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.
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 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.
- 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 your pineapple, reserving the juice.
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 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.
Add in pie filling and stir that up.
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…
Use individual 8-ounce mason jars to spoon it out into.
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!
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.
- 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.
- with and canned instead of the canned .
- Another option is to substitute the cherry pie filling for a jar of maraschino cherries, sliced and undrained.
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:
Bananas in Red Stuff (a.k.a Strawberry Glaze)
Vanilla Wafer Pudding Recipe With Pineapple
- 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.
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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I made this for our DAR chapter’s holiday party. It received rave reviews.
I used regular Dr. Pepper, added pecans and layered it with the following cream cheese filling from the website below. (Cherries are a classic topping for cheesecake. So I thought the cream cheese filling would complement the congealed salad.)
I added heavy whipping cream (maybe 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup) to thicken the cream cheese filling and a few splashes (2 teaspoons to a tablespoon max) of Maker’s Mark just because.
The red and white layers were very festive for Christmas.
Thank you for the recipe. I have shared it with a number of our chapter members upon their request.
So glad you love it Francis!
Thank you for letting me know.
Is there a good substitute for the can of pineapple in this recipe? Due to allergies, cannot use them. Thanks!
I’m gonna whip up some of this for my son’s birthday on January 28. I’m gonna do like your great granny Lela and put a tub outside to freeze water and chill the salad that way. My fridge in this trailer is tiny.
I love congealed salads and love diet Dr. Pepper (my addiction) so had to try it. Loved the texture of the pineapple and cherry pie filling, but was sooooo sweet!!! Next time I will be using the sugar free jello and low sugar pie filling.
Thanks for all your great recipes and encouragement!!