Mandarin Orange Jello Salad

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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 – Tastes Like a Dreamsicle Mandarin Orange Jello Salad.  My sister-in-law (Hi Cheryl!) shared this little gem with me many years ago.

Blue bowl filled with Mandarin Orange Jello Salad | A Reinvented Mom #jellosalad

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 to Make 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
  • water
  • whipped topping – thawed
  • mandarin oranges – drained

How to Prepare Mandarin Orange Jello Salad

  1. Combine 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.
  2. Chill overnight.
  3. Combine chilled gelatin mixture with whipped topping.
  4. Add mandarin oranges.

Tips for best results

  • Instant pudding mix is not recommended for this recipe.
  • 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.

More sweet salads & sides:

***Want to make Orange Jello Salad? Pin the recipe for later.***

Top view of a bowl of Mandarin Orange Jello Salad | A Reinvented Mom #orangejellosalad

I’ve shared this recipe at: Meal Plan Monday.

Originally posted in 2014 this post was updated 11/17/17 (post & photos updated), 5/27/19 (photos & post updated) and 11/4/20 (post).

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Bowl of Orange Salad | A Reinvented Mom #jellosalad

Mandarin Orange Jello Salad

Mandarin Orange Jello Salad tastes like a Dreamsicle. Bright orange flavor with a creamy, mousse-like texture. Will you serve it as a side dish or a dessert?
4.49 from 49 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Chilling: 4 hours
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 176kcal

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

  • 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.
Tried this recipe?Mention @AReinventedMom or tag #areinventedmom!

Nutrition

Calories: 176kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 128mg | Potassium: 123mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 31g | Vitamin A: 407IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 45mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional information is provided as a reference, using an online calculator. We recommend verifying the information independently for accuracy.

Keyword: dreamsicle orange salad, mandarin orange jello salad, mandarin orange salad with cool whip and vanilla pudding

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80 Comments

  1. Recipe looks good but directions are not complete and no way would attempt to make this without exact directions. How much water? Duh? When do you add whipped topping?

    1. The full recipe, including quantities and instructions, is located within the recipe card at the bottom of the post. I hope this helps!

  2. The page you open up says weight watchers. This recipe page says nothing about it. Do you have the weight watcher recipe? Thanks

  3. Well this interesting little recipe is like combining two my mom made but leaving out “the healthy”.

    Cottage Cheese.. (don’t use the pudding)

    Tub of cottage cheese… ( think it’s 16 oz)
    Large box of orange jello (do not use diet jello)
    Mandarin oranges drained.. (small can or half a plastic container)
    Cool whip large tub

    Combine the cottage cheese and jello and stir until jello melts. Dump in mandarin oranges.. fold in Cool whip.. chill 2 hours.

  4. I grew up with this at table, though it also had a box of cook and serve tapioca, pineapple tid bits and small bits of cream cheese. Instead of water we used the juices of the canned fruit to bump up flavor
    Thanks for the inspiration to make it, been a while.

    1. I haven’t tried freezing this so I can’t say for sure, Larry. If you give it a try please swing back and let me know how it turned out.

  5. I have had a recipe for years that calls for 1 small box of orange jello, 1 small box instant vanilla pudding. Add 2 cups water, bring to a boil and boil for 2 1/2 minutes. Refrigerate over night and stir in cool whip with a mixer and then add the oranges. May add small marshmallows. Turns out great! It is a family favorite!

    1. I haven’t tried it myself, but I think it would work. I would recommend using smaller oranges (like Cuties) and keeping the orange pieces intact. The salad may not hold as well, so plan to eat within a day or two.

  6. I do a similar salad, but I don’t put in the pudding. Just 1 large box of orange jello, make according to package directions, chill about 3-4 hours until firmly set, add (1) 15 oz can mandarin oranges (drained) into the jello and mix with hand mixer until mandarins are chopped up, then stir in (1) 8 ounce container of cool whip. And chill for 3 hours and you have a great orange fluff salad. Really good.

  7. In an effort to make this sugar free I used one small box of sf orange jello, one small box of sf instant vanilla pudding mix, one large jar drained mandarin oranges, and one 8oz sf cool whip. I combined them all right in the bowl together. So delicious!

    1. I made it with SF instant pudding & drained the large can of mandarin oranges. It’s good, but so dry. I got the recipe off the WW recipe site, I actually added a carton of Greek non fat yogurt & more SF cool whip. Next time, I’m going to use 1/2 of the juice from the mandarin oranges, mix it all together & see if it needs any more of the juice incorporated into it. It taste good, just not lite & fluffy like I expected.

    1. What would make this salad running I drain all fruits, and I have made this salad for a very long time, this happened last year. Can you help me? my name is Melva Davis thank you

  8. Followed the recipe as written and results were good, but not as ‘orangey’ as I thought it would be. I think next time I will try with only one box of pudding mix and maybe two boxes of orange jello, or add another can of mandarin oranges. Has anyone tried this or have a suggestion for a lighter, more orange, results?

    1. The recipe will work with 2 small orange gelatins & 1 large cook & serve pudding. This will boost the orange flavor a bit, too. An extra can of oranges is OK, too. Hope this helps, Tami.

