Layered Strawberry Jello Salad with its dreamy sour cream layer surrounded by crushed pineapple, bananas, pecans and, of course, loads of strawberries has made its required appearance in a 9×13 glass baking dish on our family tables for as long as I can remember.
Every good southern lady needs a good Jello salad recipe in her back pocket. These fruit-filled gelatin wonders have graced every church potluck, picnic, bbq and family get-together since the beginning of… well, since gelatin as we know it was invented. And that, my friends, was in 1894. 1894! That’s 124 years of wiggly, jiggly goodness!
And while most liked to act casual about their Jello love, we’ve developed a huge fondness for these congealed desserts. Every family has their own special way of putting these concoctions together that makes it the best ever.
And since we call it a salad, this magical dish has the ability to transcend all kinds of dinner rule boundaries. It functions as a lovely side- move over fruit salad; you don’t quite have the personality. My dad claims that it is best after lunch or dinner accompanied by a brownie. My son eats it by giant spoonfuls in the afternoon after school. And there might even be a time or two that the leftovers have shown up as someone’s breakfast. A salad with handfuls of fruit and pecans with a dreamy sour cream center? Why not? I can’t imagine a time that wouldn’t perfect for a slice (or bowl) of this.
What You Need To Make This Jello Salad
- strawberry gelatin
- frozen sliced strawberries
- crushed pineapple, drained
- sliced bananas
- chopped pecans
- sour cream
How to Make Layered Strawberry Jello Salad
For years, how my mom created the layers for this strawberry salad was a complete mystery to me, but it’s really not all that hard at all. Most, if not all, of the time requirements have more to do with allowing the gelatin to set than actual action in the kitchen.
Making the fruit filled Jello
- Start by whisking together 1 Cup boiling water and 6 oz of Strawberry Jello in large 8 C measuring cup or measuring bowl. When the gelatin is nice and dissolved, add in your pineapple, bananas and frozen strawberries. Don’t worry about the strawberries being frozen, the hot water will help thaw and break them apart. But at the same time, your frozen strawberries will start to set your gelatin, so work like your jello depends on it (because it does)! Mix it all together just until all the strawberries are broken up. Throw in the pecans and give one last good stir.
The First Layer
- Pour half of your fruity jello mixture into a 9×13 glass glass baking dish. You can do something prettier if you like, but clear glass shows off your layers. And everyone likes a preview of the yum!
- Just look at all that fruit! Pop that first layer of salad in the fridge for 20-30 minutes. Just long enough to start to set. But DO NOT put your mixing bowl with the remaining jello and fruit in the fridge. You don’t want it to set up, so just set it aside on the counter until we’re ready to throw on the last layer.
The Sour Cream Layer
- When you’re first layer starts to set up, it’s time to pull it out of the refrigerator and add that dreamy sour cream layer. It really is this middle layer that makes this salad something special. Now, some recipes add a bit of sugar to the sour cream before spreading it all over the middle of the salad, but we don’t. The fruit and gelatin have plenty of sweetness of their own, and the sour cream ‘as is’ adds that perfect creamy balance without extra fuss. And believe me, coming from a family of sweet tooths, no extra sugar is necessary (even if you use sugar-free jello).
- The back of a spoon is the perfect tool for adding the sour cream layer. Don’t ask me why it works so much better than a spatula or anything else. It just works. Of course, giving that sour cream a stir or two in the container before you start working with it also makes this step so much easier.
The Top Layer
When you’ve got sour cream from stem to stern over that first layer, now it’s time to grab that remaining bit of jello and fruit, pour it over the top and work it gently out to the edges. Give it one last smooth down so it will be nice and pretty and hide it away in the fridge for a couple of hours. Try to forget it’s there. I know. It’s hard. But a watched jello never sets.
But seriously though, the longer this Strawberry Jello Salad sets up, the easier it is to cut it into squares and serve. AND the more your layers will be preserved when you cut into it to serve. And I think I’ve made it clear it’s all about the layers for me. So two hours would be my minimum set up time, but overnight or all day? …Perfection!
Look at that beautiful, fresh deliciousness! Aren’t you ready to just dive right in? Pardon me for a minute while I pretend I’m at a picnic.
IF YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE, BE SURE TO LET ME KNOW!
RATE IT, LEAVE A COMMENT OR SNAP A PHOTO.
