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Ambrosia salad recipe is a classic dessert that’s light and fluffy and is packed with mandarin oranges, pineapple, cherries, coconut, and rainbow-colored mini-marshmallows! This recipe has been a family favorite for years!
This popular dessert is made in a flash and requires no baking! It’s just a mix and chill kind of recipe. It’s super easy to make for a quick dessert at home, yet is easily portable to take to your church potluck or picnic with friends! Everyone delights in this fluffy and colorful treat. You might also love our grape salad.
What is Ambrosia Salad anyway? It’s a variation of a traditional fruit salad, just kicked up a notch with the sweet cream of whipped topping, coconut, and mini-marshmallows.
It’s a traditional southern dessert – or sweet snack in some cases! – and is really versatile. It’s perfect for spring and summer. The classic Ambrosia salad recipe is typically served as a side dish at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I think the colored mini-marshmallows make it especially fun to have at Easter.
What does ambrosia even mean? Fun fact: Ambrosia is a Greek God name meaning “food of the Gods.”
Ambrosia Fruit Salad Ingredients
whipped topping – This is the “dressing” for the salad. Our recipe adds sour cream to the whipped topping to tone down the sweetness and add an additional layer of creaminess. There’s plenty of sweet from the coconut and the fruit.
Mandarin oranges – we use canned mandarin oranges. Just be sure to drain well.
Crushed pineapple – we used canned pineapple chunks for this Ambrosia recipe. Like with the mandarin oranges, just be sure to drain well so you don’t get extra liquid in the salad.
Marashino cherries – as a kid, marashino cherries were my absolute favorite. I’d eat anything that had them in it! These add sweetness, and a pop of color to the Ambrosia.
Shredded coconut – the coconut adds texture and sweetness to the Abmrosia salad. My family doesn’t like coconut, so I leave it out when I’m making it just for us, but I definitely add it when I’m bringing to somewhere.
This recipe is so easy, but I do have a few tips for you to make sure it comes out just right.
Drain – be sure to properly drain all juice from the canned fruit. You don’t want any extra liquid in the salad.
Fold, don’t stir – be sure to gently fold the ingredients together. If you have a child helping, this is a great opportunity to teach the art of being gentle! If you stir too hard, the oranges will macerate and the whipped topping may lose some of its firmness.
Chill – if you’re in a hurry, you can certainly skip this step as I often do. Too many mouths watering, waiting for dessert requires me to serve immediately, but it’s best when it’s chilled for several hours or overnight. Chilling allows any excess water from the fruit to be absorbed into the marshmallows.
Optional Ingredients to Add or Substitutions
Many recipes call for cream cheese to be added into the whipped topping. This is certainly OK to do.
Walnuts, pecans, or sliced almonds – you can add nuts to this recipe with ease. It will change the texture a bit, and our recipe doesn’t have it, but it’s perfectly acceptable to add them if you like a little crunch in your salad.
Regular marshmallows – I’d still stick with mini-marshmallows because they are easy to stir and eat, but you can certainly add plain flavored mini-marshmallows instead of the fruit-flavored ones.
Canned fruit cocktail – you could easily add a traditional fruit cocktail to this dessert. Just be sure to drain the juice before using the fruit.
Trade out greek yogurt for the sour cream – do this in the same ratio
How to Make Ambrosia Salad
This Ambrosia salad recipe is so easy to make, it’s hardly a recipe at all. More of just instructions. And, it only take a few minutes to put it all together. You can even keep all the ingredients on hand in your pantry (and the whipped topping in the freezer, sour cream in the fridge) and you’ll be able to make this dessert any time you have the craving!
- Start by making the dressing for the salad. In a mixing bowl, combine the whipped topping, sour cream, vanilla, and salt and fold together until combined. It’s best to not use a big mixing bowl. It’s just not necessary.
- Next, in a separate bowl, add in the fruit. Just toss in the mandarin oranges, cherries (chop them in half), pineapple, and the coconut. Toss with the mini-marshmallows.
- Then, fold in the whipped topping mixture. Fold together until all the fruit is covered.
- Chill for a few hours, or overnight.
Can You Make Ambrosia Ahead of Time?
Yes, this salad is best when it’s chilled for a bit anyway, so making it a day before you need to really works in your favor.
How Long Does Ambrosia Salad Last in the Refrigerator?
Ambrosia fruit salad will last several days in the refrigerator if kept in an air tight container.
This is such a great recipe to whip up in a flash! No longer will you not know what to bring to that last minute dinner or potluck! Just keep all the canned ingredients on hand and you can have this in no time!
- 1/2 cup whipped topping thawed (like Cool Whip)
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- pinch of salt
- 3 cups fruit-flavored rainbow colored mini-marshmallows
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
- 11 oz. can mandarin orange slices drained
- 1 cup maraschino cherries stems removed, drained (halve the cherries)
- 8 oz. can crushed pineapple drained
- Mix whipped topping, sour cream, vanilla, and salt together and set aside. It's best to mix this by hand with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
- In large bowl, place mandarin oranges, pineapple, cherries, and coconut in bowl and mix together.
- Add in mini-marshmallows and mix.
- Pour sour cream mixture on top and gently stir until fruit is covered.
- Chill for 30 minutes and serve