    2. I use one large box or two small boxes or orange jello mix. No pudding. Mix jello powder with 500 ml container of cottage cheese a tub of cool whip 2 cans mandarin oranges drained and one can crushed pineapple drained. Done! No waiting overnight for jello to thicken. Save a few of the oranges to garnish

  9. Please update the “Clear “ portion !! I used the correct pudding, but I should not have to read comments to find out how long to boil for..
    I will come back and rate after..
    Thank You

      1. Thank you , I just saw that because I’m making another serving, as this was incredible.!!!!! This time I’m adding some pineapple bites..
        Looking forward to more fabulous desserts from you…

    1. Dang it and I accidently bought the dang instant pudding and only one box of each because theres just the two of us and it would of been way to much so I halfed the recipe. So I’m going to have to hope it turns out at least halfway decent we will see and let you know what happens.

  10. Reading through the comment about the “clear orange” after stirring forever. You should probably mention 2 things: don’t use the instant pudding and should only stir/boil for about 5 minutes. That being said, will it still work with instant pudding?

    1. I haven’t had any luck using instant pudding mix. Thanks for the suggestions. I’ll upload photos of the “cloudy/clear” mixture – hopefully that clears up any confusion.

  11. I made this for my husband and served it at his birthday party it was a huge it. I had to share the recipe with several family members and it is a staple in our house now. Thank you so much for sharing.

  12. This recipe was wonderful!! I halved it, because it was just for me. I also added some coconut and chopped pecans, kinda like ambrosia. Your directions were very easy to follow!! Thank you, I will definitely make this again!!♥

  13. I do a version of this but rather than pudding, I use 8oz of cream cheese and once the jello is dissolved and while still hot i blend in the cream cheese. Then refrigerate until soft set, fold in whipped cream and oranges and then refrigerate until set. It ends up having an almost mousse like consistency.

    1. I also make the jello and cream cheese without the whip topping. I make the jello (lime or orange or lemon) with boiling water and add the softened cream cheese to the hot jello stirring with a whisk until the cream cheese is throughly
      mixed in. Then I add the juice of a can of pineapple plus water to make two cups of cold liquid and stir that in. I let the jello set in the refrigerator until it becomes partially set then mix in the pineapple pieces. I use the small pa pieces rather than the chunks. Put back into the refrigerator until it’s completely set.

    2. I love your idea. I think I will use mascarpone instead of cream cheese and prepare it like you did. Sounds fabulous!

  14. I think you need to change your recipe to state that orange jello can never become clear and perhaps you are trying to say that after the contents boil and become one without lumps that you can remove it from the stove. Or else you will be stirring till the end of time.

    1. The mixture goes from “cloudy” when first mixed to “clear” after it has boiled. This is a noticeable difference in appearance & doesn’t have anything to do with lumps. Please note it’s a clear orange color, not clear like water. I hope this helps!

  15. Can I have a recipe with actual sizes please . I have large box of jello and pudding . I have read 4 cups of water but wonder if that would be 8 cups with the large size? Seems like the
    Mandarin orange juice could be added to the water for a little more flavor.
    Thank you
    Carolyn

    1. This recipe calls for (1) 6 oz box of jello, (2) 3 oz boxes of pudding mix and 4 cups of water.

  16. Please, if you are combining vanilla pudding with a jello, how can it become clear after cooking? The pudding will never become “clear”. Please explain.

    1. Great question, Maryann! When you initially combine the vanilla pudding with the jello, the mixture is “cloudy”. As it cooks you will see a noticeable difference in appearance as it changes to a “clear” appearance. I hope this helps!

  17. Hi there! I’m excited to make this recipe for Easter tomorrow. How much water do I use? Thanks in advance!

  18. Hi, I was wondering what size can of mandarin oranges did you use for this recipe? You mentioned large in the recipe, how many ounces? Thank you. Rose

    1. You’ll want to use a 15 ounce can of oranges. I’ve also used 2 of the smaller cans if that’s what I have on hand.

    1. So sorry this didn’t turn out for you, Betty. The only time I’ve had this problem is when I used instant pudding mix instead of cook & serve mix.

    1. You can serve Orange Salad for lunch or dinner. It’s great with ham, burgers and grilled meats. I hope that helps, Yadira.

  19. Hello, I’m so excited to make this for our Thanksgiving party tomorrow! I hope You can answer this before I make it later today. I wanted to know if you can double this, or if its better to make 2 batches instead? Thanks so much and Happy Thanksgiving, Diane

    1. I think this should double easily. It will likely take a little longer to cook and set up than a single batch. I’d love to hear your results, Diane. Happy Thanksgiving!

  20. I know it says chill overnight but how long is acceptable if you were going to make it for a function today?

  21. do you add the liquid from the mandarins orgnges also in the can?I assume no but am just making sure….

  22. I tried this recipe with Strawberry Jello and fresh strawberries! Wow..so yummy..thank you for sharing this recipe!

    1. I’m so glad you liked this recipe! I love changing it up when fresh fruits are in season, too. The raspberry version is bliss on a spoon. Thanks for stopping by Tanya!

  23. You had me at Creamsicle! This looks so good! Thank you so much for linking up at Tasty Tuesday! Your recipe has been pinned to the Tasty Tuesday Pinterest board! Please join us again this week!

  24. I’m totally in love with this! Yummy! Pinned and tweeted. We appreciate you being a part of our party, and I hope to see you on tonight at 7 pm. We love partying with you!
    Happy Monday! Lou Lou Girls

  25. Our family will love this salad it looks delicious. Thanks so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday this week. Hope you have a great weekend and come back soon!
    Miz Helen

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