Ambrosia Salad – Jo Cooks

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Ambrosia Salad is a staple for your holiday table! It’s super simple to make and a favorite with kids and adults alike. This American classic is made with sour cream, miniature marshmallows, sweetened coconut, pineapple, mandarin and maraschino cherries. The flavors are absolutely incredible!

Easy Ambrosia Salad Recipe

I know, you’re probably thinking “Jo, what the heck are you talking about” and I know there may be some eyebrow raises. A strange fruit salad with marshmallows? Come again? But trust me! This ambrosia salad is a staple on most holiday tables! Creamy, sweet and full of a variety of bites of marshmallow, coconut, canned fruit including pineapple tidbits, mandarin orange pieces and maraschino cherries.

Ambrosia is more of a dessert than an actual “salad” – but if they’re calling mini marshmallows a salad ingredient, I’ll take it! Made with a short list of simple ingredients, it doesn’t get much easier than this. Creamy, sweet and for some, nostalgic! I know the kids will definitely want seconds, and as for the adults, well, don’t knock it until you try it. I know the first time I had it, I was in love with it instantly.

overhead shot of all the ingredients needed to make ambrosia salad.
  • Sour Cream – Can be substituted with greek yogurt, whipped cream, or cool whip, but I’ll always choose a homemade whipped topping if I have the ingredients. I like to add a bit of vanilla and sugar to it when I make it from scratch.
  • Mix-ins – I used 1 cup miniature marshmallows, and sweetened, shredded coconut. I like the colored marshmallows as they are just more fun!
  • Fruit– We are using a combination of canned pineapple tidbits, canned mandarin and maraschino cherries, stems removed. If maraschino cherries aren’t your thing, just skip them.
process shots showing how to make ambrosia salad.
  1. TOSS INGREDIENTS: Toss all the ingredients in a large bowl, but be gentle, as you don’t want to break up the fruit. I like to refrigerate for at least 4 hours to overnight. That’s it!
  2. SERVE: This is best when served cold and will compliment any Holiday meal.

What Is Ambrosia Salad?

Ambrosia Salad is an American variation on a traditional fruit salad, popular in the southern states. For many, ambrosia salad consists of canned (often sweetened) or fresh pineapple, canned mandarin oranges or fresh orange sections, miniature marshmallows, and coconut. This is a dish often associated with holiday potlucks and occasionally gets a bad rap, along with the often scorned fruitcake, but when prepared correctly it can be light and delicious!

What Does Ambrosia Mean?

Ambrosia literally means food of the gods. The salad was a treat reserved for holidays and other special occasions, and named “ambrosia” after the Greek and Roman gods.

Can I Substitute Other Ingredients?

This is such a customizable salad. Try grapes, pears, blueberries, strawberries, peaches, pecans, bananas or other nuts. You can add to or substitute these very easily. Keep in mind that you should have the same ratio of fruit to sour cream or whipped topping or both. You can even add a bit of cream cheese for added creaminess. I’ve even heard of using cottage cheese instead, go figure!

Can I Make This In Advance?

Yes! It’s actually ideal to make this ambrosia salad ahead of time and let it set in the fridge overnight. It will be perfect when you’re ready to serve the next day!

How To Serve

Ambrosia is a perfect addition to a summer barbecue or potluck and traditionally served at holiday gatherings because it looks so colorful and festive. The perfect side dish!

overhead of a a white bowl piled high with ambrosia salad and a maraschino cherry on top.

Storing

Transfer any leftover ambrosia salad to an airtight container and store in the fridge for 3-5 days.

Freezing

I do not recommend freezing this dessert as the texture may alter, but if you insist on freezing, place the ambrosia salad in an airtight container, you can line it with parchment for easy removal. It will last in the freezer for 6 months.

Leave the Ambrosia Salad in the fridge to defrost if you would like to enjoy it fresh or serve while it is still frozen with an ice cream scoop.

closeup of ambrosia salad in a blue bowl.

More Great Recipes To Try

Ambrosia Salad

Prep 5 minutes

Cook 0 minutes

Total 5 minutes

Ambrosia Salad is a staple for your holiday table! It’s super simple to make and a favorite with kids and adults alike. This American classic is made with sour cream, miniature marshmallows, sweetened coconut, pineapple, mandarin and maraschino cherries. The flavors are absolutely incredible!

Notes

  1. I used canned ingredients to make this super easy, feel free to use fresh fruit in this salad!
  2. Make sure to drain all of the canned ingredients well!
  3. Carefully fold in the ingredients as to not break them apart.
  4. You want to make sure you let your ambrosia salad set for at least 4 hours. Overnight is preferred so your salad really has a chance to set and infuse together.
  5. Transfer any leftovers to an airtight container and store in the fridge for 3-5 days.
  6. I do not recommend freezing this dish as the texture may alter, but if you insist on freezing, place the ambrosia salad in an airtight container, you can line it with parchment for easy removal. It will last in the freezer for 6 months.
  7. Leave the Ambrosia Salad in the fridge to defrost if you would like to enjoy it fresh or serve while it is still frozen with an ice cream scoop.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1servingCalories: 158kcal (8%)Carbohydrates: 19g (6%)Protein: 1g (2%)Fat: 9g (14%)Saturated Fat: 6g (38%)Cholesterol: 15mg (5%)Sodium: 32mg (1%)Potassium: 136mg (4%)Fiber: 2g (8%)Sugar: 16g (18%)Vitamin A: 507IU (10%)Vitamin C: 11mg (13%)Calcium: 47mg (5%)Iron: 1mg (6%)

Notice: Nutrition is auto-calculated for your convenience. Where relevant, we recommend using your own nutrition calculations.

Did You Make This?

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