Jello for Thanksgiving

Published 12:54 pm Friday, November 17, 2023

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“Don’t wait until the fourth Thursday in November to sit with family and friends to give thanks. Make every day a day of Thanksgiving!”

-Charmaine J. Forde 


When the calendar turns to November, Thanksgiving is foremost in our thoughts. Who’s coming for dinner; will it be turkey again; “is it over the river and through the woods this year?” But do you think about Jello?

Linda: For anyone in their senior years, they will remember when a tasty molded Jello salad was part of Thanksgiving. These retro salads incorporated fruit, nuts, maybe cream cheese or sour cream. I know Jello seems rather dreary today, but these salads were always welcome at the table. They add a nostalgic touch to the meal.

Lucy:  Our mother’s favorite was a strawberry nut salad. I made it every Thanksgiving. It has strawberries, bananas, nuts and sour cream. I remember one Thanksgiving at our house, everyone surprisingly voted the Strawberry Nut Jello Salad to be their favorite dish.

Linda: Years ago, probably the ‘50s or ‘60s, there was a Jello recipe that everyone was making for holiday dinners. I always included it as a “must-have dish.” It was a Lime Jello recipe made with crushed pineapple and cottage cheese. Recently I was in touch with an old friend from about 60 years ago. She told me that every Thanksgiving she still makes my recipe.

Lucy: One year I made a Jello salad using frozen mixed fruit. At first, my grandchildren turned their noses up and were hesitant to try it. But once my grandson tasted a spoonful, he took the whole plate and said it was his; he wasn’t sharing. So now it’s a favorite every time they come to visit. Jello salads are easy, make-ahead additions to offer when you need one more thing to complete the meal.

Linda: And let’s not forget our traditional suggestions for making Thanksgiving ahead of time. Make-Ahead Gravy is easy and takes the last-minute stress out of the busy day.  Our “Two Sisters Cookbook” includes all of our ideas for a Make-Ahead Thanksgiving.  We have two more sale days at the Landrum Farmers Market, November 11 and December 2 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Our decorated cookbooks are ready for gift-giving.




Strawberry Nut Salad


1  12 oz package of strawberry jello

2 cups boiling water

2  10 oz packages of frozen strawberries in juice

1 can crushed pineapple, one pound 4 ounce

3 mashed ripe bananas

1 cup chopped nuts

1 pint sour cream



In large bowl mix Jello with the boiling water and stir until dissolved. Add the strawberries and juice. Drain the pineapple and add to the Jello with bananas and nuts. Stir to combine. Put half of mixture in a 13″ x 9″ pan or a jello mold. Put into the refrigerator and let set for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Then spread sour cream over the jello and gently spoon the remainder of the jello over the sour cream. Chill until set, about an hour and a half. This can be made a day in advance of serving.  


‘60s Lime Jello Pineapple Salad


1 cup crushed pineapple (drained with juice reserved)

1 cup water (more or less depending on what’s needed, see instructions below)

2 packages lime jello (3 oz each)

1 cup mayo

1 cup evaporated milk (canned)

1 cup small curd cottage cheese

1/2 cup pecans (chopped)



In a large multi-cup measuring cup (I use my 4-cup Pyrex), add all of the reserved pineapple juice and then add enough water to the juice to make a total of 2 cups. Pour into pot and bring just to a boil. Add the lime Jell-o mix to the boiling pineapple juice/water and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat, allow to cool just slightly. In a mixing bowl, stir together the mayo and evaporated milk. Combine until very smooth. Slowly stir in the Jell-o mixture until all is incorporated with the mayo/milk mixture. Stir in the crushed pineapple, cottage cheese, and pecans. Pour mixture into an 8×8″ glass casserole pan or decorative jello mold. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight (preferred). For serving, turn Jello out from the mold onto a decorative plate, or can be cut into squares or spooned from the  8 x 8 dish. This recipe can be made 1-3 days in advance.


Lucy’s Strawberry Pineapple Salad


One  15 oz can crushed pineapple in juice

Two boxes of strawberry Jello (regular or sugar-free)

4 cups frozen fruit — strawberries and mixed fruits. (I use 2 bags — one bag of strawberries and one bag of mixed berries), partially thawed 

One cup chopped nuts if desired



Partially thaw fruit

Heat pineapple and juice to boiling and pour over dry Jello. Stir well to dissolve . Then add fruits — cut strawberries in half as they are large. Fruit should be partially thawed. Chill until set. Whipped topping can be used if using as a dessert.


One Month Or a Few Weeks Ahead:

Southern Living’s Make Ahead Gravy Recipe: 


½ cup butter

½ cup chopped yellow onion

½ cup all purpose flour

4 to 5 cups chicken stock (home made or store bought)



Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. While stirring, sprinkle flour over onions. Cook stirring constantly, two minutes or until flour is golden brown. Gradually whisk in four cups stock. Cook, stirring often, five minutes or just until mixture comes to a boil and is smooth and thick. If too thick add up to one more cup of stock.

To freeze: Season with salt and pepper. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. Pour cooled gravy into quart size ziptop freezer bags. Seal and lay bags flat on a baking sheet. Place in freezer. Once frozen, bags can be stacked. Thaw in the refrigerator three to four days before the dinner. Reheat on stovetop.


Three Weeks Ahead:

Your Favorite Dressing Recipe

Make your favorite dressing. Freeze the unbaked mixture in ziptop bags, making sure to press out all the excess air. Thaw in refrigerator four days before Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving day, place in greased casserole dish. Bake at 350 for 50 to 60 minutes or until done and top is light brown.


Two to Three Days Ahead:

Make your favorite mashed potato recipe. Place in greased casserole dish. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator. Thanksgiving day, remove casserole from fridge, uncover, and bake in oven along with the dressing.