Potato Salad Gelatin Mold – A Mid-Century Gelatin Recipe Test

Posted on Aug 28 2013 - 6:20am by RetroRuth

I hope everyone is looking forward to Labor Day! I know I am. And it preparation for all the cookouts and picnics that you will be going on, I decided to dig into our collection and pull out something I know will be a big hit on everyone’s Labor Day menu:

It’s potato salad. In a gelatin mold.


It’s Potato Salad Gelatin Mold.

4.5 from 2 reviews
Potato Salad Gelatin Mold
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 1¼ cups boiling water
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 8 stuffed green olives, sliced
  • 3 hard cooked eggs, chopped
  • 4 cups diced cooked potatoes
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • ¼ cup diced green pepper
  • ¼ cup diced pimiento
  • ¼ cup chopped green onions
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • 1½ t salt
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup heavy cream, whipped
  1. Mix gelatin, sugar and 1 t salt thoroughly: pour boiling water over and stir to dissolve sugar. Add lemon juice.
  2. Pour thin layer of mixture into a 1.5 quart ring mold, chill.
  3. When gelatin layer is almost firm, place "flower" design on top (olive slices and green pepper strips).
  4. Add remaining ingredients to rest of gelatin mixture. Spoon over gelatin in ring mold. Chill till firm. Makes 8 servings.
I used green onion strips instead of green pepper strips for the "flowers"!


Now, I know what your thinking. Well, actually I don’t, but I can guess what your thinking:

No, I am not crazy, and yes, this is actually a real recipe.


See? It was in a book and everything. And not just any book, the Better Homes & Gardens Salad Book from 1958. If you are in any way into vintage cooking, vintage food photography and/or jiggly, jiggly gelatin molds, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Seriously. This thing just screams crazy mid-century party and I literally eat it up. It is practically bedtime reading at my house.


And by “practically” I mean, I was actually reading it in bed the night before and showing Tom the pictures. He was not amused.


Another reason I picked this gelatin is because I was able to make little vegetable flowers in the gelatin mold. For some inexplicable reason, I find this to be incredibly enjoyable.

When they turn out, that is. When they don’t, it can be incredibly frustrating.


But I was pretty sure I had it this time.


And Tom was pretty sure he’d had it as well.

“What is that smell?”

“What are you talking about?”

“That smell in the air. You know, the terrible one?”


“Oh, I am making that potato gelatin thing.”

“Wait…the potato…gelatin…the what?!?”

“You know, that potato thing I showed you before bed last night. Check it out, I just poured gelatin into a perfectly good potato salad. I am pretty sure I just ruined it.”

“You are actually making that?!?! I thought you were kidding when you showed it to me!”

“When do I ever kid about mid-century food?”

“Umm..all the time?”


“Well, this time I was serious.”

“Yeah well, that thing seriously smells like barf.”

He was right. It did smell like barf. And it was runny and gross looking. Luckily, it unmolded well and didn’t actually look that bad on the plate. I mean, it looked nuts, but not that bad. The little flowers even stayed in place.




“Sometimes I hate you.”

“No you don’t. Now eat it.”

Tom TastesIMG_2990

“So, how horrible is it?”


“This is actually really good.”

“No freaking way.” I grabbed the plate and took a bite. “Holy crap. This is actually good. Really good.”

The Verdict: Really Good

From The Tasting Notes:

As crazy as this sounds, this thing was actually really good. The flavors and the seasonings were well-balanced without being bland or boring, and the potato salad, while congealed enough to mold, wasn’t so hard that it actually tasted like gelatin. It tasted like a regular, old-fashioned classic potato salad, a good one, except a little more firm. If you aren’t a big fan of how goopy potato salad can get sometimes, this might be your answer. And the olives and pimentos were a really good addition. If you are having a retro-themed cookout, or even a regular one, this potato salad is a must!


Just a head’s up for everyone, I will be on Wisconsin Public Radio’s show Central Time tomorrow, Thursday 8/28 at 4:30 pm EST talking about mid-century recipes for Labor Day and, of course, gelatin!

WordPress Author Box

I love everything retro, vintage, mid-century, kitsch and all things atomic! A 21st century housewife just trying to fit in...to the 50's. I have a passion for vintage recipes and an enormous vintage cookbook collection that I keep testing, even though by now I should know better. Creator of Mid-Century Menu (www.midcenturymenu.com), No Pattern Required (www.nopatternrequired.com), and I Ate The 80's (www.iatethe80s.com).

