Christmas Ribbon Salad

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Gelatin salads are very popular at holidays.  I have been making this beautiful ribbon version since my girls were little.  It looks like Christmas and best of all, tastes really good; not just any jello salad!

Christmas Ribbon Jello group

The green layer is lime; second layer is cream cheese, melted marshmallows, pineapple juice, and lemon gelatin.  Third layer is a combo of cherry and raspberry (or cranberry) gelatin.  The secret is to make it early so each layer has time to set completely in between.

The salad goes well and looks beautiful with anything – ham, roasts, turkey, you name it.  I make it two days ahead of time so it’s done and out-of-the-way.  Only problem is keeping everyone away from it!

Christmas Ribbon Jello bite

5.0 from 9 reviews
Christmas Ribbon Salad
  • First Layer:
  • Two 3-ounce packages lime gelatin
  • 2-1/2 cups hot (not boiling) water (very hot tap water works great)
  • Second Layer:
  • One 8-ounce package block-style cream cheese, softened
  • One 3-ounce package lemon gelatin
  • 1-1/2 cups hot (not boiling) water
  • 3 cups mini marshmallows
  • ½ cup pineapple juice
  • Third Layer:
  • One 3-ounce package cherry gelatin
  • One 3-ounce package red raspberry (or cranberry) gelatin
  • 2-1/2 cups hot (not boiling) water
  1. For First Layer:
  2. Place the 2 packages of lime gelatin in the hot water, stirring well to dissolve. Pour into a 9-by-13-inch pan and let stand in the refrigerator until completely firm.
  3. For Second Layer:
  4. In bowl of electric mixer with whisk attachment, whip the cream cheese until light and fluffy, scraping bowl often; set aside. Dissolve the lemon gelatin in the hot water and set aside.
  5. In a saucepan, place the mini marshmallows and pineapple juice over medium heat and stir constantly until marshmallows melt and mixture is smooth. Pour the hot marshmallow mixture and lemon gelatin mixture into the whipped cream cheese in mixer and blend together until very smooth, scraping bowl and beater often. Set aside and let cool completely (about 30 minutes) then carefully pour over refrigerated and set lime layer, using a slow back and forth motion while pouring and not pouring into one spot. Refrigerate until completely set before adding next layer.
  6. For Third Layer:
  7. Combine cherry and raspberry gelatins in the hot water and stir to dissolve. Let cool completely (about 25 to 30 minutes) before carefully and slowly pouring over cream cheese layer, using the same back and forth pouring and not pouring into one spot. Refrigerate until completely set. Cut into desired size squares to serve, usually 2 to 3 inch squares.
  8. Salad can be made a day or two ahead of time.

Christmas Ribbon Jello single


46 Responses to Christmas Ribbon Salad

  1. December 18, 2016 at 3:27 pm #

    I love it! The holidays wouldn’t be complete without jello salad. My aunt makes at least one every year. (I think it’s so funny what we call salads!)

    • December 19, 2016 at 10:02 am #

      Dana, I agree! It’s funny that anything with jello seems to be called a salad! I think it must be some throwback to the ’50’s.

      • December 22, 2021 at 5:50 pm #

        I remember making this “jello salad” in the early 70s for Christmas. It’s very good but it does take some time since it’s done in layers. Not difficult though.

        • December 23, 2021 at 12:13 am #

          Vicki, I just made the first green layer about 10 minutes ago so it sets overnight and I’ll finish it tomorrow! It’s not Christmas around here without it. I never could figure out why it was called a salad. It’s more like a dessert! There is no savory in it. We love it. You’re right – it just takes time to make, but worth it. Merry Christmas!

          • December 23, 2021 at 1:23 am #

            Yes, Debbie. Definitely worth it. And I agree, it’s more like a dessert!

    • December 21, 2019 at 6:02 pm #

      Is there any substitute for the pineapple or pear juice? [email protected]

      • November 20, 2021 at 7:34 pm #

        Get no added sugar crushed pineapple and use the pineapple and the flavored water. It adds to the taste nicely without the excessive sugar. Also use sugarfree jellos. It becomes reasonably diabetic friendly.

        • November 20, 2021 at 11:02 pm #

          Great suggestions, Robert. Thank you!

  2. December 19, 2016 at 5:39 pm #

    This “salad” looks so festive! Any tips on how you cut it with such “clean” edges?

