisa Hillary. Alisa has since gone on to enjoy her Thanksgiving and all holidays with our Creator, so I will make this again with a toast to Alisa for not only simplifying my Thanksgiving cooking, but almost giving me back my mother’s cranberry salad, save the grinding.

Easy Cranberry Salad

1 small box orange jello (notice, orange, not red)
1 can whole cranberries in sauce (I used Ocean Spray “whole berry” sauce)
1 cup / 250 ml chopped celery
¾ cup / 175 ml chopped nuts (pecan or walnut)
1 cup / 250 ml chopped apple pieces
1 cup / 250 ml chopped orange pieces

Make Jello according to package instructions. Let Jello cool a half hour or so in refrigerator, then add all the other ingredients. Let jell in refrigerator 3–4 hours.


To be honest, most of my family are not big fans. So I make this mainly for me. Is there any holiday food you make or enjoy just because it is your tradition? 


This recipe is found in Whatever Happened to Dinner: Recipes and Reflections for Family Mealtime. Win a free copy from Amish Wisdom blog (offer good until Nov. 27, 2015).


From → Family Life, Food, Recipes

  1. For me, Thanksgiving is not complete without cranberry salad or sauce. My sister Janice is usually the one designated to bring this dish because she has an old grinder with a hand crank like you describe, attached to the table with a clamp. It has a tartness that serves as a nice counterpoint to the rich “carb” tastes of turkey, dressing, and sweet potatoes. Jan’s recipe is simple – no jello.

    My mother made a cranberry salad involving jello at Christmas-time that we always enjoyed. I’m sure I put the recipe on my blog a Christmas or two ago.

    All your photos are “primo” and I don’t see a purse – ha!

  2. Yes, the tartness makes a nice cut into the other richness. I guess I could try leaving the jello out of this recipe, too. Hmm. That’s a thought. I don’t make much with jello–even though it was certainly a standby of my mother’s, along with so many other Mennonite moms of the era.

    I’m glad my description of the grinder connected with you + Janice. I probably could have “inherited” it if I would have spoke up before Mom and Dad’s auction in 2004 but didn’t have a particular interest in it at that time.

    Yep, I got the purse out of that one. Thanks!

  3. Thanks for the nostalgia tour of the 1950s and ’60s kitchen, Melodie. We had one of those grinders too! The original food processors. We used it for the cranberry relish and also for grinding up the leftover turkey to make turkey salad. We always used up every part of the turkey — bones, skin and drippings for soup and leftovers for sandwiches. I’m at that stage with this year’s turkey right now.

    I prefer the relish version without jello, but I’ll eat any form of cranberry at Thanksgiving. The perfect antidote to all those carbs and a taste partner to turkey!

  4. Thanks for your addition, Shirley, of grinding up turkey leftovers and making those delicious broths.
    I’ll have to try this recipe without the jello–now why didn’t I think of that?? Thanks!

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