Ambrosia Salad Recipe

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Soft, fluffy and sweet, this creamy, fruit-filled Ambrosia salad will look so pretty on your holiday dinner table.

Was ambrosia salad ever been on your dinner table growing up? We often had a jello salad or ambrosia at holiday dinners. And with all of the rich foods the holidays bring, it’s cool and refreshing texture was a welcome addition to my plate.

Is ambrosia a salad or a dessert? You decide. In the midwest we like to call dishes like this “salads”, although we know there is not much leafy and green about them. It’s much more like a dessert, but often served as a side dish.

overhead view of ambrosia salad

Why you’ll love this recipe:

  • old fashioned recipe that has stood the test of time
  • light and sweet for holiday dinners or summer picnics
  • recipe variations to lighten up the calories and fat
  • perfect for potlucks or for when you don’t want a rich dessert

What is ambrosia made of?

The term ambrosia comes from Greek mythology where it references “the food of the gods”. We’ve had it on holidays for years. It’s a classic all over the United States. You may remember your grandma making it at Christmas!

It’s full of pineapple, oranges, coconut, nuts, marshmallows and a creamy filling. You’ll often find it topped with maraschino cherries for a gorgeous look.

ingredients for ambrosia salad on a table

How to Make Ambrosia Salad

  • Use a hand mixer to mix the cream cheese in a large bowl until it is smooth.
  • Add the sour cream and mix again until combined.
  • Add the cool whip and gently fold to combine.
  • Add the pineapple, cherries, oranges, marshmallows, pecans and coconut and stir to combine.
  • Top with additional coconut, pecans and whole cherries if you like.
a spoonful of ambrosia fruit salad

Recipe Variations:

  • Whip one cup of cold heavy cream and ¼ cup powdered sugar until it holds peaks and use this in place of the Cool Whip.
  • Add vanilla pudding for extra sweet vanilla flavor.
  • Use low fat cream cheese, low fat sour cream and sugar free Cool Whip to lower the calories and fat.
  • Use fruit cocktail instead of the separate canned fruit.
  • My mom often uses colored marshmallows which gives it a pretty look.
  • Add grapes if you’d like!
bowl of ambrosia salad with cherries and coconut
bowl of ambrosia salad with cherries and coconut

Ambrosia Salad Recipe

4.72 from 7 votes
Soft, fluffy and sweet, this creamy, fruit-filled Ambrosia salad will look so pretty on your holiday dinner table.
Servings 10
Prep Time 10 minutes

Ingredients
 

  • 4 ounces cream cheese (at room temperature)
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 8 ounces cool whip (thawed)
  • 20 ounces crushed pineapple (drained as much as possible)
  • 16 ounces maraschino cherries (drained and each cut in half)
  • 15 ounces mandarin oranges (drained and each cut in half)
  • 3 cups mini marshmallows
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • ½ cup shredded sweetened coconut

Instructions
 

  • Use a hand mixer to mix the cream cheese in a large bowl until it is smooth.
  • Add the sour cream and mix again until combined.
  • Add the cool whip and gently fold to combine.
  • Add the pineapple, cherries, oranges, marshmallows, pecans and coconut and stir to combine.
  • Top with additional coconut, pecans and whole cherries if you like.
  • Refrigerate until serving.

Notes

The calories shown are based on the recipe serving 10, with 1 serving being about 1 cup. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate. **We are not dietitians and recommend you seek a nutritionist for exact nutritional information. The information in the nutrition box are calculated through a program and there is room for error. If you need an accurate count, I recommend running the ingredients through your favorite nutrition calculator.**

Nutrition

Calories: 331kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 19mg | Sodium: 74mg | Potassium: 247mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 44g | Vitamin A: 569IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 97mg | Iron: 1mg
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Calories 331
Keyword easy fruit dessert, picnic, vintage

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does ambrosia last in the fridge?

It is best if eaten within 3-5 days of making it.

Can you freeze ambrosia fruit salad?

This salad is not the best frozen. It may become watery as it thaws.

I want to add bananas and apples. How do I keep them from turning brown?

You can try tossing the bananas and apples with lemon juice, then drain. This should preserve them slightly longer.

This is too sweet! Can I somehow lower the sugar?

If you want, you can use more sour cream and less Cool Whip. This will help the salad be less sweet.

About Julie Clark

I'm Julie Clark, CEO and recipe developer of Tastes of Lizzy T. With my B.A. in Education and over 30 years of cooking and baking, I want to teach YOU the best of our family recipes.

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Celeb Networth
1 year ago

5 stars
This is the first time I’ve heard of Ambrosia salad 😮 I though it was ice cream because it looks beautiful. Thank you for the recipe! Definitely make this.

Joan
6 months ago

5 stars
This is always a must at our Easter dinner table. However, I have never used cream cheese nor cool whip, just the sour cream….about 1-2 cups. We love it!