Hearty Corned Beef Salad – A Mid-Century St. Patrick’s Day Recipe Test

Posted on Mar 12 2014 - 4:12am by RetroRuth

St. Patrick’s Day is almost here! And what better way to celebrate then with a corned beef gelatin mold!


This is Hearty Corned Beef Salad.

And yes, I’m serious.


4.0 from 4 reviews
Hearty Corned Beef Salad
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 pkg (3 oz) lemon flavored gelatin
  • 2 T vinegar
  • 1 can (12 oz) corned beef
  • 2 medium stalks celery, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium green pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 small onion, chopped (about ¼ cup)
  • 3 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
  • 1 cup mayo or salad dressing
  • 2 tsp horseradish
  • ½ tsp salt
  • salad greens
  1. Pour boiling water on gelatin in large bowl; stir until gelatin is dissolved. Stir in vinegar and refrigerate until slightly thickened, about an hour
  2. Break up corned beef with a fork. Stir corned beef and remaining ingredients (except salad greens) into gelatin mixture.
  3. Pour mixture into 6½ cup gelatin mold. Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours. Unmold on salad greens. Salad can be stored up to 48 hours.



When you are making crazy stuff like this, you have to take some joy in the small, non-insane details. Every time I use my vintage metal egg slicer, it makes me happy. No modern egg slicers are even half as good as this one!

To bad this poor sliced egg is going to end up in a corned beef gelatin mold.


Yep. This seems about right.


Of course, this thing smelled pretty terrible.  But there was worse to come.


This is where this recipe gets a little crazy. It molded just fine and unmolded fine as well, but when I went to cut this thing I got a horrible surprise.

It made this sucking sound. This horrible, wet sucking sound, like when you pull the skin off of half frozen chicken. Or when you are cutting raw meat off the bone. It was incredibly creepy. I could feel the little hairs on the back of my neck standing up every time I did it.

So, of course, I kept doing it.


Tom came in the room just as I was cutting the mold into it’s last slice.

“Holy crap, is that coming from that corned beef thing?”


“That’s a frickin’ creepy sound.”

“I know!”

“It sounds like someone eating someone else.  It should be on The Walking Dead.”

“Okay, that’s gross.”

“No, what’s gross is that sound.”

“Well, guess what? Now you get to eat it.”

“Great.” He took his slice and sat down, and cut a piece off with his fork. “Ugh. It’s making that sound again.”



“How horrible is it?”

“I love it.”

“Shut up! Seriously?”


“You know, maybe you have been eating too many gelatins.”

“Or drinking too many drinks. There might be lots of reasons.”

The Verdict: Good

From Tom’s Tasting Notes –

Surprisingly sweet yet delicious. Raw onions are a bit overpowering. A bit like a sweet (German) potato salad. If there were fewer onions, I could eat a lot of this…or maybe it’s the grasshoppers talking.

From Ruth’s Tasting Notes –

Actually not that bad, but way too sweet for me. I don’t know who the…person is who decided that sweet lemon gelatin could be made savory by adding vinegar to it, but it DOESN’T WORK. It might actually have been delicious if the gelatin had been plain with just some lemon juice like this potato salad gelatin. Also, I picked out all the onions. Onions in sweet gelatin are an abomination. I’m not kidding.

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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).

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

  1. Lassie March 12, 2014 at 11:28 am -

    I was gonna say….plain gelatin, not lemon, and I would eat this thing! can’t account for the creepy sound, but food sometimes makes noises.

  2. Michellle March 12, 2014 at 11:33 am -

    I just about busted out laughing..hysterical!

  3. Poppy March 12, 2014 at 12:09 pm -

    Why didn’t they specify lime gelatin so it would be greener? We’ve already established that taste is apparently not the primary concern anyway…

    • Tipsykit March 12, 2014 at 9:12 pm -

      I was thinking the same thing about the gelatin! And that corned beef looks an awful lot like the contents of a can of cat food. And the picture of the whole mess being put into the mold made me gag a little bit, ugh.

  4. CAT March 12, 2014 at 12:13 pm -

    I’m not a huge canned meat fan. Looking at your picture, I think you could substitute dog food, and it wouldn’t even matter!!! You are SO brave to try these recipes.

    • Susan March 12, 2014 at 10:45 pm -

      Cat – My thoughts EXACTLY.

      And how in heaven’s name did they ever convince their kids to eat this back in the 70s? (I was 25 at that time – I wouldn’t have TOUCHED this – it was disgusting even back then.)

