I Tried Taste of Home’s Creamy Blueberry Jell-O Salad, and It Tastes Just Like Thanksgiving
Everyone has that one dish that epitomizes Thanksgiving for them. Maybe it’s the marshmallow-topped sweet potato casserole or a steaming pan of Parker House rolls. For me, that dish is Blueberry Jell-O Salad. My family calls it “Blueberry Surprise,” in what I’m assuming is an effort to bring a note of excitement to what is otherwise a pretty surprise-free affair.
When I was growing up, my stepmom, a very Southern woman for whom most salads involve either mayonnaise or Jell-O, made Blueberry Jello Salad for Thanksgiving every year. It was such an integral part of the meal that I assumed everyone must have had it at their own Thanksgiving dinner. Only when I got older did I realize that it was pretty specific to our neck of the woods.
After going through a regrettable “Jell-O salads are embarrassing” phase in my 20s, I doubled back to this delicious combination of fruity Jell-O and cream cheese frosting, and I’ve never looked back. So, when I came across a version of the recipe online, I wanted to test it out to see how it compared to the Jell-O salad of my memories.
How to Make Creamy Blueberry Gelatin Salad
Making Blueberry Gelatin Salad is a two-part process. First, you combine boiling water with two packets of grape Jell-O, and then you stir in a can each of blueberry pie filling and crushed pineapple. That gets popped in the fridge to set up for about an hour. Meanwhile, you make a simple cream cheese frosting using softened cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, and vanilla. You can mix it by hand or with a hand mixer; either way is fine, as long as the final result is a smooth, creamy mixture.
Once the gelatin has set, you’ll spoon that cream cheese frosting on top, careful not to disrupt the Jell-O layer below. I spoon big dollops of the frosting around the surface of the Jell-O and then use an offset spatula to spread it evenly over the top, finishing it off with a sprinkling of chopped walnuts.
My Honest Review of Creamy Blueberry Gelatin Salad
Taste of Home has done an excellent job of capturing this classic recipe online, bringing it out of the mid-century recipe tins from which it came and into the 21st century. And, thankfully, it stays faithful to my impression of the original.
The recipe itself is all about balancing flavors and textures. The Jell-O layer, with its tart blueberries and tangy pineapple, is satisfyingly jiggly, while the frosting gives a soft, creamy sweet element. Chopped walnuts on top give the whole thing a nice, subtle crunch, so there’s plenty going on in every bite. Much like cranberry dressing, Blueberry Gelatin Salad is a perfect foil for all the subtly flavored savory elements that are the norm at Thanksgiving. But beyond Thanksgiving, this dish would be a welcome addition to a potluck or picnic.
3 Tips for Making Creamy Blueberry Gelatin Salad
- Play around with the recipe. This dish has versatility on its side. Don’t like the grape Jell-O? Try blueberry, or go full-on Thanksgiving with cranberry. Prefer pecans instead of walnuts? Go for it. I’ve added fresh blueberries instead of blueberry pie filling (it’s less sweet and blueberry-forward, but it still works beautifully) and I’ve thrown in other fruit, like fresh passion fruit and mango, with delightful results. If you’ve got dairy issues, you can omit the topping entirely and serve the Jell-O salad sans frosting.
- Use a gentle hand when spreading the frosting. This will ensure clean layers. I recommend a small offset spatula for the task.
- Adjust the sugar. This is a very sweet recipe. You could halve the sugar in the frosting if it’s too much for you.