Congealed Salad With Dr. Pepper

This quick and easy 4-ingredient congealed salad recipe includes a deliciously sweet and refreshing combination of cherry jello, cherry pie filling, Dr. Pepper, and crushed pineapple.

Dr. Pepper Congealed Salad

Outside of the Southern United States, most folks refer to Southerners’ congealed salad as gelatin salad or jello salad. Yep, we just like to be different. But this Southern classic is like an upgraded fruit salad and it’s a must at any spring/summer gathering. The possibilities of a congealed salad are endless, much to the delight of its devotees.

My great-grandmother, who lived the majority of her life as a sharecropper, considered congealed salad to be the ultimate treat. Back in her day, though, it was a treat that could only be enjoyed in the winter due to them not having a refrigerator. Alabama summers would never allow the gelatin to set up in this heat!

Much like my great-grandmother, I’ve never met a congealed salad that I didn’t like. On a recent visit to Georgia though, my sister-in-law managed to shoot this one to the top of my list by making this salad with one of my favorite things in the entire universe: Dr. Pepper. And since I don’t drink it very often anymore, I love finding ways I can sneak it into my life with just a little bit here and there.

So today folks we’re gonna make a congealed salad with Dr. Pepper. Feel free to use your favorite fizzy drink (in the South we call all of these ‘coke’). The original recipe called for cherry, which makes sense as we use both cherry jello and cherry pie filling. The only other ingredient you need is crushed pineapple.

This 4-ingredient congealed salad recipe is so quick and easy to make. We just need to mix the ingredients together over the stovetop, which doesn’t take long at all. The hardest part is waiting for it to set in the fridge! Add whipped topping and you have the ultimate summer dessert.

Dr Pepper Congealed Salad Ingredients

Recipe Ingredients

  • Crushed pineapple
  • Cherry gelatin
  • Pie filling
  • Dr. Pepper (or coke/fizzy drink of your choice)

How To Make Congealed Salad With Your Favorite Fizzy Drink

Drain pineapple, reserving the juice.

Drain your pineapple, reserving the juice.

Add gelatin to boiling water and pineapple juice and stir until dissolved.

In a saucepan, bring 1/2 cup of water and the pineapple juice to a boil.

Once boiling, add gelatin and stir until dissolved.

Stir in Dr. Pepper.

Stir in Diet Dr. Pepper (or coke of choice).

Now the great thing about this recipe is that you aren’t quite gonna use that whole can. There is a nice little swig left for ya in there!

When you do this, it’s gonna foam up some. Just lettin’ ya know so you don’t worry.

Stir in pie filling.

Add in pie filling and stir that up.

Add pineapple.

Until it looks like this.

Add in pineapple. 

To place in a mold, take a jello mold or simply a bundt cake pan and spray with cooking spray. Pour contents inside and refrigerate until firm and congealed (this will take a few hours). To turn out of the mold, dip just the bottom in warm (not hot) water for a few seconds to help gelatin release, then turn it out onto the plate.

Or you can do it like I like to do…

Dr. Pepper Congealed Salad

Use individual 8-ounce mason jars to spoon it out into.

Dr Pepper Congealed Salad in jars

See how pretty? Now put the lid on these and store them in the fridge.

Make sure they are good and cold before serving so they will be set properly.

Individual little desserts are such a fun way to serve this!

Dr. Pepper Congealed Salad with whipped topping.

Top with some whipped cream to finish it all off. Enjoy this deliciously different salad! 


Store leftover congealed salad in the mason jars or covered in plastic wrap in the fridge for up to 5 days. 

Recipe Notes

  • You can use sugar-free gelatin if you like as well as a low-sugar cherry pie filling! It will turn out just as delicious.
  • Want to add more crunch and texture? Add 1 cup of chopped pecans or chopped walnuts.
  • Some traditional congealed salad recipes also add 1 cup of finely chopped celery for something different!
  • You can use any flavor of jello and pie filling in this recipe:
    • Strawberry jello salad with strawberry jello and strawberry pie filling.
    • Grape jello salad with grape jello and blueberry pie filling or fresh blueberries.
    • Cherry lime jello salad: follow this recipe and add 1/4 cup of fresh lime juice and 1 tablespoon of lime zest.
    • A similar option: green jello salad with lime jello and cherry pie filling.
    • Orange jello salad with orange jello and canned mandarin oranges instead of the canned pineapple.
  • Another option is to substitute the cherry pie filling for a jar of maraschino cherries, sliced and undrained.

