Light and fluffy Ambrosia Salad is a classic dessert made with Cool Whip and sour cream tossed with fruit, coconut, and marshmallows.

side shot of ambrosia in bowl


 

Ambrosia Salad is a classic southern dessert. I can still remember it, or sometimes Watergate salad or Cranberry Fluff being a part of every holiday dinner or potluck gathering when I was growing up.

It’s a light and fluffy marshmallow fruit salad made with sweet mandarin oranges, pineapple tidbits, fruity marshmallows, bright maraschino cherries, and sweetened, shredded coconut tossed with a mix of Cool Whip and sour cream. 

It’s an easy, make-ahead fruit salad that you can make the night before. In fact, you SHOULD make it the night before so it has time to absorb all the many flavors and is ready to serve when your guests arrive.

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close up of ambrosia salad in a bowl

What is Ambrosia Salad?

Ambrosia Salad is a marshmallow fruit salad that is a classic southern dessert with many variations. Some use Cool Whip, or whipped cream, while others have sour cream, yogurt, pudding, or cream cheese. All have fruit and most include pineapple, mandarin oranges, and sweetened coconut. Other ingredients can include maraschino cherries, bananas, strawberries, and nuts like chopped pecans or almonds.

How ever you make, it is a delicious fruit salad. Much like cranberry fluff, this can be used as a side dish or a dessert to make for holiday parties and summer potlucks.

ingredients for ambrosia salad

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Cool Whip – You can sub this with homemade whipped topping if you wish.
  • Sour cream – You can sub this with Greek yogurt, pudding, or cream cheese.
  • Fruit-flavored marshmallows – Adds a nice pop of color to your dish
  • Shredded coconut – Gives your dish a hint of coconut and a great texture.
  •  Pineapple tidbitsYou can sub this with crushed pineapple if necessary, just make sure you drain your pineapple well.
  • Maraschino cherries – Not just sweet and delicious, but gives bright bursts of red in your dish.
  • Mandarin oranges – The perfect amount of citrus to make your dish stand out.
  • PecansThe nuts are optional or you can sub with your favorite nut.

Some people also choose to add grapes, blueberries, or peaches.

Instructions

step pic of stirring together cool whip and sour cream

Step 1 – Combine Cool Whip and sour cream – In a large bowl stir together your Cool Whip and sour cream until combined.

step pic of adding fruit and nuts

Step 2 – Fold in additional ingredients – Gently fold in fruit-flavored mini marshmallows, shredded coconut, pineapple, and maraschino cherries, and pecans (if using). 

step pic of adding oranges

Step 3 – Add oranges – Add mandarin oranges last and gently fold in.

step pic of ambrosia being covered

Step 4 – Cover and chill – Cover and chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight before serving. This allows all the many flavors to really set in and blend.

Step 5 – Serve – Serve chilled.

marshmallow fruit salad in a clear glass bowl

Can I use Whipped Cream Instead of Cool Whip?

Yes! If you would like, you can make homemade whipped cream and fold it into the salad in place of Cool Whip.

Can Ambrosia Salad Be Made the Day Before?

Yes! We actually recommend it. It allows the dish to set and brings out the many flavors.

When to Serve Ambrosia Salad

Ambrosia salad is great served any time of year. It is a wonderful addition to anything from Easter dinner to a backyard BBQ.

Just pull it out of the fridge and serve it immediately.

Can You Freeze Ambrosia Salad?

Technically, yes. However, once it is frozen it needs to stay frozen. You cannot defrost it as it will become mushy. You will need to serve it frozen, like an ice cream treat.

How to Store It

You can store your ambrosia fruit salad in the refrigerator for up to 3 days in an airtight container.

You can also freeze it, but once you do you will have to serve it frozen like ice cream.

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Servings: 10
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Chill Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes

Ambrosia Salad

Light and fluffy Ambrosia Salad is a classic dessert made with Cool Whip and sour cream tossed with fruit, coconut and marshmallows.
Ambrosia Salad no bake dessert
Print Recipe
5 from 3 votes

Ingredients

Instructions

  • In a large bowl combine Cool Whip and sour cream, stirring until combined.
    step pic of stirring together cool whip and sour cream
  • Gently fold in fruit-flavored marshmallows, shredded coconut, pineapple, and maraschino cherries, and pecans (if using).
    step pic of adding fruit and nuts
  • Add mandarin oranges last and gently fold in.
    step pic of adding oranges
  • Cover and chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours preferably overnight before serving.
    step pic of ambrosia being covered
  • Serve chilled.

Nutrition

Calories: 281kcal, Carbohydrates: 44g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 9mg, Sodium: 59mg, Potassium: 229mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 36g, Vitamin A: 365IU, Vitamin C: 13.8mg, Calcium: 80mg, Iron: 0.7mg
Nutrition Disclaimer: We are not certified nutritionists. Nutrition facts are an estimate and are provided as a courtesy. They are generated by an online API which recognizes ingredient names and amounts and makes calculations based on the serving size. Results may vary.
Author: Kat Jeter & Melinda Caldwell
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: ambrosia, ambrosia salad, classic ambrosia salad, marshmallow fruit salad