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. For my family, 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.
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.
Strawberry Jello Salad
What You’ll Need:
- strawberry gelatin
- frozen strawberries
- crushed pineapple, drained
- sliced bananas
- chopped pecans
- sour cream
Let’s Get Started:
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. This recipe comes together easily and quickly. Most, if not all, of the time requirements have more to do with allowing the gelatin to set than actual action in the kitchen.
Whisk together 1 Cup boiling water and 6 oz of Strawberry Jello in large 8 C measuring cup or measuring bowl. I just whisk until all the gelatin is dissolved. When it’s nice and dissolved, add in your pineapple, bananas and frozen strawberries. The hot water will help thaw and break up your strawberries. 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) and mix it all together just until all the strawberries are broken up. Throw in the pecans and give one last good stir.
Pour half of your fruity jello mixture into a 9×13 glass glass baking dish. You can do something prettier if you like, but the 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.
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.
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. (Jokes, just jokes.)
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 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 that I am at a picnic.
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Little pretties you might need to make and serve this recipe!
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- 6 oz. Strawberry Jello
- 1 C boiling water
- 20 oz. frozen 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 strawberries, and pecans. Mix well.
Pour 1/2 of mixture into a 9x13 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.
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