Buttermilk Congealed Salad (And A Multitude Of Tangents…)


Southerners LOVE congealed salads! We have recipes for them which include all manner of fruits AND vegetables. They are a throwback to days when food was scarce and gelatin was cheap. Door to door salesmen carried a wide array of it and my grandmothers used to delight in purchasing a multitude of what was likely the only convenience food they could afford.

Now some of you are wondering what a congealed salad is at this point as that seems to be a Southern term. A friend of my mothers confessed she had never heard it in her life until she moved to Alabama and asked Mama once, “Why don’t you just call it Jello?”.

Well, that’s a good question. Why don’t we just call it Jell-O salad? I asked Mama and she replied  
“Because it is a Congealed Salad”.

Everyone in my family loves congealed salads, but I specifically remember my great grandmother, Lela, eating them. She loved the strawberry ones best, such as this.

Lela was born in 1902 and so by the time I showed up, some seventy plus years later, she was already “on in years” as they would say. Life had not been easy to her but I am happy to say that her later years held considerable comfort as she lived with my Grandmama and Grandaddy.

Anyway, I am going off on a tangent again so I’ll get back to my point but stay tuned because I feel another digression coming :). Lela never knew how to drive and she didn’t leave the house much except to visit friends with my grandparents or for her weekly trips to Kroger with Grandmama for groceries. I’ll never forget how she got ready on those days. She would get on her good dress, put on her hose (Lela NEVER wore pants) and slip on her hard leather shoes that clicked loudly when she walked. She’d take a handkerchief and fold it perfectly to place in her coat pocket and hook her sturdy leather handbag on her arm. Then she’d stand in front of the mirror a few minutes, patting her curled white hair carefully in place.

Now, a key thing to know about Lela was that she loved to give things to people. She lived on a small social security check but Grandmama and Grandaddy took care of all of the household expenses so Lela insisted on buying a few groceries. There were three of us kids in my house and we came to visit at least once a week. Each week when she took the trip to Kroger’s, she bought every one of us our own bag of goldfish crackers and a small pack of juicy fruit gum. Each week. Goldfish crackers were quite new then and all the rage. Our family couldn’t afford things like that when we were little, much less a separate bag for each one of us! Lela did this for years and I can still see the smile she’d get as she got up from her chair to go to the kitchen and get us our loot.

As we grew older, the novelty of goldfish crackers wore off but the weekly endowment still held a lot of meaning for all of us. We began saving them in the pantry, while still chewing the gum. After a while, you can just imagine the goldfish crackers which accumulated at our house! It didn’t matter, we loved them whether we ate them or not. Even now, whenever I see a bag in my pantry or even in the grocery store, I think ‘Lela’s thinking of me’, and I buy juicy fruit gum for my kids every now and then because I know if Lela were here she’d get it for them every chance she got.

(Her son, Samp, once mentioned liking a particular can of soup. She began buying him two or three cans each week. He would make over it and smile and thank her and go home to put it in his pantry. He told my grandmother that he counted once and had over fifty cans!)

I’m sure I had a point here somewhere….oh this post was about Buttermilk Congealed salad, wasn’t it? Well you see back in the day, Kroger sold a strawberry buttermilk congealed salad just like this one. Lela bought her a little container of it each week. Oh, do you know what else she did? As they got home and unloaded all of the groceries, Lela immediately took every jarred item (pickles or what not), opened it, closed it again, and put it in the refrigerator. It took my mother quite some time to figure out why it was she did that but now we know. The jar of pickles clearly states “Refrigerate after opening” ~smiles~.

This recipe is from my mother’s cousin, Analoyce. Analoyce was a bit older than Mama and I remember her because as a child we lived next door to her mother (Myrtle Tipton) until I was seven. Myrtle was my great aunt and just a wonderful woman along with her husband, Tip. They had a barn and Tip always let us play in it anytime we wanted. For some reason, we liked swinging on their front porch swing more than ours, too, even though it was exactly the same and only a few yards away! I don’t remember very much about Analoyce other than she was very nice and always wore red, red lipstick. :)

Wow, this is tangent day for me, isn’t it? Alright so back to the buttermilk salad. Very popular in the south, the taste is just such a divine treat. This is often made with peach or orange gelatin, just use your favorite. :)

You’ll need: Buttermilk, two small boxes gelatin (I used sugar free, you can use whichever you prefer) and a can of crushed pineapple, about twenty ounces.

Heat pineapple and juice, bringing to a boil.

Add gelatin powder.

