Ambrosia Fruit Salad

Published Date: June 6, 2023

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Fruit Ambrosia in a white bowl.

Old Fashioned Ambrosia Salad is a 15-minute side dish or dessert that combines shredded coconut, canned fruit, mini marshmallows, and chopped walnuts! The perfect treat to bring to potlucks and BBQs!

Fruit Ambrosia in a white bowl.

Love fruit and sweet desserts? Then you certainly don’t want to skip over this Ambrosia Salad! A creamy sweet cool whip mixture covers mandarin oranges, pineapple, grapes, and cherries, making for a tropical treat that’ll instantly be devoured!

Serve this sweet fruit salad up as a side dish or as a cool summertime treat! With lots of variation possibilities, you’re sure to whip up a bowl full that will please everyone’s taste buds!

What Is Ambrosia Salad?

Ambrosia Salad is a creamy dessert variation of fruit salad. It originated in the Southern United States, but by the 1920’s it was a well-known treat that was often considered a luxury.

Typically, it was only served on holidays or special celebrations! However, today, it’s shared at potlucks, BBQs, gatherings, and holidays such as Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Enjoying This Delicious Ambrosia Salad

Taste: A cool, tasty tropical flavor is brought to your taste buds with fruit such as mandarin oranges, pineapple tidbits, and maraschino cherries. The shredded coconut adds to that tropical element, while the cool whip mixture smothers the treat in a sweet coat!

Texture: This Ambrosia Salad covers all the textures! You’ll enjoy the creamy cool whip coating, juicy fruit, crisp grapes, squishy marshmallows, and crunchy walnuts!

A small white bowl of ambrosia salad with more bowls around it.

Ingredients For Ambrosia Salad

  • Cool Whip
  • Plain Greek Yogurt OR Sour Cream
  • Mandarin Oranges
  • Pineapple Tidbits
  • Green Grapes
  • Maraschino Cherries
  • Mini Marshmallows
  • Shredded Coconut
  • Chopped Walnuts

It’s important to note that the mandarin orange slices, pineapple tidbits, and maraschino cherries should all be drained very well before adding them to this recipe. If not, the excess juice will make for a very runny dessert salad when the goal is for the ingredients to be coated in a creamy mixture!

Since this Ambrosia Salad Recipe has store-bought ingredients, very little prep work goes into this dessert. All you have to do is dump and mix, making it a quick and convenient treat to make for any gathering.

It also leaves a very minimal kitchen mess since no baking, cooking, or measuring cups are involved!

Ingredients to make ambrosia salad on a table.

How To Make Ambrosia Salad

Step 1: Fold together the Cool Whip and Greek yogurt using a rubber spatula in a large bowl.

Cool whip and Greek yogurt in a mixing bowl.

Step 2: Add in the mandarin oranges, pineapple tidbits, green grapes, maraschino cherries, mini marshmallows, shredded coconut, and chopped walnuts. Stir until everything is thoroughly coated with the creamy mixture.

Fruit and nuts being added to a bowl to make ambrosia salad.

Step 3: Cover the bowl tightly and place it in the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours or overnight. Afterward, garnish with shredded coconut, nuts, and maraschino cherries.

A big white bowl of ambrosia salad on a table.

How To Serve Ambrosia Salad

Serve this dessert salad after it’s had time to chill in the fridge, as this will enhance the overall flavor of the Ambrosia Salad. Afterward, enjoy this dessert while it’s nice and cool, fresh from the fridge!

This salad does hold its shape pretty well, so feel free to serve it in bowls as well as plates.

How To Store Ambrosia Fruit Salad

Ambrosia Salad can be stored in its serving bowl tightly wrapped or with a cover. The leftovers can also be transferred into an airtight container to store as well.

Then store the Ambrosia Salad in the refrigerator to enjoy for 3 to 4 days. I find that any longer than that, and the juice from the fruit causes the marshmallows to become soggy and mushy.

