Aunt Peg’s Layered Jello Salad…maybe

Long before such Food Network shows like Cutthroat Kitchen and Chopped introduced questionable cuisine–there were traditional homemade dishes with mystery ingredients that only got passed down in the family to the daughters who hoarded the recipes on 3 x 5 cards tucked away in a tin recipe box. Classics such as hotdog surprise or macaroni salad were hauled out for holiday parties–sometimes against the will of attending family members–and no holiday would be complete without these culinary treats at the table. I am about to share with you one such recipe.

Be warned, this one may become your very own secret surprise side dish delight!


In preparation for the upcoming Fourth of July holiday, I decided to tackle a favorite recipe my mom served at almost every big family gathering–back when we did such things. I called and asked her to read me the recipe over the phone so I could run to the store for the items I was missing.

Me: Hey, mom. Can you give me the recipe for that raspberry salad with the mayo in it? I tried to find it on the internet but there were too many possibilities to choose from.”

Yummly alone supposedly has 24,000 options for Mayo/Jello salad combinations. That is a frightening statistic if true.

Mom: “You won’t find it online. It was a special recipe my aunt made. The internet won’t have it. Let me see if I can find it. I’ll call you back!”


One and a half hours later….

Mom: “Hi, sorry. I was talking to a friend. I’ve got the recipe. Have you got a pen?”

Here’s what she told me:

                          Aunt Peg’s Layered Jello Salad

                         Top Layer
2—3 oz packages of raspberry Jello (or 1 large 6 oz box)
1 ¾ Cups boiling water
16 oz frozen raspberries (likely you’ll need two bags.)
                         Bottom Layer

3 oz lemon Jello
1 Cup pineapple juice boiling hot (add water if not enough liquid drained from 20 oz can of crushed pineapple)
20 oz can of pineapple—strain the pineapple until mostly wrung out. (Use pineapple juice as noted above.) Keep pineapple pulp in bowl nearby.
1 ½ Cups mini marshmallows (or more to taste)
8 oz cream cheese cut up into small pieces
1 Cup mayonnaise 
½ Pint Whipping Cream—chilled and then whipped to stiff peaks. (Use a chilled metal bowl to speed up the process.)

Bottom Layer Directions:
Start with bottom layer first. You have to prepare this and refrigerate before moving on to the top layer instructions.
1.	Open the 20 oz can of crushed pineapple. Strain or squeeze all the pineapple to get as much juice from it. Measure the juice—if you have 1 cup you are done. If you need to, add water until you have 1 cup. Pour the juice/water into a small pot and heat on the stove. Set the pineapple pulp aside for later.
2.	Once the liquid is boiling, pour it into a ready bowl and add the 3 oz package of lemon Jello. Stir for 2-3 minutes until dissolved. 
3.	While liquid is still hot, add marshmallows and cut-up cream cheese. (Use a hand blender set on a medium speed to incorporate the mixture—not all the marshmallows will dissolve. That’s okay.
4.	Next, grab the ½ pint of whipping cream. Take a chilled metal bowl from the freezer and pour in the whipping cream. Blend on high speed with hand blender until stiff peaks form. Don’t whip too long or you get butter.
5.	Fold the 1 cup of mayonnaise and the whipped cream into the lemon Jello mixture. Do not stir too much. Just gentle folding.
6.	Add pineapple pulp to the folded mixture and fold a few times. Then pour this concoction into a 9 x 13 pan and refrigerate for about 2-3 hours.

Top Layer Directions:

1.	Boil and measure 1 ¾ boiling water. Add to a bowl along with the 6 oz of raspberry Jello. Stir for about three minutes until all the sugar crystals have dissolved.
2.	Add about 2-3 cups of frozen raspberries to the Jello to help cool it.
3.	Pour this mixture on top of the chilled and set first layer. Return to fridge and keep cold until the jelly sets. 

Because this dish contains mayonnaise—take care while serving in hot weather.
Add or decorate with any fruits you like. I add fresh blueberries and raspberries for the Fourth of July to create a flag effect.

At the end of it all, I ask, “Do you know if Aunt Peg invented the salad or something?”

Mom: “No, it’s just that’s what she always brought to family dinners.”

I haven’t had the heart to tell my mom, it sounds an awful lot like a recipe from a cookbook by Jell-o brand gelatins. They called it Jell-o Ribbon Salad.

But I bet it’s not as good as how my mom or Aunt Peg made it. There’s just something extra special about those secret family recipes, don’t you know.

I made two batches–so I could drop half of the calories over at my Mom’s house as she can definitely use them!

However your family celebrates–and whatever secrets you keep in your cupboards–have a very happy and safe Fourth of July!

15 thoughts on “Aunt Peg’s Layered Jello Salad…maybe

  1. I love this post! This is definitely an old-school tradition.

    My Aunt Martha made a Christmas jell-o (It is online now). I didn’t know people didn’t make stuff like this any more and I made it for Christmas dinner at a friend’s house 7 years ago. The young people were, “Is this JELL-O?” They had the idea that people back in the day ate jell-o all the time, jell-o liver, jell-o salmon all kinds of gross stuff. They were surprised to like it!

    Rasperry Jello w/cranberries — top
    Lime jello with pineapple — middle
    Cream cheese and walnuts — bottom

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you have a lovely jello mold to put that in! You gotta do the full monty when it comes to Christmas desserts! (Editor’s note: I do not mean the movie by that name. No nudity required–or recommended–around the Christmas tree.)

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Typically we are cashews or almonds, but occasionally we are also pistachios. We are rarely peanuts–unless they are the party variety covered in that pinkish asbestos coating.


  2. The 50’s and 60’s were the heyday for jell-o… I remember the first time I had mayo in jell-o. It was if someone had played a bad joke on me! (I still don’t like mayonnaise.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. While I might agree in principle that mayo is a bad partner for jello–I had this dessert before I knew what was in it. It’s still pretty damned tasty even after you know. If you want to chicken out–you could probably substitute plain or vanilla yogurt and no one would be the wiser.


    1. Mom agreed to the share. She however was not okay with me sharing the dessert that the entire family detested nor reference which aunt made it–just so no one’s feelings get hurt.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. My father was collecting recipes by hand writing them on scraps of paper. After he died, my brother bequeathed me with a banker’s box–legal length–full of these scrawled recipes. I have yet to wade through them all, but it’s on my To-Do list for the next time the pandemic locks us all down again. Or a really boring snow storm and lack of wifi situation comes along.


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