Strawberry Jello Salad
- 6 oz. Strawberry Jello
- 1 C boiling water
- 20 oz. frozen sliced strawberries
- 20 oz. crushed pineapple drained
- 3 medium bananas sliced
- 1/2 C chopped pecans
- 16 oz. sour cream
- Whisk together gelatin and boiling water in a large mixing bowl or 8 C measuring cup until the gelatin is dissolved.
- Add 20 oz can of crushed pineapple, drained (do not use fresh pineapple), sliced bananas, frozen sliced strawberries, and pecans. Mix well.
- Pour 1/2 of mixture into a 9×13 baking dish. Put in refrigerator to set for 20-30 minutes. Set aside rest of gelatin, but do not chill.
- When first layer is set, top with sour cream.
- Add rest of gelatin, smooth out towards to the edges to complete the top layer.
- Chill in refrigerator 2hrs to overnight before slicing and serving.
Other Fruit Salads or Jello Recipes You’ll Love
- Tropical Orange Jello Salad
- Cherry Coca Cola Jello Salad
- Ambrosia Fruit Salad with Whipped Cream Dressing
- Blackberry Margarita Ambrosia
- Classic Fruit Salad with Old Fashioned Cream Sauce
- Apple Cheese Celery Salad
Here’s to Easily Making & Serving This Salad!
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i love Jello recipes. I have my grandmother’s official Jello cookbook from the 1960s in all its cheesy awesomeness. What they didn’t do with Jello wasn’t worth thinking about. It was in everything. Thanks for sharing this.
Oh, that is fantastic! I bet that cookbook has some gems. What a treasure; Jello was definitely KING then!! You have to hold onto that.
Hi, try mashing banana’s & add chopped up walnuts instead of pecans.
Hi, Betty! Thanks for the suggestions!
Girl, how have I never had this with pineapple and bananas and sour cream?? My favorite Jello salad is made with a crushed pretzel crust, strawberry jello awesomeness, and a cream cheese layer. It is FANTASTIC. Glad to hear about this version also!! Might need to make this for our Sunday potluck…
I love the kind with the pretzel crust too! But I never had it until I moved to Tennessee. Can you believe that?!
Can you do this with fresh strawberries?
Hi, Terry! You can’t do this recipe with fresh fruit. It has a different water consistency, and the jello doesn’t set up. I’ve tried!
Joanne @ No Plate Like Home
This looks so good. What a refreshing summer dessert especially when strawberries are in season.
Thanks, Joanne! This is one of our favorite dishes to put together for holidays and cookouts. Just so versatile!
Won’t the bananas turn brown?
If there are any leftovers, any bananas on top will be brown the next day. But still yummy!
What a beautiful and delicious looking salad. I am making it this week! Thank you for sharing your recipe.
Thank you, Pamela! This salad is a longstanding tradition in my family. These old recipes are always the best!
My mom does not like sour cream so I am thinking of using Cool Whip/ whipped cream for the middle. Have you tried that?
I haven’t tried that, so let me know how it goes! Cool Whip/ whipped cream and Jello is always a winning combination. If you find that the whipped cream does not have enough body (sour cream is much denser), you might try adding 1TBSP of sugar or sweetener to the sour cream before layering it in the salad.
Can you use cream cheese instead of sour cream??
I have never tried that as it would change this wonderful retro recipe into something altogether different. But, hey! You could try it! Cream cheese has a different consistency than sour cream. You would probably have to whip it quite a bit and sweeten before trying to add it to this recipe. Also because cream cheese is denser, not sure how/ if it would layer up the same. But if you try it, let me know how it goes! If it is just the idea of sour cream in general that has you concerned, in the blog post, I do offer the option of adding just a bit of sugar to it before layering it in the salad. I would, however, definitely recommend taking a leap and just trying the recipe as is because it is quite a delightful surprise!
hi! Do you use regular jello or sugar free?? Regular jello is in a 3oz box and sugar free is .6oz…which do you use?
I use regular, but sugar free would certainly work.
I have been making this for years. I have made it as written and I have also modified it to my family’s taste. I usually omit the bananas as my son and grandson won’t eat them. I use the sour cream but add 4 ounces of softened cream cheese and a couple of Tbls or to taste of powdered sugar and cream together. This is requested every holiday.
Sounds great! That’s what all the best cooks do- modify and make it their own. I love it that is has become a family favorite. You’re making wonderful memories!
