lime jello
"Photo credit: Emily Marshall-Garrett (@jelloandcasseroles). Recipe courtesy Emily Marshall-Garrett

Lime Jell-O Salad Ring

Variations on this recipe are in grandmothers' recipe collections all over America.


for the gelatin salad ring

for the garnish


1. Prepare the liquid for your gelatin. Drain the cans of pineapple into a large multi-cup measuring cup. Add enough water to the pineapple juice to make 2 cups of liquid.
2. Prepare the gelatin. Add the liquid to a pot and bring just to a boil. When tiny bubbles appear in the base of the pot, add the two packages of lime Jell-O and stir to dissolve. Remove from heat. Allow cooling to warm, not hot.
3. Prepare your mold. Spray a fine mist of neutral oil onto the interior surface of the mold. If you don't have spray oil, pour a tablespoon of oil in and coat the mold's surface with a cloth, paper towel, or finger. Pour off any excess oil. If you are using a ring mold, be sure to coat the central tube as well.
4. Combine the salad ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, place the evaporated milk and mayonnaise. Whisk to combine until very smooth. Slowly pour the now warm-tepid lime gelatin liquid into the bowl, stirring again to combine. Add the cottage cheese, drained crushed pineapple, and nuts if using. Stir to combine until well incorporated.
5. Carefully pour the salad liquid into the mold. Tap the pan or use a spoon to level off the liquid and smooth any chunks.
6. Place in the refrigerator to chill. Giving this salad a full night in the fridge is best. An absolute minimum of 4 hours is necessary, but it may take longer to firm depending on the temperature it has reached when it's placed in the refrigerator. You'll know it's done when a toothpick sunk into the middle of the mixture feels firm at all depths and comes out relatively clean with no liquid clinging.
7. Demold your salad ring. Run a sharp knife tip around the edges of your mold to break the tiny lip of gelatin sealed to the side. You will only have an outer edge if you did not use a ring mold or bundt pan. Gently pull at the edges of the mold with your fingertips to see if the mold is firm. Sprinkle a few drops of water on your serving plate, and then place over the top of your mold. Firmly holding them together, quickly invert. It is possible, but not entirely likely that your salad will drop right out of the mold. If it doesn't, flip it back over, prepare a hot-warm water bath in a pan or bowl big enough to dip your mold in. Firmly holding the rim of the mold, quickly dip the mold into the water, careful not to splash any onto the surface of the gelatin salad. Remove from water, and begin again with a moist plate placed on top and invert. If it still doesn't come out, repeat a third time. The warm/hot water is melting the surface of the gelatin through the metal mold, and the slightly melted surface breaks the vacuum seal and releases it from the mold. Once your salad releases, the moisture on the plate should allow you to nudge it into the center of the platter gently. DO NOT try to scoot the salad across a dry dish. It will break the salad.

Garnishing the salad ring

1. Clean up your platter.
2. If you used a ring mold, fill the center in with the excess cottage cheese. If you did not, you can pile some up on top of your mold or skip it.
3. Ring with marshmallows.
4. Using whatever fruit and nuts you chose, garnish the salad. If you copy the photo, use cherries or grapes to dot the ring like the numbers on a clock, and edge the cottage cheese in the center with the drained pineapple chunks. You can add mini marshmallows if you have them or fill in entirely with pineapple, but use your nuts and/or cherry or grape to punctuate the center.


If you have to try several times to de-mold your salad ring, this is 100% normal. You may be surprised to know that you can re-heat and re-firm gelatin. If you de-mold and it is a problem, you CAN dissolve a packet of unflavored gelatin, or another half packet of lime Jell-O mix it all together when it's warm, and refrigerate again. Gelatin is food with magical properties! OR you can roll with it, serve it in individual bowls, and garnish each dish with your cherries. You can even just push it together on the platter and ring it in marshmallows and decorate it to distract. Also, you can make the salad ring up to 3 days in advance.