Mix well. Remove from heat.
Add buttermilk


Stir in whipped topping.
Until it looks like this!

Analoyce Buttermilk Congealed Salad
  • 1 can crushed pineapple (20 ounces)
  • 2 Cups buttermilk
  • 8 ounces whipped topping
  • 2 small boxes gelatin (your flavor choice)
  1. Heat Pineapple in juice, bring to a boil. Add jello and mix well. Remove from heat and add Buttermilk, stir. Allow to cool for twenty to thirty minutes. Stir in whipped topping. Refrigerate.


Thank you for reading Southern Plate!!!

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  1. Kelly Givan says

    This is a staple at my family’s holiday gatherings. My grandmother, 91 years young, always makes this with lime or apricot jello, but I like it with orange jello. She always adds chopped pecans to it too. So yummy!

  2. says

    You just made my Christmas with this recipe. My grandmother made buttermilk salad every year for Christmas and Thanksgiving and I loved the stuff. I was just thinking about it when your recipe popped up in my Google Reader. The only difference was she would use the orange gelatin and add pecans. Thanks for sharing!

  3. says

    Hi Christy,
    Your menu looks wonderful! I have to tell you that I’ve made the Congeal Salad for years, since I got the recipe from a sweet friend at church in GA where we were living. Everyone has loved it since. I do add a cup of crushed pecans, and that is wonderful with the other ingredients.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours…and the Best Blessings for a New Year.

  4. Tonya A says

    I just love reading your stories. They make me so happy. Makes you realize the simple things in life are what matter the most. I have never had this version, but I will make it soon. I’m from the North so my mama always made it with cottage cheese. I remember eating it at family reunions when I was a kid.

  5. Teresa says

    Your Lela sounds like my granny. She lived with us and had a small SS check. Every month she would buy things from the Avon lady and have them for e when I came to visit. She was so pleased.

  6. says

    Just wanted to say Thank you for this terrific recipe! I had made a Coca cola cake a week ago and had quite a bit of buttermilk (not a staple at my house) left over and didn’t know what I would do with it and hated for it to get thrown out, saw your post for this salad made it for Easter (and my mom made one with orange jello) and it was a hit really yummy and a simple cool treat I will be repeating this summer and for church functions. Thank you!!!

  7. Traci Watson says

    Oh my goodness! This is “evil good!” I can eat the whole thing by myself – but I promise to share with my family. This time…but I’m not making any guarantees for the next time I make it.

  8. Barbara says

    OMG!! Christy, I have been looking for this recipe for years!! My Granny used to make this when we were kids!! Yummo!! Thanks so much!! I am so thrilled to have this recipe!!!

  9. debbiecz says

    OK, this recipe is getting made for our church picnic this Sunday! Any suggestions on servings, does it matter how long it stays in the frig (can I make it Sat night?). How about doubling the recipe – any issues?

  10. Deborah Waddell says

    well, where to start. i just can’t decide which i like the best; what you call your ‘tangent’, the recipe, or the memories that it stirred in me. i think i’ll just put them all in a box in my mind; one called once apon (i’m a born and bred southerner, we do not say UPon) a time.
    i can imagine both my mother and grandmother making this. my mother was a working mom, raising 2 girls on her own and she was a firm believer in having snacks for her girls when we came home.
    often, she’d let us choose our favorite flavors, ingredients. mine was this one, but with pecan bits added. being mobilians we had access to plentiful, cheap (read free) pecans. sometimes we would have a more savory version that she served on weekends with lunch. she would use lemon jello and add thin slivers of carrots, celery and ham or bacon bits (this was before ‘bacos’ were invented, so it was fresh crumbled bacon). she made sure to ‘get vegetables in us’ every chance she got. (who knew something as yummy as carrot cake had VEGETABLES in it?). it was so good with hamburgers and homemade french fries! and we thought we were eating desert! lol
    i can’t wait for your next post. it’s the first thing i look for when i turn on my computer and i’m never disappointed. God bless you and keep up the wonderful work!

  11. Pattsy says

    I loved your story of you g-grandmother. I’m a g-grandmother also and this story gives me some ideas to share with my g-grans coming to my house. Their mother has told me no more candy. I wonder what she’ll think of Juicy Fruit gum? Thank you.

  12. Janel says

    I made this salad for a funeral meal the other day and received rave comments from some who were there. I am so glad to have the recipe and look forward to making it many other times.

    Also, I just read your comments about the Operation Christmas Child program and the news that you are going to be involved in it again this year. God bless you in your experiences. I have already begun shopping for items to go in the three boxes I am fixing.

