Ambrosia Salad

This Ambrosia Salad is a family favorite during the holidays! It combines pineapple, oranges, grapes, maraschino cherries, miniature marshmallows, and shredded coconut in a creamy and slightly tangy dressing.

 

Ambrosia Salad

There’s always a creamy, fruit-filled dressing at our holiday family get-togethers and Ambrosia Salad is a particular family favorite. (As long as this Raspberry Cheesecake Fluff is also served!)

While I consider it more dessert than “salad,” I’ll take it next to Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, and Turkey any day without complaint!

Overhead view of the ingredients for Ambrosia Salad, ready to be stirred together.

Overhead view of the ingredients for Ambrosia Salad, ready to be stirred together.

QUICK TIP

In Greek mythology, ambrosia was a liquid food (something like honey) reserved for the gods to eat–never humans. And indeed, Ambrosia Salad is sweet, light, and easy to eat–though not quite a liquid and definitely suitable for human consumption!

Ambrosia Salad Variation Ideas

  • Ambrosia salad with whipped topping: The dressing is an easy homemade whipped cream with honey vanilla Greek yogurt folded in, but you can replace the heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar with one 8-ounce container of frozen whipped topping. Lite or fat-free frozen whipped topping is fine; just be sure the package is fully thawed before using.
  • Add nuts: Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of finely chopped nuts; I’d recommend pecans or walnuts.
  • Swap the marshmallows: Instead of using white miniature marshmallows, the rainbow-colored ones can be used instead.
  • Ambrosia Salad with sour cream: If you’d prefer to not use Greek yogurt, substitute equal amounts of sour cream instead.
  • Use fresh fruit: If you have access to fresh fruit, replace the canned mandarins with fresh mandarin oranges, and use fresh pineapple instead of canned tidbits. Canned fruit is often more available during the winter holiday season.
  • Ambrosia Salad recipe with fruit cocktail. On the flip side, if you don’t have access to any fresh, good fruit (like the grapes) add a can of well-drained fruit cocktail instead!

Overhead view of Ambrosia Salad, mixed and ready to serve.

Overhead view of Ambrosia Salad, mixed and ready to serve.

Recipe tips

  • Thoroughly drain the fruit. If the fruit is wet at all, the dressing will not adhere as nicely and becomes watery. This is especially important to remember if you’re using canned fruit instead of fresh.
  • Our favorite yogurt to use in this Ambrosia Salad is Honey Vanilla Greek yogurt (made by Greek Gods®). Whatever yogurt you choose to use, make sure you like it plain or it won’t add a lot in way of flavor to this salad. I recommend getting a vanilla-flavored yogurt instead of plain. I also recommend full-fat yogurt, so the dressing doesn’t end up too watery.
  • If you haven’t whipped heavy cream before, check out this helpful post on How to Make Whipped Cream.
  • Use fruit that is canned in juice or water, not syrup. If the fruit was canned in a sugary mixture, the Ambrosia will be too sweet.
  • Allow time for the flavors to meld. Once the salad is combined, give it a chance to chill. Not only does it taste better cold, but this also gives a chance for the flavors to develop.

QUICK TIP

The mandarin oranges and marshmallows are delicate. When mixing Ambrosia Salad, use a silicone spatula to gently fold the mixture, rather than stir it.

Process shots: making the creamy dressing for Ambrosia Salad.

Process shots: making the creamy dressing for Ambrosia Salad.

Ambrosia Salad FAQs

1Why is it called Ambrosia Salad?

In ancient Greek myths, “ambrosia” is the food or drink of the Greek gods, depicted for giving longevity or immortality to whoever ate it.

In America, it is a dessert fruit salad that contains canned (or sometimes fresh) fruit and a creamy dressing.

This salad was typically a treat reserved for holidays and other special occasions, earning it’s fancy name “ambrosia” salad.

2Is Ambrosia a Southern dish?

This salad is a dish often associated with holiday potlucks or get togethers for many southerners. You can read more about the history of this salad here.

3How long will Ambrosia keep in the fridge?

Stored in airtight containers in the fridge, it can last for 3-5 days. Some separation is normal – simply stir it well before enjoying.

The salad stores and lasts better when all the fruit is well drained before adding it into the salad.

4How many calories are in Ambrosia Salad?

Made with whipped cream, there are 387 calories per serving. If you use lite frozen whipped topping, you’ll save 200 calories per serving.

More holiday side dishes

Ambrosia Salad

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This Ambrosia Salad is a family favorite during the holidays! It combines pineapple, oranges, grapes, maraschino cherries, miniature marshmallows, and shredded coconut in a creamy and slightly tangy dressing.

Ambrosia Salad

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This Ambrosia Salad is a family favorite during the holidays! It combines pineapple, oranges, grapes, maraschino cherries, miniature marshmallows, and shredded coconut in a creamy and slightly tangy dressing.

Ingredients

Salad

  • 3 cups (154g) mini marshmallows (rainbow colors or plain white)
  • 3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 can (15 oz; 425g) mandarin oranges well drained
  • 1/2 cup (93g) maraschino cherries stems removed and halved
  • 1 can (4oz, 567g) pineapple tidbits well-drained
  • 1 cup (170g) green seedless grapes halved (can use red seedless grapes)

Dressing

  • 3/4 cup (175g) heavy whipping cream cold
  • 1/4 cup (26g) powdered sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup (127g) honey vanilla Greek yogurt (we love Greek Gods)

Instructions

  • SALAD: Place the mini marshmallows, shredded coconut, well-drained mandarin oranges, drained and quartered maraschino cherries, well-drained pineapple tidbits, and halved grapes into a large bowl (See Note 1). Gently stir to combine.

  • DRESSING: In a separate large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer), combine the heavy cream, powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla extract (See Note 2). Whip in a stand mixer (or use an electric hand mixer) until stiff peaks have formed. Add in the lemon juice and zest and, using a spatula, gently fold to combine. Fold in the yogurt.

  • COMBINE: Using a spatula, scoop all of the dressing over the salad ingredients. Gently fold until everything is mixed and ingredients are evenly combined in the dressing.

  • CHILL: Cover and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving. Gently stir once again before serving.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: I recommend using fruit that is canned in juice or water– not sugary syrup. Be sure to drain the fruit really well. I like to put all the canned fruit in a colander and let it sit to drain and dry for about an hour. This will keep the salad from getting watery as it sits.

Note 2: A thawed tub of frozen whipped topping can be substituted for the homemade whipped cream.

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 387kcal | Carbohydrates: 77g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 25mg | Sodium: 116mg | Potassium: 101mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 58g | Vitamin A: 282IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 1mg