Ambrosia Salad

Prep Time 5 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
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This Ambrosia Salad is a creamy fruit salad filled with pineapple, mandarin oranges, cherries, and coconut. Mini marshmallows are mixed in for good measure, making this one irresistible retro dessert!

Ambrosia salad served and topped with more whipped topping and a cherry.

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The Best Ambrosia Fruit Salad

This Ambrosia Fruit salad is a family favorite – my mom has been making it for years! Light and fluffy with tons of fruity bites, this old-school classic is always one of the first to disappear from everyone’s plates!

If you are looking for a simple and colorful dessert to make with your kids – you have found it! This dessert salad is so easy because all you need is a bowl and a spoon. No fancy equipment is needed, and it is near impossible to mess this recipe up. The measurements don’t need to be perfect, And, my kids LOVE LOVE LOVE using multi-colored marshmallows.

My kiddos have started calling this Unicorn Salad and it would certainly go great on the menu for a unicorn-themed birthday party. We usually serve it during the holidays or take it to summer picnics and barbecues! This is one recipe that’s perfect for any time of year.

3 servings of Ambrosia salad on colorful saucers topped with whipped topping and a cherry.

What is Ambrosia?

Ambrosia is a creamy dessert salad that’s served cold. The name literally translates to “food of the gods” in Greek, and let me tell you – it does not disappoint.

Traditional ambrosia has whipped topping, marshmallows, shredded coconut, mandarin oranges, and pineapple. Some Ambrosia salads, like mine, include chopped nuts and sour cream, too. The addition of these ingredients will make your Ambrosia salad a bit less sweet, but has the added benefit of more texture and just a touch of saltiness from the nuts. It really hits every note!

The ingredients for ambrosia salad.

What You’ll Need

You won’t need fancy ingredients to make Ambrosia salad. Here is all you need:

  • Whipped topping (cool whip)
  • Sour cream
  • Fruit: mandarin oranges, pineapple tidbits or crushed pineapple, and maraschino cherries
  • Sweetened shredded coconut
  • Mini marshmallows: We like to use the colored ones!
  • Chopped nuts: Walnuts are our favorite, but you could also use pecans.

Feel free to make some swaps with the fruits and nuts based on what you have available. Sliced kiwi, halved grapes, as well as any berries would work great!

A close up image of Ambrosia Salad.

How to Make Ambrosia

Are you ready to make this creamy fruit salad? Here’s how:

  • Combine cool whip and sour cream: In a large bowl, fold together the whipped topping and sour cream until they are smooth.
  • Add everything else: Next, fold in the oranges, pineapples, cherries, marshmallows, nuts and coconut until everything is well coated.
  • Chill: Then, cover the Ambrosia Salad with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour.
  • Serve: Finally, top your Ambrosia Salad with additional whipped topping and a cherry. Enjoy!

Tips for Success

Ambrosia is pretty easy to make, but here are a few quick tips:

  • Chop your nuts well. Choose your favorite nut for this recipe, but make sure you chop them into small bits. Large bites of nuts will ruin the overall texture.
  • Use any fruit, but don’t skip the oranges and cherries! You can add in any of your favorite fruits or whatever fruits you have at home, but cherries and mandarin oranges are not optional in my Ambrosia. They give your salad that classic taste. 
  • Always serve this salad chilled. It really is best right out of the fridge! Which makes it a wonderful make-ahead recipe!
  • Don’t skimp on the mini marshmallows. They are what gives it that cloud like texture!
Ambrosia salad served and topped with more whipped topping and a cherry.

How to Store Extras

If you have leftover ambrosia, you can simply cover your bowl tight or place it into an airtight container and store it in your refrigerator. It will keep for up to 3 days.

Over the course of the 3 days, it may also start to turn pink from the maraschino cherries, but that just makes it more fun! Because of the dairy, I wouldn’t store it any longer than that. I also wouldn’t suggest freezing it.

Ambrosia salad served and topped with more whipped topping and a cherry.
5 from 4 votes
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Yield: 8 -10

Ambrosia Salad

This Ambrosia Salad is colorful, fun and it couldn’t be any easier to make. A silky sweet dessert salad filled with fruit that's always a hit!
Prep Time5 minutes
Additional Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 5 minutes


  • 1 container, 8 oz whipped topping, thawed
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 can, 11 oz mandarin oranges, drained well
  • 1 can, 20 oz tidbits pineapple, drained well – or use crushed pineapple
  • 1 jar, 10 oz maraschino cherries, drained, rinsed, cut in half
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows, white or multi-colored
  • 1 cup chopped nuts – walnuts or pecans

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  • In a large bowl, fold together whipped topping and sour cream until smooth. Fold in oranges, pineapples, cherries, marshmallows, nuts and coconut until well blended.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour, before serving. Store any leftovers in refrigerator. 


Serving: 1, Calories: 208kcal, Carbohydrates: 24g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g, Cholesterol: 7mg, Sodium: 73mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 16g


More Maraschino Cherry Recipes

Are you a fan of cherries? Here are some more recipes to try:

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This salad is perfect! It is the right combination of flavors and amounts! My husband and I devour it! Thank you so much for sharing!

Made this for our little family bbq today and it was so good! Kids LOVED it!

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For the past 15 years, Jorge & Jessica have loved getting to share their families' favorite recipes with all of you. They live in Florida with their 3 kids.