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Raspberry Jello Mold (Polly’s Pink Stuff)

This Raspberry Jello Mold (“Polly’s Pink Stuff”) is a festive retro recipe that was my grandmother’s specialty served for every holiday dinner.

If your family is like ours, there’s at least one, and maybe more, special recipes that are always a part of your holiday menus. Maybe it’s your Aunt Mabel’s famous mashed potatoes or Gramma Smith’s perfect pumpkin pie.

Raspberry jello mold on a silver serving tray with vintage serving pieces in the background.

For our family, one constant on our holiday menu is “Polly’s Pink Stuff.”

How many of you have enjoyed a vintage jello mold? If not, it’s about time you did!

This recipe dates back to the early 1900s and really took off in popularity in the 50s when jello molds were served at just about every major meal.

It has raspberry jello, crushed pineapple, and cool whip mixed with a secret ingredient that I’ll get to later. It’s totally delicious, but, for me, this vintage southern recipe is about a whole lot more than jello.

🙋‍♀️ Who Is Polly?

(Personal note: This post was originally written in December 2011. Polly passed away in September 2016 at the age of almost 102. She was just as sharp and vibrant as ever right up until her passing. We were very blessed to have her in our lives for so long.)

Five generations of my family.
Five generations – Front: Mama with Maggie on her lap and Polly; Back: Me, Laura and Aidan

Polly is my grandmother. My Mama’s mama. And, I’m here to tell you, she is one more sport. Polly is 96 years old and has a mind like a steel trap. She’s a voracious reader and remembers things from 80 and 90 years ago in detail that you wouldn’t believe.

She’s the oldest of seven siblings, and all but one of them are living. I come from hardy stock, y’all. The photo of our five generations up above was taken last Thanksgiving, and we all agreed that Polly looked better than all the rest of us.

(L to R) Gran Robert, Mama, Polly
Gran Robert, Mama, and Polly

I remember growing up thinking what a glamorous life Polly led. She and her husband, my Gran Robert, lived in the big city – Atlanta – but they came to visit us often down in south Georgia. They both grew up there, but my grandfather worked for the CDC in Atlanta for years. After he retired, they moved right back to south Georgia.

I always loved going to Atlanta to see them around Christmas time. We’d go downtown, where we’d see Elsie the Cow (does anyone remember Elsie besides me?), and to Rich’s and ride the “Pink Pig.” And to Stone Mountain to ride the train. It was pretty exciting for a little country girl.

Polly Loves to Travel

One of the things that Polly has enjoyed most in her life is travel. She and her sister-in-law, Ione, along with a couple of other close friends, traveled every summer for years.

My Aunt Ione was the postmaster in her little town and went to a convention every summer, bringing the whole group along with her, turning the occasion into a couple of weeks of travel time. Those were some really enjoyable times for Polly and her friends. She has loads of memories and funny stories to tell about all those travels.

Polly never was”the little wife” type. She doesn’t care much for the domestic arts, preferring to read, travel, and work outside her home. She was a constant presence in the local courthouse for years and years, working in the Clerk of Court’s office.

And even though keeping house isn’t her “thing,” she’s always been a really good cook. She can make a pot roast that will nearly bring tears to your eyes, and her Chicken Jallop recipe is famous all around our area.

One of Her Signature Recipes

This raspberry jello mold, or “pink stuff” as we call it, is one of her signature recipes. It’s something that is nearly always on our holiday table and was on my Thanksgiving menu last week. And even though many of you are looking at it askance because it has jello and Cool Whip in the recipe, I’m still honored to share this dish with you.

This Raspberry Jello Mold is as much a part of our family’s holiday tradition as the Christmas tree and the wreath on the front door. And I’d bet my next paycheck that if you give it a try, you’ll like it.

❤️ Why We Love This Recipe

  • It’s a vintage recipe with all sorts of nostalgic feelings.
  • Kids and adults love it and it adds a festive look to the holiday table.
  • You can be creative with jello molds!

🍳 Equipment You’ll Need

All you’ll need for this recipe is a saucepan to cook the jello and a mold. If you don’t have a mold you can easily pour the mixture into a baking dish and cut it into squares for serving.

🥘 Ingredient Notes

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  • Canned Crushed Pineapple (Don’t drain the pineapple. You’ll need the juice as well as the fruit.)
  • Raspberry Jell-o (We always use raspberry jello for this recipe, but you can choose your favorite flavor. It’s just as good with lime or peach or strawberry.)
  • Buttermilk (The secret ingredient that gives this recipe a wonderful, tangy somethin’-somethin’. Whole or low-fat buttermilk works equally well.)
  • Cool Whip (There’s just something about cool whip that makes it the only choice for this retro recipe. Don’t even bother with making fresh whipped cream.)

You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.

