Cranberry salad is a holiday classic! Not all salads are a healthy, nutritional side dish; some, like this fluffy Cranberry Salad, is all about tart fruit mixed with sweetness. This recipe, along with my Watergate salad, and a classic Ambrosia salad, is potentially the only time you could truthfully say you were eating a salad that had marshmallows in it!
Fluffy Cranberry Salad
A riff on the classic marshmallow fluff, this cranberry salad recipe combines fresh cranberries, oranges, and even some pecans to make a dish that is part dessert, part salad and one of my favorite side dishes, and entirely delicious.
It will have a bit of a congealed, fluffy texture once it is all mixed together, but it will have an utterly unique texture that is why people love marshmallow dessert salads so much.
Just make sure you prepare anyone about to give it a try first – despite its name, it isn’t exactly the best thing to serve just before a big meal like a conventional salad. In fact, after enough of this cranberry salad, you’ll probably need to take a large nap to get over all of the sugar.
Ingredients for Cranberry Salad
Please see the recipe card at the bottom of the post for the exact amounts of ingredients. This is just an overview for you to see if you have everything you need to make this recipe.
- Fresh cranberries
- White sugar
- Mandarin oranges
- Mini marshmallows
- Whipped topping
How to Make Cranberry Salad
- Blitz the cranberries in a food processor or chop them finely
- Combine with the sugar and test for sweetness
- Add in whipped topping, then the mandarins, marshmallows, and pecans until mixed thoroughly
- Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 3 hours
How to Store Cranberry Salad
Considering the sheer amount of sugar and the intensity of flavors in this recipe, you likely won’t be able to finish it all in one sitting.
To store and reuse this cranberry salad, simply keep it covered in the fridge, with plastic wrap pressed all the way down into the bowl so that none of the surfaces is exposed to air.
Stored like this, it can easily last 3-4 days without losing any quality, though the pecans might start to lose a bit of their distinctive crunch and it might get weepy from the fruit.
How to Serve Cranberry Salad
Though strangely sweet and unheard of outside of North America where we just LOVE our dessert salads, this recipe came about as a way to use up leftover cranberries and as a sweet, complimentary dish to a big savory meal such as Thanksgiving.
It seems a lot less strange once you compare it to other sweeter dishes at Thanksgiving, like Sweet Potato Casserole – marshmallows manage to work their way into a lot of different dishes!
Serving this cranberry salad depends on what you want to use it for – it could serve as a dense, heavy dessert, eaten using a spoon and maybe even a side of ice cream. Or you could stick to the traditional approach and serve it alongside a big roast turkey for your entire family.
The sweetness and acidity of the fruits work beautifully with all of your meat and gravy, making a surprisingly rich and well-rounded meal.
So, for those of you that are Team Dessert Salad, do you serve it WITH your meal, or after? This is a friendly family argument every year, I like it ON the table with dinner, and Mr. Magpie thinks it’s dessert. (I usually get my way however lol)
Hope you enjoy!
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Fluffy Cranberry Salad
- Prep Time
- 20 minutes
- Karlynn Johnston
- one 340 gram/12 ounce bag fresh cranberries
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups canned mandarin oranges drained well
- 1 cup miniature marshmallows
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- one 8 ounce tub frozen whipped topping thawed
- mandarins and cranberries to top as garnish
- Place the cranberries in a food processor and pulse to chop them into smaller pieces. Alternatively, you can chop them finely.
- Combine with the white sugar in a large bowl. Taste-test to see if the tartness/sweetness is what you desire.
- Add in the whipped topping.
- Stir in the mandarins, marshmallows and pecans until the are coated and mixed through completely.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill for 3-4 hours.
- Serve garnished with extra cranberries or mandarin oranges if desired.
- This does need to sit in the fridge for a few hours so that the marshmallows softened and everything melds together nicely.
- You will have to sweeten this to taste to suit your liking
All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.