Mandarin Orange Jello Salad tastes like an orange Dreamsicle ice cream treat. Bright citrus flavor with a creamy, mousse-like texture, it’s a sweet addition to any meal.
Today I am sharing a longtime Family Favorite recipe – Mandarin Orange Jello Salad (tastes like a Dreamsicle!). My sister-in-law (Hi Cheryl!) shared this little gem with me many years ago.
My family loves this salad. A LOT! I can’t even begin to guess how many times I’ve made it over the years.
It’s a mainstay at our holiday and special occasion meals. And I’ve also prepared it for countless potlucks and parties.
And sometimes I make it “just because”. You know, those times when a family member requests something ever so nicely. It’s all about keeping your people happy, right?
Should I serve it as part of the meal or as a dessert?
This question has sparked many debates. Like similar Midwestern (and Southern) dishes, this jello salad with mandarin oranges is considered a salad. Perhaps there’s less guilt associated with eating something with “salad” in the name?
But this is a sweet salad. Not to be confused with a plate-of-greens-and-veggies salad.
And it always (always!) sparks a debate as to when to serve the dish. Should you serve it as part of the meal? Or serve it as a dessert?
Traditionally we’ve served it as part of the meal. But you can be a rebel and serve it as a dessert if that’s how you want to roll.
Ingredients Needed for Orange Fluff Salad:
You’ll need just a handful of common ingredients to prepare this recipe (scroll to the bottom for the full recipe and a printable recipe card):
- orange gelatin
- cook & serve vanilla pudding
- whipped topping – thawed
- mandarin oranges – drained
How to Make Mandarin Orange Jello Salad
Start by combining the pudding and gelatin mixes with water & cook until clear (about 5 minutes). The mixture will be “cloudy” in appearance when you first start. As it cooks, the liquid becomes a clear orange (not cloudy) color.
Pour gelatin mixture in a bowl and refrigerate until it’s set up. I usually make this the night before and let it chill overnight.
Combine chilled gelatin mixture with whipped topping. A potato masher works great for this step. Add mandarin oranges and stir gently. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
TIPS FOR BEST RESULTS
- Instant pudding mix is not recommended for this recipe.
- Make sure you drain the oranges before adding.
- I use a potato masher to combine the gelatin mixture & whipped topping.
- You can use fresh whipped cream but keep in mind the whipped cream will break down faster than the prepared whipped topping. Leftover jello salad may separate and become watery if using fresh whipped cream.
- You can add a second can of mandarin oranges to up the citrus flavor.
- Swap out for strawberry gelatin and make Strawberries & Cream Salad.
Helpful tools to make the Mandarin Orange Salad with Cool Whip recipe
Sometimes the right tools can make or break your cooking experience. These are the tools I used to make quick work of the orange jello salad with cool whip recipe:
Whisk – I use this for cooking the mix. It’s the perfect size for dressings & sauces. Dishwasher safe with sealed barrel.
Prep bowls – This set is versatile enough for most kitchen tasks.
Hand held potato masher – I use this to combine the pudding mixture & Cool Whip.
Can I freeze Orange Jello Salad?
We don’t recommend freezing because the jello will break down.
Can I prepare this in advance?
Yes! We usually make the base a day or two ahead of time and store in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to serve combine the base with the whipped topping and oranges as directed.
More vintage fruit salads & sides:
- Creamy New York Fruit Salad
- Creamy Grape Salad
- Ambrosia Salad with Cool Whip
- Strawberry Shortcakes with Biscuits
- Fruit Cocktail Salad
- Broccoli Salad with Cranberries and Bacon
- Cousin Betty’s Pistachio Pudding
- The BEST Marshmallow Fruit Dip
**Pin Orange Jello Salad Recipe for Later**
Originally posted in 2014 this post was updated 11/17/17 (post & photos updated), 5/27/19 (photos & post updated), 11/4/20 (video) and 4/19/22 (post & photos).
Mandarin Orange Jello Salad
- 6 ounce package orange gelatin
- 2 3 ounce package vanilla cook and serve pudding mix
- 4 cups hot water
- 8 ounces Cool Whip
- 16 ounce can mandarin oranges, drained
- Combine orange jell-o, vanilla pudding and hot water in a large saucepan.
- Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
- Continue boiling (and stirring) until mixture turns a clear orange color (about 5 minutes).
- Pour into a large bowl and chill overnight. Alternatively, chill until set (about 4 hours).
- Combine Cool Whip with jell-o/pudding mixture (a potato masher works well for this step).
- Add mandarin oranges and stir gently.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- I don’t recommend using instant pudding mix.
- Plan ahead – needs to chill.
- Nutritional information is provided as a reference, using an online calculator. We recommend verifying the information independently.
Nutritional information is provided as a reference, using an online calculator. We recommend verifying the information independently for accuracy.