🥄 How to Make Polly’s Pink Stuff (Raspberry Jello Mold)

Prepare the Mold

If you’re planning to unmold the jello onto a serving plate, select a mold (either one big mold or individual ones) and thoroughly coat the inside with cooking spray. Wipe out any excess with a paper towel.

Cook the Pineapple with the Jell-o

Raspberry jello and pineapple in a medium pot.

Start by combining the crushed pineapple with its juice and the raspberry jello in a medium saucepan.

👉 PRO TIP: Use any red colored jello you like (cherry, strawberry, cranberry). Or you can make this into Polly’s Orange Stuff with orange jello. Or Green Stuff with lime jello.

Bring the pineapple and jello to a boil, stirring occasionally. Set that aside to cool to room temperature.

Add Buttermilk and Cool Whip

Buttermilk being poured into cooled jello and pineapple mixture.

When the pineapple-jello mixture has cooled, stir in the buttermilk. Mix it together well.

Folding cool whip into the jello mixture.

Then fold in a small container of Cool Whip which has been thawed. Keep folding and stirring until it is thoroughly incorporated and no streaks of white remain.

Turn the mixture into a decorative mold.

👉 PRO TIP: Instead of using a mold, do like Polly usually does and pour it into a 9×13 pan so that you can cut it into little squares when you’re ready to serve.


Raspberry Jello Mold on a silver serving tray with vintage serving pieces in the background.

Refrigerate until set. Unmold and serve.

❓ Questions About Raspberry Jello Mold

How do I store the leftovers?

Keep any leftover jello mold in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days. It needs to be covered closely with plastic wrap or in an airtight container. Typically, jello itself lasts 7-10 days but with the addition of buttermilk, this recipe has a shorter freshness limit.

How do I keep the jello from sticking to the mold?

If you want to unmold your salad onto a serving plate or platter, you’ll need to plan a little in advance.

Before starting the recipe, very lightly spray the inside of the mold with cooking spray, and then use a paper towel to evenly distribute the spray and remove any excess. When ready to serve, use a dinner knife to go around the outside edge of the mold and loosen the contents. Put the serving dish upside down on top of the mold and invert both the dish and mold at the same time. The salad should slip right out.

If it doesn’t, don’t panic! Fill your kitchen sink with a couple of inches of warm water. Lower the mold into the water being careful not to get water into the mold. Leave it for just 5 to 6 seconds, remove and try inverting again.

Lana Stuart.

Questions? I’m happy to help!

If you have more questions about the recipe, or if you’ve made it and would like to leave a comment, scroll down to leave your thoughts, questions, and/or rating!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

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Polly's Pink Stuff - A retro recipe for a festive raspberry jello mold. http://www.lanascooing.com/pollys-pink-stuff-raspberry-jello-mold/

Polly’s Pink Stuff (Raspberry Jello Mold)

A retro recipe for a festive Raspberry Jello Mold. My grandmother's holiday specialty served for every Christmas and Easter dinner.
4.91 from 20 votes
Print It Rate It
Course: Side Dishes
Cuisine: Southern, Vintage
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Chill time: 4 hours
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 130kcal
Author: Lana Stuart


  • 16 ounces canned crushed pineapple
  • 6 ounces raspberry gelatin
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 8 ounces Cool Whip thawed


Prepare the Mold:

  • If you're planning to unmold the jello onto a serving plate, select a mold and thoroughly coat the inside with cooking spray. Wipe out any excess with a paper towel.

Prepare the Jello Mixture:

  • Place the crushed pineapple with its juice in a medium saucepan.
  • Add the jello and stir together.
  • Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • Remove pan from the heat and set it aside to cool.
  • When the pineapple and jello mixture has cooled to room temperature, add the buttermilk and stir together until well combined.
  • Fold in the Cool Whip.
  • Pour into prepared decorative mold or a 9×13 baking dish and refrigerate until set.


  • Instead of using a mold, pour the mixture into a 9×13 pan so that you can cut it into little squares when you’re ready to serve.
  • Keep any leftover jello mold in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days. It needs to be covered closely with plastic wrap or in an airtight container.

Nutrition Information

Calories 130kcal | Carbohydrates 25g | Protein 3g | Fat 2g | Saturated Fat 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat 1g | Monounsaturated Fat 1g | Cholesterol 7mg | Sodium 122mg | Potassium 122mg | Fiber 1g | Sugar 23g | Vitamin A 118IU | Vitamin C 4mg | Calcium 73mg | Iron 1mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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— This post was originally published on December 2, 2011. It has been updated with additional information.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 4 stars
    I’m planning to make for Christmas, looks delicious and pretty. Question, do you or can you add and fresh or frozen raspberries?

    1. I haven’t ever added them, Shannon, but you should be able to. Make sure they’re very dry (if fresh) or very well drained (if frozen).

