The Very Best Cranberry Salad

A bag of cranberries and an orange.

This recipe is from my mother in law. All of my husband’s family loves it and everyone I’ve introduced it to loves it as well (including my mother, who abandoned her version of cranberry salad for this recipe. It’s that good!)

Quarter a whole orange (include the rind and pith.)

My mother in law is known for her food. Two days cooking authentic Italian spaghetti sauce (and twice risen, hand made, clover yeast rolls) bring all of the family together. My mother in law’s name is Marilyn, and Marilyn can definitely cook!

Fresh or frozen (not dried) cranberries. Yes, you can double this if you are serving a big crowd or if it ends up being your family’s favorite too!

When I married my husband I was doing good if I could cut a tomato intelligently or boil water for that matter. It wasn’t because I had a parent who couldn’t cook. My mother would cook for 50 people for my dad’s company dinners, in a fancy 5 star type spread. She is a wonderful cook, but was always too busy to show me how to do anything. I’m sure part of it was: in the 80s having a goal of being a house wife was sort of a joke, and I was too interested in other things like being a tomboy and riding horses.

4 or 5 stalks of celery, cut up

So, with the food I had grown up eating: I knew what I wanted to be able to feed my family. I did have a few disaster years, but 16 years of daily cooking later, I am comfortable in my cooking abilities. I also didn’t want unhealthy food at the table. I have two boys and I want them to have the right fuel to grow into healthy men, so we try to keep over processed foods to a minimum.

Sugar and Raspberry Jell-O
Add hot water and stir until the Jell-O and sugar are dissolved.

So, we’re three very different women in this family: me, my mother and my mother in law. Marilyn, though, has some signature dishes that are a cut above. She has always reminded me of my grandmother in her cooking, care for our family and mannerisms.

A can of crushed pineapple.

This may be the simplest, great recipe she has, so take notice: if you are new to cooking or even an old hand, there’s nothing like Marilyn’s Christmas Cranberry salad!


1 bag cranberries, crushed or chunkily chopped. Use a food processor for best results. Pieces should be course.

1 quartered whole, seeded orange (include the rind and pith) chopped. Use a food processor for best results. Pieces should be course.

1 can crushed pineapple

1 Large box raspberry jello

1 cup sugar

4-6 stalks of celery, cut up

Mix one cup of hot water with the jello and sugar.  Then add cranberries, pineapple, and orange and stir.  Add enough water to equal another cup of fluid after adding the juice from the pineapple and orange.  Let set up in the refrigerator overnight. (This does not set up as solid as straight Jell-O would.)

So good! Sweet, tart, delicious!
This is our tree, fully decorated by two teenage boys! We wish you a very merry Christmas 2021!

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