TikTok's Cottage Cheese Jell-O Salad Is A Mid-Century Throwback

Poking fun at those "wacky" foods that people used to eat back in the day, whether it be roasted woolly mammoth from the Pleistocene Epoch or Starbucks' 2017 unicorn frappuccino, is something we all indulge in from time to time. So, of course, it's a thing on TikTok as well. One popular video involves a young creator teaming up with her grandmother to prepare one of the latter's recipes which, OMG, is made with lime Jell-O, mayonnaise, cider vinegar, cottage cheese, grated carrots, crushed pineapple, chopped cucumber, and optional black olives.

While the grandmother who brought this Jell-O salad to a family gathering assures her granddaughter (and followers) "You're going to love it," the granddaughter merely giggles, while many of the comments on the video ranged from condescending to outright horrified. A few people, however, noted that this recipe was exactly the kind of thing that people used to eat back before the turn of the millennium. In fact, such Jell-O salads were popular throughout much of the 20th century, so obviously they weren't created just by people looking to troll their friends and family at pot-lucks and dinner parties. Delish staffers actually cooked and consumed the dish from the TikTok video and while some disliked it, others found it to be pretty palatable or even quite enjoyable.

Molded salads were originally haute cuisine

While today's TikTok trend followers may find the concept of Jell-O salad off-putting, gelled dishes called aspics were considered fancy fare in earlier centuries. The process of making gelatin was pretty laborious and actually kind of gross, too, involving animal hooves and horns and other cartilaginous bits. The invention of Jell-O in the late 19th century simplified things to the point where home cooks could create their own versions, which in time cams to include using whatever they had on hand in the refrigerator. Thrifty foodways, after all, are best practice for anyone stuck in the midst of a Great Depression.


"You're gonna love it!" – Grammy Sheila #whitepeoplefood also its celery not cucumber #limejellosalad #canada

♬ original sound – Emma

If you're skeptical about the TikTok salad recipe, whose combination of carrots and olives with lime Jell-O proves that sweet and savory was a popular taste combo long before anyone first sprinkled fleur de sel on a cookie, cottage cheese Jell-O salads that omit the savory elements can make for an easy entry into the wonderful world of creamy, jiggly desserts. One dessert salad version that's reminiscent of the TikTok recipe omits the vinegar, mayonnaise, carrots, and olives, keeping just the cheese, Jell-O, and pineapple and adding chopped nuts. Other recipes mix cottage cheese, Jell-O, and crushed pineapple (this seems to be a staple) with Cool Whip and fruit. In these instances, cottage cheese is used more for texture than flavor — when mixed with sugar, it can also be used to make cheesecake, so it's not out of place in a dessert recipe.