Like us on Facebook
on Facebook

Follow me on Twitter
Follow @MidCenturyMenu on Twitter

19 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Phairhead August 28, 2013 at 7:02 am - Reply

    Mid-century BH&G cookbooks never disappoint!

  2. Eartha Kitsch August 28, 2013 at 9:20 am - Reply

    Ahh! It’s so pretty! I love the flowers. Definitely. You know, I bet regular potato salad (if made thick enough) would easily work in a mold without gelatin too. You’re a radio star, girly! I hope I can listen!

    • Yinzerella August 28, 2013 at 9:36 am - Reply

      Eartha–yes, you can. Just like if you were making a rice mold.

  3. Yinzerella August 28, 2013 at 9:35 am - Reply

    LOL. So I’m not the only one who has mid-century cookbooks on the nightstand?
    Well played with this one. The flowers are boss.

  4. celia August 28, 2013 at 9:45 am - Reply

    At first I was horrified because it seemed like potato salad abuse, you did a great job with the flowers. Now I just want to eat it and I don’t have any mayo.

  5. Aubrey August 28, 2013 at 12:50 pm - Reply

    What an epic potato salad! This looks like such a fun thing to bring to a party!

  6. Amorette August 28, 2013 at 4:28 pm - Reply

    I belong to the mustard school of potato salad. I wonder if substitute mustard for the whipped cream, would it work. I love making designs on potato salad with slices of hard-boiled egg and sliced olives. This would take it to a whole new level!

  7. Beth August 28, 2013 at 5:48 pm - Reply

    I can’t wait until the baby’s old enough to start trying your recipes. Capturing her expressions will be hilarious!

  8. Cristina August 29, 2013 at 8:31 am - Reply

    It looks awesome!!!! And so glad it tasted good too =)

  9. Sara In AZ August 29, 2013 at 2:25 pm - Reply

    Go you on the radio gig….again! Whoo-Hoo!!!!!!!!

    SO glad this recipe turned out well……I was very, very concerned in the beginning! 🙂

  10. Kim Campbell September 1, 2013 at 12:42 pm - Reply

    And it’s pretty!

  11. Kathy January 16, 2014 at 6:00 pm - Reply

    We’re having a jellied salad theme potluck at our church this weekend (God help us!) and I’m intrigued by this potato salad recipe!
    I had a question though — when you mix the water/gelatin mixture together and pour it into the mold, do you just pour a tiny bit of it and then use the rest to mix in with the potato salad mixture? How long does that first layer need to chill before you can put the potato mixture on top of it?
    Thanks for your help!

    • RetroRuth January 17, 2014 at 9:47 am - Reply

      Hey Kathy!

      If you can send me pics of your church salad potluck, I would LOVE to see them!

      Yep, you pour in only a little, and then the rest is mixed with the potato salad itself. And the first layer needs to be chilled until it is almost firm, but not quite. The top still needs to be tacky enough to stick to the potato salad,

  12. Edyth Marie Rodacker May 11, 2014 at 6:35 pm - Reply

    Wow. Looks yummy!

  13. Lisa January 31, 2015 at 9:59 am - Reply

    I am making this today for a 50’s themed party….so excited! Hope my flowers turn out as pretty as yours.

    • Lisa February 1, 2015 at 9:31 pm - Reply

      This was actually yummy. People wanted the recipe. WOW. The gelatin does smell terrible when you mixed in the lemon juice. I was really worried after smelling that. I don’t think I let the first layer chill enough, so my flowers did not stay in place. Then in an effort to un-mold it we put it in a warm bath…for too long. So it was a little melty, but still yummy. Thanks for the inspiration. I will make this again!

  14. olwzone September 10, 2016 at 2:32 pm - Reply

    You people just don’t understand. This is real live stuff people used to eat. With neighbors far and wide. In neighbor hood pot lucks and at picnics. And if you could by chance, lucky you, have the cookbook they show in the potato salad mold…the recipe for Veal Scallopini is fabulous!!! As long as you follow the directions to the T…at least the first time!!!

    • RetroRuth September 10, 2016 at 6:27 pm - Reply

      Nope, I think we understand it pretty well. This is a great potato salad and we enjoyed it very much!

Leave A Response

Rate this recipe: