A cherry fluff salad recipe is the easiest potluck side dish you can make. It blends the flavors of cherry, marshmallow, and Cool Whip to bring out the kid in everyone. Cuz who doesn’t need a bit of pink fluff in their life?
You are going to a family party. Maybe it’s a potluck. And you want to bring a dish everyone will love, eat, and compliment you on. Most of all, you want to take home an empty container.
But you don’t have time to putter around in the kitchen. You need a quick, easy, throw-together potluck side dish.
Enter this cherry fluff salad recipe. It’s quick to throw together – the perfect make-ahead recipe. You only need 5 minutes and one large bowl. Make that a gigantic bowl because you are making this for a crowd, right?
You could make a smaller batch for your family dinner, but really fluff recipes were made for large gatherings. One version or another graces every potluck table and special occasion. It is the perfect recipe for anyone with a sweet tooth.
A cherry fluff salad recipe fits every requirement you have – quick, easy, tasty. Mix it up in minutes. Chill. Serve. Accept compliments.
Note: this recipe does not call for sweetened condensed milk for two reasons. First, many people don’t always stock condensed milk in their cupboard. And second, sweetened condensed milk makes the salad very sweet. Too sweet for some.
A cherry fluff salad recipe without sweetened condensed milk relies on the sweetness of the cherries, pineapple, and Cool Whip. If you need a sweeter salad, you can add sweetened condensed milk 2 tablespoons at a time. Or add sugar (which is easier since it’s probably already in your pantry).
Cherry Fluff Recipe Ingredients
Transform a few simple ingredients into a cherry fluff dessert salad. Cherry fluff salad is also known as cherry dump salad, pink fluff, or the pink stuff.
- Cherry pie filling (or use cans of sweet cherries). Cherry pie filling might not be the best straight from the can, but there are a few tricks to jazz it up.
- Canned sweet cherries. Every brand of cherry pie filling has lots of gel and not enough cherries. Add an extra can of sweet cherries to the pie filling. It will improve the taste and the texture. Drain very well.
- Maraschino cherries (optional). If you want some ultra-sweet cherries, try maraschinos. They add a candy cherry taste to the classic recipe, but that isn't bad.
- Crushed pineapple, well-drained. Crushed pineapple fills in the extra pie filling gel better than pineapple chunks would. And pineapple helps sweeten the cherry salad naturally.
Drain very well. Extra pineapple juice can water down the cherry dessert salad.
- Almond extract. Just a little bit of almond extract can enhance the cherry flavor in the pie filling. It’s one of my secrets to making canned cherry pie filling taste better.
- Lemon juice (optional). Lemon juice also brings out the flavor of cherries. It is a good addition if your cherry pie filling is too sweet.
- Sour cream. The sour cream gives stability and body to the creamy dressing. Since it is sour, it can tone down too-sweet cherry filling.
- Tub of Cool Whip or whipped cream. Cool Whip is made to hold up, while whipped cream can lose air over time. Cherry fluff salad with Cool Whip is the best choice for any make-ahead salad.
The combination of Cool Whip and sour cream supplies the fluff to the salad. If you make your own whipped cream, add 2 to 4 tablespoons of sugar to the cream as it whips.
- A cup of mini-marshmallows (two cups is even better). Ok. Cherry fluff salad with marshmallows is now officially a dessert salad.
- Shredded coconut (optional but recommended). If too much fluff is getting to you, add coconut for some texture. Bob’s unsweetened shredded coconut has tiny shreds perfect for this salad.
Sometimes unsweetened coconut is hard to find, so use sweetened instead. Just keep the particles small. Long strands of coconut aren’t appealing in a dessert salad.
- Pecan or walnut tidbits (optional but recommended). Process the nuts in a food processor if you have one. A food processor will chop uniformly-sized pieces. If you do not have a food processor, chop the nuts with a cutting board and sharp kitchen knife.
How to Make Cherry Fluff Salad Recipe Without Sweetened Condensed Milk
STEP 1: The first step is to drain the crushed pineapple and the canned cherries. As they drain, gather all the other ingredients.
STEP 2: Pour the cherry pie filling and can of sweet cherries into a large bowl.
STEP 3: Pour the drained crushed pineapple into the cherry mixture.
STEP 4: Add almond extract and lemon juice (optional). Stir to combine everything.
STEP 5: Stir the sour cream in a small mixing bowl to loosen it up.
STEP 6: Fold the Cool Whip or whipped cream into the sour cream until it reaches a creamy texture.
STEP 7: Dump the creamy dressing into the cherry mixture and stir until everything is incorporated. The salad should be a pink pastel color and have a fluffy look. The cherries mixed with the Cool Whip dressing give the salad its trademark pink color.
STEP 8: Pour in the mini marshmallows. And the nuts and coconut (if using). Give the pink fluff recipe a final stir to distribute the marshmallows throughout the salad.
STEP 9: Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours. Chilling lets the flavors blend and the marshmallows soften.
STEP 10: Serve chilled.
How Far Ahead Can You Make Cherry Fluff Salad?
You can make cherry fluff salad up to 24 hours in advance. Store it in an airtight container.
Remember to drain the pineapple and canned cherries for at least 15 minutes to get all the excess juice out. Fruits tend to get juicy the longer they sit. Taking a few extra minutes to drain the cherries and pineapple will keep the salad from getting runny the next day.
