Grandma’s Sunshine Salad


Years ago, in the sixties, my grandmother came to live with us. She loved to bake, especially oatmeal raisin cookies and lemon meringue pie. She also loved to make Jell-O salads. As kids we loved Jell-O in all flavors. Who were we to wonder when my grandmother put things like cucumbers, horseradish, carrots, and or pineapple in with the Jell-O? One of her favorites was a Jell-O salad made with carrots and crushed pineapple. I had all but forgotten this salad until I met a woman at a counter at Logan Airport who told me about her favorite Jell-O salad, called a “Sunshine Salad”. This was it, grandma’s salad!

Grandma’s Sunshine Salad Recipe



  • 2 3-ounce packages lemon flavored gelatin
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup ice water
  • 1 9-ounce cans crushed pineapple with juice (cannot use fresh pineapple)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice or white vinegar
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 cups grated carrots


1 Empty gelatin into a small mixing bowl. Stir in 2 cup of boiling water. Stir thoroughly until the gelatin has dissolved.

2 Stir in 1 cup ice water, one can of crushed pineapple with its juice, lemon juice (or vinegar), and a pinch of salt. (Make sure you use canned pineapple. Fresh pineapple has an enzyme that will prevent the gelatin from jelling.)

3 Chill in refrigerator until the gelatin starts to thicken. Then gently fold in the grated carrots until well mixed.

4 Add mixture to a jello mold. Set in the refrigerator until firm, several hours. To unmold, dip the bottom of the pan in hot water for about 5 seconds. Invert onto a serving platter, and shake firmly to release. Slice to serve.

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  1. clare eats

    Hi elise,
    that looks so cool.
    I need to get some jelly molds.

  2. Karen

    This seems refreshing! First time I’ve heard of carrots in a sweet salad recipe and I love carrots. Will give this a try.

  3. chronicler

    I had to giggle when I saw your recipe. It immediately reminded me of grandma! It looks so pretty!

  4. HelenThura

    oh the memories, I have of christmas day at my grandparents, my grandmother would bring out 3 or 4 of these jelly salads, some had cucumber or beetroot, some had pineapple.

    Thanks for the memories.

  5. Jessica "Su Good Eats"

    Reminds me of carrot cake in gelatin form! I thought pineapples had enzymes that prevented gelatin from setting.

  6. Reid

    Hi Elise,

    Your grandmother’s sunshine salad looks great. We didn’t eat very many “molded” JELL-O desserts when we were younger. In fact, most of the ones I ate were layered, or like the broken glass JELL-O I made previously.

    This sounds delicious and I think I’m going to have to start making molded JELL-O desserts soon. Thank you so much for sharing and for hosting this round of IMBB. =)

  7. Elise

    Hi Jessica – yep there are enzymes in fresh pineapple that will prevent the gelatin from jelling. There’s no problem with canned pineapple however.

    Hi Reid – Molded Jell-O desserts can be a lot of fun, though I don’t know if I would like them if I hadn’t had them a lot as a kid. They’re kind of weird. Jell-O with cucumber? carrots? Grandma’s cucumber pineapple horseradish one is definitely an acquired taste. I love it, probably the same way people from Tokyo love natto…

  8. Beth

    I’m a little late in seeing this post, but my mom still makes this jello every year at Thanksgiving, and Easter, and when I tell her I want some! There was another my Nana would make with red grapes, celery and walnuts, all suspended in gelatin bliss….. Yum.

  9. candy

    My mom puts shredded cabbage in with the carrots. We don’t mold it anymore, we just put it in a 9×12 pan. We sometimes use lime or orange jello, also.

  10. Mary K-Z

    I’m so glad I found your recipe. My Mother used to make the same salad and I wanted to bring it back to Easter dinner this year. It is a really refreshing salad and looks so springy. She will be delighted. Wow…it’s been since the 60’s huh??

  11. Janet

    This is the same jello salad my late Grandmother used to make! Loved this salad! Only she added some finely diced celery and walnuts and then topped it in the center with mayonaise – sounds crazy, but so does horseradish! I love this one!

  12. Keith Harden

    Morrissons Cafeteria once made a salad (when they where in business) and I beleive this was the base. They added miniture marshmellows, cottage cheese and nuts to it. This took out the process of having to let it partially set, and they where able to just mix it all together and chill to set. Then, as an added bonus they would put finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese on top and it was delicious. It was made in a hotel pan so it could be cut in squares!

    Thanks for the started receipe!

  13. Lori

    My husband has been told by his doc to eat gelatin for his injured back — yikes! Brings back some bad food memories. But, if you’re doing jello, it can’t be all bad. This is the first place I look for recipes. Thank you for being here.

    Hi Lori, oh, this is pretty retro. I mostly have it up here because my grandmother used to make it when I was a kid. For me the food memories are good. That said, it still is a jello salad. ~Elise

  14. Kathy

    This is also very good using bagged coleslaw mix instead of all carrots…I love raw cabbage!!! My great-grandmother used the cabbage rather than carrots. Just chopped the coleslaw mix up a little finer. If you like fried or steamed cabbage use the rest of the bag as a main meal side dish….

  15. Sandra Bryant

    I still make this jello salad for the holidays. My salad has marshmellows on the top. My children and grandchildren really like this salad.

  16. Maggie Kulp

    I’m so glad to find this recipe online! I was looking for my VERY OLD Joys of Jello Recipe Book but could not find it, and I’m planning to make this for Easter. In the past I’ve made it in a mold but didn’t unmold it but put pecan halves either mixed in with the salad or lined them up on the top. Yummy!!! My daughter loves this and is glad I’m making it this year after several years of not having it. Again, so glad it’s here!

  17. Deb Morrison

    I can’t believe I found your recipe! My mom used to make this exact recipe for holidays all the time, it’s been years since I’ve had it… Great memories and I will be making this for my grandkids this Thanksgiving.

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