Circus Peanut Salad

Circus peanuts are a bright orange candy shaped and textured to resemble a peanut but with the mouthfeel of a marshmallow. Contrary to expectation and logic, they are not peanut flavored. 

Rather, when you open a bag of them, the first thing you’ll notice is the banana scent rising up to your nostrils — artificial banana to be precise.

Widely available in grocery stores, circus peanuts are wildly sweet with a texture akin to stale marshmallows.

But unlike marshmallows which have a nice chew to them, circus peanuts are not bouncy. They’re more spongy and chalky, with a bit of a crust on the outside.

So what would you do with a circus peanut? Make it into a “salad” of course!

Now when I say “salad” I’m obviously not talking about a bowl full of greens with freshly sliced tomatoes. I’m talking about those old-timey “salads” that take up space at a local church dinner or potluck. 

Invariably made with gelatin, these salads are really just a side dish, often sweet, or some strange combination of savory and sweet. 

I’m thinking of the classic mid-western Cookie Salad, made by whipping together buttermilk and instant vanilla pudding mix with Cool Whip, crushed pineapple, mandarin oranges and crushed Fudge Stripes cookies. 

Or the Crisco Salad which is a kind of three layer Jell-O cake with a graham cracker crust and a layer of cherry Jell-O topped with Dream Whip.

So, similar to the Crisco Salad, this Circus Peanut Salad will be more cake than salad, definitely sweet and jiggly. The color is fun, and the addition of the circus peanuts on top will make this salad instantly recognizable.

I got my recipe from the Southern Living website which you can find here.

Bright orange square of Jell-O salad topped with a bright ornage circus peanut.

Circus Peanut Salad

A bright orange jiggly salad complete with whipped topping, crushed pineapple, jello, and 32 circus peanuts.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 30 mins
Chill time 4 hrs
Course Appetizer, Dessert, pot luck, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Southern
Servings 12 people
Calories 200 kcal


  • greased 13" X 9" baking pan
  • 2 large mixing bowls


  • 44 circus peanuts 32 for the salad, 12 for the top
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 6 oz orange gelatin I used 2 – 3 oz packets
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 1 container whipped topping 8 oz
  • 16 oz crushed pineapple I used 2 – 8 oz cans


  • In a microwave-safe bowl, combine 32 roughly chopped Circus Peanuts and 1/4 cup of hot water. Microwave for one minute and stir until melted and smooth.
  • Dissolve orange gelatin into 3/4 cup of boiling water and then pour into melted candy mixture, stirring until smooth. 
  • In a separate bowl, combine crushed pineapple with whipped topping. Fold until evenly distributed. 
  • Fold the whipped pineapple mixture into the melted candy mixture.
  • Pour into a greased 13" X 9" baking dish. Chill until firm. (~ 4 hours)
  • Top with 12 extra Circus Peanuts, one for each square if cut. 


Once chilled, your circus peanut salad will have separated into layers with the bottom layer having more of the crushed pineapple, and the top more foamy.


Calories: 200kcalCarbohydrates: 44gProtein: 2gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 102mgPotassium: 68mgFiber: 1gSugar: 37gVitamin A: 33IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 21mgIron: 1mg
Keyword cold salad, Jell-O, pot luck, quick
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


free email series

What Food Can Teach Us