How to Store Leftover Cherry Fluff Salad
Store cherry fluff salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
This cherry fluff salad recipe without condensed milk does not freeze very well.
When to Serve Cherry Fluff Salad
Any weekend potluck is an excellent time to whip up the pink stuff. However, there are some popular occasions to serve this cherry fluff salad recipe. Any event that reminds you of pink is a great time to serve it. For example:
- Valentine’s Day: Pink is the color for Valentine’s Day. Whip up a small batch of this sweet treat for the sweet someone in your life.
- Mother’s Day: Mothers appreciate a little pink. Make a special lunch with a side of pink fluff for your Mom.
- 4th of July: Ready to party? Pink, white, and blue, right? You know you need a hefty side dish to fill up all your hungry guests.
- Thanksgiving: Cherry dump salad is a family favorite everyone anticipates. It’s a perfect make-ahead recipe. Try throwing in some canned cranberries for a refreshing twist.
- Christmas: Family gatherings need some pink. And a whole lot of it. When it comes to Christmas dinner, count yourself lucky if you bring effortless cherry fluff. You made Santa’s nice list this year.
Cherry Fluff Variations
Do you want a refreshing twist on this classic cherry dessert salad? Then try some of these substitutions and twists.
- Use only fresh fruit. The summer months are cherry season. Grab some fresh cherries and make cherry fluff for your family reunion this summer. Or maybe just make a small batch for your family on a hot summer night.
- Switch out the cherry pie filling and use strawberry pie filling instead. Chop up some fresh strawberries and add them to the filling. Keep all the other ingredients the same.
- Add 8 oz. of cream cheese plus a can of sweetened condensed milk in place of the sour cream. Add the sweetened condensed milk mixture to the Cool Whip. This will make the salad sweeter, and the dressing will be heavier. A little less fluffy. But many people love this version.
If you want to go lighter, try a healthier cream cheese alternative.
- Make a variety fruit salad by adding drained fruit cocktail to the cherry pie filling. Throw in some canned mandarin oranges, and you have a refreshing twist on cherry fluff.
- Make cherry fluff salad with maraschino cherries and canned sweet cherries. Don't use only maraschino cherries, or the fluff will be far too sweet. Half and half is a good blend.
More Creamy Salads You Will Love
If you love cherry dump salad, check out more of these desserty side dishes.
- Classic Ambrosia Salad. This 1950s vintage dessert features canned fruit, grapes, marshmallows, coconut, and nuts (or not) in a creamy dressing. Try ambrosia salad with Cool Whip too.
- Banana Pudding. Banana pudding is a layer dessert with wafer cookies, and sliced bananas. This from-scratch recipe is just sweet enough with a creamy, mousse-like pudding, your choice of vanilla wafers or butter cookies, and ripe bananas. Check out the best cookies to use in banana pudding besides vanilla wafers.
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Easy Cherry Fluff Salad Recipe Without Sweetened Condensed Milk
Family-Sized Cherry Fluff Salad
- 1 21 oz can of cherry pie filling (or use 2 (15 oz) cans of sweet cherries)
- 1 15 oz can of sweet cherries
- ½ cup maraschino cherries optional
- 1 20 oz can of crushed pineapple, well-drained
- ½ cup of sour cream
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 1 8 oz tub of Cool Whip or 2 cups of sweetened whipped cream
- 2 cups of mini marshmallows
- ½ cup of shredded coconut optional but recommended
Cherry Fluff Salad for a Crowd
- 2 21 oz cans of cherry pie filling (or use 4 (15 oz) cans of sweet cherries)
- 2 15 oz cans of sweet cherries
- 1 cup maraschino cherries optional
- 2 20 oz cans of crushed pineapple, well-drained
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 cup of sour cream
- 2 8 oz tubs of Cool Whip or 4 cups of sweetened whipped cream
- 4 cups of mini marshmallows
- 1 cup of shredded coconut optional but recommended
- 1 to 1 ½ cups of pecan or walnut tidbits optional but recommended
- DRAIN the canned cherries and crushed pineapple. As they drain, gather all the other ingredients.
- POUR the cherry pie filling, drained can of sweet cherries, and drained maraschino cherries into a large bowl.
- MIX the drained crushed pineapple into the cherry mixture.
- ADD the almond extract and stir to combine everything.
- STIR the sour cream in a separate small mixing bowl to loosen it up.
- FOLD the Cool Whip or whipped cream into the sour cream until it reaches a creamy texture.
- DUMP the creamy dressing into the cherry mixture and stir until everything is incorporated. The salad should be a pink pastel color and have a fluffy look. The cherries mixed with the Cool Whip dressing give the salad its trademark pink color.
- POUR in the mini marshmallows. Add the nuts and coconut (if using). Give the pink fluff a final stir to distribute the marshmallows throughout the salad.
- COVER AND REFRIGERATE for a minimum of 2 hours. Chilling lets the flavors blend and the marshmallows soften.
- SERVE chilled.
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Tasty Cherry Recipes to Try
Looking beyond a traditional cherry pie? Check out these recipes.
- No-bake cherry pie. Another popular Cool Whip dessert is cherry pie with canned filling and graham cracker crust. Canned pie filling sits on top of a lemon cream cheese filling.
Check out these tips to make canned cherry pie filling taste better. Then try some more cherry recipes. (Many tricks also apply to blueberry pie filling.)
If you use a premade graham cracker crust, check out the ultimate guide.
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