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Cranberry Fluff Salad starts with fresh cranberry sauce made from scratch, combined with mini marshmallows, mandarin oranges, crushed pineapple, and creamy whipped topping.

It’s the perfect combination of creamy, sweet, and tart, and it makes a great side dish or dessert for the holidays.

Big fan of dessert salads? Try our Sour Cream Salad and Pistachio Fluff Salad next!

Pink cranberry fluff in a bowl, topped with sugar coated cranberries.
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Why I Love This Recipe

Our Thanksgiving meal usually includes a bunch of savory sides, like Homemade Stuffing, Frozen Dinner Rolls, and Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes. But we always include some kind of sweet side to offset all the savory, like this creamy, delicious Cranberry Fluff Salad.

Cranberry Fluff is full of sweet and tart flavors and is the perfect palette cleansing bite between the Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes and the Green Bean Casserole.

There are variations of cranberry salad that include ground up whole cranberries, but I find that I just don’t like the texture, so I came up with a variation all my own that is sweeter, creamier, and my personal favorite!


  • Homemade Cranberry Sauce – Whole cranberries, sugar, and water. I prefer to make my own cranberry sauce from scratch because it’s incredibly easy and I can control the sweetness. You could certainly use 2 cans of whole cranberry sauce if you prefer.
  • Cool Whip – Or another brand of non-dairy whipped topping. You could also go all out and make your own whipped cream.
  • Fruit – I used mandarin oranges and crushed pineapple because I was going for something similar to my grandma’s Sour Cream Salad.
  • Mini Marshmallows – It’s not “fluff” without marshmallows!
  • Garnish – I love sugared cranberries, so I rolled some cranberries through a little dish of granulated sugar to set on top of the salad. Bonus, they’re completely edible too!

How to Make Cranberry Fluff Salad

See the recipe card below for full, detailed instructions

Simmering cranberries, water and sugar in a skillet.

Make the cranberry sauce. Add cranberries, sugar, and water to a pan and simmer for 10 minutes. The berries should begin to gently burst. Transfer to the fridge – the sauce must be chilled before adding it to the salad.

Oranges, marshmallows and pineapples
 in a bowl with pink cranberry sauce

Assemble the salad. In a large bowl, gently fold the chilled cranberry sauce and Cool Whip together (the cranberry sauce will be fairly solid; gently press with your spatula to break up). Gently mix in the mandarin oranges, pineapple, and mini marshmallows. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

cranberry fluff in a bowl

Garnish. Just before serving, roll some fresh cranberries in granulated sugar and carefully place on top of the salad.


Proper Storage of Leftovers: Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days. It may get a little watery, but you can either drain that off or stir it in.

Can you freeze it? You can freeze it for up to 6 months, but keep in mind that the texture of the marshmallows and the whipped topping will change when thawed.

Can you make it ahead and store it? Yes, this salad can be prepared up to 24 hours in advance. Any more than that it may become watery. Be sure to give it a quick stir before serving.

Pro Tips

  • Chill for best results – This salad is best when it’s been hanging out in the fridge for at least a few hours, or even overnight. When it gets warm, the whipped cream begins to melt and it’s not a pretty picture. Don’t let it sit out for more than 2 hours.
  • Drain the canned fruit really well – Dump the oranges and pineapple into a colander and set over a bowl so the juices can drain. Give them at least 30 minutes to drain.
  • Customize – You can customize the fruit in the salad if you like. Use fruit cocktail, or skip the pineapple. Your call. Just know that we think the fruits play really nicely together and we love this fluff so much.
  • Add nuts – Some chopped pecans would make a lovely addition.
Small bowl with a serving of cranberry fluff.

More Cranberry Recipes You’ll Love


Cranberry Fluff Salad

4.75 from 4 votes
Cranberry Fluff Salad is a creamy cranberry salad side dish or dessert with cranberry sauce, marshmallows, oranges, pineapple and Cool Whip.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 22 minutes
Servings 8 servings


  • 12 ounce package whole cranberries
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 10 ounce container non-dairy whipped topping like Cool Whip
  • 8 ounce can mandarin oranges drained well
  • 8 ounce can crushed pineapple drained well
  • 1 cup Mini marshmallows
  • Sugared Cranberries for garnish if desired
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  • Heat a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add cranberries, granulated sugar and water.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, or until berries begin to burst. Remove from heat and pour cranberries into a bowl to cool.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and cool completely. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  • In a large mixing bowl, gently fold chilled cranberry sauce and non-dairy whipped topping together (the cranberry sauce will be fairly solid; gently press with your spatula to break up).
  • Fold in mandarin oranges, pineapple and mini marshmallows until well combined.
  • Pour into a serving dish, cover and chill until ready to serve.
  • If desired, top with sugared cranberries. Simply roll some cranberries in granulated sugar and carefully place on top of the salad.


Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. 
Make ahead up to 2 days, but be sure to drain the fruits really well.
Keyword cranberry fluff salad, cranberry salad


Calories: 197kcalCarbohydrates: 46gProtein: 2gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 6mgSodium: 33mgPotassium: 113mgFiber: 1gSugar: 41gVitamin A: 448IUVitamin C: 12mgCalcium: 47mgIron: 1mg

Nutritional Disclaimer Kristin Maxwell of “Yellow Bliss Road” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. For accurate calorie counts and other nutritional values, we recommend running the ingredients through your preferred online nutritional calculator. Calories and other nutritional values can vary depending on which brands were used.

Kristin Maxwell

Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.

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  1. Sandy says:

    Ingredients say – drained well but down in comments you wrote on a question — oranges, yes – pineapple no — kinda confusing – would you kindly clarify this on recipe and comment to be the same process. Thanks

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      The comment is older and I’ve updated the recipe since. I’ll remove the comment so there’s no confusion. Just to clarify though, when in doubt, always follow the recipe rather over the comments.

  2. Erika says:

    I have a bunch of fresh mandarins. Can I use those instead of the canned?

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      Yes, with the caveat that they may be a little tougher than canned which have been packed in juice so the are softer. If using fresh, I would cut each slice in half.

  3. Marilyn Vogel says:

    CRANBERRY FLUFF….do you drain the pineapple and mandrin oranges?

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      Yes, drain them both. Just follow the recipe and it will be delicious!

  4. Dora says:

    Made it today to make sure my family would like for Thanksging and it was so easy and everyone’s just loved it.

    Thank u for sharing.

    Kristen u are my go to girl for recipes u are amazing with your cooking skills. Everything I’ve made from your site is always delicious. I believe I’ve tried like 7 main dishes and 2 desserts now!

    1. Kristin says:

      Thank you Dora,
      So happy that you and your family loved this recipe.
      thanks for stopping by again.

  5. Dawn Calvert says:

    Hello,I just have a quick question on why you cooked your cranberries?Im making this on Thanksgiving and all the other recipes put the cranberries in a food processor.I just wanted to get your reason behind it.I think I’m cooking mine now since I found your recipe!

    1. Kristin says:

      For texture and flavor. Cranberries, even chopped up in the food processor are still extremely tart and not a very pleasant texture (to me at least). I prefer to use a homemade cranberry sauce.

  6. Cheryl says:

    My mom has made this cranberry salad ever since I can remember (at least 40+ years). Now these days, I can appreciate the one other big plus this salad offers (besides it’s yummmmmy taste)…it’s best made early in the morning or even the day before you serve so the marshmallows get nice and soft.

    My mom would always make a very large container of this and we’d have it for a few more days with all the other leftovers!

    Oh ya…you can eat this all by itself for a dessert too;) Everyone needs to make the this a holiday tradition!