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 45 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
ingredients to make ambrosia salad and ambrosia salad in a bowl with a title
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. 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

  2. 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!

  3. 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

  4. 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. 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!

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

  7. 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

  8. 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.