Recipe FAQs

Can you freeze congealed salads?

No, it’s best not to freeze the congealed salad. Because it contains gelatin, it won’t freeze properly. 

Can you make this congealed salad ahead of time?

Yes, you can definitely make it one or two days in advance and let the flavors marry together in the refrigerator.

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

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

Check out these other Southern desserts:

Buttermilk Congealed Salad

Watergate Salad

Snickers Caramel Apple Salad

Bananas in Red Stuff (a.k.a Strawberry Glaze)

Vanilla Wafer Pudding Recipe With Pineapple

Dr. Pepper Congealed Salad

This quick and easy 4-ingredient congealed salad recipe includes a deliciously sweet and refreshing combination of cherry jello, cherry pie filling, Dr. Pepper, and crushed pineapple.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: dessert recipe, salad
Servings: 4 8-ounce jars
Calories: 177kcal


  • 1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 3-ounce boxes cherry gelatin
  • 1 20-ounce can cherry pie filling
  • 3/4 cup Diet Dr. Pepper or favorite coke


  • Drain pineapple, reserving the juice, and set it aside.
    1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple
  • In a saucepan, bring pineapple juice and water to a boil. Add gelatin and stir until dissolved.
    1/2 cup water, 2 3-ounce boxes cherry gelatin
  • Stir in Diet Dr. Pepper, then the cherry pie filling, then the crushed pineapple.
    1 20-ounce can cherry pie filling, 3/4 cup Diet Dr. Pepper or favorite coke, 1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple
  • Pour into a mold, mason jars, or a serving bowl and refrigerate until firm. Serve cold.


Calories: 177kcal
Tried this recipe?Mention @southernplate or tag #southernplate!

This post was originally published in July 2009. I updated the photos in April 2019.

This recipe is featured on Meal Plan Monday and Weekend Potluck.

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~Dale Carnegie     

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  1. I have a similar recipe that I have made for years – using coca cola and tart cherries (packed in water) cherry jello, pineapple, sugar and pecans (chopped) – very simple but delicious.

  2. This sounds so interesting….I was of course expecting it to be cranberry. I always make at least one new recipe every holiday….this one is going to be it ! I have gotten so many new and fun recipes and ideas from you….and the way they are presented is great, down home and personal, just my style.

  3. This recipe came to my family many years ago when my grandmother (who first came to Kansas in a covered wagon) clipped it out of the Capper’s Weekly newspaper. It used a can of whole cranberry sauce, Coca-Cola and pecans. We have tested many versions over the last 50-60 years and loved them all. We use the cranberries at Thanksgiving and cherries in the summer. Coke or Dr. Pepper as we have on hand. Everyone is excited to see Grandma “John’s” jello salad on the buffet.

  4. This sounds yummy! Will be sure to try it as the temp heats up! As a busy mom of three, when the kids were growing up, I served jello occasionally , but ALWAYS during the holidays because it is so convenient to do ahead . So the kids always tease me that “It must be a holiday ’cause Mom made jello!”. I still like to make it to have on hand as an extra to enjoy for a bit. Thanks for this great sounding recipe!

  5. We have had this for as many years as I can remember (and that is a lot of years!) although ours was called Cherry Coke Salad, using Coke instead of Dr. Pepper and using a can of dark sweet cherries instead of the pie filling. I can’t imagine a Thanksgiving or Christmas without it! When asked why we had it, this is what I was told: In the1950s, shortly before Thanksgiving, the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare announced that cranberry products were contaminated with a weed-killer and as a result of the federal warning, schools, restaurants and grocery stores stopped serving and selling cranberries and cranberry products. So the newspapers printed recipes to replace cranberries. My mom found this recipe and made it. A tradition was born. Thanks for bringing back some cherished memories…

  6. I made this with all sugar-free ingredients for my diabetic mother, and boy, was it ever a hit! As soon as the first one was gone I had to make another!!

  7. My family has been making something like this for years, but a little differently. We use black cherry geatin, Dr. Pepper (of course), drained can of pitted black cherries (not pie filling) and no pineapple, but we do add pecans!

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