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The perfect easy side dish or festive dessert, this cranberry fluff salad combines seasonal fruit, Cool Whip, and sweet marshmallows in a 5-minute recipe that your friends and family will love! Pair the salad with turkey or ham for your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, or set it out on a holiday dessert buffet.

Square side shot of cranberry fluff salad in two glass bowls.
Table of Contents
  1. Why You’ll Love this 5 Minute Cranberry Fluff Salad
  2. Ingredients
  3. How to Make Cranberry Fluff
  4. Serving Suggestions
  5. Preparation and Storage Tips
  6. Recipe Variations
  7. Tips for the Best Cranberry Fluff Recipe
  8. 5-Minute Cranberry Fluff Recipe

If you love fluff salads as much as we do, be sure to try the classic Watergate salad, this orange pineapple fluff salad, and our festive pink ambrosia salad, too!

Why You’ll Love this 5 Minute Cranberry Fluff Salad

Ambrosia and other fruit salads are staples on Southern holiday tables. We even add them to the occasional weeknight dinner or lunch plate! While our pink ambrosia salad is always a huge hit in the spring, this cranberry fluff salad is the perfect addition to your fall and winter celebrations. Here’s why you’ll love the dish:

  • Easy. Especially during the holidays, we all need simple, quick, crowd-pleasing recipes that don’t require much time or attention. This is one of those gems, which doesn’t require any cooking, and can be stirred together in about 5 minutes!
  • Make Ahead. Sides that you can prep in advance are the key to smooth entertaining. Assemble the salad ahead of time and eliminate any last-minute stress.
  • Festive. The blend of canned cranberries, pineapples, and oranges yields an attractive, seasonal dish that pairs so beautifully with the other flavors in a holiday meal.
Overhead shot of a spoon in a bowl of cranberry fluff.

Ingredients

This is a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a big bowl of Cranberry Fluff with Cool Whip. As always, specific measurements and complete cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Pineapple tidbits: two big cans that are very well drained.
  • Whole berry cranberry sauce: I use a can of Ocean Spray cranberry sauce, but you can use fresh cranberries to make homemade cranberry sauce for this recipe, too.
  • Mandarin oranges: two small cans that are very well drained. You can also dice fresh oranges for this dish, but it just requires more effort.
  • Chopped pecans: add a nutty crunch.
  • Miniature marshmallows: for festive, fluffy texture in the salad.
  • Cool Whip: the creamy mixture that brings this salad together. Make your own sweetened whipped cream to use in this dish if you prefer.
Stirring together a mixture of fruit and marshmallows in a white mixing bowl

How to Make Cranberry Fluff

Cranberry Fluff Salad is a sweet and festive side dish or dessert that complements the savory turkey and dressings that might also find their way onto your plates this season. It’s essentially a sweet fruit salad that’s tossed with marshmallows and pecans, and then coated in creamy whipped topping.

  1. Stir together the fruit, nuts, and mini marshmallows.
  2. Gently fold in the Cool Whip.
  3. Serve immediately or cover and chill in the fridge until ready to enjoy!
Process shot showing how to make cranberry fluff with cool whip

Serving Suggestions

Cranberry fluff salad is a great holiday dish for Thanksgiving or Christmas, so it pairs nicely with:

Square side shot of cranberry fluff salad in two glass bowls.

Preparation and Storage Tips

  • Cranberry fluff is best served within a few hours of preparation. If you want to prepare it a day in advance, just be sure to give everything a good stir right before serving.
  • The fluff will last in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. The fruit releases some juices as it sits, so while the cranberry salad still tastes delicious on Day 3 or Day 4, it tends to get a bit watery and doesn’t have as much “fluff” to it.
  • I do not recommend freezing this salad, as the fruit and creamy dressing will have a watery texture when thawed.
Side shot of a bowl of a cranberry fluff salad on a wooden table.

Recipe Variations

  • Instead of Cool Whip, you can make your own sweetened whipped cream to use in this recipe. To do so, you’ll need to whip 1 ½  cups of heavy cream until stiff peaks form. As you whip cream, sweeten to taste. Fold into the salad as instructed.
  • Instead of canned oranges, dice fresh oranges into bite-size pieces.
  • Swap out the pecans and use walnuts instead. You can also omit the nuts if you prefer.
  • Substitute homemade fresh cranberry sauce for the canned cranberries.
Spoons in two bowls of cranberry fluff salad.

