Looking for a sweet and refreshing side dish or dessert? This Ambrosia Salad recipe is an old family favorite.

It’s a sweet and simple combination of pineapple, coconut, mandarin oranges, and mini marshmallows in a creamy base.

ambrosia salad in a bowl topped with a cherry

What is Ambrosia Salad?

Ambrosia means ‘food of the gods,’ this version is a family favorite.

  • While it’s called “salad,” ambrosia salad is more dessert-like and is often served as a side dish for Christmas, Easter dinner, or Thanksgiving.
  • This salad (also called 5-cup salad) needs just 5 ingredients and 5 minutes of prep.
  • It’s potluck perfect since it’s best made ahead of time.
ingredients for ambrosia salad on the counter

Ingredients for Ambrosia Salad

Yogurt/Sour Cream – I have always used sour cream as the base is sweetened by the marshmallows. It can be replaced with plain or vanilla Greek yogurt or ½ with whipped topping (such as Cool Whip).

Marshmallows – Use miniature marshmallows (fruit-flavored or plain). They add sweetness to the base, and the texture will soften as they sit.

Fruit – I use coconut shreds, canned mandarin oranges, and pineapple as my grandma always made it, but you can mix things up with a fruit cocktail or canned peaches.

Variations

While this recipe is delicious exactly as written, you can change it up to your liking.

  • Chopped maraschino cherries
  • Chopped nuts like walnuts or pecans for crunch
  • Fresh bananas, grapes, or strawberries
ingredients for ambrosia salad in a glass bowl

How to Make Ambrosia Salad

Ambrosia Fruit Salad is a great side dish to make if you are short on time!

  1. Drain the pineapple and oranges (per the recipe below).
  2. Add all ingredients except oranges to a bowl, and mix well. Gently fold in oranges.
  3. Let chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

Tips for Ambrosia Salad

  • Be sure to make this salad ahead of time to blend the flavors and soften the marshmallows.
  • Drain the canned fruit so the dish isn’t watery.
  • Gently fold in the mandarin oranges last, as they can be fragile and break apart.
Mixed ingredients for ambrosia salad in a bowl

More Dessert Salads

Did your family love this Ambrosia Salad? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below!

plated Ambrosia Salad in a bowl
4.99 from 177 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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Easy Ambrosia Salad

This easy ambrosia salad recipe is creamy, fluffy, and a colorful holiday side dish!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Chill Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes
Servings 8 servings

Equipment

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Ingredients  

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

Instructions 

  • In a large bowl, add sour cream, marshmallows, coconut, and pineapple tidbits. Stir until combined.
  • Gently fold in mandarin oranges.
  • Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Serve chilled.

Video

Notes

  • Make ahead to allow the flavors to blend and to soften the marshmallows.
  • Be sure to drain all fruit well to prevent the dish from being watery.
  • Mandarin oranges are fragile and break easily, so gently fold them in last
  • Greek, plain, or vanilla yogurt can serve as the base. I prefer sour cream which is sweetened by the coconut and marshmallows.
4.99 from 177 votes

Nutrition Information

Calories: 156 | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 17mg | Sodium: 45mg | Potassium: 152mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 360IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 0.3mg

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

Course Dessert, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Easy Ambrosia Salad with a cherry on top and writing
mixed ingredients in a bowl to make Easy Ambrosia Salad with writing
Easy Ambrosia Salad in a bowl and plated with a title
bowl of Easy Ambrosia Salad with a title

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About the author

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!
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Comments

  1. My family loves this salad! It’s always on the table for Easter. The coloured marshmallows make it festive!5 stars

  2. My family’s Ambrosia salad is very similar, but instead of sour cream or Greek yogurt we use full-fat Cool Whip. Makes it very fluffy. The base mixture ratio is: 1 part cottage cheese; 2 parts Cool Whip and 2 parts white marshmallows. I personally add a teaspoon or two of cherry-flavored powdered gelatin (Jello), to give it even more delicious flavor and a beautiful pink color. It dissolves well in the base. We use canned crushed pineapple really, really well drained, basically pressing all the excess liquid through a wire strainer, so it doesn’t add liquid to the salad, and of course the Mandarine oranges.

  3. This is the same Ambrosia I grew up eating and have made many times myself. Just a heads up – always use the pastel colored marshmallows if you can. The flavor is just not quite the same with the plain white. Good without the coconut if you have non-coconut fans. Also, fantastic with sliced bananas added right before serving, although less nice if you have leftovers since the bananas don’t hold up well. I’ve never understood the cool whip versions – this is more than sweet enough with sour cream and a very different flavor. Really not a fan of cool whip though, so there’s that. I made this while living in Germany to a neighborhood potluck, and it confused my German neighbors because they emphatically thought it was a dessert, not a salad. So really, don’t be afraid of the sour cream!5 stars

  4. I made this and added maraschino cherries( just before serving) and I also added 1/2 cup Cool Whip topping. It was delicious , this was our Easter dessert! In addition I also made your crock pot ham, and made the glaze in the recipe, can you say second helpings! Also your scalloped potatoes were a big hit with all the family , everyone went back for more. Thank you Holly for making easy to follow recipes that also taste delicious!!!5 stars

    1. Thank you for the kind words Carol, I am so happy to hear all of the Easter recipes were a hit!

  5. Interesting with the yogurt or sour cream.
    Our Family always used “Cool Whip” BUT we also always added dry instant pudding (pistachio was always the favorite) to the mix and let that sit in fridge over night. I think also a cousin used to added dry jell-o to the mix for flavor and color.

  6. I love this! I was randomly craving this out of nowhere and I made it using half of the amount of ingredients since it was just for me. I couldn’t remember how my Nana made it (she passed away a couple months ago) so I used half sour cream and half homemade whipped cream since I had some heavy whipping cream left in the fridge. I probably added more coconut than most people would like but that’s my favorite part! Drained both cans of fruit and it was the perfect consistency. Took a “chef bite” before putting it in the fridge and it was already amazing! Thank you so much for this recipe, gave me some nostalgia and I’m sure my Nana would be proud!5 stars

    1. Thank you so much for sharing Carrie! I am so glad you enjoyed this recipe and am so happy to hear you felt it honored your Nana.

      1. Thank you so much for replying back! I’m sure my Nana was smiling down from Heaven! I patiently waited and let it sit overnight in the fridge and maaaann, oh man was it delicious!! My coconut hating boyfriend sure missed out! I love your recipes and I have tried several so far since I stumbled across this site! Keep up the great work!5 stars