Hi just wondering if the strawberries are whole frozen or the ones that are frozen in syrup??
Hi, Kris! It’s just frozen sliced strawberries, no syrup!
Hi! My mother makes this every Thanksgiving and Christmas. I LOVE IT!! Her recipe calls for 16oz frozen sweetened strawberries. I couldn’t find those, so I bought frozen whole unsweetened strawberries. Will these work?
Are they frozen whole unsweetened strawberries? Yes, they will work, but the sliced are easier to eat. Sweetened or unsweetened doesn’t matter much. Strawberries are naturally sweet, and with the other fruit and jello there will be plenty of sweet in the dish as a whole. You could also add 1-2 Tbsp sugar to the sour cream to make up for the sweetness you are used to from the strawberries your mom used. Hope this helps!
I make this recipe at least once a month. It’s a winner!
Sue, I am so glad to hear that! Aren’t the classics the best?
I have made this for years but mine will not setup anymore. Any thoughts?
It’s hard to say, but more than likely it is the liquid from the fruit. Are you draining the pineapple, using frozen sliced strawberries without syrup? Those are usually the culprits. You can even drain and blot the pineapple with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture. Also, try adding just the tiniest bit less than a cup of water to the gelatin instead of a full cup. All of these things combined should help your salad set up! Let me know how it goes. I would love to hear from you!
This looks amazing!!!! Cannot wait to try it! I’ll report back!
Hi, Jason! Thanks so much! Can’t wait to hear from you. I know you’ll love it!
Merri Grace McLeroy
This is my all-time favorite dish. Thank you for posting the recipe and beautiful photos!
Hi, Merri! This is my dad’s all-time favorite too! And you are so welcome. You have seriously made my day!
Best strawberry jello salad I’ve ver had. When my husband says a congealed salad tastes great, that’s saying something, because he doesn’t care for congealed salads at all! Great Job, Stacy!
Oh my goodness! This seriously made my day! My dad loves this too. It is his absolute favorite to eat during the holidays (with brownies). I am so glad y’all enjoyed this recipe so much.
Made this when we were out camping to share with others as a taste tester… they loved it! Going out again for 4th of July and using blue berry’s as I did before and it will make it very festive! Excellent recipe!
Hi, Julie! I am so glad you made and loved this recipe! And I adore the addition of bluleberries for the 4th. Perfectly genius!!
I made this today and it was delicious; just like Mom used to make!!! I didn’t read to not use fresh fruit until I was in the process of making it. Since I only had fresh strawberries, I sliced and froze them before using them. Other than that, I followed the directions and was very pleased with the result! I can’t wait for my husband to try it (literally couldn’t wait).
Hi, Kelli! Ha! I know how it is with the waiting. But no one begrudges the cook a few tastes, right?! I just love that you made this recipe and it was like your mom’s. That is the best! I hope your husband enjoyed it too!
CAN YOU USE COOL WHIP INSTEAD OF SOUR CREAM?
Hi, Brenda! Please see the other comments and responses. It’s been a huge topic of conversation!
Husband and Son said this salad was great
Hi, Charlotte! I am so glad you made this jello salad and it’s family approved! Awesome! Thanks so much.
Can I Leave pineapple out?
Hi, Cherie! You sure can! You might want to add a little of another fruit or two to balance the fruit and gelatin.
Definitely a keeper. Was not sure the sour cream which I had none on hand so used plain Greek yogurt wit 2 tbsp of powdered sugar. Everyone liked the salad. Will make again ♥️
Hi, Patty! Love that you improvised- great plan! I am just tickled that you will make it again!
This is one of my favorite salads! When I was a child, my aunt would make it on her visits with our family. I thought that I had the recipe, and was so sad when I couldn’t find it in my recipe box today. I was so excited when I found it here at your website! Now, I can share the strawberry goodness with church on our first Sunday luncheon!
Hi, Christie! Now, this makes me really happy! I am so glad I was able to help out. I know the feeling of thinking a favorite family recipe has been lost. And the joy of finding it! I hope making (and eating) this recipe brings back great memories. Enjoy!
This sounds delightful! It’s just me so my question is: can I make this in indiviual portions and freeze some for later?
Hi! It makes me sad to say that jello isn’t much good after being frozen. It sort of dissolves and turns to jelly. Maybe just half the recipe to create a smaller dish?