This creamy Sea Foam Salad recipe is perfect for the holidays! It combines pears, jello, cream cheese, and fresh whipped cream to make a light and spongey, perfectly-1950s jello side dish. The recipe is straight from my great-grandma Doris, and we’ve made it at every Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter dinner for as long as I can remember!
When the first of us kids left for college, my mom typed up a recipe book so we wouldn’t starve to death on our own. She called it “Some of My Favorite (and Easy) Stuff to Make and Eat,” and she updated it every time another one of us left for school. Here’s what she put at the bottom of the entry for Sea Foam Salad: “This was a recipe my grandma made, and we still make it every Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, and whenever else we can find an excuse.” It’s definitely a family classic.
I asked my extended family how they would describe Sea Foam Salad, and got these responses:
Laura said, “Part of my favorite food group, the semi-solid food group. Ice cream, pudding, mashed potatoes, sea foam salad, jello. All the good stuff.”
Sandi said, “Sea foam salad is a study in paradox. Light and dense. Unhealthy with just enough fruit you can fool yourself. Pretty and unappealing. You find yourself pondering these seemingly impossible attributes until one question breaks through the haze: how have I eaten so much??”
Nikki said, “I was going to say, ‘It looks like it’ll taste like raspberries and mostly does. Oh, it’s not tart, though.’ That sounded so dumb, I refused to type it until just now.” [You can see the jello-haze taking it’s effect on Nikki, and she was only trying to describe it.]
April said, “Maybe we could call it ‘Guilty Pleasure,’ or ‘Pink Shame,’ or ‘Dazed and Confused…'”
So there you have it my friends. Sea Foam Salad, nicknamed “Pink Shame” because you will never understand how you have eaten so much of it, on Thanksgiving day no less.
Jello salad seems so old-fashioned, yet I don’t know anyone who turns it down. It’s just so delicious. Also, can I get a round of applause over here for doing my part to keep the jello-salad-side-dish tradition alive. Somehow our grandmother’s generation was duped into thinking that jello salad was meant for the turkey plate and not the dessert plate, and I’m so totally okay with that. Don’t let the Paleo generation get you, guys. Embrace the jello-is-salad movement.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner! Check out my Thanksgiving Board on Pinterest for menu ideas. Have a great weekend!!
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Sea Foam Salad (Creamy Pear Jello)
- 1 (29-oz) can pears, in heavy syrup
- 1 (6-oz) package JELLO, green or red
- 1 (8-oz) package cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Open the can of pears and use the lid to drain the liquid into a medium saucepan. Set pears aside.
- Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat.
- Remove from heat and use a whisk to stir in the package of dry jello powder. Stir constantly until the jello is dissolved.
- If you have an immersion blender: add the cream cheese and the pears to the saucepan and blend well until smooth.
- If you are using a blender: Add the jello mixture, pears, and cream cheese to your blender and blend until smooth.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl or stand mixer, beat the cream on high speed until stiff peaks form. It should take about 1-2 minutes. Do not over beat.
- Fold the cream into the blended jello mixture. It's okay if there are a few streaks of cream.
- Pour the mixture into a jello mold, bundt pan, 9x13 pan, or a large bowl. If you use a bundt pan or jello mold (or anything you plan to invert), spray the pan with cooking spray before pouring it in.
- Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
- If you used a mold or bundt pan and need to invert the jello, dip the bottom of the pan into a large bowl of hot water for several seconds before turning it onto your serving plate. This will help loosen the edges. If it doesn't work, you may need to use a knife to loosen the edges (but try the hot water method first)
Here a few other Jello ideas I love! Thanksgiving ain’t Thanksgiving without some Jello I say.
Creamy Strawberry Banana Jello << this one uses sour cream for a little tang!
Coca-Cola Jello Salad with Cherries << the flavors in this one are so fun.
Strawberry Jello Pretzel Salad << There is a Pretzel crust on the bottom. It’s so good!!
Here are some other Jello ideas from the blogosphere!
Polly’s Pink Stuff from Lana’s Cooking, read about Lana’s grandma Polly. Cool story.
