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Creamy Ambrosia Salad

Creamy Ambrosia Salad is a quick and easy dessert made with whipped topping, sweet fruits, shredded coconut, marshmallows, and buttery toasted pecans.

This traditional Southern fruit salad is the perfect side to bring to your next potluck, family get-together, or holiday celebration.

bowl of ambrosia

Ambrosia Fruit Salad

Ambrosia salad is a quick and easy dessert. Made with pieces of juicy fruit and shredded coconut and are folded into a creamy whipped topping and sour cream dressing.

This sweet salad requires only 10-minutes of hands-on prep, so it’s a great dish to whip together when you have guests coming over or quickly need to make side dishes to bring to your next get-together!

Where does Ambrosia Salad come from?

Ambrosia salad is a classic southern fruit salad. Traditionally, ambrosia recipes call for canned or fresh tropical fruits like pineapple, mandarin oranges, miniature marshmallows, and coconut.

However, new variations include maraschino cherries, sliced bananas, strawberries, peeled grapes, and sliced pecans.

All ingredients are tossed in a creamy dressing consisting of either mayonnaise, whipped topping, sour cream, cream cheese, vanilla pudding, yogurt, or even cottage cheese.

This decadent and sweet salad is then refrigerated for at least one hour (overnight is best!) to allow the flavors to mix and mingle together.

labeled picture of ambrosia fruit salad

Ingredients Needed

Cool whip – Feel free to use original or light. You can also make your own homemade whipped topping.

Sour cream – Original or light can be used. Feel free to swap in mayo, cream cheese, vanilla pudding, Greek yogurt, or cottage cheese.

Sweetened coconut – Feel free to toast the shredded coconut for added depth of flavor and more texture.

Miniature marshmallows – Use your favorite brand and either white or colored! If you only have large marshmallows you can cut them into smaller pieces.

Fruit – Canned or fresh fruit works! If using canned, I recommend using fruit in heavy syrup as it will provide the most flavor in the salad. Just be sure to drain it very well.

Pecans Traditionally chopped nuts aren’t added but I love the crunchy and nutty flavor that the toasted pecans add to this recipe. And honestly, what’s more southern than pecans?!

Looking for more leftover worthy dishes? Follow LTB on Pinterest and pin to a board!

How to make Ambrosia

First: In a large bowl, combine sour cream, coconut, pineapple, oranges, grapes, cherries, and pecans.

Second: Fold in the mini marshmallows.

Third: Mix in whipped topping, ensuring all ingredients are coated.

Fourth: Cover salad and refrigerate until ready to serve. Feel free to reserve a few oranges and cherries to decorate the top when ready to enjoy!

For the full recipe and detailed baking instructions, please see the recipe card at the end of this post.

spoon of ambrosia

Can I use canned fruit?

Of course! Using canned fruit will make whipping up this salad even quicker (if that’s even possible!). Just be sure to drain all the juice prior to mixing otherwise it will be too runny and never firm up.

Can I make it in advance?

This is the perfect make-ahead dish. Ambrosia salad tastes best when the ingredients have had time to meld together in the fridge and when served cold so it’s perfect for making the night before and refrigerating until you’re ready to serve.

Does Ambrosia freeze well?

  • Fully prepared ambrosia salad does not freeze well, if you’d like to serve as pictured, as the ingredients will release water as they defrost which will cause the whipped topping to break down.
  • You can freeze fully prepared ambrosia salad in a baking dish and then enjoy as ice cream.


Store any leftover salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Just be sure to give it a good stir before serving.

two bowls of ambrosia fruit salad

Tips for No Leftovers

  • Toast the coconut for more flavor and texture.
  • Use canned fruit in a jiffy just be sure to drain and pat the fruit dry to keep the salad from getting watery. You can also use fruit cocktail if you are in a real hurry!
  • Rinse the maraschino cherries really well or the juice will make the salad pink.
  • Substitute the sour cream for Greek yogurt.
  • Fold the ingredients together gently as not to break up the fruit pieces and release the juices.
  • Let set for a few hours to overnight for maximum flavor!
  • Need a dairy free recipe? Use coconut whipped cream instead.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, please write a five-star review in the comment section below (or on Pinterest with the “tried it” button – you can now add pictures into reviews, too!), and be sure to help me share on facebook!

bowl of ambrosia salad

This Ambrosia Salad recipe is a classic southern dish! With only 10-minutes of prep time and a handful of pantry staples, this simple side is perfect to bring to your next holiday potluck, family get-together, or barbecue outing!

bowl of ambrosia salad

Ambrosia Salad

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

This ambrosia fruit salad is made with pineapple, mandarin oranges, grapes, maraschino cherries, coconut, pecans, and marshmallows, with a creamy whipped topping.


  • 8 ounces cool whipped topping
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut (shredded)
  • 3 cups miniature marshmallows (colored is fun)
  • 1 1/2 cups pineapple tidbits (well drained)
  • 1 can (11 ounces) canned mandarin oranges (drained)
  • 1 cup green grapes (halved)
  • 1 cup maraschino cherries (rinsed, drained, halved)
  • 3/4 cup toasted pecans (lightly chopped)


  1. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and stir well.
  2. Refrigerate salad until ready to serve.
  3. Reserve a few mandarin oranges and maraschino cherries to decorate the top of the salad.
  4. Enjoy chilled!


*If you love this recipe as much as I do, please leave me a comment and rate it 5 stars. Thank you!

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 369Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 8mgSodium: 59mgCarbohydrates: 48gFiber: 4gSugar: 38gProtein: 3g

This nutrition information was generated via a third party, Nutritionix, and can not be held liable for any discrepancies in the information provided.

Easy Recipes Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encourages and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited.

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Wednesday 23rd of February 2022

Hey. I love ambrosia salad! But I'm not willing to spend 369 calories of my 1500 daily on it. So I need to substitute & I've got good ones for this kind of a thing. So this is the deal- you substitute less sugary stuff no sweetened coconut use the same cut but no sweetened. The fruit comes in its own juice, & save that for breakfast.Unless you can get marshmallows that are not made with high fructose corn syrup, don't bother with that. Add more coconut, or fruit or substitute angel food cake which is what I usually do. It's a lot less calories than marshmallows. And for breakfast, add ground flax seed, rolled oats, and the saved fruit juices, plus cottage cheese or yogurt, and a bit more monk fruit. Delish!


Friday 25th of February 2022

Great substitutions! Thank you!

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