This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

The Best Ambrosia Salad is a fluffy fruit salad made with fresh pineapple, mandarin oranges, maraschino cherries, coconut, marshmallows, fresh whipped cream, a touch of sour cream, and sugar. This is a nostalgic, classic side dish or fruit salad dessert recipe.

The Best Ambrosia Salad is a fluffy salad made with fresh pineapple, mandarin oranges, maraschino cherries, coconut, marshmallows, fresh whipped cream, a touch of sour cream, and sugar. This is a nostalgic, classic side dish or dessert recipe.

Growing up, my Mom and Grandma were obsessed with making holiday ambrosia salad for all of the special holidays, especially Easter. This fluffy marshmallow fruit salad was always a hit, especially with the kids.

Have you ever tried ambrosia fruit salad? It is creamy, light, sweet, and fresh, and is right in between a side dish and a dessert. This classic fruit salad is a timeless favorite, celebrated for its heavenly combination of fresh fruits, coconut, and whipped cream.

I wanted to take that classic, old-fashioned ambrosia salad recipe and modernize it a bit. I tweaked this recipe and had my recipe testers analyze it over and over again to perfect it.

The Best Ambrosia Salad is a fluffy salad made with fresh pineapple, mandarin oranges, maraschino cherries, coconut, marshmallows, fresh whipped cream, a touch of sour cream, and sugar. This is a nostalgic, classic side dish or dessert recipe.

If you ever attended a picnic or potluck in the 1970’s and 1980’s, you probably saw a big bowl of ambrosia fruit salad on the table. I called it marshmallow salad and as a young girl, I would try to pick out as many marshmallows and maraschino cherries as I could out of the bowl.

What is Ambrosia Salad?

Ambrosia salad is a classic American dessert that typically consists of a mix of fruits, such as oranges, pineapple, and cherries, combined with marshmallows, shredded coconut, and sometimes even nuts. The ingredients are then folded together with a creamy sauce made with whipped cream, sugar and a touch of sour cream to create a creamy fruit salad.

Some even refer to it as the Cool Whip fruit salad.

I wanted to elevate this ambrosia salad recipe by using fresh pineapple instead of canned and making the fluffy filling with fresh whipped cream and sugar instead of Cool Whip. The fresh pineapple is a huge game changer and everything is better with homemade whipped cream.

The Best Ambrosia Salad is a fluffy salad made with fresh pineapple, mandarin oranges, maraschino cherries, coconut, marshmallows, fresh whipped cream, a touch of sour cream, and sugar. This is a nostalgic, classic side dish or dessert recipe.

Some other classic Southern recipes that I have worked to perfect are my classic pimento cheese dip recipe, creamy deviled eggs, easy potato salad with bacon, and cold spinach dip with crunchy water chestnuts.

The Best Ambrosia Salad is a fluffy salad made with fresh pineapple, mandarin oranges, maraschino cherries, coconut, marshmallows, fresh whipped cream, a touch of sour cream, and sugar. This is a nostalgic, classic side dish or dessert recipe.

Ambrosia Salad Ingredients:

I looked up my Mom’s old church cookbooks to find every single ambrosia salad recipe I could get my hands on. They varied in the ingredients and amounts but some ingredients were constant — pineapple, oranges, coconut, cherries, and whipped cream. And a touch of sour cream for some tang!

Ambrosia Salad Ingredients. The Best Ambrosia Salad is a fluffy salad made with fresh pineapple, mandarin oranges, maraschino cherries, coconut, marshmallows, fresh whipped cream, a touch of sour cream, and sugar. This is a nostalgic, classic side dish or dessert recipe.
  • Pineapple — I suggest using fresh pineapple but you can also use canned crushed pineapple or pineapple rings, cut into small pieces.
  • Mandarin Oranges — can find canned mandarin oranges in the canned fruit aisle or you can use fresh clementines.
  • Maraschino Cherries — the cherries add so much sweetness and a little almond flavor which pairs perfectly with the whipped cream.
  • Coconut — I suggest using sweetened flaked coconut in this recipe.
  • Marshmallows — use soft mini marshmallows.
  • Heavy Cream — whip heavy whipping cream and sugar until soft peaks form and fold in sour cream.
  • Sugar — if you want this to be more of a dessert, feel free to add more sugar to taste.
  • Sour Cream — a touch of sour cream in this ambrosia salad gives the perfect amount of tang. I suggest using full-fat sour cream.

Optional Ingredients: green grapes, pecans, etc.

See the recipe card for quantities.

Tip:

While many recipes call for store-bought whipped topping, Cool Whip, for convenience, consider making a homemade dressing. This adds a sweet and tangy richness that complements the sweetness of the fruits.

The Best Ambrosia Salad is a fluffy salad made with fresh pineapple, mandarin oranges, maraschino cherries, coconut, marshmallows, fresh whipped cream, a touch of sour cream, and sugar. This is a nostalgic, classic side dish or dessert recipe.

Instructions:

This is such an easy ambrosia salad recipe. All you need to do is throw the fruit in a large bowl, whip the heavy cream and fold in sour cream, stir it all together, and let it chill in the refrigerator.

  1. Start by whipping the heavy cream and sugar until soft peaks form. Carefully fold in the sour cream. If you want a sweeter ambrosia salad, add more sugar to taste.
  2. Cut the pineapple into small pieces.
  3. In a large bowl, add pineapple, drained mandarin oranges, drained maraschino cherries, coconut flakes, and mini marshmallows. Make sure to thoroughly drain the fruit so this ambrosia fruit salad isn’t runny.
  4. Carefully fold in the whipped cream mixture. Cover and place in the refrigerator to chill for about 2 hours to allow the flavors to develop.

Can Ambrosia Salad be made ahead of time?

