Easy Cranberry Fluff Salad

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Easy cranberry fluff salad – bursting with cranberry, pineapple, marshmallows, and cool whip – like Grandma used to make it!

cranberry fluff with marshmallows in a white bowl with cranberries and marshmallows on top
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cranberry fluff with marshmallows in a white bowl with cranberries and marshmallows on top

Cranberry Marshmallow Fluff

If you love the classic sweet and tart flavor of cranberries, you’ll love this easy cranberry fluff!

This is a great beginner cook side dish, since we’re just chopping and mixing. It pairs perfectly with Christmas ham and turkey (especially our Instant pot Turkey Breast), Prime Rib or Ribeye Roast, or even a seafood Christmas eve dinner with Lobster Tails or Scallops !

This recipe is so simple and packed with nostalgic charm – just like Grandma used to make it!

I hope you love this easy Cranberry Fluff as much as we do!

cranberry fluff with marshmallows in a white bowl with cranberries and marshmallows on top

How to Make Cranberry Fluff

To make this recipe, you will need the following ingredients:

  • Fresh or Thawed Frozen Cranberries (12 ounces):
    • Cranberries are the star ingredient, providing a tart and slightly tangy flavor. They bring a vibrant red color and a burst of freshness to the fluff.
  • Granulated Sugar (1/2 cup):
    • Sugar is used to sweeten the cranberries and counterbalance their natural tartness. It also helps macerate the cranberries, softening them and creating a sweet-tart base for the fluff.
  • Mini Marshmallows (2 cups):
    • Mini marshmallows contribute sweetness and a soft, pillowy texture to the fluff. They help create a light and airy consistency in the final dish.
  • Crushed Pineapple (1 can, 8 ounces, well-drained):
    • Crushed pineapple adds a sweet, tropical flavor to the fluff. It also provides moisture and juiciness while complementing the cranberries’ tartness.
  • Heavy Whipping Cream (1 1/2 cups):
    • Heavy whipping cream is whipped to create a light and fluffy texture in the fluff. It adds richness and a creamy consistency, binding all the ingredients together.
  • Powdered Sugar (1/2 cup):
    • Powdered sugar is used to sweeten and stabilize the whipped cream. It helps the whipped cream hold its shape and provides sweetness with a smoother texture.
  • Vanilla Extract (1/2 teaspoon):
    • Vanilla extract enhances the overall flavor profile of the fluff, providing a subtle and aromatic sweetness. It adds depth to the dessert.

Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, we will use the following method:

  • Prep. Pulse the cranberries in a food processor 5 or 6 times or until well chopped but not pureed. Transfer the chopped cranberries to a large bowl and combine with the granulated sugar. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight.
  • Mix. Mix the marshmallows and pineapple into the cranberry mixture.
  • Make whip cream & add. In a medium bowl, beat the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the cranberry mixture. 
  • Enjoy! Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. 
cranberry fluff with marshmallows in a white bowl with cranberries and marshmallows on top

Tips and Tricks for Perfect Cranberry Fluff

Use Fresh Cranberries for Optimal Flavor: Whenever possible, use fresh cranberries instead of frozen ones. Fresh cranberries have a brighter, more vibrant flavor that can make a significant difference in the taste of your fluff.

Macerate the Cranberries: To soften the cranberries and reduce their tartness, macerate them by tossing them with granulated sugar and letting them sit for about 15-20 minutes before using them in the recipe. This step helps create a balanced sweet-tart flavor.

Properly Drain the Crushed Pineapple: Ensure that the canned crushed pineapple is well-drained. Excess liquid can make the fluff too watery. You can use a fine-mesh strainer or press the pineapple against the can lid to remove excess juice.

Chop Cranberries Evenly: If you’re using fresh cranberries, make sure to chop them evenly. A food processor works well for this task, ensuring uniformity in texture throughout the fluff.

Whip the Heavy Cream to Stiff Peaks: When whipping the heavy whipping cream, take care not to overwhip it (which can result in butter) or underwhip it (which can lead to a runny texture). Whip it until it reaches stiff peaks, meaning the whipped cream holds its shape.

Chill Mixing Bowl and Whisk/Beaters: For the best results when whipping cream, chill both the mixing bowl and the whisk or beaters in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes before whipping. Cold equipment helps the cream whip up faster and achieve the desired consistency.

Sift the Powdered Sugar: Sift the powdered sugar before adding it to the whipped cream. This helps prevent lumps and ensures a smooth texture in the fluff.

Fold Gently: When combining all the ingredients, fold them gently to avoid deflating the whipped cream. Use a large spatula and make slow, sweeping motions to incorporate the ingredients while maintaining the fluff’s light and airy texture.

Chill Before Serving: Allow the cranberry fluff to chill in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours before serving. Chilling helps meld the flavors and allows the fluff to set properly.

Garnish Creatively: Consider garnishing your cranberry fluff with additional mini marshmallows, cranberry slices, or a sprinkle of powdered sugar for an attractive presentation.

Adjust Sweetness and Tartness to Taste: After combining all the ingredients, taste the fluff and adjust the sweetness and tartness by adding more sugar or cranberries if needed. Remember that cranberries can vary in tartness, so customization is key.

cranberry fluff with marshmallows in a white bowl with cranberries and marshmallows on top

Recipe FAQs

How do I store leftovers?

Any leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days. If it looks a little settled or the juice has risen to the top, just stir the leftovers well before serving and it will fluff back up. 

What is cranberry fluff?

Cranberry fluff is a sweet and tart dessert or side dish made with fresh or thawed cranberries, sugar, crushed pineapple, mini marshmallows, whipped cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. It’s known for its light and fluffy texture and is often served during holiday gatherings.

Can I use frozen cranberries in cranberry fluff?

Yes, you can use thawed frozen cranberries if fresh cranberries are not available. Just make sure to thaw and drain them properly before using them in the recipe.

Can I make cranberry fluff ahead of time?

Yes, cranberry fluff can be made ahead of time. It’s actually recommended to allow it to chill and set in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving. You can prepare it a day in advance.

Can I use cool whip instead of making my own whipped cream?

Yes, you can use store-bought whipped topping (e.g., Cool Whip) as a convenient alternative to whipping heavy cream. However, using real whipped cream made from heavy whipping cream will yield a fresher and creamier texture.

Is cranberry fluff gluten-free?

Cranberry fluff can be made gluten-free if you use gluten-free powdered sugar and ensure that the mini marshmallows you use are gluten-free certified.

Can I make cranberry fluff dairy free or vegan?

You can attempt to make a dairy-free or vegan version of cranberry fluff by using non-dairy alternatives for heavy whipping cream and marshmallows. Coconut whipped cream and vegan marshmallows can be suitable replacements.

Can I adjust the sweetness in my cranberry fluff?

Yes, you can adjust the sweetness of cranberry fluff by adding more or less sugar to taste. Keep in mind that the tartness of the cranberries will also affect the overall sweetness.

Can I add nuts or other mix-ins?

Yes, you can customize your cranberry fluff by adding chopped nuts (such as pecans or walnuts), shredded coconut, or even citrus zest for extra flavor and texture.

What are serving suggestions with cranberry fluff?

Cranberry fluff can be served as a side dish with holiday meals or as a dessert. It pairs well with roast turkey, ham, or other savory dishes. You can also serve it in individual cups or dessert glasses for an elegant presentation.

cranberry fluff with marshmallows in a white bowl with cranberries and marshmallows on top

What to Serve With Cranberry Fluff

Cranberry fluff is such a great holiday side because it is so simple – but packed full of nostalgic flavor.

For more of our easy, super delicious side dishes that will wow at a holiday dinner – or any night of the week – check out some of our favorite easy side dishes below.

To see our complete side dish archives, please click here.

For more fruit based side dishes and desserts, click here.

cranberry fluff with marshmallows in a white bowl with cranberries and marshmallows on top

The Best Easy Cranberry Fluff Salad Recipe

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cranberry fluff in a bowl with cranberries and marshmallows on top

Easy Cranberry Fluff Salad

Yield: 10 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Refrigerating Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 15 minutes

This super simple delicious cranberry fluff is a tart creamy salad perfect for Thanksgiving or any time!

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces fresh or thawed frozen cranberries
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1 (8 ounce) can of crushed pineapple, well-drained
  • 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Pulse the cranberries in a food processor 5 or 6 times or until well chopped but not pureed.
  2. Transfer the chopped cranberries to a large bowl and combine with the granulated sugar. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight.
  3. Mix the marshmallows and pineapple into the cranberry mixture.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla until stiff peaks form.
  5. Fold the whipped cream into the cranberry mixture. 
  6. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. 

Notes

This would be perfect to make for any holiday party you plan to attend anytime between Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve, it can be served as either a side dish or a dessert!

If it isn’t as fluffy as you’d like, you can add a little more cool whip or marshmallows until it is the desired consistency.

If desired, 2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts can be added in step 3 at the same time as the cool whip and mini marshmallows.

You may be tempted to skip refrigerating the cranberries, pineapples, and sugar overnight - but this step makes the cranberries less tart and the cranberry salad taste more sweet so don’t skip it!

Nutrition Information
Yield 10 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 356Total Fat 17gSaturated Fat 15gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 0mgSodium 26mgCarbohydrates 52gFiber 1gSugar 46gProtein 1g

Nutrition is automatically calculated by Nutritionix - please verify all nutrition information independently and consult with a doctor or nutritionist for any and all medical and diet advice.

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About Courtney

Courtney loves to share great wine, good food, and loves to explore far flung places- all while masting an everyday elegant and easy style at lifestyle blog Sweet C’s Designs. Sweet C's devoted to finding the best food and drinks you'll want to make or find, around the world!

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