Claudean’s Cherry Jello is legendary in our home, it is, in fact, The Best Cherry Jello ever. Sweet and creamy, it melts in your mouth and is as delicious on a hot summer day as it is on your Thanksgiving table!

The Best Cherry Jello

I know you’re thinking, really, JELLO? In our part of the country, Jello is usually present at most family dinners, church gatherings, funerals, parties, etc. You can’t hardly live in Utah without having at least one good Jello recipe under your belt. I remember visiting Utah when I was young and my Aunt making Jello dishes. I marveled at the variety of ingredients and the way the sweet Jello seemed to make everything taste like dessert. I loved this thing called Jello!

How to make cherry Jello

Have you ever heard of a person living in Utah who can’t make at least 5 different tried and true Jello dishes without looking at a recipe? Call me to repentance. I don’t know why, but I’ve never had good luck with Jello. It’s always too runny, or not mixed up enough, with that rubbery layer on the bottom of the pan. Or the outside sets up, but not the middle. I was a failure in the J-E-L-L-O dept.

Making Jello with canned pineapple and pie filling

I had all but written off Jello, and then a few years back, I found this recipe in a local school cookbook. For years we called it “Claudean’s Cherry Jello”. Claudean has been a family friend for a long, long time, and an expert at making anything sweet. It’s really a dessert of sorts, disguised as a Jello “salad”. So it’s totally legal to serve with dinner!

How to get Jello to set up quickly

If you have any guilt about recipes made straight out of cans and boxes, this recipe is probably not going to be one you PIN. But if easy, easy, easy is your love language, The Best Cherry Jello is going to be your new favorite! This recipe is so easy, your kids can help make it. I love it when kids help in the kitchen, and this is the perfect dish to assign to one of your kids during the holidays.

pudding and whipping cream in Jello

The Best Cherry Jello sets up more quickly than just a plain pan of Jello because of the pie filling and crushed pineapple stirred into  the Jello, and is topped with a mixture of pudding and whipped cream all folded together. Here’s the deal: No fail. Sets up in two hours. Fruity. Sweet. Creamy topping. Can be made up to three days before serving! Oh, and no carrots. Jello Perfection, my friends. This. Is. IT.

Make ahead Jello recipe

This recipe was originally published in 2011, updated content and photos added in 2021

Claudean’s Perfect Cherry Jello

5 from 10 votes
Author: Si Foster
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
refrigerate: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 16
THe Best jello ever! Easy to make and only takes two hours start to table.


  • 1 large, 6 oz box strawberry, raspberry or cherry Jello
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1- 21 oz can cherry pie filling, low sugar or regular
  • 1- 20 oz can crushed pineapple, not drained
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream*
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 small, 3.4 oz box instant vanilla pudding


  • Boil the water. While water is heating up, pour the large box of Jello into a 9×13 pan. 
  • Pour the 2 cups of boiling water over the jello in the dish. Using a whisk, slowly mix the jello and water together until all of the Jello is dissolved. Make sure to scrape up all of the Jello off the bottom of the dish. 
  • Pour the contents of the can of pineapple and the can of cherry pie filling into the pan with the Jello and water. Mix with large spoon.
  • Place pan into refrigerator. Let set up for about 2 hours. It’s usually set after 1- 1 1/2 hours.
  • Whip the cream in a large bowl until stiff, set aside. In another bowl, whisk together 1 cup of milk and the box of pudding. Fold the pudding mixture into the whipped cream. Spread the whipped cream mixture over the set-up Jello mixture in the pan. Serve immediately, or return to fridge until ready to serve. 


  • You may sub any flavor of Jello. I’ve used anything from Strawberry to Cherry. Anything red works.
  • I’ve never tried using sugarless Jello or sugarless pudding in this recipe. Leave a comment if you experiment.
  • This may be made up to three days before serving. Store in refrigerator covered tightly with plastic wrap or foil. 
  • *The original recipe calls for Cool Whip. A medium size container works. I’m not a fan of Cool Whip. And since I’m not a huge Jello fan either, I use real whipped cream and it improves the dish in a big way. If after reading this you still want to use Cool Whip-mix the pudding in a bowl with 1 cup of milk. Then fold in the Cool Whip.

Did you make this recipe?

Be sure to leave a comment and give this recipe a rating, letting me know how you liked it. I’d love to see a photo, tag @abountifulkitchen on Instagram!