Ambrosia Salad is a quick and easy classic dessert or side dish that’s popular for holidays and potlucks, but it’s too good not to enjoy more often!
If you’ve never heard of Ambrosia Salad, think of it as fruit salad kicked up several notches! It’s got pineapple, mandarin oranges, maraschino cherries and grapes combined with sweet coconut, fluffy marshmallows, and creamy homemade whipped cream mixed with sour cream. YUM!!
In Greek and Roman mythology, ambrosia is the term for the food of the gods. In modern times, according to Merriam-Webster, ambrosia means something extremely pleasing to taste or smell. That means it has to be good, right?
This traditional Southern dish is most often served during the winter holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas – sometimes as a side dish and sometimes as a dessert – but I’ve never had it with a holiday dinner.
For me, this is totally a summertime dessert! My mom often made Ambrosia when she had to take a dish to a summer party, and she would always save some for us to enjoy, so this is I how I got to know and love it – as a summer treat!
Not only that, it’s light and fluffy, creamy and sweet, fruity, and a little tropical with the pineapple and coconut in there. All of that says summer to me!
Ambrosia Salad is super easy to make! With the exception of taking a few minutes to make the homemade whipped cream and slice some fresh grapes, this is basically a dump-and-go kind of recipe because we are using canned fruit, and the coconut and marshmallows are ready to go.
When my mom made this, she actually only used sour cream. The sweetness from the fruit, coconut, and marshmallows is enough to offset the slight tartness of the sour cream, but I like to add whipped cream for extra creaminess and fluffiness and to make it even more dessert-y!
I prefer to make my own homemade whipped cream – it’s simple and only takes about 5 minutes – but you can absolutely use Cool Whip or Truwhip instead if that’s what you prefer. It’s all delicious!
INGREDIENTS YOU NEED:
- Heavy cream/whipping cream
- Powdered sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Sour cream
- Canned pineapple tidbits
- Canned mandarin oranges
- Maraschino cherries
- Red or green seedless grapes
- Sweetened shredded coconut
- Mini marshmallows
HERE’S A QUICK LOOK AT HOW TO MAKE AMBROSIA SALAD:
TIPS & TIDBITS:
- If you would rather use Cool Whip or Truwhip instead of making the homemade whipped cream, use one 8-ounce container.
- Make sure your canned fruit is drained very, very well! Any liquid leftover can make your Ambrosia Salad watery – which is not a good thing. After you drain them, you could even blot them with paper towels if you’d like.
- Any juice left on your maraschino cherries will run into the whipped cream and turn it slightly pink. Personally, that doesn’t bother me one bit (in fact, my mom used to add some of the cherry juice to make the salad pink), but if you’d like to keep your salad white, definitely dry the cherries with paper towels and just quickly fold them in last.
- I recommend using pineapple tidbits or chunks for this salad. Crushed pineapple will get lost. I like biting into juicy pieces of pineapple!
- Be gentle when mixing everything together so as to not break up the fruit or deflate the whipped cream.
- Refrigerate the salad for at least an hour or two before serving to allow the flavors to blend and to let the marshmallows soften just a bit – and also to let it chill (it’s best when served cold!).
- This salad is at its best the day it is made, but it will last in the fridge for about three days before everything will begin to soften up too much and become watery. Enjoy it quickly!
This salad is very versatile! Although pineapple and oranges are classic, you could really add any fruits you would like. You could also add chopped nuts!
I hope you try this recipe for Ambrosia Salad and love it as much as I do. Thanks for visiting today!
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- 1½ cups heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup sour cream
- 2 (8-ounce) cans pineapple chunks, or pineapple tidbits, well-drained
- 1 (11-ounce) can mandarin oranges, well-drained
- 1 (16-ounce) jar maraschino cherries, without stems, well-drained
- 1 cup halved seedless grapes, red or green
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
- 3 cups mini marshmallows
- Place the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, whip until soft peaks form (the consistency should be similar to Cool Whip).
- Add the sour cream and gently fold it into the whipped cream.
- Add the pineapple, mandarin oranges, maraschino cherries, grapes, coconut, and marshmallows; gently stir until well-combined (be careful not to break up the fruit or deflate the whipped cream).
- Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour or two before serving to chill and to allow the flavors to blend and the marshmallows to soften a bit.
- Serve cold and enjoy!
- You can substitute one 8-ounce container of Cool Whip or Truwhip, thawed, for the homemade whipped cream (omit the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla from the recipe).
- Make sure the fruit is well-drained so the salad doesn’t become watery.
- This salad is at its best the day it is made, but it will last in the fridge for about three days before everything will begin to soften up too much and become watery, so enjoy it quickly!