Skip to main content

Vintage Jell-O Ribbon Salad Recipe

  • Author:
  • Updated date:

Kimbesa is an experienced home cook and lover of all things vintage.

Check out these recipes for classic Jell-O preparations!

Check out these recipes for classic Jell-O preparations!

A Classic Buffet Treat

Ribbon salad is one of the most popular classic, vintage Jell-O recipes, in part because it's very tasty and looks great.

Make it in green, red, and white, using lime, raspberry, and lemon flavors, and it will fit right in with a traditional Christmas buffet. There is room to change the flavors, too. Substitute cherry for raspberry in the red layer, for example, or island pineapple for the lemon in the white layer.

I made this one using the classic flavors and ingredients. This recipe might just take you back to grandma's house in years gone by, or start a new tradition at your house!

Photos by kimbesa

Ribbon salad serving ready to go

Ribbon salad serving ready to go

Give It Time to Set

I recommend making this salad with at least 12 hours to spare, so it has time to set up well. Even better, leave it overnight. You'll want the slices to set up firm and hold together in the finished version.

This is why you don't let the layers set up to completely firm before adding the next layer. Thick enough, but not too thick. You want the layers to hold onto each other without blending together.

Classic vintage ribbon salad Jell-O

Classic vintage ribbon salad Jell-O

Ribbon Jell-O Salad Recipe

It's called a salad, but can go for a light dessert, too. Any season, summer or winter, this recipe makes enough for a large gathering or carry-in dinner.

Give yourself plenty of time to make this dessert days ahead. Each layer has to set up before the next one. Making your Jell-O salad ahead will save you time, too.

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

1 hour

11 hours

12 hours

12 servings


  • 1 small package (3 ounces) lime Jell-O
  • 1 small package (3 ounces) lemon Jell-O
  • 1 small package (3 ounces) raspberry Jell-O
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup minature marshmallows
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 6 oz. cream cheese (softened)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup whipped cream (whipped)
  • 1 can (20 ounces) crushed pineapple (drained)


  1. Dissolve the Lime Jell-O in 1 cup of boiling water. Dissolve completely and pour into a 13x9-inch glass baking dish. Add 3/4 cup cold water and chill until just set but not firm.
  2. In a medium bowl, dissolve the Lemon Jell-O in 1 cup of boiling water. Stir in the marshmallows and set aside.
  3. In another bowl, dissolve the Raspberry Jell-O in 1 cup of boiling water. Add 3/4 cup of cold water and stir until Jell-O is completely aside. Set aside to cool at room temperature.
  4. Continue with the Lemon Jell-O layer. Add the cream cheese and beat until smooth. Chill until slightly thickened. Then blend in the mayonnaise, whipped cream, and crushed pineapple. Chill until very thick.
  5. Use a large spoon to gently spread the Lemon Jell-O layer over the Lime Jell-O layer. Chill until set but not firm.
  6. Chill the Raspberry Jell-O until thickened and syrupy, then spoon over the Lemon Jell-O layer.
  7. Chill the entire salad until firm. Twelve hours or overnight is best. To serve, cut into squares. Add a spoonful of whipped topping if desired.
"Joys of Jell-O" ~ 1960

"Joys of Jell-O" ~ 1960

Jell-O Lit

These vintage cookbooks are not hard to find. Some have been reissued in updated editions, and you can also find them in secondary marketplaces like eBay, or in your travels through yard sales and thrift stores.

I like them because they show how food fashions have changed over the years.

If you're planning a party based on prior decades, such as a Mad Men theme, old recipe books like this can help you make some authentic dishes for your guests.

Questions & Answers

Question: How do you keep the top layer of Jell-O from sticking to the cover?

Answer: If your dish might be a little small, put some of the middle layer in another bowl at the time you are making it. It will set up and make a nice salad by itself. Or...make a smaller dish with a bit of all three layers in it. Then the cling wrap will have some space. Or....leave the dish uncovered.