This vegan congealed fruit salad is just like the Jello rings you grew up eating, but it’s made without gelatin! It’s a refreshing, fruity side dish or dessert for summer cookouts and get-togethers.
You might have grown up calling it a Jello mold, a Jello salad, or molded gelatin. Maybe you just called it a congealed fruit salad! Whatever you called it, you probably know there’s something completely irresistible about colorful gelatin studded with fruit, all perfectly shaped into a sliceable ring. But that traditional cookout side dish is off-limits if you’re vegan.
Can You Make a Vegan Jello Salad?
Good news, though—you can make a vegan Jello salad just like the ones you enjoyed as a kid! You won’t be using gelatin to make this vegan congealed fruit salad, but with the help of agar-agar or your favourite vegan gelatin mix, you’ll be able to make a delicious, colorful dessert that looks and tastes just like the one from your childhood.
This vegan congealed fruit salad is perfect for summer cookouts and family gatherings. It’s a refreshing, fruity side dish or dessert that you can make in advance, so you don’t have to worry about last-minute prep either. That’s always a win in my book!
Notes on Ingredients
Scroll down to the recipe card to find the ingredient quantities and recipe instructions.
- Granulated sugar
- Agar-agar powder or vegan gelatin packets – I recommend using the Sugar-Free Plant-Based Jel by Simply Delish.
- Citrus zest – This is optional, but I love using lemon or orange zest for a little extra flavour.
- Fresh berries – Choose a single variety or a few—whatever looks good at the grocery store or farmers market.
What Is Agar-Agar?
Agar-agar is a vegan alternative to gelatin that is derived from red seaweed or algae. It’s an odourless, flavourless white powder (or flakes) that acts as a thickening agent when combined with hot water. When cooled, it sets and becomes gummy, just like Jello! You can find agar-agar powder or flakes at most health food stores and specialty grocery stores, or order it online.
How to Make Vegan Congealed Fruit Salad
While this congealed fruit salad is easy to make, it does take some time to fully set. Be sure to keep this in mind with your planning!
Prepare the vegan gelatin. Whisk together the sugar and water in a medium saucepan, then whisk in the agar-agar. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, whisking occasionally, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 4 minutes, whisking often. Remove from the heat and whisk in the citrus zest.
Assemble. Lightly spray a bundt pan or angel food cake pan with cooking spray, then add the berries in an even layer at the bottom. Pour the gelatin mixture over the berries.
Chill. Cover the cake pan with a lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours, or overnight, to set.
Unmold. Once the congealed fruit salad is completely firm, lightly press on the top edges to loosen it. You can also gently jiggle the cake pan to help release it from the mold. Place a plate or cake stand over the top of the pan and carefully flip it over; the congealed fruit salad should release from the mold.
Serve. Garnish with vegan whipped cream, fresh berries, and/or sprigs of mint, then slice and serve.
Tips for Success
Here are some tips to help you make the perfect vegan congealed fruit salad.
- Rinse and dry the berries. Make sure that your berries are rinsed so no dirt gets in your congealed fruit salad, then dry them well to ensure that the vegan gelatin sets properly.
- Don’t rush the cooling time. The longer you let your vegan Jello mold cool and set in the fridge, the better it will be!
- Unmold carefully. Take your time flipping your congealed fruit salad onto your plate or cake stand. This will help prevent it from breaking! If your congealed fruit salad has trouble coming out of the pan, run a butter knife around the edges to help release it.
Congealed fruit salad is a must for holiday tables, vegan cookouts, and summer gatherings with friends and family. I love it with other Southern and soul food favourites like vegan cornbread muffins, BBQ tofu, and vegan collard greens.
Instead of using water, you can substitute fruit juice, which will add more fruit flavour and colour if you’re using agar-agar instead of a fruit-flavoured vegan gelatin. Try cranberry juice, orange juice, or apple juice. You can also swap 1/2 cup of the water with lemon juice for a citrusy vegan Jello salad.
Feel free to switch up the fruit, too. I love using drained canned mandarin oranges, but canned fruit salad is a classic too!
How to Store
Store any leftover congealed salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Can This Recipe Be Frozen?
No, this recipe should not be frozen. The texture of the congealed fruit salad will change when it’s frozen and thawed.
Vegan Congealed Fruit Salad
- 1 ⅓ Cup Granulated Sugar 270 grams
- 5 Cup Water 1,130 grams/milliliters*
- 2 ½ Tablespoon Agar Agar Powder 17.5 grams or 4 (0.7 ounce/20 gram) Vegan Gelatin Packets*
- 2 Tablespoons Citrus Zest optional, but recommended (30 grams)*
- 12 ounces Fresh Berries rinsed (340 grams)*
- Add the sugar and liquid to a medium saucepan. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
- Add the agar agar and whisk thoroughly to combine.
- Place the saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Whisk occasionally.
- Once boiling, turn heat to medium and simmer for 4 minutes, whisking often.
- Remove from the heat and whisk in the citrus zest.
- Lightly spray a bundt pan or angel food cake pan with cooking spray.
- Sprinkle the berries in an even layer within the bundt pan then pour the gelatin mixture over the berries.
- Cover the cake pan with a lid or plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for 4 – 6 hours or overnight to become firm.
- Once the congealed fruit salad is fully cooled and completely firm, lightly press on the top edges of the gelatin to loosen it. You can also gently jiggle the cake pan to help release it from the mold. Place a plate or cake stand upside down on top of the cake mold and carefully flip it over. The congealed fruit salad should release from the mold and be right side up on the plate or cake stand.
- Top with vegan whipped cream, more fresh berries, or fresh mint leaves if preferred and serve! Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Vegan Gelatin Packets: I recommend using the Sugar Free Plant-Based Jel by Simply Delish.
- Water: You can substitute fruit juice such as cranberry juice, orange juice, or apple juice in place of water. You can also pair 4 1⁄2 cups water (1017 grams/milliliters) and approximately 1⁄2 cup (113 grams/milliliters) of lemon juice as a substitute within this recipe.
- Citrus Zest: I recommend using lemon zest or orange zest for this recipe. 1 large lemon or 1 medium orange provides approximately 1 tablespoon of citrus zest.
- Fresh Berries: You can use blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries for this recipe. You could also use canned mandarin oranges that have been drained or fresh rinsed strawberries with the tops removed and halved.