Emerald Salad Recipe

Southern Kitchen

Serves: 12

Hands On Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes


2 (3-ounce) packages lime-flavored Jell-O

1 (0.25-ounce) package unflavored gelatin

1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple in juice

Juice of 2 small lemons, plus the zest of 1 lemon

Juice of 2 limes, plus the zest of 1 lime

Water, as needed

1 cup cottage cheese

1 cup sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup mayonnaise


Lightly spray a 9- by 13-inch baking dish or other mold with nonstick oil spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together the Jell-O and the unflavored gelatin.

Strain the crushed pineapple through a fine-mesh strainer set over a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Measure out 1 cup of the pineapple and reserve. (Save the remaining pineapple for another use.) Add the lemon and lime juice to the measuring cup with the pineapple juice. Add enough water to bring the liquid level to 2 cups. Transfer to a small saucepan.

Bring the juice mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Pour the boiling mixture into the bowl with the Jell-O and whisk to dissolve. Let sit until lukewarm, 15 to 20 minutes.

Stir in the cottage cheese, condensed milk, mayonnaise and reserved pineapple into the cooled Jell-O mixture until the milk and mayonnaise are thoroughly incorporated. Transfer to the prepared baking dish. Refrigerate until fully set, at least 1 hour.

When ready to serve, sprinkle both zests across the top of the salad. Slice the salad into squares and serve. (Alternatively, before zesting, dip the bottom of the baking dish into a pan of hot water to loosen. Flip the salad out onto a large serving platter and sprinkle with zest.)

About the recipe

Known variously as emerald salad, lime Jell-O salad and (at least in one family) “green squares,” this tangy-sweet congealed salad is a holiday classic. We’ve made a few improvements to really make it shine: In addition to the requisite mayonnaise and cottage cheese, we stirred in a cup of sweetened condensed milk for creamy texture. Upping the citrus flavor with fresh lime and lemon juice helps to balance the sweetness of the Jell-O and condensed milk, and blooming the Jell-O in pineapple juice also adds needed acidity. An extra packet of unflavored gelatin ensures that the whole, fat-filled salad sets up with ease. And a final sprinkle of citrus zest gives the whole thing a bit more pizzazz.

This recipe first appeared in Saving Southern Recipes.