Coca-Cola Salad for Retro #SundaySupper

Coca-Cola Salad | Magnolia DaysYes, it is a Jello salad. When was the last time you had one of those? I seriously doubt it or any gelatin salad has been on a restaurant menu in many years, if ever. You may have seen it at potlucks. Coca-Cola salad is sweet and tart with the flavors of cherry, cola, pineapple, and nuts. It is incredible with ham. My mom makes it often and still gets requests for the recipe. I was so excited for the opportunity to share it here. Why share it today? Well…

Sunday Supper is celebrating retro foods. This salad is about as retro and southern as you can get. Retro because of the popularity of gelatin salads back in the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s. Southern because of the Atlanta-based Coca-Cola company and Georgia being the leader of US pecan production. I could not think of a better recipe to share. Plus it is really good. Really.

Coca-Cola Salad | Magnolia DaysHow good is it? Let’s see…I made it, took photos, and served it for dinner. My husband had two helpings. A little later I found him in the kitchen snacking on it. Half of it was gone by the next evening. The rest disappeared shortly thereafter. This is a treat for you if you like Jello, Coca-Cola, cherries, pineapple, and pecans. It looks really cool too with the vibrant red color and the way it shines.

Coca-Cola Salad | Magnolia Days

Notes on the recipe: The one I had in my notebook is what I got from my mom long ago. It shows it’s age because it called for cherries in a #2 can. Um, what is a #2 can? I had to call my mom to clarify. I honestly have not seen recipes stating can type sizes. Have you? I have no clue where the recipe came from originally. I think my mom got it from a friend who got it from a friend and so on.

Coca-Cola Salad
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Salad
Yield: 12 servings
  • 6 ounces cherry-flavored Jello (not sugar-free)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 10 ounces Coca-Cola
  • 1 can (14.5 to 16 ounces) red tart pitted cherries in water
  • 1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (raw or lightly toasted)
  1. Place the Jello in a large bowl. Pour the boiling water over it and stir until dissolved. Stir in the Coca-Cola. Refrigerate mixture until partially firm, about 30 minutes. NOTE: check and stir every 3 to 5 minutes. You want it a thickened but not set.
  2. Place the cherries and juice in a food processor fitted with a knife blade or in a blender. Pulse or blend a few times to lightly chop the cherries.
  3. Once the Jello mixture has thickened, stir in the chopped cherries and it's juice, pineapple and it's juice, and pecans. Pour into a Jello/gelatin mold. Refrigerate until set or overnight. Remove salad from the mold by inverting onto a serving platter. Serve cold.
If you do not have a Jello or gelatin mold then you can leave it in the large bowl. Invert onto a serving dish when ready to serve.

Are you ready for more retro recipes? Take a look at what the talented Sunday Supper bloggers are sharing:

Sunday Supper Retro Appetizers:

Sunday Supper Retro Salads:

Sunday Supper Retro Breads and Sandwiches:

SundaySupper Main Dishes:

Sunday Supper Retro Sides and Veggies:

Sunday Supper Retro Desserts and Cocktails:

What fun to read the stories about the recipes! There’s lots of great food in the list. I admit I still make and enjoy many of them. Nice to see some updated versions too. Which one is your favorite?

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Special thanks to Terry and Jim Gardner for letting me borrow their old coke bottles for the photo!

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  1. says

    I have no idea what a #2 can is! Please let us know what your mom says! This recipe looks so intresting. I can honestly say that I’ve never seen anything like it! It looks bright red and beautiful. Nice touch with the cola bottles ;-))

  2. says

    Gotta love Jello salads. Every family get together bbq or picnic had some type of jello dish when I was a kid.

    I have no idea what a #2 can of cherries are but I have seen that many many times in my vintage cook book collection. I’ll have to ask my MIL.

  3. says

    Boy, this brings me back to the holidays of my childhood! I loved these sorts of jello salads as long as green jello and veggies weren’t involved :/ Yours looks wonderful, Renee!

    • says

      Jello salad is unique to think about if you have never had it. I grew up with them so they are such a part of my past. Some of them (like this one) are mighty tasty.

  4. says

    Beautiful photo and well written (IMHO)! Jello certainly takes me back to my childhood. I feel like you couldn’t avoid it back then and now I rarely see it anywhere!

    • says

      Thank you Amy for your kind words on my writing. Perhaps there will be a resurgence of Jello salads? Who knows. I do wonder why they are not “fashionable” anymore.

  5. says

    I honestly have not had a Jello Salad in years. But ours never, ever looked as good as this one. It’s beautiful, Renee. AND, I am actually going to make it to go with our Easter Ham. Thank you! :)

  6. says

    I must say out of all the Jello salads yours does look the prettiest and I love that you managed to get your hands on some retro Coke bottles!

    • says

      Thanks Susan! I was thrilled to be able to borrow those Coke bottles. One is 10 ounces which is exactly what is called for in the recipe. I don’t think I’ve seen a 10 ounce bottle of Coke in a long time.

  7. says

    Oh, it is a Jello type of salad. I was wondering all along what it could be and envisioned something brown, with mayo :)

    This looks fantastic and I think my entire family would love it as a special treat :) Thank you, Renee.

    • says

      Thanks Tara. I think folks here in Atlanta or the South came up with hundreds of recipes for Coca-Cola. I just don’t see many of them anymore.