  5. Mia March 12, 2014 at 4:26 pm -

    This looks like what my dog hacked up on my bed the other day…

  6. karenlise March 13, 2014 at 1:08 pm -

    Of all the recipes…………. I could not eat that one.

  7. celia March 13, 2014 at 9:43 pm -

    Oh DAYUM. Anyhow we made glorious corned beef and roasted sprouts and new potatoes last week and used the leftovers in SOS. It was great. I would be on board(ish) for this with plain gelatin. Tom has jumped the shark.

    GUUURL it is almost lamb cake time and my four year old is full on ready. I am less ready and freaked out to bake one. And then decorate it? That seems like a lot of cake for four people. It’s happening though.

  8. Denita Ruhnow March 14, 2014 at 4:41 pm -

    Maybe sub plain gelatin for the lemon, and minced cooked corned beef instead of the canned yuck? As for the sound…yeah, off-putting. But then, I get a mite queasy just hearing macaroni and cheese being stirred up. (C’mon, tell me I’m not the only one that gets squicked out by that wet smacky-crackly sound? Like millions of tiny leech mouths smacking hungrily. Eeeeeugh.)

  9. Carol March 16, 2014 at 10:41 am -

    i really am so glad that you actually give these old recipes a real shot instead of just making fun of them. honestly if someone set any of these old gelatin mold salads down in front of me i’d at least try it. and the fact that one or both of you actually like some of them is so fab! thanks so much for doing this – i really love your posts!

  10. Dee March 20, 2014 at 5:37 pm -

    I would almost try this just to hear the horrible sucking noise as you described it. Yes, I am that person. I would gleefully slice this up, while laughing maniacally. I’m not sure I would eat it though.

  11. Yinzerella March 17, 2016 at 10:09 am -

    What is the pretty cocktail in the picture?

    • Cara Cara March 20, 2016 at 4:23 am -

      It appears to be a grasshopper

    • RetroRuth March 20, 2016 at 5:12 pm -

      It’s a Dusty Grasshopper! http://wp.me/p2rp8K-5Fl

  12. Dave F March 17, 2016 at 4:41 pm -

    I always knew my mom forgot to buy boloney when, in high school, in the 60s, my lunch contained canned corn beef sandwiches. Actually was better than cheese sandwiches with ketchup.

  13. T.C. September 10, 2016 at 9:11 am -

    Just read the lead-in article today on Yahoo! Then came over here for the recipe.

    Hate to tell you kids, but I’ve eaten stuff very much like this. My Mom and Dad were married during the depression. A lot of things in my house growing up were transferred from that time.

    I learned a lot about making do with what you have and I’ve always put those skills to work for me.

    Ask yourselves this – what would you do if you suddenly didn’t have all the things you have today? I hope you would all get creative to survive.

    This recipe isn’t that awful – especially when your tummy is grumbling!

    • RetroRuth September 10, 2016 at 11:06 am -

      This is a 1970’s version of a depression recipe, so I’m sure that the original recipe was much better. We ended up liking it, and it is even better if you use unflavored gelatin and halve the onions. Probably cheaper as well! 🙂

  14. BARB PIETRANGELO September 10, 2016 at 10:45 am -

    I happened to have a can of corned beef in my pantry to make a reuben casserole-so I am going to give this a try……results to be advised!!!! My mom made me corned beef salad sandwiches that had green tomato relish mixed with salad dressing and she chopped the corned beef really finely. Pretty tasty.

    • RetroRuth September 10, 2016 at 11:04 am -

      Go for it! 🙂 I would advise using unflavored gelatin and leaving out at least half of the onions. We’ve made this several times and it’s actually pretty good that way.

  15. Mark Brozak September 10, 2016 at 12:22 pm -

    This sounds interesting and I plan to try it, I think I have everything except the gelatin and “½ tsp sald”. Is that supposed to be “½ tsp salt”?

    This was “Posted on Mar 12 2014”, I’m surprised the culinary desk jockies that have commented in the past 2 years haven’t asked. I am going to make it so I’m asking to make sure.

    • RetroRuth September 10, 2016 at 1:55 pm -

      Yup, it’s salt! Sorry about that, I’ve fixed it. 🙂

  16. Pat September 10, 2016 at 1:45 pm -

    Simple ingredients and a good flavor. Very easy to prepare, too.
    It is a nutritious dish. We used non-canned corned beef from the meat counter.
    We liked it.