Minnesota’s Mandarin Orange Jello Salad

This Mandarin Orange Jello Salad is a beloved classic in Minnesota, where the “jello salad” often graces the tables of family gatherings and church potlucks. It combines the nostalgic flavors of an orange creamsicle with the comfort of a homemade (okay, that’s generous…semi-homemade) dessert. With its blend of creamy pudding, bright orange gelatin, fluffy whipped topping, and sweet mallows, this dish is both simple to make and a joy to eat.

Mandarin Orange Jello Salad

How the Orange Jello Salad recipe began (or so it’s thought ;))

Legend has it in the 1950’s a local MN woman, known affectionately as Aunt Ellie, wanted to create a dessert that captured the beloved taste of her favorite treats…orange creamsicles. She mixed mandarin oranges, vanilla pudding, whipped topping, and orange gelatin, adding mini marshmallows and coconut for extra fun. It was an instant hit at her church social and everyone was asking her for her recipe.

ingredients for mandarin orange jello salad

Ingredients You’ll Need:

  1. Orange Gelatin: The star of the show, providing that bright orange zest.
  2. Instant Vanilla Pudding: For a creamy, dreamy texture.
  3. Whipped Topping: Fluffy and light, it’s what gives your dessert that delightful cloud-like feel.
  4. Mandarin Oranges: Sweet little bursts of yumminess, make sure they are drained well.
  5. Mini Marshmallows: For a touch of sweet softness. For fun (or at Easter), try using the colored variety.
  6. Coconut Flakes : A sprinkle of tropical crunch, even better if lightly toasted.

Tips for Perfect “Ellie” Preparation:

  • Smooth Start: Dissolve the gelatin completely in hot water to avoid lumps, then mix in the cold water.
  • Creamy Pudding: Whisk in the pudding until smooth before it cools—it’s the secret to that creamsicle charm.
  • Gentle Folds: Fold in the whipped topping with care to keep things light and airy.
  • Fruity Mix-Ins: Add the oranges and marshmallows just before chilling to distribute them evenly.
  • Chill Well: Give your salad plenty of fridge time to set just right—it’s worth the wait.
  • Serve with Style: Spoon it into a pretty dish and garnish with the extra toppings for that perfect Midwest flair. We take our Jello salads seriously round here.

Orange Jello Salad

| 6 servings
Prep Time | 15 minutes
Chill Time | 2 hours 30 minutes
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Once of my favorite jello treats, this Mandarin Orange Jello Salad tastes just like an orange creamsicle, in dessert form!


  • 3 oz box orange gelatin
  • 1 1/2 cup water divided
  • 3.4 oz box instant vanilla pudding
  • 8 oz whipped topping
  • 29 oz can mandarin oranges
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows
  • ½ cup coconut flakes
Check out our Kitchen Reference Guide for help with unfamiliar terms.


  • Set aside some of the mandarins, marshmallows, and coconut for topping the dessert at the end.
  • Boil 1 cup of water.
  • Add orange gelatin powder to a large mixing bowl, then pour in the boiling water and whisk for about 1 minute until the gelatin is dissolved. Whisk in ½ cup of cold water, then transfer to the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
  • Remove the bowl of gelatin from the refrigerator, and whisk in the vanilla pudding powder.
  • Return to the refrigerator for an additional 15 minutes to allow the mixture to set slightly.
  • Remove the bowl of gelatin from the refrigerator, and fold in the whipped topping.
  • Add mandarins, mini marshmallows, and coconut, and stir until combined.
  • Transfer to a dish or bowl for serving, and top with the mandarins, marshmallows, and coconut that you set aside.
  • Cover the dish, and refrigerate for 2 hours to allow it to completely set before serving.


Calories: 351kcalCarbohydrates: 65gProtein: 4gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.2gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 221mgPotassium: 268mgFiber: 3gSugar: 55gVitamin A: 1826IUVitamin C: 47mgCalcium: 49mgIron: 1mg

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