Ambrosia Salad Substitutions And Variations

  • Nuts – The walnuts can be swapped out for pecans if you’d prefer. To amplify the flavor of this dessert even more, you can toast the pecans before adding them to the salad.  
  • Cool Whip – Feel free to use a light or low-fat cool whip. A homemade whipped cream would also work as long as the dessert is enjoyed within a few hours.
  • Greek Yogurt/Sour Cream – Instant vanilla pudding or cottage cheese can be used instead of Greek yogurt or sour cream. Make the instant pudding with some canned fruit juice to add more flavor!
  • Pineapple – Fresh pineapple can be used instead of canned pineapple tidbits.
  • Marshmallows – Fruit-flavored marshmallows can be swapped in place of regular mini marshmallows!
  • Add Color – For a splash of fun color, add a few drops of food coloring to the cool whip mixture!
  • Other Fruit Choices – Use your favorite fruit in this recipe! Blueberries, chopped strawberries, raspberries, or purple grapes would all be great choices.
A small white bowl of ambrosia salad with more bowls around it.

Ambrosia Salad FAQs

How Long Does It Take For Ambrosia Salad To Set?

I find that four hours is the sweet spot! That gives the flavors time to meld together and come out tasting great. However, if you have the time, overnight is even better!

Though if you’re in a time crunch, one hour of chill time would be fine, as it would still taste great.

Can You Freeze Ambrosia Salad?

No, unfortunately, this dessert salad does not freeze well. As it freezes and thaws, the salad becomes a soggy, soupy mess with an unpleasant texture!

Why Did My Ambrosia Salad Come Out Runny?

Be sure to really dry the fruit and cherries as much as possible! If not, the excess fruit juice will create a soupy, runny consistency.

Can You Taste The Yogurt Or Sour Cream In This Recipe?

No, the yogurt or sour cream can not be tasted in this Ambrosia Salad as it’s not a standout flavor. Instead, it’s used to cut the overall sweetness of the dessert down to balance out the flavor.

Can Ambrosia Salad Be Made Ahead Of Time?

Yes, if you can make this dessert salad the day before, it’ll taste even better! This gives lots of time for all the flavors and textures to come together.

A big white bowl of ambrosia salad on a table.
A small white bowl of ambrosia salad with more bowls around it.

Ambrosia Salad

This ambrosia salad is packed with flavor. It’s so easy to make, making it the perfect summer dessert. It’s light, fluffy, creamy, and loaded with fruit and nuts.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Ambrosia Salad
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Chill Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 12 people
Calories: 397kcal


  • large mixing bowl


  • 8 ounces Cool Whip thawed
  • 8 ounces plain greek yogurt
  • 30 ounces canned mandarin oranges drained well
  • 40 ounces canned pineapple tidbits drained well
  • cups green grapes
  • 16 ounces maraschino cherries drained well
  • 10 ounces mini marshmallows regular or fruit flavored
  • 2 cups shredded coconut
  • ¾ cup chopped walnuts


  • In a large mixing bowl, stir together the thawed 8 ounces Cool Whip and 8 ounces plain greek yogurt with a rubber spatula until fully incorporated.
  • Add in 30 ounces canned mandarin oranges, 40 ounces canned pineapple tidbits, 1½ cups green grapes, 16 ounces maraschino cherries, 10 ounces mini marshmallows, 2 cups shredded coconut, and ¾ cup chopped walnuts and stir to combine until all is coated with the cream.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Letting the mixture chill lets the flavors marry, and the marshmallows expand.
  • Just before serving, garnish with shredded coconut, nuts, and maraschino cherries. Serve chilled.


Calories: 397kcal | Carbohydrates: 73g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.001g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 85mg | Potassium: 389mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 61g | Vitamin A: 1042IU | Vitamin C: 34mg | Calcium: 97mg | Iron: 1mg

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Gabby Hubbell Family Busy Family Recipes Author

From one busy family to another, I see you.

Hi, I’m Gabby! From crockpots to one-pot recipes, we’re eager to make dinner time a breeze for you and your family. Follow along for recipes even the pickiest of eaters will enjoy time and time again!
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