    • December 27, 2016 at 9:58 pm #

      Hi Denise – I just realized I have not answered your question yet! I’m afraid the Christmas rush got away from me. The only thing I do when cutting the jello into squares is run the knife or small metal spatula under very hot tap water, wipe off excess water and immediately cut into squares while the knife is still warm. Also, I only tent the pan loosely with nonstick foil without touching the prepared and chilled jello, or if it is cut into squares, they can be placed in a container with a lid that doesn’t touch the top of jello.

  3. December 5, 2017 at 7:02 pm #

    How do you mix so much liquid in the lemon layer and have it come out smooth? It seemed that I had so much more liquid than the cream cheese.

    • December 6, 2017 at 2:16 pm #

      Hi Chris- The only suggestion I can offer is to whip the softened block cream cheese very well before adding the other ingredients and scrape the bowl and beaters often. The same thing goes when adding the rest of the ingredients. Scraping the bowl and beaters often is essential to make the mixture very smooth. Then refrigerate the 30 minutes before pouring over the set layer in the pan, or maybe it will take slightly longer. Refrigerator temperatures can vary. Make sure it is easy enough to pour but it is not too thickened. I hope that helps because it’s so beautiful and delicious! It’s a tradition to have it on our Christmas table every year.

      • December 6, 2017 at 4:36 pm #

        Thanks for the suggestions!

        • December 6, 2017 at 5:49 pm #

          You’re welcome, Chris! Hope it helps.

    • December 25, 2020 at 11:45 am #

      I’m just now using this recipe three years after your question about so much liquid in the second layer. Mine is the same way! Very watery not “smooth” by any means. Did yours turn out? Thank you

      • December 30, 2020 at 6:41 am #

        Andrea, the middle layer consistency is not smooth like say a cheesecake filling, but will set as it cools overnight, which is key.

      • January 1, 2021 at 12:44 pm #

        Softening the cream cheese really well first made that 2nd layer easier to mix. I think I didn’t let it sit out long enough the first try.

    • December 27, 2020 at 12:35 pm #

      Always very important with the center filling let it completely chill over night to make it be thick enough to spread if it’s too thick just give it a blend again with the mixer.!! Then it will spread on top easily.

      • December 30, 2020 at 6:33 am #

        Agree, Rebekah! I always let the center filling chill overnight. Letting the layers get completely set in between is the key to success of this recipe, plus letting the plain jello layers cool before adding to another layer. It takes time, but worth it!

  4. December 16, 2017 at 5:19 pm #

    Any chance of subbing diced pears and pear juice for pineapple juice in middle layer?

    • December 17, 2017 at 1:23 pm #

      Hi Lora- Using pear juice instead of pineapple would be fine, but if you added diced pears the layer would be lumpy and not smooth like the other layers. I wasn’t sure if you meant not using the mini marshmallows and diced pears instead, it would not set. The melted marshmallows are needed. I hope this helps!

  5. December 17, 2017 at 7:37 pm #

    Success! My Christmas Ribbon Salad came out perfect this year. I’m inclined to think the problem I had last year was due to the marshmallows. This year I had “name brand” marshmallows, and I noticed they melted almost instantly. Last year I had a generic brand of marshmallows which did not want to melt, and the consistency of the melted marshmallows/pineapple juice seemed much different this year.

    • August 28, 2020 at 6:54 pm #

      My mom used to make holly nog which is a lot like this. The green layer was the same and the red layer was raspberry jello with trail mix but the lemon layer had cool whip and maybe some Hellman’s in it. Have you encountered this version? I think my dog ate the recipe! Oh and I think the lemon layer was cool on the stove so it thickened somewhat. I have called jello and whoever makes cool whip and Hellman’s about this recipe without success.

      • December 27, 2020 at 6:41 am #

        The version in my mother’s recipes has mayo in the middle layer. The rest is the same. Cream cream (8 oz). Miniature marshmallows (1/2 cup). Mayonnaise (1/2 cup). Pineapple juice (1 cup). Pineapples, crushed (1 cup). Whipped cream (1 cup).

    • January 1, 2021 at 12:45 pm #

      I agree about the name-brand marshmallows!

  6. December 21, 2017 at 7:44 pm #

    I am wondering if this sets up firmly enough that it could be placed in a mold , then unmolded just before serving?

    • December 31, 2017 at 8:40 pm #

      Hi Karen- Sorry I did not respond before this. We had a housefull over Christmas and I haven’t kept up with my blog, but had a great time playing with my 11-month-old granddaughter! To answer your question, I have no idea! I have never made it in a mold before. If you did it or might in the future, I would love to hear how it turned out!