Red Hot Jello from Gimme Some Oven–it really does have Red Hot candy in the jello! So fun!
Cherry Fluff from Mom on Timeout, or better yet her Ambrosia Salad. They both look amazing!
Which cooking spray would you use to NOT offset the flavor? What size glass container would be needed if not using a Bundt/tube pan? … so the strawberry is the one you had at your moms? Not cherry?
I’m looking forward to trying this, My mother in law doesn’t like cranberry so I want to do this for her.
Thank you so much.
Happy Thanksgiving 🍽
This is so good!!! I added pineapples and made mine with blue raspberry jello! Awesome recipe.
OoOoOhhh blue raspberry!! That sounds so fun! I’d love to try this version :) Thanks for sharing your idea, and for rating the recipe! Super helpful.
Can you make this recipe with pears packed in juice or does it have to be heavy syrup?
Hi Linda! I haven’t tried it with juice. I’m worried that the juice won’t thicken as much? Let me know if it works out!
I made this recipe with pears packed in juice since they didn’t have any in heavy syrup. It set up fine, but I substituted an 8oz container of coolwhip instead of the heavy cream. I don’t know if that made a differnce in the setting. Tasted delicious!
My step grandmother used to make a pear jello for the holidays also. Hers was a little different. It was made with lime jello, cubed cream cheese, diced pears, and chopped walnuts. She would use the juice from the pears and water to make the jello. My sister and I loved it! I will definitely be giving your recipe a try, it sounds yummy!
Here in New Zealand we are not familiar with these jelly set salads. When I make one some times people think they are a dessert and don’t try it till its pudding time…
Honestly Royce it’s a little confusing to me too, haha! It kind of seems like dessert! i think the idea of it being a “salad” is because people like to eat it with the savory dishes on their plate: it’s meant as a relish to go with your turkey, prime rib, or whatever you have. it’s pretty delicious, but I also feel like it’s a total contender with the pie and pudding :) Enjoy!!
I’m out of cream cheese …can I use cottage cheese instead?
I haven’t tried that Trace! Worried that the texture will be off.
The original Sea Foam Salad recipe was green and made with lime jello. It did look like sea foam. One of our family favorites. My mother-in-law always made it for Christmas.
This sounds fabulous! I used to work with an LDS woman who made Pink Salad for potlucks. It was pink jello, cottage cheese, and I’m not sure what else but it was delicious.
Tasty and Easy!! My grandkids are going to rejoice. Thanks.
My step grandma would make a lime jello dessert. She wouldnt make it in a mold just a 13×9 inch pan. It had cubed cream cheese, chopped pears and walnuts in it. I loved it. When I grew up I ashed her for the recipe. She didnt have a written recipe she just told me how she made it. She would make it for every holiday too because she knew my sister and I loved it!!!!!!
Yes, we always make it for the holidays too! It’s a classic! It’s so good with lime jello. Thanks for commenting Beth!
I used to eat this at family gatherings so much as a kid and never knew what it was called as an adult… thank you for posting this! Can I use cool whip instead of the whipping cream? I’m only worried about it not being able to set for long without turning liquidy,
Hi Alicia! Yeah you can totally use Cool whip. Use 2 cups. enjoy!
Help! I’ve made this before and it turned out great! This time it didn’t set! Can I save it? Should I add in more jello?
No so sad Karis! You somehow diluted your jello with too much liquid it sounds like. You need more gelatin. Here’s what I would do: take half of your unset jello and heat it on the stove. Add a bit more unflavored gelatin (your guess as to how much is as good as mine) or you could try adding flavored jello I suppose. Stir until it’s dissolved, then pour it back into your mold and stir it all together. Tell me how it goes!!
I finally got rid of the ad so you don’t need to send me the first instruction. Thanks anyway.
There is an ad over the first instruction and I can’t get rid of it. Please tell me what it says.
Hi Sandy! There should never be ads covering my content, but sometimes it does shift the words so that they are up to the top left of the ad. Sorry about that!