My Grandmother’s Apricot Salad: Where Jell-O, Orange Fruits, Ice Cream & Cream Cheese Meet

Jell-O salads take courage.

I don’t know if Jell-O salad is a Midwest thing or a retro thing and I certainly don’t know how Jell-O to be referred to as a salad.

I’m really ok with Jell-O shots and just ok with Jell-O salad. I’ll eat it if it’s around, but don’t seek it out. That is, unless it’s one of the recipes I found my Grandmother had submitted to her old church cookbook

Jane Hill’s Apricot Salad was the next step in my journey to learn about my grandmother through her recipes. My previous adventure preparing Ship Wreck, the casserole my mom hated, left my husband begging me not to make another casserole yet, so I tried one of the sweet recipes she submitted.

RecipeThe recipe is vaguely written and the part instructing me to add a pint of vanilla ice cream to congealed and whipped Jell-O left me scared and confused. I allowed the ice cream to thaw until it was soft before I mixed it in. I’m not sure if that’s what I was supposed to do, but it seemed to work.

I’m also surprised I could even still find apricot jello.


Yup, they still make this.

Here are the canned apricots and mandarin oranges.

Orange fruit

After I mixed the congealed jello and fruit with the softened ice cream, I poured it into a pan to set up further in the fridge.

jello collage

Then, I prepared the topping by mixing a can of crushed pineapple with a box of cream cheese. I like pineapple and I like cream cheese so I figured I’d enjoy them mixed together. Wrong. They seem like innocuous ingredients but when I mixed them together, the emanating smell made me gag. I also didn’t like what I tasted, so I kept it in a separate bowl to serve on the side.

I want to honor my grandparents’ recipes by preparing them exactly as written, but I also don’t want to waste food. Sometimes practicality must rule over authenticity.

Finally, I toasted some walnuts to sprinkle over the top. Here’s the final assembly:

bowl of jello

Closing Thoughts:
All in all, the Jell-O turned out better than I expected, minus the cream cheese topping. Jake and I were surprised by how much we liked the jello-fruit-ice cream component of the dish. Apricot jello has pleasant, fruity and floral flavors. This layer doesn’t fully set up and remains soft like a pudding and may have benefited from the fact that I used a high quality ice cream.

Jake skipped right over the cream cheese and pineapple topping by substituting a dollop of whipped cream. I added a spoonful of the topping but removed it after one bite. I just can’t.

Like the Ship Wreck, I can’t see myself preparing this recipe again, but it felt exciting (and a little scary) to try walking in my grandmother’s footsteps for a moment, even if it did involve combining apricot jello and cream cheese.


  1. Beth Ann Chiles

    I so remember seeing this recipe in my church cookbooks time and time again but I have not been brave enough to try it. I do not cream cheese so that would have deterred me right there but the rest of the jello concoction actually looks pretty good. Mandarin oranges were always in a birthday jello treat when we were growing up. They were not for everyday jello—just special birthday jello. 🙂

    • Jeni Flaa

      Mandarin oranges were a treat we got when we were sick. I’ve been happily eating the jello without the cream cheese. Husband was sad to find I had used the ice cream in it, though.

  2. MommyJenna

    Looks good! I bet this would be good for a family get together.

    • Jeni Flaa

      Maybe I’ll bring it next time I see that side of the family. It would be a fun surprise.

  3. Haley @ Cheap Recipe Blog

    This is a classic! My grandma used to (and my mom does) put a mixture of Cool Whip and mayonnaise as a Jell-O topping. I know. Not my taste, but this kind of salad makes me a wee bit nostalgic.

    • Jeni Flaa

      That would be a very interesting flavor! I feel like our grandparents generation used mayonnaise more as an ingredient that we’re used to. It’s fun to explore their recipes, though.

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