  13. Evelyn says

    This recipe brings back alot of memories for me, when I was younger. When my VaVa (Grandmother in Portuguese) was alive, she made this salad. She called hers, “Ambrosia Salad”. She used pineapple w/juice, cottage cheese, gelatin (strawberry/banana), Cool Whip and fruit cocktail, it was delicious. Sometimes she added flaked coconut and marshmallows or try orange gelatin with mandarin oranges. Hope you all have fun with this recipe, the combinations are endless.

  14. Dianne says

    When I try to save this to my recipe box t says that it is saved but when I go to my recipe box it says it can’t find it. Am I doing something wrong or is anyone else have a problem.

  15. Cecilia says

    Thanks Christy for sharing the memories! Our family loving refers to this as “PINK STUFF”, Instead of buttermilk (simply because some of the family just doesn’t do buttermilk, which is just bizarre in Alabama) Nanny substituted buttermilk for cottage cheese. But it just wasn’t quite the same. Sometimes Nanny would use orange jello and add in some grated cheddar cheese. You just never knew what might show up on the table. But even if she made any other ‘color’, there still had to be the Pink Stuff! And we still include it whenever the family is together for meals, no matter what the occasion!

  16. Sylvia J says

    I absolutely love this salad. I didn’t have buttermilk but used plain non fat Greek yogurt. Wow! My grandkids love it. I use sugar-free Jello and Cool Whip. Nobody knows. Everyone gobbles it down. Thank you so much for your recipes.I’ve tried lime jello with the pineapple. A winner. But the best I have to say is the strawberry and strawberry-banana combos.

  17. Pam B. says

    This is my granddaughter’s FAVORITE congealed salad, made with orange jello. I use pineapple in it’s own juice, sugar free Jello to make it lower calorie. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Judy says

    I am going to make this for a nice Easter addition to our very non-traditional meal we are having this year!! I’m going to use all the light/sugar free versions, and I am sure it will taste delicious!! Thanks for sharing yet another great recipe!! :)

  19. Debbie Caraballo says

    I made this for Easter dinner – now mind you, I live in NJ with a bunch of northern folks (hubby and family) and they’d never had a congealed salad. It was definitely a hit!! I used peach gelatin, and it was soooo good! (We have a couple of folks here who won’t eat strawberry, can you imagine?) Just wanted to let you know how well this went over, and say thanks for this great recipe!


  20. says

    Christy, I love this salad. I’ve probably made it 5 times over the past couple years, which is a lot for me since I like to try new recipes. Usually make it with raspberry Jell-o and it’s great, but today I picked up a box of mango Jell-o to try! My husband hated pineapple his whole life, up until about 3 months ago when he finally saw the light, so I’m really curious about what he’ll think of this salad since he would never even try it before.

  21. Michelle M. says

    I make a similar salad, but there’s no cooking involved which makes it easy peasy. Cool whip, cottage cheese, crushed pineapple (drained) dry jello, nuts if you want them. mix it all up and put it in the fridge. We call it pink fluff when we use red jello. Use the regular size of everything but I use 2 jellos cause I like the more intense flavor. YUMMY

  22. Pamela says

    Oh Christy, I thoroughly enjoyed that trip down all those side and back roads and enjoyed all the beautiful scenery along the way in order to get to the congealed salad recipe!
    I’ll go along for the ride anytime!

  23. Heidi Q says

    This is such an interesting way to make this. My mom makes a very similar Jello mold, but we’ve always strained the pineapple and added it to the prepared, but still liquid, Jello (my fave is lime!). Also, we add sour cream rather than buttermilk. I’m guessing that’s a north vs south difference. I think I’ll try this with heating the pineapple and juice. Perhaps we will avoid that looser set we sometimes get.

  24. Kate says

    I remember eating a dish similar to this that had cottage cheese and pecans added. It sounds bad but the taste was amazing. Christie have you ever heard of this dish? We will have your recipe for Easter and I hope to locate the recipe I remember from my childhood. Blessings and gratitude for your amazing posts.

  25. Gina says

    My husband does the same thing with jarred food and now he has me doing it lol. Love all your family stories. :) by the way, my little girl, Angelina, saw me looking on Southernplate and asked, “What recipe is Christy making?” I love that this site is site is family friendly and so many recipes my little girl and I can make together.

  26. says

    I also add a small can of mandarin oranges to mine. Just make sure it is well-drained! I dice them then place them in a strainer to get rid of any additional juice; Afterwards I add them to the mixture and let it slightly congeal before folding in the Cool Whip.


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