Easy Ambrosia Salad

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This Ambrosia Salad recipe was a staple at my Grandma’s holiday dinner table. 

A fluffy ‘salad’ that really isn’t a salad at all, this side dish recipe (also known as 5-Cup salad) has a creamy base with coconut shreds, pineapple, oranges, and miniature marshmallows.

ambrosia salad with orange slices

What is Ambrosia Salad?

A classic ambrosia salad has a place on the table at potlucks, for Easter, or even thanksgiving dinner! So, what exactly is that fruit salad with marshmallows?

Ambrosia literally means ‘food of the gods’ but it also a tasty side dish. While it’s called a salad, this is more like a dessert recipe.

It starts with a creamy base and the addition of:

  • mandarin oranges
  • pineapple tidbits
  • mini marshmallows
  • coconut

Ambrosia Salad Ingredients

Ambrosia Recipe Variations

The possibilities for ingredients in this recipe are endless.

  • The base in this recipe is sour cream or Greek yogurt (both of which sweeten from the marshmallows) but you can use vanilla yogurt, cream cheese or even whipped topping (like Cool Whip) or whipped cream. I have also seen cottage cheese in some versions but we prefer a smooth texture.
  • Try other goodies including maraschino cherries or nuts like walnuts or pecans.
  • Trade the mandarin oranges and pineapple for canned fruit cocktail or peaches.
  • If you’d prefer, skip the cans and fold in fresh fruit like grapes, bananas, blueberries, and/or strawberries!

unmixed ambrosia salad

How to Make Ambrosia Salad

Ambrosia Fruit Salad is a great side to whip up if you are short on time!

  1. Drain all pineapple and oranges (per recipe below).
  2. Add to a large bowl and stir.
  3. Let chill in the refrigerator at least 4 hours.

Notes & Tips

  • 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 which sweetens the recipe.
  • Drain all fruit ingredients well so the dish isn’t watery.
  • Gently fold in the mandarin oranges last as they can be fragile and break apart.
  • Sour cream can be substituted with Greek yogurt or plain yogurt.

ambrosia salad in bowl

More Dessert Salads

Perfect for a summer barbecue, Christmas dinner, or even as a no-bake dessert!

What are your favorite Ambrosia Salad ingredients? Let us know in a comment below!

ambrosia salad with orange slices
4.96 from 46 votes
Review Recipe

Easy 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

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  • 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 writing

ambrosia salad ingredients and finished salad with text
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A serving dish of Ambrosia Salad with text
A bowl of ambrosia salad topped with mandarin oranges with text
A bowl of ambrosia salad with text
About the author


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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

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Recipe Rating


  1. I know there’s recipes out there where use a pkg. Of dry orange Jello. Do you think I could do that here ?5 stars

    1. Hi Denise, we have only made this recipe as listed. If you try adding the dry orange jello let us know how it turns out.

  2. I remember my mother making this for all the family get togethers. Maybe it’s a Canadian thing, but she would make it with freshly whipped cream and cottage cheese. Never had to add any sugar to the cream since it all came from the fruit and marshmallows. Finding out that it’s most commonly made with sour cream was a surprise to me! lol

  3. I don’t see the printed recipe. I wanted to take it to the store to buy the ingredients. Maybe I am just missing it? I have to find another now to print out.

    1. Hi Debbie, you can scroll to the bottom of the page or select the jump to recipe button at the top and select print recipe! Enjoy!

  4. Grew up in Alabama-always had ambrosia at Thanksgiving & Christmas… Your recipe is great! Reminds me of Grandma’s… THANK YOU FOR A FANTASTIC RECIPE!
    Please respond as soon as possible
    Also, can pears peaches (canned or fresh) be added?
    THANK YOU!5 stars

    1. We always had this for holidays too Kathy! You can absolutely add canned peaches or pears (drain well first).

      Although I haven’t tried freezing it, dairy doesn’t always hold up well in the freezer. I would not recommend freezing it. Enjoy!

  5. It is fascinating that in different parts of the United States Ambrosia is different things. Here in the South it can be this you’ve made, always with whipped, sweetened cream/sour cream and canned fruits, or it is a winter holiday treat like the one our mom made: sweetened whipped cream filled with intense flavors of chopped nuts, dried fruits, especially dates and raisins, flaked coconut, and combined with fresh fruits that would be available in the winter and “special” back in the Depression: oranges, apples, bananas, clementines, grapes. It wasn’t Thanksgiving or Christmas without it! She’s gone now, and I can’t have all the sugar and heavy cream. But we really miss it.

    1. So nice to hear the story of your mom’s special dish. Thank you for sharing BonJon. It’s very true that ambrosia is easily changed up, and always delicious!

  6. Ambrosia is MUCH better made with fresh navel oranges instead of canned. Simply peel and section them before adding to the salad.

    1. I’ve had ambrosia my whole life and have never heard of using fresh oranges, I bet it is amazing!! Thank you for sharing Sandy!

      1. That’s how my mom made it. With Fresh oranges. It was s good. Sprinkled coconut on top. Added a couple red cherries

  7. My husband loves this, however he doesn’t like sour cream. Does the cream hide or can I substitute it with something else?

    1. We make ours by mixing equal parts of sour cream and cool whip – it hides the sour cream, but keeps the creamy texture

    1. If you make it more than a day ahead, it may separate a little, so give it a stir before serving. Enjoy, Tracy!

  8. we had something similar here just different tinned fruits/fresh fruits, the original was 2 cans (790ml each )fruit cocktail drained( we used the very cherry), 1 can pineapple tidbits ( 8oz) drained, 1 can mandarin orange segments ( 4oz), 1 cup sour cream, 1cup coconut and 1-2cups mini marshmallows. lately I have been adding fresh fruits ( strawberries, grapes or other seasonal fruit, just tried it with cantaloupe )

  9. I’m with Carol, Cool Whip is so unhealthy yet I had such a hard time finding a ambrosia type recipe without it, so discouraging! I was on the verge of adding it anyway but I’m glad I didn’t. I made this and it was delish! Ok, I used half sour cream, half cottage cheese- slight modification but still no Cool Whip and still yum! Thank you for sharing your recipe. Cool Whip be gone!5 stars

    1. I can fruit cocktail, well drained, sour cream to taste (whip cream too sweet) & mini marshmallows. My mother made this since I was a child 80 years ago.5 stars

  10. I love this version made with sour cream instead of cool whip. (Cool whip is so nasty when you look at the ingredients) Plus cool whip makes it so sweet with all the sugar from the fruit, coconut and marshmallows it is more like a dessert. I have substituted in 1/2 cream cheese with sour cream, in a pinch when I dont have quite enough sour cream. I have also made fresh whipped cream with my mixer and heavy whipping cream if I dont have sour cream, and dont feel like going to the store. Sometimes I like 1/2 sour cream and 1/2 whipped cream, it makes it so decadent.

  11. Mom’s favorite at all gatherings. Now that she’s gone, I make it all the time but double the recipe. We love it!!