  2. 5 stars
    My niece had a Barbie party for her daughter’s fifth birthday and decided to serve pink food. She sent me a recipe for pink cole slaw, which I made using my own dressing and it was a hit. However, my other offering which I discovered looking for “pink” recipes. was an even bigger hit; that was “Polly’s Pink Stuff.”
    I made it, with variations*, for the two more family parties and used the original for my parish women’s club gathering. Each time it was devoured. I had been asked to make something for a great nephew’s high school graduation party. My usual summer party request is my potato salad, but since my niece is serving tacos, my sister asked if I would bring the raspberry mold.
    By the way, each time I had to make two versions; one “regular,” and one non-dairy. I used coconut cream, to which I added apple cider vinegar. It was every bit as delicious as the original.
    Polly’s Pink Stuff has been added to the most often requested foods for me to take for family, et al, gatherings. Thank you!

    1. You have no idea how pleased I am that your family is enjoying my grandmother’s treasured recipe!

  3. 4 stars
    Do you think I can use just 1 cup of buttermilk ? And the instructions say to add the jello at the same time you add the crushed pineapple to the saucepan but in one of your “reply’s” to a questions, you said to add it after the pineapple boils. Which do I do ? I’m making this for Easter tomorrow.

    Thank you !

    1. Bring the pineapple with its juice and the jello to a boil together. If you cut back the buttermilk you’ll need to make up the volume with additional cool whip or milk or maybe half-and-half.

      1. HiLana,

        Thanks for your quick reply! I made this for Easter and it was delicious! I got rave reviews. I cut the buttermilk by only 1/2 cup and used Whipped cream instead of cool whip. It was super yummy. It’s a keeper ! Thanks again !

  4. My grandma’s name was Polly, too! Really it was Paullin Nan but everyone called her Polly.
    Cant wait to prepare this in mold for my grandchildren!

  5. I’m missing Polly again today, remembering her famous “pink stuff.”
    She was one of a kind. I hope that I grow up to be just like her.

    Miss P

  6. I do not like buttermilk at all. Does this dessert have a pronounced flavor of buttermilk?

    1. I wouldn’t say it’s a “pronounced” taste, but it definitely has the tanginess of buttermilk. The buttermilk is mellowed quite a bit from the whipped topping, raspberry jello, and pineapple.

  7. Betsy Russell says:

    This sounds delicious however I am allergic to cool whip Do you think this would work if I substituted 1 or 1 1/2 cups whipped cream in place of the cool whip. Thank you for the delicious recipes. I always enjoy your blog.

  8. Hi,
    I am going to try your Grandmother’s recipe. I cannot wait to set it on my table at Thanksgiving. Thank you for sharing.

    1. I hope you and your family enjoy it, Dolores! And have a very happy Thanksgiving!

  9. Made a version of this for Easter lunch, and used some small individual antique molds that I picked up at an estate sale years ago. I just love the look of those one serving portions, each perfectly formed. Of course, if you have to use a knife to loosen them out of the molds, because you are too impatient to wait 30 seconds to dip in hot water, just turn that to the back side!

    Miss P

  10. Is there any water used with the jello at all? I want to make this for Easter but am confused as to if I add the jello to only the pineapple mixture or if any water comes into play somewhere? I’m a total novice.

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      No, no water. Just dissolve the jello in the pineapple juice as it comes to a boil. Good luck with the recipe!


  12. I have the exact same recipe as this from my hometown cookbook, but, instead, it’s made with orange jello, and some nuts (walnuts, usually) are added. I called it “orange stuff”.

  13. Michael Pringle says:

    My family also has a “pink stuff” or a “green stuff” or a “green-pink-green stuff” or a “pink-green-pink” stuff recipe. The ladies use pastashio pudding, cottage cheese, the crushed pineapple and cool whip. They take the pudding and mix it with the cottage cheese, then stir in the pineapple that has been drained and then they fold in the cool whip and refrigerate it. It also is served with the meal. The pink version just uses a strawberry or whatever red pudding is felt like being used and continue on like before. The other two names are just descriptors of the other two. My late mother-in-law would make it green for Thanksgiving, then make it red for Christmas so her family never knew exactly what to call it.

  14. Shirley Crabtree says:

    I grew up with five generations in myhome. I was surprised to learn that many of my friends never knew their great-grandparents.

    A friend of mine always makes the “pink stuff” for family gatherings and church lunches. Everyone always asked her what it is called and she always just says “I have always known it as pink stuff. She uses cherry jello and adds a small container of cottage cheese instead of buttermilk.

  15. Oh, lordy me, this sounds so much like my own family and my gramma’s recipes. Thank you so much for sharing family and food with all of us.
    My grandparents were from the south and I grew up with all kinds of wonderful food as a result. My own gramma was a superb cook in all areas of cuisine…..I try to emulate as many of her recipes as possible. Now I can add this one.

