Denise’s ‘Secret’ Mandarin Orange Salad Recipe

by Denise on November 11, 2010

This mandarin orange salad is an all time family favorite that we look forward to having at EVERY holiday, potluck or family get together. We always get tons of requests for the “secret” super simple recipe, and now in honor of the upcoming holidays, mom has given me permission to share it with you.  The best part about this dish is that everybody who tries it loves it, and while the list of things that all five kids will eat is pretty short, this recipe is at the top!


  • 2 – 3 oz. pkgs vanilla tapioca pudding
  • 1 – 3 oz. pkg orange jello
  • 2 3/4 c. water
  • 1 lg tub Cool Whip
  • 1 15 oz can mandarin oranges


  1. Combine the tapioca pudding, orange jello and water in a pan and bring to a boil on medium heat. Allow to cool completely.
  2. Fold one large tub of Cool Whip and one drained 15 ounce can of mandarin oranges (reserve a few orange slices to decorate the top) into the cooled pudding mixture. Place into a serving dish and chill until ready to serve.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Wendy November 11, 2010 at 10:18 pm

We do a salad that looks similar, but has a slightly different twist to it.

1 container of Cool Whip (or equivalent)
1 box orange Jello
1 can mandarin oranges, drained
1 container cottage cheese (I like small curd with less liquid)

Stir this all together and serve. Kids will eat cottage cheese if they’ve never done so before! You can also do lime Jello with pineapple, raspberry or cherry Jello with fruit salad or any combo you can think of. Sugar-free Jello with sugar-free Cool Whip will work for those who need to avoid sugar.


angie November 12, 2010 at 12:41 am

my mother makes one very similar to this


Denise November 12, 2010 at 8:57 am

I’m going to have to try it with cottage cheese – thanks a bunch for the tip!


Shannon November 13, 2010 at 10:53 am

I make this one too! It’s fantastic. On St. Patricks day we like to make the lime with pineapple.


Dian @ Grocery Shop For FREE November 11, 2010 at 10:36 pm

That recipe sounds totally yummy! I don’t cook much, so maybe mail order? :-)


Denise November 12, 2010 at 9:24 am

Thanks Dian – I’d be happy to send you some but there’s never any left :) It’s so easy that I’m sure you could do it!


Tina November 11, 2010 at 11:07 pm

Man. Love that salad, make it alot. When I first moved to be with now hubby…it was the only thing I could think of off hand for Tgiving without my cookbooks unpacked…his family loved it and forever requested only that from me. I had to finally say, “Hey! I DO know how to make other things!”. lol


Holly November 12, 2010 at 8:16 am

Oh I love this, but I haven’t made it in a few years now. I’m thinking I may have to make some this weekend and introduce my daughter to it.


Nadine November 12, 2010 at 8:57 am

This recipe sounds great but I’m assuming your using the regular 3-4oz. size of pudding / jello?
Large cool whip 12oz size???



Nadine November 12, 2010 at 9:02 am

I guess if I looked at the photo that you posted you can see the package sizes of pudding / jello
Thanks anyway!


Denise November 12, 2010 at 9:25 am

No problem – thanks Nadine! I just updated the post to make it clear that it calls for the small 3 ounce boxes.


Lesley November 12, 2010 at 11:31 am

we do the same recipe with cottage cheese instead of tapioca. works great for me b/c my one sister hates cottage cheese so there is more for me.


Christy November 12, 2010 at 3:55 pm

Any problem with making this a day ahead?


Denise November 12, 2010 at 4:47 pm

I typically make it a day ahead and the only problem with that is that I have to hide it from the hubby :)


Laura_in_TX November 12, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Can you use the non-cook type pudding and mix with the orange jello? Have you tried with sugar free pudding and jello?



Denise November 14, 2010 at 1:54 am

I haven’t tried it with sugar free jello but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work, although I don’t think tapioca comes in a non-cook variety. I’m going to double check that the next time I’m at the store ;)


JW November 14, 2010 at 1:35 am

I got all excited at the title, thinking you’d have something featuring greens, nuts, maybe a little chicken. I’ve had a variation if this at many potlucks, but how in the world is this a “salad”?!


Denise November 14, 2010 at 1:57 am

Thanks for taking the time to write in JW! lists a number of definitions for salad including “any mixture or assortment” and some of my favorites are fruit salads :)


Anita December 19, 2012 at 1:42 pm

I am thinking that it would work with cherry jello and cherries instead of orange jello and mandarin oranges as well? I think I will try it for Christmas.


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