Buttermilk Congealed Salad

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This buttermilk congealed salad recipe is the definition of a Southern delicacy. The fruity-flavored creamy Jello salad is so refreshing to dive into on a hot summer’s day.

Spoonful of buttermilk congealed salad.

You might be wondering what exactly is a congealed salad. Often called Jello salad, it’s a retro Southern treat that became popular in the 1930s 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.

The popular Southern side dish is made with flavored gelatin (such as Jello), fruit, vegetables, and/or nuts. Some options include cream cheese and sour cream rather than buttermilk, chopped walnuts or pecans for an extra crunch, and celery or carrot for a refreshing alternative. People usually serve it in a molded shape but scooping it in an ice cream dish is just fine too!

Now, my version of congealed salad includes buttermilk, strawberry gelatin, and crushed pineapple. The combination of the tropical pineapple with the salad’s creamy and crunchy texture is divine. Congealed salad is very popular in the South, and in particular around the holidays, so I highly recommend giving it a go. It’s so easy to make with just a few simple steps.

You can also use whatever gelatin is your favorite, whether that’s peach, orange, cherry, lime, or strawberry like me. If you’re going for a Christmas theme, I highly recommend using strawberry, cherry, or lime jello. Enjoy!

If you love Jello make sure to check our some of my other recipes like Strawberry Jello PieJello Poke Cake RecipeCherry Jello Pie, and Patriotic Jello Jars.

Labeled ingredients for buttermilk congealed salad.

Recipe Ingredients

  • Buttermilk
  • Gelatin (I use sugar-free gelatin, but you can use whatever you prefer).
  • Whipped topping (I use Cool Whip)
  • Crushed pineapple can

Helpful Kitchen Tools

How To Make Buttermilk Congealed Salad

Heat pineapple and juice on stovetop.

Place pineapple and juice in a pot

Bring pineapple to a boil.

Bring them to a boil.

Add gelatin powder to pot.

Add gelatin powder.

Mix ingredients and then remove from heat.

Mix well, then remove the gelatin mixture from the heat.

Add buttermilk to pot.

Add buttermilk.

Stir ingredients together.

Stir ingredients together.

Let ingredients cool for 30 minutes.

Now we’re going to let this cool for 20 to 30 minutes.

Add whipped topping to pot.

Next, stir in the whipped topping.

Mix ingredients together.

Until it looks like this!

Refrigerate congealed salad.

Now refrigerate to your desired texture (I recommend at least four hours or overnight).

Glasses of buttermilk congealed salad.

Now it’s time to serve! 

I just pop my salad in glasses, but if you use a mold you can slice it like a cake.

Spoonful of buttermilk congealed salad.

You can also opt to add some whipped cream on top if you like.

But I’m going to dig in as is! Yummo!


This congealed salad can be stored, covered, in the fridge for up to five days.

Recipe Variations

  • If you like, you can add some chopped celery, chopped walnuts, or chopped pecans to your congealed salad. I’d add up to 2 cups in total.
  • Another option is to add more canned fruit with the pineapple, like canned mandarin oranges or fruit cocktail.
  • Remember you can use whatever jello you like. Lime jello is one of the most popular congealed salad flavors!

Recipe FAQs

What does congealed salad mean?

Congealed salad is a salad made from gelatin combined with fruit, vegetables, and/or nuts.

When did congealed salads first become popular?

Congealed salads first became popular in the Southern United States in the 1930s.

Can you freeze congealed salads?

No, it’s best not to freeze this buttermilk salad. Because it contains gelatin, it won’t freeze properly. Fortunately, it lasts up to five days in the fridge.

How do you unmold a congealed salad?

If you want to go the traditional route and use a mold or bundt pan, first spray the mold with nonstick cooking spray before adding the ingredients. Then to remove the buttermilk salad from the mold, I recommend placing it in a shallow pan filled with hot water. Take a sharp knife and carefully separate the salad from the mold around the edges. Then after a couple of minutes, turn the mold upside down and deposit the salad onto a serving plate. If it doesn’t come out, repeat this process.

Can you make this congealed salad ahead of time?

Yes, it’s best to refrigerate the buttermilk salad overnight. So making it one or two days in advance is actually recommended.

Is congealed salad the same as gelatin salad or Jello salad?

Yes, all of these salads refer to the same dish.

Glass of buttermilk congealed salad.

Buttermilk Congealed Salad

A very popular treat in the South, this buttermilk congealed salad recipe combines Jello with fruit to make a refreshing dessert.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Chilling Time: 5 hours
Total Time: 5 hours 20 minutes
Course: Dessert, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: buttermilk, jello, salad
Servings: 4
Calories: 418kcal


  • 1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 8 ounces whipped topping, thawed
  • 2 small boxes gelatin of your choice y


  • Heat pineapple in juice and bring to a boil.
    1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple
  • Add jello and mix well.
    2 small boxes gelatin of your choice
  • Remove from heat, add buttermilk, and stir.
    2 cups buttermilk
  • Allow it to cool for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Stir in whipped topping.
    8 ounces whipped topping, thawed
  • Refrigerate to your desired texture. I recommend four hours or overnight.


Calories: 418kcal
Tried this recipe?Mention @southernplate or tag #southernplate!

You may also enjoy these other holiday salad recipes:

Dr Pepper Congealed Salad

Fresh Fruit Salad with Lemon Honey Dressing

Grandmamas Holiday Fruit Salad

Fruit Salad With Vanilla Pudding

Watergate Salad

Southern Grape Salad

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  1. I LOVE congealed salad! I have never seen the buttermilk and whipped topping version. Cream cheese was used instead, and in addition to the pineapple mama added fresh shredded carrots. I suppose mine is the SC version. I loved it as a kid, and my kids love it too!

  2. I make this every year with peach jello and it is so good! I usually use sugar free (Great Value brand) but it is getting hard to find that.

  3. A note for any of you tempted to get “fancy” with this: if you try to use fresh pineapple to replace the crushed fruit the recipe calls for, you’re going to end up with a sloppy mess. The enzymes in fresh pineapple will prevent the gelatin from congealing, and you’ll have to tell everyone it’s a chilled dessert soup!

  4. I always loved it when my Nannie Stone would fix blueberry congealed salad. It had a cream cheese topping sprinkled with chopped pecans.

  5. I made this and, when I removed the pineapple jello mixture from the heat and added the buttermilk, it curdled! The buttermilk. Should the recipe have said to cool the jello and pineapple BEFORE adding the buttermilk instead of after?

    1. You should definitely let the jello cool to room temp before adding buttermilk. I would also say that before you add the whipped cream let the mixture cool in the fridge until its partially set… Then, add the whipped cream.

      1. Can you please edit the instructions to say let it cool before adding buttermilk?
        This is a delicious congealed salad.

  6. Oh Wow!! Thank you for putting this recipe up..I was just surfing through the site salavating and came across this..My Momma use to make this when I was young and I loved it… I didn’t know or forgot the name of it..because when you’re a kid you don’t care you just want to eat it if it’s good..lol
    It’s a little late to make it to the grocery store but I will be making this soon… Thank you and I will report back with the results…oh yes I will.. lol
    I hate when someone says they will report back on a recipe and then poof you never see or hear from them again…lol

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