Ambrosia Salad is a sweet and creamy fruit salad loaded with pineapple, cherries, mandarin oranges, and coconut.
Everyone loves it so much it's a perfect treat to serve at all kinds of get-togethers like pot-lucks, family reunions, and holidays celebration.
With just 10 minutes of prep time, this ambrosia salad is the easiest fruit salad to make when days are busy.
I can remember just about every church potluck I have ever attended had a bowl of this delightful ambrosia fruit salad and if you were at the back of the line you might have found yourself out of luck and with an empty bowl. It's that popular!
What is Ambrosia?
In classic literature, Ambrosia was food or drink that bestowed immortality and was only consumed by the Greek gods. Various texts say it was a food and others infer it was a drink.
In modern use ambrosia means anything delicious and typically refers to a fruit salad that includes coconut and might include a dairy base, topping, sauce, or pudding.
Ambrosia Salads are known by many names which include "Heavenly Hash", "Creamy Fruit Salad, and "Cool Whip Fruit Salad".
My version of ambrosia contains both whipped topping and sour cream. I like this combination because it is a little sweet but not too sweet. I also prefer to make this ambrosia with fruit-flavored pastel mini marshmallows. They are so pretty and add another layer of fruit flavors. But if you can't find them at the store, you can use plain mini marshmallows.
Just like fluff salads, some people call this a "salad" and others insist it is a dessert. One thing is certain it is delicious and is perfect for any time from Sunday suppers to festive celebrations and holidays. Its pastel colors and tropical flavors are what make it irresistible.
Like my Mandarin Orange Fluff, this ambrosia salad pairs well with almost any menu but is especially good with salty foods like baked ham and spicy foods like enchiladas.
4 Reasons Why Ambrosia Salad is an All-Time Favorite
- This No-Cook Recipe is Quick and Easy to Make.
- It's Made in One Bowl.
- The Ingredients are Available Year-Round.
- It Can Be Made Ahead.
The ingredients for this Ambrosia Salad are whipped topping, sour cream, maraschino cherries, pineapple tidbits, mandarin orange segments, pastel mini marshmallows, and shredded sweetened coconut.
- Whipped Topping - thawed frozen topping (Cool Whip) works well in this recipe. If you do not care to use frozen whipped topping there are non-dairy options available or you can use stabilized whipped cream.
- Sour Cream - rich and creamy sour cream brings a needed tartness to keep the salad from becoming too sweet.
- Maraschino Cherries - Do not use dried, candied, or glacé cherries. A 12-ounce jar of drained maraschino cherries will yield 1 cup of cherries
- Pineapple Tidbits - Canned or fresh are both delicious. The 20 ounce can which is commonly available today yields approximately 1-⅔ cups of drained pineapple tidbits. You can use this smaller amount of pineapple or add more of another fruit. Please see "My Top Tips" for how.
- Mandarin Orange Segments - Canned is more convenient and economical.
- Pastel Mini Marshmallows - These are typically fruit-flavored which adds another subtle layer of flavoring as well as being pretty!
- Shredded Sweetened Coconut - I have used the famous name brand and the store brands and both work well in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card for quantities.
Mix together the whipped topping and the sour cream in a large bowl.
Add the maraschino cherries, pineapple tidbits, mandarin orange segments, pastel mini marshmallows, and shredded sweetened coconut. Gently fold everything together.
Refrigerate and chill for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours before serving. If desired garnish the ambrosia salad with more maraschino cherries and shredded coconut.
My Top Tips
♡ Drain all of the fruit well before adding it to the whipped topping and sour cream. I actually like to drain the fruit and then spread it onto paper towels to remove excess liquid. This keeps the salad from becoming soggy.
♡ If you are slightly short of any one of the fruit ingredients, you can make up the difference with any one of the other ingredients except the whipped topping and sour cream. The goal is to have a combined 8 cups of fruit, marshmallow, and coconut to 2 cups of dressing.
Substitutions & Variations
- Substitute vanilla yogurt, Miracle Whip Salad Dressing, or cottage cheese for the sour cream.
- Substitute small or halved seedless grapes for the mini marshmallows.
- Substitute canned fruit cocktail plus any fruit you have on hand like a chopped apple and a sliced banana for the pineapple, cherries, and mandarin oranges.
- Substitute seasonal fresh fruit for the mandarin oranges. Strawberries and bananas are a great combination. Just toss the fresh fruit with the juice from the canned pineapple to keep it from browning (drain well before adding to the whipped topping and sour cream).
Make-Ahead and Storage
Ambrosia salad is always best if made ahead. Make it in the morning to serve in the afternoon or make it the day before serving.
Store any leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator. This Ambrosia Salad will keep for 3 to 4 days.
More Delicious Fruit Desserts
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- 1 Cup Frozen Whipped Topping, Thawed (Cool Whip)
- 1 Cup Sour Cream
- 2 Cups Mandarin Oranges, Drained
- 2 Cups Pineapple Tidbits, Drained
- 2 Cups Pastel Mini Marshmallows
- 1 Cup Maraschino Cherries, Drained
- 1 Cup Sweetened Shredded Coconut
- In a large bowl mix together the whipped topping and the sour cream.1 Cup Frozen Whipped Topping, 1 Cup Sour Cream
- Add the mandarin oranges, pineapple tidbits, pastel mini marshmallows, maraschino cherries, shredded coconut and gently fold to combine.2 Cups Mandarin Oranges, 2 Cups Pineapple Tidbits, 2 Cups Pastel Mini Marshmallows, 1 Cup Maraschino Cherries, 1 Cup Sweetened Shredded Coconut
- Refrigerate in a covered container for 4 hours and up to overnight to allow the flavors to meld and marry. If desired garnish the ambrosia salad with more maraschino cherries and shredded coconut.
Nutrition Per Serving
All nutritional information on this site is an estimate. Your results may vary.
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