    • December 14, 2018 at 1:51 pm #

      My mom would make a variation of this holiday jello, but it had crushed pineapple in it and was prepared slightly differently, however it is essentially the identical recipe. She always served it from a ring or dome mold and it always came out beautifully. The recipe only used 1 box of each flavor because the mold is a smaller capacity. Also, to keep the ribbons even in depth, I often don’t use all of the middle layer (and the other 2 for that matter) and just use the extra in another bowl to enjoy later. Enjoy!!

      • December 14, 2018 at 9:07 pm #

        Leah, your mom’s version sounds delicious and pretty! I love those dome molds.

    • June 20, 2020 at 6:07 pm #

      I’ve seen my sister use jello-molds and she sets the cold molded desert in a pan of hot water before placing plate on top and then turning over. But I don’t know for how long. Only long enough to soften the VERY outside of the dessert. Don’t want the bottom layer to liquify. Anyone out there know for how long?

      • July 16, 2020 at 12:25 pm #

        Karen and Denise, I know many gelatin dishes are flipped out, but this one is not. Just cut into squares and serve! The squares cut perfectly. I make this every Christmas.

    • March 6, 2022 at 2:51 pm #

      Yes it can. I found this recipe just before Christmas 2021 and have made it in individual Bundt pans. Just remember to spray it before putting the jello in the pans

  7. December 24, 2018 at 12:21 pm #

    This is the year that I have tried this recipe and it turned beautifully. I usually make a “jello fluff” for the holidays but I am so glad I decided to try something different. My family really enjoyed it. Thank you.

    • December 29, 2018 at 9:56 am #

      Hi Betty- I’m so glad your family enjoyed it! It isn’t Christmas at our table without it. So festive-looking and delicious! Thank you for writing.

  8. November 26, 2019 at 1:48 pm #

    This was a “had to have, required” salad at every dinner when my mother had company. it soon became THE salad for family dinners. If it wasn’t on the table, there were complaints! Mom always used crushed pineapple for the juice. Betty (not the same Betty above, lol)

    • November 26, 2019 at 11:56 pm #

      Betty, it’s required at our table too!

  9. February 15, 2020 at 4:27 pm #

    This looks like a beautiful recipe. Thanks for sharing. My Nanny made a salad like this one but there was pineapple chunks in the middle layer. When I made yours, I pressed canned pineapple to get the juice, then after the mix was cooled to room temp, I stirred 1/2 c pressed crushed pineapple in before I added the layer. We will see!

    • February 15, 2020 at 10:14 pm #

      Let me know how it turned out, Stephanie!

  10. October 29, 2021 at 4:11 pm #

    Try red & blue for July 4th. Grape & orange for Halloween.

    • October 30, 2021 at 12:16 am #

      Great suggestions, Sandy. Thank you!

  11. December 20, 2021 at 9:00 am #

    Do you do anything t the pan before pouring in the layers. I’m afraid it may stick to the pan.

    • December 20, 2021 at 11:42 am #

      Hi Sizuko- I use a nonstick pan and have never had a problem lifting it out. I have never tried lightly coating the pan with PAM spray so I don’t know about that option. Good luck if you make it. It’s really good and looks so festive!

  12. December 15, 2023 at 1:22 pm #

    This recipe was a tradition in my family at Christmas and Thanksgiving except it is the version with Hellmann’s mayonnaise. It sounds crazy but it’s delicious and may be why some are finding the middle layer for this recipe too liquidy. Also, we made ours in a deep trifle bowl. That way you get the pretty colors but can spoon it out with ease. I’m about to make it for an office holiday potluck!

    • December 17, 2023 at 1:40 am #

      I’m sure it will be a hit at your office party, Heather. It’s one of those recipes that has been around a long time and always enjoyed. I’ll be making ours for Christmas too. Thanks for writing and have a great time at your party!

  13. December 18, 2023 at 8:07 am #

    My mom always made this for Xmas, but she added some crushed pineapple instead of just juice and sometimes chopped walnuts, too! Some variations add 1/2 cup of mayo to the filling as well.

    • December 18, 2023 at 10:50 am #

      Diane- Thanks for your mom’s tips! This recipe has certainly stood the test of time. Every Christmas people write me about it being a favorite. It’s a must in our house!

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