Ambrosia salad, also known as 5-cup salad, is an easy-to-make side dish (or even dessert).

A combination of pineapple, coconut, mandarin oranges, and mini marshmallows is mixed into a creamy base.

Just 5 ingredients, one cup of each, make this sweet salad a holiday favorite.

plated Ambrosia Salad in a white bowl

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

What is Ambrosia Salad?

Ambrosia literally means ‘food of the gods’ and this recipe is a fluffy ‘salad’ that really isn’t a salad at all. Some call it a fruit salad with marshmallows (also known as 5-Cup salad). It’s most often served as a side dish for Easter or even Thanksgiving dinner!

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
Ingredients for Ambrosia salad

Ambrosia Recipe Variations

The possibilities for ingredients in this recipe are endless.

  • Creamy Base: 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.
  • Additions: Try other goodies including maraschino cherries or nuts like walnuts or pecans.
  • Fruit: 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 the recipe below).
  2. Add all ingredients to a large bowl and gently fold.
  3. Let chill in the refrigerator at least 4 hours.

Tips for Ambrosia Salad

  • 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 Thanksgiving or Easter, 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!

plated Ambrosia Salad in a white bowl
4.98 from 84 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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Easy Ambrosia Salad

This is the best ambrosia salad recipe! It’s easy to make, not overly sweet, and can always be found at our holiday dinners!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Chill Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes
Servings 8 servings


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


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



  • 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.
  • Use Greek yogurt or plain yogurt or sour cream for the base.
4.98 from 84 votes

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.

Course Dessert, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American

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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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Recipe Rating


  1. hi there i dont really care for coconut so what should i substitute it with and sour cream? in ambrosa salad any other substitutes besides sour cream?

      1. Thanks for this suggestion for a coconut substitute. I have a family member who refuses to eat it, so I also wondered what to sub. He loves pecans, so I know he will love this. I always check your cooking blog first when searching for recipes! I know I can trust yours!!!!!5 stars

  2. Great version of this delicious salad. My mom, in the good days, made it with diced celery, diced apples and grapes. Thanks for the memories ..I’m making your version for dinner, my grandkids will like this one for sure.5 stars

  3. I’m heading to a family reunion and want to make this the day before. If I add the marshmallows the day before will they become too mushy or should I wait and add them the next morning?

    1. Hi Cassy, We find it helps the marshmallows soften and sweeten the recipe but they don’t get mushy.

  4. As a child in the 1960s this was a family staple and we called it Heavenly hash. I didn’t know that Ambrosia was the same thing. Thank you for bringing back cherished family memories of my mom, aunties and grandma

  5. I actually use a combination of sour cream and cool whip because it adds a little sweetness to it that I like. Everyone has their way of making it but I think we can agree that Ambrosia is delicious!!! One of my favorite warm weather desserts. 5 stars

  6. I was told this was so hard to make.I just tried this today.So my 21 yr old son.When he heard a reference to it on a movie.Decided to try to keep his spirits up.His reaction was priceless.He was smiling and saying it was so good.That he could eat it everyday.Thanks a million this will be my permanent recipe for it.It was beyond easy to make.I did add two tablespoons of cool whip.Just to see what would happen.I happened to have it in my freezer.Just a little tweak of my own.5 stars

  7. This is the same recipe I’ve been using since 1974 and it’s always delicious. Back then it was called “Five-Cup Salad”. Love it!5 stars

  8. 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!

  9. 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

  10. 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.

    5. Never, never have I EVER seen this kind of fruit salad NOT draining the pineapple. We could all attack you on that and tell you how disgusting THAT is, a soupy gross mess that is no longer fruit salad….but instead, I will say this: if that’s the way it works for you, fine. Good for you! This is the way it works for most of us, and if it doesn’t, I’m sure everyone has their own variations. NO need to be rude. Happy Holidays!

    6. How very rude you are. This is her recipe and, quite frankly, is delicious! If you think your recipe is better, why don’t you start your your own blog instead of being such a bully!5 stars

    7. Diane, how very rude you are. I made this recipe as presented and it was delicious. Get you own Blog and post your recipe and see what happens. I personally would not try it.

    8. hey Diane,
      if you don’t like someone’s recipe, then click away. how do you think you can tell someone what to do and what to post? and tell them they are doing it incorrectly. That’s really rude.

  11. 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!

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

  13. 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

  14. 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.