Tips for the Best Cranberry Fluff Recipe

  • Make sure that the pineapples and oranges are very well drained before adding them to the bowl. If you have excess fruit juice in your salad, it will be a bit watery and not as fluffy. I like to strain off the juices in a colander, and then gently pat the fruit dry with paper towels or a dish towel so that it’s nice and dry before stirring the salad together.
  • Thaw the Cool Whip in the refrigerator overnight. Do not thaw it at room temperature or it will melt and lose its fluffy texture.
  • Gently fold in the Cool Whip, being careful not to stir too vigorously. Maintain as much of the air or “fluff” in the Cool Whip as possible, and don’t damage the structure of the fruit in the salad.
  • If you want the pecans to stay crunchy, add them at the very end — just before serving.
  • The salad is best when served within 1-3 hours of preparation; however, it can be made up to 24 hours in advance.
  • Garnish with extra marshmallows on top! Kids will go crazy for this side dish.
Overhead shot of a bowl of cranberry fluff.

More Cranberry Recipes to Try this Season

Square side shot of cranberry fluff salad in two glass bowls.

5-Minute Cranberry Fluff

5 from 5 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Total: 5 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 282 kcal
A 5-minute sweet and creamy fruit salad that's perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas!

Ingredients
  

  • 2 (20 ounce) cans pineapple tidbits, well drained
  • 1 (14 ounce) can whole berry cranberry sauce
  • 2 (11 ounce) cans mandarin oranges, well drained
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 2 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 1 (8 ounce) carton Cool Whip, thawed

Instructions

  • In large bowl, combine pineapple, cranberry sauce, oranges, pecans, and marshmallows.
    Stirring together a mixture of fruit and marshmallows in a white mixing bowl
  • Gently fold in Cool Whip.
    Process shot showing how to make cranberry fluff with cool whip
  • Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
    Overhead shot of a spoon in a bowl of cranberry fluff.

Notes

  • Make sure that the pineapples and oranges are very well drained before adding them to the bowl. If you have excess fruit juice in your salad, it will be a bit watery and not as fluffy. I like to strain off the juices in a colander, and then gently pat the fruit dry with paper towels or a dish towel so that it’s nice and dry before stirring the salad together.
  • Thaw the Cool Whip in the refrigerator overnight. Do not thaw it at room temperature or it will melt and lose its fluffy texture.
  • Gently fold in the Cool Whip, being careful not to stir too vigorously. Maintain as much of the air or “fluff” in the Cool Whip as possible, and don’t damage the structure of the fruit in the salad.
  • If you want the pecans to stay crunchy, add them at the very end — just before serving.
  • The salad is best when served within 1-3 hours of preparation; however, it can be made up to 24 hours in advance.
  • Garnish with extra marshmallows on top! Kids will go crazy for this side dish…

Nutrition

Serving: 1/8 of the recipeCalories: 282kcalCarbohydrates: 57gProtein: 2gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 46mgPotassium: 273mgFiber: 3gSugar: 46gVitamin A: 540IUVitamin C: 61.6mgCalcium: 72mgIron: 0.7mg
Keyword: cranberry fluff, cranberry fluff salad, cranberry salad, cranberry salad with cool whip
Course: Dessert, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan

This post was originally published in November, 2014. It was updated in October, 2021.

blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

Read More

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Comments

  1. Sarah says:

    This looks so delicious! I love the addition of the marshmallows. I can’t wait to try it!

    1. Blair says:

      Thanks, Sarah! And thanks for visiting. 🙂

  2. Christie says:

    This recipe sounds really good. What a great combination of goodies I love. Can’t wait to give this a try at Thanksgiving!

    1. Blair says:

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Christie! I hope that you love it!

  3. Julie says:

    I think my family would love the fluffy cranberry salad… and then I was happy to see all of the other recipes you included! Thanks for all of the inspiration. 🙂

    1. Blair says:

      Thanks for visiting, Julie! 🙂

  4. Valerie says:

    5 stars
    I love cranberries! Can’t wait to give this one a try for Thanksgiving!

    1. Blair says:

      Thanks for visiting, Valerie!

      1. Sharon says:

        Question. Do I drain the cranberries also ??

        1. Blair Lonergan says:

          Hi, Sharon! No, you don’t need to drain the cranberry sauce. There might be a little bit of liquid in the cranberry sauce, but probably not too much — it should be a fairly thick whole berry sauce. Hope you enjoy!

  5. Michelle @ A Dish of Daily Life says:

    I doubt the marshmallows would last long enough in our house for me to make this! Every single time I bought them to make s’mores for a party this summer, my boys got into them and ate them before the party. Then of course I had to eat the chocolate. It was a bad cycle and a lot of left over graham crackers. LOL. Thanks for sharing this with us at Foodie Fridays!