Yes, ambrosia salad can be made ahead of time, making it a convenient dish for busy occasions or holidays. Here are a few tips if you choose to make the ambrosia salad ahead of time…

  1. Avoid adding marshmallows too early. If you’re making the creamy ambrosia fruit salad a day or two in advance, consider adding the marshmallows shortly before serving to prevent them from becoming overly soft and losing their texture. They will start to dissolve the longer the marshmallows sit in the salad.
  2. Refrigerate Properly: Always store ambrosia salad in an airtight, covered container in the refrigerator to preserve its freshness. The cold temperature helps maintain the flavors and textures of the ingredients.
The Best Ambrosia Salad is a fluffy salad made with fresh pineapple, mandarin oranges, maraschino cherries, coconut, marshmallows, fresh whipped cream, a touch of sour cream, and sugar. This is a nostalgic, classic side dish or dessert recipe.

Substitutions:

There are so many ways to customize this ambrosia salad recipe.

Can I use Cool Whip in this recipe?

Absolutely! You can make ambrosia salad with Cool Whip. I would suggest adding 12 ounces of Cool Whip.

Can I add nuts?

Yes! You can add your favorite type of nuts. I usually see pecans added to homemade ambrosia salad.

Can I add more fruit to this recipe?

Of course! You can add green grapes or even fresh strawberries to this creamy marshmallow fruit salad.

The Best Ambrosia Salad is a fluffy salad made with fresh pineapple, mandarin oranges, maraschino cherries, coconut, marshmallows, fresh whipped cream, a touch of sour cream, and sugar. This is a nostalgic, classic side dish or dessert recipe.

Storage:

The homemade ambrosia salad can be stored in an airtight container for up to 7 days in the refrigerator. It can be made ahead of time. I do suggest adding the marshmallows when ready to serve.

What are other names for Ambrosia Fruit Salad?

This famous fruit salad recipe is known by many names and some of the most popular names are Five Cup Salad, Five-Cup Fruit Salad, Southern Ambrosia, Marshmallow Salad, Heavenly Hash, or Picnic Salad.

Top tip

Drain the canned mandarin oranges and maraschino cherries well for the creamiest ambrosia salad.

The Best Ambrosia Salad is a fluffy salad made with fresh pineapple, mandarin oranges, maraschino cherries, coconut, marshmallows, fresh whipped cream, a touch of sour cream, and sugar. This is a nostalgic, classic side dish or dessert recipe.

Easy Dessert Recipes:

Pin this now to find it later

Pin It
4.92 from 12 votes

Ambrosia Salad

By: Modern Honey® – www.modernhoney.com
The Best Ambrosia Salad is a fluffy salad made with fresh pineapple, mandarin oranges, maraschino cherries, coconut, marshmallows, fresh whipped cream, a touch of sour cream, and sugar. This is a nostalgic, classic side dish or dessert recipe.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
2 hours
Servings: 8

Ingredients  

  • 2 cups Fresh Pineapple (cut into small pieces)
  • 15-ounce can Mandarin Oranges (drained)
  • 14 ounces Maraschino Cherries (drained)
  • 1 cup Sweetened Shredded Coconut
  • 3 cups Marshmallows
  • 1 1/3 cup Heavy Cream
  • 3 Tablespoons Sugar (add more if you want it sweeter)
  • 1/4 cup Sour Cream

Optional Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Green Grapes (cut into half)
  • 1/2 cup Pecans (chopped)

Instructions 

  • In a large mixing bowl, add the heavy cream and sugar and whip until soft peaks form. Carefully fold in the sour cream. If you want a sweeter ambrosia salad, add more sugar to taste.
  • Cut the pineapple into small pieces.
  • In a large bowl, add pineapple, drained mandarin oranges, drained maraschino cherries, coconut flakes, and mini marshmallows. Make sure to thoroughly drain the fruit so this ambrosia fruit salad isn't runny.
  • Carefully fold in the whipped cream mixture. Cover and place in the refrigerator to chill for about 2 hours to allow the flavors to develop.

Notes

Can I use Cool Whip in this recipe?
Absolutely! You can make ambrosia salad with Cool Whip. I would suggest adding 12 ounces of Cool Whip.
Can I add nuts?
Yes! You can add your favorite type of nuts. I usually see pecans added to homemade ambrosia salad.
Can I add more fruit to this recipe?
Of course! You can add green grapes or even fresh strawberries to this creamy marshmallow fruit salad.

Nutrition

Calories: 487kcal, Carbohydrates: 62g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 27g, Saturated Fat: 17g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 7g, Cholesterol: 47mg, Sodium: 46mg, Potassium: 238mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 49g, Vitamin A: 673IU, Vitamin C: 22mg, Calcium: 79mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dessert, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8
Calories: 487
Keyword: ambrosia fruit salad, ambrosia salad, marshmallow fruit salad
Like this? Leave a comment below!Jump to Comments

Hi, I'm Melissa Stadler!

I am an Award-Winning Recipe Creator. Cover of Food Network Magazine. Two-Time Pillsbury Bake-Off Finalist. I am passionate about sharing the best recipes so you have success in the kitchen!

You Might Also Like

Leave a comment

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

Recipe Rating




9 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Hi Melissa
    I followed your recipe to the letter but I did add in Strawberries and green Grapes this was so fantastic, we all love this
    Next time I do this I will add in a bit more Mandarins
    thank you

  2. 4 stars
    This was good but It doesn’t last long in the refrigerator. It gets sogged out really fast but was a nice addition to Easter dinner

  3. Do you have your mother’s old orange 2nd Ward cookbook? (Your dad was our bishop, and married my husband and I).

    1. Hi Kelli! Oh yes, of course, my Mom has kept all of them. 🙂 I love our awesome history with the Holman family. My parents love you guys!