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A nostalgic holiday table wouldn’t be the same without Grandma’s mandarin orange salad! Whether you serve it for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, or your next Sunday supper, the combination of orange Jell-O, canned mandarin oranges, marshmallows, pecans, and fluffy Cool Whip yields a flavorful, old-fashioned fruit salad that’s always well received.

Side shot of two bowls of orange fluff salad on a wooden table with orange flower arrangement in the background.
Table of Contents
  1. Why You’ll Love This Mandarin Orange Jello Salad
  2. Ingredients for this Salad with Mandarin Oranges
  3. How to Make Mandarin Orange Salad
  4. How to Serve Orange Fluff Salad
  5. Preparation and Storage Tips
  6. Recipe Variations
  7. Tips for the Best Mandarin Orange Salad Recipe
  8. Mandarin Orange Salad Recipe

If you love dessert salads as much as we do, be sure to try this orange pineapple fluff, a classic Watergate salad, and this “angel fluff” Cool Whip fruit salad, too!

Why You’ll Love This Mandarin Orange Jello Salad

  • Quick and Easy. You only need about 10 minutes to stir this side dish together. There’s no cooking involved, and no fancy equipment necessary.
  • Make Ahead. Especially during the busy holiday season, it’s most convenient to assemble recipes in advance. This eliminates last-minute stress, and allows you to focus on your guests. This orange fluff salad is one of those gems that can be stirred together ahead of time and then chilled until ready to enjoy.
  • Minimal Ingredients. The dish comes together with just 6 simple, easy-to-find ingredients that you can keep on hand in your pantry, fridge, or freezer.
  • Versatile. Is it a side dish salad or a dessert? You decide! This dish is obviously sweet enough for the dessert buffet, but it’s equally tasty alongside savory entrees like ham, turkey, chicken, or beef.
Ingredients for mandarin orange jello salad.

Ingredients for this Salad with Mandarin Oranges

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for our favorite mandarin orange jello salad. As always, specific measurements and step-by-step instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Plain Greek yogurt: for the best flavor and texture, use either whole milk Greek yogurt or sub with full fat sour cream.
  • Orange Jell-O: just the small 3-ounce box of orange jello. You can sub with a small box of sugar-free orange Jell-O if you prefer.
  • Canned mandarin oranges: drain the fruit well so that the juices don’t thin the salad and water it down.
  • Miniature marshmallows: for sweet, fluffy texture throughout. Marshmallows in a “salad” make every kid happy!
  • Chopped pecans: these are optional, but give the dish a nice crunch. Leave them out for a nut-free salad.
  • Frozen whipped topping: such as Cool Whip brand. This is the creamy binder that brings the salad together and gives it that fluffy texture.
Process shot showing how to make mandarin orange salad.

How to Make Mandarin Orange Salad

It’s doesn’t get much easier than this! I’ve included detailed directions in the recipe card below, but here’s the quick version:

  • Gently combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Cover and chill for at least 1 hour, or up to overnight.
  • Give it another good stir just before serving.
Square side shot of mandarin orange jello salad.

How to Serve Orange Fluff Salad

A fluff fruit salad like this can be served as either a dessert or as a side dish. It always disappears fast at potlucks, and we often see it on holiday tables alongside savory options like turkey and stuffing. Here are a few entrées that go well with mandarin orange jello salad:

Two glass cups of mandarin orange jello salad on a silver tray.

Preparation and Storage Tips

The salad needs at least 1 hour to chill in the refrigerator and “set up” before serving, and can easily be made a day ahead. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2-3 days. After about 24 hours, however, the texture of the salad is less fluffy.

I do not recommend freezing this recipe, since the texture of the marshmallows will be “off” when thawed. The salad will not maintain its fluffy texture and will be watery, too.

Side shot of a wooden farm table with vintage glass bowls full of mandarin orange salad.

Recipe Variations

  • Add other fruit to the salad, such as drained maraschino cherries or well-drained crushed pineapple.
  • Omit the pecans for a nut-free dish.
  • Sub other nuts for the pecans, such as walnuts or almonds.
  • To reduce the sugar, use a small box of sugar-free orange jello and a container of sugar-free Cool Whip.
  • To serve a larger group, double all of the ingredients.
Side shot of salad with mandarin oranges in vintage glassware.

Tips for the Best Mandarin Orange Salad Recipe

  • Set aside a few orange slices and some extra marshmallows to garnish the salad just before serving.
  • How to Make the Salad Fluffy: Do not thaw the Cool Whip on the countertop. Instead, allow at least 4-5 hours (or overnight) for the Cool Whip tub to thaw in the refrigerator. This will maintain its fluffy texture. Next, make sure that you gently fold the Cool Whip into the salad — do not stir. This will maintain the air in the whipped topping.
  • Prepare the Salad in Advance: It needs at least 1 hour to chill in the refrigerator and “set up” before serving, and can easily be made a day ahead. The salad will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days. After about 24 hours, however, the texture of the salad is less fluffy.
  • Some versions of mandarin orange salad include maraschino cherries. If you’d like to do this, I recommend patting them dry first.
Side shot of mandarin orange salad on a tray with flowers in the background.

More Fruit Salad Recipes to Try

Square side shot of mandarin orange jello salad.

Mandarin Orange Salad

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 10 minutes
Chilling Time 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 206 kcal
A creamy mandarin orange jello salad is an old-fashioned dessert or simple side dish with just a few minutes of prep!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 1 (3 ounce) small box orange gelatin mix
  • 1 (15 ounce) can mandarin oranges, well drained
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 1 (8 ounce) tub frozen whipped topping, thawed (such as Cool Whip)

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the Greek yogurt and gelatin mix. Gently stir in the oranges, marshmallows, and pecans. Fold in the whipped topping just until combined.
    Process shot showing how to make mandarin orange salad.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours. Stir gently just before serving.
    Side shot of two bowls of orange fluff salad on a wooden table with orange flower arrangement in the background.

Notes

  • Set aside a few orange slices and some extra marshmallows to garnish the salad just before serving.
  • How to Make the Salad Fluffy: Do not thaw the Cool Whip on the countertop. Instead, allow at least 4-5 hours (or overnight) for the Cool Whip tub to thaw in the refrigerator. This will maintain its fluffy texture. Next, make sure that you gently fold the Cool Whip into the salad — do not stir. This will maintain the air in the whipped topping.
  • Prepare the Salad in Advance: It needs at least 1 hour to chill in the refrigerator and “set up” before serving, and can easily be made a day ahead. The salad will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days. After about 24 hours, however, the texture of the salad is less fluffy.
  • Some versions of mandarin orange salad include maraschino cherries. If you’d like to do this, I recommend patting them dry first.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/8 of the recipeCalories: 206kcalCarbohydrates: 28gProtein: 5gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.001gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 87mgPotassium: 165mgFiber: 1gSugar: 25gVitamin A: 723IUVitamin C: 18mgCalcium: 60mgIron: 0.4mg
Keyword: mandarin orange jello salad, mandarin orange salad, mandarin orange salad recipe, salad with mandarin oranges
Course: Dessert, Salad, Side, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan
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!

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Comments

  1. Celenny says:

    5 stars
    Made this for Thanksgiving yesterday, everyone loved it, thank you for those lovely emails with amazing recipes, from RVA

    1. The Seasoned Mom says:

      You’re very welcome! We’re so glad the recipes were a hit. Thank you for trying them out!