    1. Blair says:

      Oh yes, the marshmallows are definitely a favorite with my boys too! 🙂

  6. Stephanie says:

    I usually don’t like cranberry salad but this one looks so good I’ll have to try it!! Thank you so much for linking up at Tasty Tuesday! Your recipe has been pinned to the Tasty Tuesday Pinterest board! Please join us again this week!

  7. Nici says:

    Hands down, one of my favorite Thanksgiving side dishes! My MIL was the “fluff” master. This one sounds really good too. Thanks for sharing at my Creative Ways Link Party! I hope you’ll be back to party this week.
    Blessings,
    Nici

    1. Blair says:

      Thanks, Nici!!

  8. Ginger says:

    Love ambrosia! This will be perfect for the Thanksgiving table. Thanks for linking up at Show Me Saturday. Hope to see you there again this week!

    1. Blair says:

      Thanks, Ginger! 🙂

      1. Amanda says:

        Can I used crushed pineapple instead of the tidbits? My local store doesn’t have tidbits.
        Thanks

        1. Blair Lonergan says:

          Hi, Amanda! Yes, it will just have a slightly different texture. I would also make sure to drain the crushed pineapple really well so that any residual juices don’t water down the salad. You might even squeeze it dry gently with a dish towel. Hope that helps!

  9. Lisa @ Cooking with Curls says:

    That salad looks delicious Blair! I used to love “marshmallow” salad when I was growing up, lol 🙂 I guess I need to make it sometime!!

    1. Blair says:

      Yep…it’s definitely a cross between “salad” and a dessert! That’s why my kids love it! 🙂

  10. Laura@Baking in Pyjamas says:

    I’ve never had a dish like this before, I love the combination of cranberry and orange, such great holiday flavours. Thanks for linking up to Sweet and Savoury Sunday, stop by and link up again. Have a great day!!

  11. Kat Davis says:

    Would this hold up if made the night before? Or should I do this 5 minutes before we sit down?

    1. Blair says:

      Hi, Kat! It would be okay overnight, but I think it’s far better if you do it about an hour or so in advance. It’s nice to let it sit in the refrigerator and get cold for a little while, but if it goes too long it’s less “fluffy” and more runny. 🙂 Either way, it tastes delicious! Enjoy.

  12. Jen says:

    5 stars
    Thanks for this delicious recipe! I made it for Thanksgiving because I thought my nephew would like it, and I was right. He looked at me and declared, “This is amazing!”

    1. Blair says:

      Wonderful! I’m so glad that he approved! 🙂

  13. darrell brown says:

    I love this salad, I was told to add cream cheese and mayo.

    1. Blair says:

      Thanks, Darrell! Yes, that would work, too! 🙂

  14. Misty says:

    5 stars
    You made my Thanksgiving! I didn’t have the marshmallows so it was cool whip and we don’t care for the oranges. But this was perfect for us! Thank you so much!

    1. Blair says:

      Yay! I’m so glad that you all enjoyed it, Misty! Thanks for taking the time to leave me a note. 🙂

  15. Tracy Meza says:

    5 stars
    You Ave reminded me of all the fun fluff salads my mom would make during the holidays. She passed last year of cancer Dec. 4th. I miss her dearly but we will love the memories when I make the cranberry fluff this thanksgivings. Thank you again

    Tracy

    1. Blair says:

      Aw, thanks Tracy! My grandmother always made fluff salads like this, too. Recipes that bring back good memories are the best. Hope you enjoy and have a wonderful holiday!

  16. Rebecca says:

    looks perfect,just what i need,going to make it

    1. Blair says:

      Awesome! Enjoy, Rebecca!

  17. Bonnie says:

    Hi Blair! I found you in 2016. I had recently retired and got busy having fun. Your recipes were exactly what I needed. Please know how grateful I am and how much you are appreciated. Love Sunday’s and look forward to reading every week. You work hard and do it ALL… just beautifully. Thanks!!! ❤️ all of your yummy recipes!

    1. Blair says:

      That’s so good to hear, Bonnie. Thank you for taking the time to leave me a note. You made my day! 🙂

  18. Glenn Burdine says:

    5 stars
    I love ambrosia salad. It was a favorite when I was a kid. Momma cut up fresh oranges and we always toasted our pecans before using in about any recipe. I wonder if the “shelf life” of this salad could be extended by using a little drained juice and gelatin?

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      That’s a good thought, Glenn. I don’t know! It might work, but I haven’t tried it myself. 🙂

  19. Marenie Begay says:

    Delicious recipes

    1. The Seasoned Mom says:

      Thank you, Marenie!