Ambrosia Salad

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

Ambrosia Salad has been a staple on our Holiday dinner table for as long as I can remember. Traditionally ambrosia salad  (also known as 5-Cup salad) contains coconut, pineapple and oranges but we add other goodies from time to time including maraschino cherries, walnuts, fruit cocktail and/or pecans!

Similar to Watergate Salad or Millionaire Cranberry Salad this dish is more dessert like than an actual “salad” as we would know it.

ambrosia salad with orange slices

Ambrosia Salad

Church affairs, potlucks, or work functions, the ubiquitous ambrosia dessert always has a place on the table! At least everyone can agree that any classic ambrosia salad recipe will always have marshmallows. And who doesn’t love marshmallows? Even kids will want seconds of this delicious fruity ambrosia.

Ambrosia Salad is a great dish to whip up if you are short on time!  Be sure to make this salad ahead of time so it has a chance to sit, this helps blend the flavors and makes the marshmallows soften.

What is Ambrosia?

So, what exactly is that strange fruit salad with marshmallows?  Is it a marshmallow salad or a fruit ambrosia?  The jury on Ambrosia salad is definitely depending on where you live in the country and it is definitely different almost everywhere you go!

Ambrosia literally means ‘food of the gods’ but technically, it also means a dessert made with oranges and shredded pineapple.  Some regions claim it is strictly a fruit salad blended together with mini marshmallows and coconut. But, other legions of fans claim it’s not legit without tropical fruits and nuts. Mandarin oranges, pineapple tidbits, bananas, grapes, maraschino cherries and with or without nuts, ambrosia fruit salad has been a staple at nearly every social gathering you might attend.

Ambrosia is a perfect complement to a hot summer day barbeque and traditionally served at holiday gatherings because it looks so colorful and festive.

unmixed ambrosia salad

How to Make Ambrosia

But, don’t feel restricted by the ingredients in this recipe, however. Feel free to add or swap out for maraschino cherries, bananas, grapes, or toasted walnuts or pecans!

Toasting the coconut before adding to the salad really brings out the flavor of the coconut and adds a little crunch to this dessert! It is important to make sure the pineapple, mandarin oranges or maraschino cherries are thoroughly drained to make sure your ambrosia dessert keeps its light and fluffy appearance!

The best part of this beautifully delicious dessert is that there are no real ‘step-by-step’ instructions.

  • Drain all fruit ingredients well
  • To make Ambrosia salad, carefully fold all the ingredients together
  • Mix all of the ingredients together except the canned mandarin oranges. Once combined I gently fold the oranges in as they can be fragile and break apart.
  • Sour cream can be substituted with Greek yogurt or plain yogurt
  • Chill, preferably overnight which allows for the mallows to soak up any extra liquid.

ambrosia salad in bowl

More Side Salads You’ll Love

This ambrosia salad recipe is so versatile, you probably have all the ingredients in your pantry. Keep on hand some canned pineapple, mandarin oranges, and a couple bags of mini marshmallows and coconut so you can whip up this elegant little dessert in no time at all! Who says you’re not ready for a last minute invitation?


ambrosia salad with orange slices
4.95 from 37 votes
Review Recipe

Ambrosia Salad

Prep Time 5 minutes
Resting time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 5 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Author Holly Nilsson
This is the best ambrosia salad recipe!  It’s pretty simple, not overly sweet and is something that can always be found at our holiday dinners!


  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows white or fruit flavored
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1 cup canned pineapple tidbits well drained
  • 1 cup canned mandarin orange segments drained

Follow Spend with Pennies on Pinterest


  • Fold together all ingredients in a large bowl. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
  • Serve cold.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 150, Carbohydrates: 23g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 10mg, Sodium: 29mg, Potassium: 225mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 17g, Vitamin A: 296IU, Vitamin C: 14mg, Calcium: 62mg, Iron: 1mg

(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)

Keyword Ambrosia Salad
Course Dessert, Side Dish
Cuisine American

REPIN this Easy Salad

Ambrosia Salad with writting

bowl of ambrosia salad with marshmallows and oranges

ambrosia salad ingredients and finished salad with text
About the author


pinterest facebook twitter instagram

Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!

More Posts by Holly

Leave a Reply

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

Recipe Rating


  1. The perfect ambrosia salad, right to the point, no fuss and packed with goodness (although I do split the sour cream in 1/2 with 1/2 vanilla yogurt). Super easy recipe, I make it frequently as I’m not paying $2 per gram at the supermarket…now I can eat as much as I want without breaking the bank! Much thanks!

    1. Oooh, great idea on the yogurt Marlene! So happy to hear how much you love this salad!

  2. I needed a quick dessert to bring to Easter Dinner and found this recipe. Ive never made it myself so I made it per the instructions but added some Cool Whip to the mix. I only had about 3 hours to go so I put it in the freezer. It was a huge hit at dinner! Thank you so much!5 stars

  3. Sour cream? No use vanilla yogurt and cool whip. Also, please remind people it takes 24 hours to fully prepare so my family calls it 24 hour salad. Also you do NOT drain the pineapple! Please don’t post incorrect recipe information.

    1. This is correct recipe information and exactly how my family has made it for the past 40 years. We always drain the pineapple.

    2. Dude, there are SO MANY different recipes for every dish. There is no need to be rude and condescending. Their recipe worked just fine for me.

      1. Totally agree with you Sam B! I don’t understand people who criticize recipes because they differ from what they’re used to. My M-I-L makes it exactly as the Spend with Pennies version. Sheesh, people need to remember courtesy and politeness when interacting online! Love to all!

    3. Diane! For the love of all things, if you are making ambrosia with yogurt, you are not making ambrosia! You are making yogurt slop! I’m sure it’s delicious but don’t come on here acting like you invented ambrosia. SOUR. CREAM. It’s the only way.

      And duh, like others have said, there’s more than one way to make this, just like every other recipe on the planet.

      Also, you’re rude.

    4. There’s more than one way to skin a cat and a million different ways to make ambrosia/fruit salad. We usually add whipped cream, banana and walnuts.

  4. Delicious. I added the maraschino cherries. Then used it at Christmas. What a hit ! Now on vacation and again in a couple of months I’ll make it at Christmas.5 stars

    1. We make the recipe with sour cream. Using cool whip would work, but the taste will be completely different. I’m sure it would be delicious though!

    1. Both will work in this recipe Milka. I usually use sweetened because that’s what I have on hand most often, but have made with both and it’s delicious!

  5. My momma used to make this I loved it so much and could find a recipe for a while thank you so much5 stars

  6. Added a bit of the pineapple juice to sweeten it a little bit for my kiddos and it was very enjoyable- also added some apple pieces. Loved the recipe will make again!5 stars

  7. SO I can’t get my head around using sour cream in the Ambrosia Salad. Doesn’t it have a sour taste then? Or even the plain yogurt? what about using coconut greek yogurt? Or would that be too over powering sweet?

    1. I know Jackie, it seems so strange! But it is not at all sour. The sour cream becomes sweeter but you can substitute yogurt or Greek yogurt if you prefer.