  16. I’m going to ask this question, so don’t shoot me. What could be substituted if a family doesn’t like buttermilk? I know it would take away from the taste, but could whole milk be used instead? Again, don’t shoot the asker of the question. :) Thanks!!!!

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Hi Stan. I’ve never tried any substitutes for the buttermilk in this recipe so I can say for sure. If I was going to substitute something, I’d try heavy cream first because of its thicker consistency. I can promise you, though, that you’d never know it was buttermilk in the finished recipe. You’d more likely identify the taste as yogurt.

  17. Socorro Varela says:

    I grew up in central Texas. As a child, one of my momma’s friends, Wanda Moore (R.I.P.), would always make the “pink stuff” for my siblings and myself whenever there eas a gathering. Didnt matter if it what holiday. Loved the stuff.

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      We just can’t have a family get-together with the “pink stuff” :-)

  18. It looks great. Thanks. I LOVED the pictures along with the directions.

  19. I have just read some of your background. What a wonderful family. How fortunate you are. May your Aunt Polly stay in good health and mind. She sounds like a fabulous person. I am only 77 and yes; I remember Elsie the Borden cow.


  20. Dear Lana.
    I just saw the two words I have been looking for; Sunshine salade. I lost my original recipe. Would you be kind enough to email it to me. I would be forever grateful. I am also going to try the Pink Stuff.

    Thank you,


  21. JavelinWarrior says:

    This post is absolutely fetish-worthy and I’ve been inspired to include it in my Friday Food Fetish blog. If you have any objections, please let me know

  22. Zesty Cook says:

    Cute back story and lovely family photos. You are lucky to have so many generations alive and well!

  23. I have some of this in my refrigerator now- except using peach jello and Georgia pecans. We love this to share at covered dish suppers. I love your stories about visiting Atlanta. There was nothing like visiting the downtown Richs and Davisons for Christmas shopping.

  24. Judy B. Texas says:

    Will be proud to serve this come Christmas – it’s a classic. Long live your Grandmother – she has spunk and seems she is living the life as she pleases.

  25. Tickled Red says:

    Oh I just love this story and Polly’s pink stuff. There’s something about that generation of southern women. They are vivacious, tough and multifaceted like no others.

    1. Vivacious is the perfect word to describe Polly, Red. Even at 96 years old she’s still the life of the party :-)

  26. This was a really nice read Lana, I love when people share recipes that have so much meaning behind them! I think I would love this pink stuff :) My aunt used to make something similar but used cottage cheese and would put walnuts in it too.

  27. That looks like a pretty tasty side dish. I like the pictures and story, you are lucky to have them both still around.

  28. Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen says:

    What a special gift to have all 5 generations together for that photo. Polly is definitely a very special lady!

  29. Miss @ Miss in the Kitchen says:

    What a special lady! Thanks for sharing this it brought a big smile to my face and what kind of true southerner can turn away a good jello salad!

    1. Absolutely! Those congealed salads are part and parcel of southern cooking. And I enjoy every kind of them!

  30. oh my goodness Lana, and thank goodness for jello and cool-whip, I just don’t know how we would survive without it – why I think, if we had it earlier, we would have won the war!
    Every family I know has a jello-stuff or fluff recipe, we have a pink one too, with buttermilk but a few shades lighter and a that famous green one with pistachio nuts as well….
    I sure do like to see those photos, they make me smile knowing your family is doing well, still kicking and speaking, are all intact, and looking ever so spry…

    1. Yep, we make the green pistachio one, too. Also, one with shredded carrots (sunshine salad) and Mama makes a delicious bing cherry version. All good.

  31. claudia lamascolo says:

    Love the photo just beautiful many more happy happy year of good health ahead to her!

  32. claudia lamascolo says:

    Love the phot just beautiful many more happy happy year of good health ahead to her!

  33. Mari @ Mari's Cakes says:

    It is a wonderful combination of flavors. I would love to taste Polly’s traditional pink stuff dessert.

    Thank for sharing and may the Lord bless her with many more years of health and happiness.

    1. Thank you, Mari. You know, you’d think this is a dessert, but we serve it as a salad right along with the meal.

  34. Yes indeed! Polly’s Pink Stuff is famous. I remember the time that she made it for Christmas, and it went in the refrigerator in the back of the house to wait until the appropriate serving time. Too bad we forgot it until Easter. What a surprise!

    Happy Memories.

    Miss P

    1. Ha! I never knew about that – hilarious!

      1. Yep. It had turned to wine by then. You should have seen Mama’s eyes. It was very quickly disposed of, the dish washed, and nobody was the wiser. All with a smile to boot.

        Miss P