  8. says

    This is very appropriate because I haven’t had a jello salad in years. I hear you regarding old recipes. Over Christmas, my parents and I went through their old recipe box filled with faded newspaper clippings, etc. It was actually quite fun.

  9. says

    Wow I’ve never heard of such a thing but it does look delicious, almost like dessert for dinner!! That’s a riot about the #2 can too, I laughed out loud! Happy Sunday!!

  10. says

    OK now I need to break out the jello mold–this sounds wonderful! My family always makes the green jello with the pineapple and cottage cheese, and I love it. Time for me to try something new!

  11. says

    I should have done this Sunday Supper, I just did a party for 20 with all retro themed food & drink! Tomato aspic, Chex mix, sloppy joes, cheese balls, punch, etc. it was epic!

  12. says

    I’ve had many Jello salads in my life but never this one. I think my husband would adore it because of the Coke and pineapple. I’ll have to make it for him one night!

  13. Pam @ The Meltaways says

    Don’t you just love mystery ingredients in old recipes? I am totally pinning this – it sounds amazing!

    • says

      I seriously love old recipes and running across those mystery ingredients. I think it is the research part and finding out what they are that is so exciting. So cool how recipes and ingredients have changed over the years.

  14. says

    I’m getting such an education around the #SundaySupper table! The South holds a mysterious fascination to me and so I’ve read quite a bit about Southern ways but Coca Cola Jello Salad is a first! Love that your recipe is originally from your Mom and her friends =) Thank you, Renee, for the how-to and this fun post.

  15. says

    I’ve never heard or tried Coca Cola Salad, and quite frankly not knowing what it was didn’t paint a very pleasant picture in my mind LOL The cherry Jello and coke sound like an awesome pairing. I love cherry coke.

  16. Debi says

    #1 can – 10-1/2 oz
    #2 can – 20 oz.
    #300 can – 15-1/2 oz.
    #303 can – 16 oz.
    #5 can – 64 oz.

    Have had this taped inside my pantry door for years, don’t know where I got it. Old recipes frequently used these terms instead of measurements. Hope this helps!!

    • says

      Thank you so much for the information Debi! Interesting to see how can sizes have changed. Now a #2 can would be 14.5 ounces. It was 16 ounces for a while. Smaller packaging seems to take over through the years.

      • Annie says

        I’ve heard containers get smaller because prices go up to produce food and people are more likely to buy groceries in smaller containers if price goes up, simply because they are less likely to notice the container got a little smaller, or they can still afford to buy it in smaller containers, but if the company kept the container the same size and raised the price people would complain about it or simply buy less because they could afford less.

      • says

        I’m sure that keeping the price the same is why the containers get smaller. I wish they would stay the same size though.

  17. Sarah says

    ok I have to honest and say that I have never heard of a coca cola salad but if I was to have jello, I would like for it be made this way. So much I missed in the 60’s. lol Looks delicous Renee!

  18. says

    You know, this is one salad I’ve never tried but have always been curious about. Now that I see your recipe and the gorgeous photo, I know what to expect. Beautiful!

  19. says

    So retro-tastic! Being Australian I’ve never tried a jello salad (but) heard of it of course! Yours looks incredible and the simple styling does it much justice. Looks awesome :)

  20. Hmmmmm says

    What! I have made Coke Sald for years at evey holiday occasion. It is a substitute for cranberry sauce, Your recipe is so different.
    I grew up in Atlanta so I am well aware of the many uses for Coke ( My Dad went to GT in the shadow of Coke World Headquarters)

    My recipe uses
    black cherry jello
    1can Coke (no Pepsi)
    1 can Bing Cherries

    No Pinapple. I have never seen that. Maybe give it a try…not sure :-)

  21. Mary Ann says

    Goodness, you cannot take a gelatin salad out to a picnic or to a church salad, it melts! My college foods teacher introduced me to it, but it had cream cheese, makes it much better. Sorry I lost her recipe. I’ve been frustrated with can size changes when using older recipes…often given them up. Also noted 3 oz. cream cheese size no longer available.

    • says

      Yes, it is best to take gelatin salads to indoor events during the hot summer. I wish the 3 ounce size of cream cheese was still available. I now buy the 8 ounce package and use the amount I need. Besides, it is not a bad thing to have extra cream cheese in the fridge.

  22. Kay says

    We ALWAYS had this at holiday meals. My grandmother’s version called for a brick of cream cheese cubed and added to the slightly thickened gelatin mixture. We also used dark sweet cherries instead of the tart ones. (Might have to give that a try). Instead of boiling water, we used the juice from the pineapple and cherries plus enough water to make 2 cups. I have also made it with sugar free jello and diet coke. Love, love, love this salad.

    • says

      Thank you Kay. I’ll have to try using the cherry and pineapple juice too. We also have a recipe for a lime salad that has cream cheese (I haven’t posted that recipe yet).

  23. Pauline Hyder says

    Just discovered your blog. I love jello and congealed salads. Please post your green salad recipe. Thank you for sharing your ideas.

  24. Prairie says

    This has been a tradition in my family probably since the 1950s. The variation in our recipe is that we use black cherry jello, Bing cherries, and we add cubed cream cheese to it. The cream cheese has always been my favorite part.


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