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Vintage Jello Ribbon Salad Recipe

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A Classic Buffet Treat

Ribbon salad is one of the most popular classic, vintage Jello 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.

Ribbon Jello 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 in days ahead. Each layer has to set up before the next one. Making your Jello salad ahead will save you time, too.

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

1 hour

11 hours

12 hours

12 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 small package (3 oz.) Lime Jell-O
  • 1 small package (3 oz.) Lemon Jell-O
  • 1 small package (3 oz.) 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 oz.) crushed pineapple (drained)

Instructions

  1. Dissolve the Lime Jell-O in 1 cup of boiling water. Dissolve completely and pour into a 13x9 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 ikn the marshmallows and set aside.
  3. In another bowl, dissolve the Raspberry Jello-O in 1 cup 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.
New Twist on Ribbon Jello

New Twist on Ribbon Jello

Old And New Jell-O Flavors

Old And New Jell-O Flavors

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 online 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.

Joys of Jello ~ 1960

Joys of Jello ~ 1960

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.

Is Jello Ribbon Salad For You? - Will You Make It For a Holiday Buffet?

kimbesa (author) from USA on April 09, 2019:

I suppose you could. I prefer glass for Jell-O however, because it is pretty warm when out put it into a container to set up.

rhonda riggs on April 07, 2019:

Can you used the whipped cream cheese carton or does it need to be the block style?

sandi mitchell on December 22, 2018:

jaquel, I am making your ribbon salad recipe this morning. My friends mom made this every year when he was a child. I am surprising him with this as it will bring back fond memories and im sure it is delicious as it is pretty. Thank you. merry Christmas.

kimbesa (author) from USA on December 17, 2018:

Hello Jacque!

I'll have to look through my old Jell-O books and see if I can find that recipe. It sounds good!

The strawberry base you describe sounds similar to the middle layer on this ribbon Jell-O salad, except it doesn't have all the same ingredients.

Jacque Anderson on November 20, 2018:

my mother use to make a jello salad called under the sea salad when I was a kid and every year when I was older. I cannot find the exact recipe anywhere It only used a strawberry jello for the base with all the pineapple, whip cream, cream cheese, marshmellows, and folded into the strawberry base then we poured the green jello on top and let it all set. Does anyone know this recipe at all. I know she had to get it from somewhere when I was a kid.

kimbesa (author) from USA on April 24, 2018:

I would say no. The recipe needs the slightly tangy taste of the mayo to come out right.

pcamper326@hotmail.com on April 21, 2018:

Can whipped cream be substituted for the mayo?

kimbesa (author) from USA on December 27, 2017:

If you double the Jello, then you will need more of the middle layer. If you are making more than one big dish, or a lot of cup-size individual desserts, that makes sense to me.

terry Moscinski on December 24, 2017:

Hi! was just wondering when you use 6oz boxes of Jello for each layer, do you double the amount of the cream cheese, whipped cream, pineapple? thanks for the help!

Denise on December 08, 2017:

We have made this every Christmas (first my Mother and now me) since Dec 1959. I know exactly because the recipe is on the back of a calendar with that date. One thing I've done is to use small clear cups and make individual salads. They stay pretty and makes it easy to send home for later. Enjoy !

Pam Irie from Land of Aloha on January 10, 2013:

I've always loved "old fashioned Jello salads"! They are classic!

BuckHawkcenter on November 30, 2012:

I have plenty of room for Jello desserts in the sweets part of my stomach! Love this vintage recipe, too.

Bellezza-Decor from Canada on November 27, 2012:

I love jello fruit salads or jello desserts, so since your recipes look so delicious, I'm going to make one or two.

anonymous on November 26, 2012:

There's always room for jello! My Mom still has the Joys of Jello and Jello is even more popular now than in 1960, its just timeless and how else can you eat the rainbow!

OrganicMom247 on November 26, 2012:

that looks nice! especially the layering of colors. very yummy! thanks for the wonderful share!

Wanda Fitzgerald from Central Florida on November 23, 2012:

I will definitely try this at Christmas. My family loves Jello salads. And this one is really pretty.

kimbesa (author) from USA on November 21, 2012:

@Brite-Ideas: As I was making this today, I was thinking about the fun of playing with different Jello flavors. Any way you make this, I hope you'll enjoy it!

Barbara Tremblay Cipak from Toronto, Canada on November 21, 2012:

This looks absolutely fantastic - haven't heard of Ribbon Salad before but I must try this!

baww20 on November 21, 2012:

holiday is upon me now but I will try it at another time.

Fay Favored from USA on November 21, 2012:

Can't wait to try this. It looks so good. Have to add it to my next shopping list.

Lora Riley on November 21, 2012:

What a cool food idea