Ambrosia Salad

History and Origin :

The journey of Ambrosia Salad begins in the late 19th century, emerging as a symbol of exotic luxury. Initially, this dish was a simple mixture of fresh coconut and orange segments, ingredients that were considered rare and expensive at the time. Its name, “ambrosia,” refers to the food of the gods in Greek mythology, highlighting its esteemed status among early adopters.

As the availability of its core ingredients became more widespread, Ambrosia Salad evolved. The introduction of canned fruits, such as pineapple and mandarin oranges, along with maraschino cherries, allowed this dessert to become a staple at American holiday tables, especially during Thanksgiving and Christmas. The addition of mini marshmallows, sweetened coconut, and sometimes nuts or whipped cream, transformed it into the creamy, sweet concoction we know today.

This evolution reflects not just changes in American cuisine but also the broader cultural and economic shifts. From a luxury to a beloved potluck and holiday favorite, Ambrosia Salad has retained its charm and appeal across generations. Its simplicity, combined with the richness of flavors, makes it a timeless classic.

Interestingly, the dish’s adaptability to include various fruits and textures speaks to its enduring popularity. Whether it’s the traditional version or a modern twist with yogurt or sour cream, Ambrosia Salad continues to be a versatile and welcoming dish for every table.

For those interested in exploring more about the fascinating history of Ambrosia Salad and its variations, Tastes Better From Scratch offers a deep dive into its culinary journey. Additionally, for enthusiasts looking to explore the broader context of American desserts, the Smithsonian Magazine provides insightful articles on the evolution of American cuisine.

Ingredients Overview :

The charm of Ambrosia Salad lies in its delightful blend of textures and flavors, each ingredient contributing to its unique taste. Here’s a detailed overview of the traditional and modern variations of ingredients that make up this heavenly dessert:

  • Canned Pineapple Chunks: A staple in Ambrosia Salad, pineapple adds a tangy sweetness and juicy texture. It’s essential for the salad’s refreshing taste.
  • Canned Mandarin Oranges: These provide a gentle citrus flavor that complements the pineapple beautifully. Their soft texture melds well with the other components.
  • Maraschino Cherries: Adding a pop of color and a hint of sweetness, maraschino cherries are a festive and flavorful addition.
  • Sweetened Shredded Coconut: Coconut lends a tropical flair and a chewy texture to the salad, enhancing its complexity.
  • Mini Marshmallows: These introduce a soft, pillowy texture and a vanilla-like sweetness, making the salad irresistibly creamy.
  • Chopped Pecans or Walnuts (Optional): Nuts add a crunchy texture and a nutty flavor, offering a pleasant contrast to the soft fruits and marshmallows.
  • Sour Cream or Whipped Topping: Depending on preference, either can be used to bind the ingredients together, adding a creamy texture and a slight tanginess or sweetness.

Nutritionally, Ambrosia Salad can be a mixed bag. While it contains healthy fruits, the addition of marshmallows, sweetened coconut, and whipped topping increases its sugar content. However, variations using yogurt or light sour cream can offer a healthier twist, reducing the overall calorie count while still maintaining the creamy texture and sweet taste.

Modern twists on the traditional recipe have introduced ingredients like yogurt, fresh grapes, and even kiwi or strawberries, catering to a broader palette and dietary preferences. These variations not only add a burst of freshness but also increase the nutritional value, making Ambrosia Salad more adaptable to health-conscious diets.

For those interested in exploring various recipes and ingredient options, FoodieCrush provides an excellent guide to making the perfect Ambrosia Salad. Additionally, for a deeper understanding of the nutritional aspects of the ingredients used in Ambrosia Salad, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers comprehensive nutritional information.

Incorporating these ingredients thoughtfully can transform Ambrosia Salad from a simple fruit salad into a rich, decadent dessert that’s both nostalgic and adaptable to contemporary tastes. Whether sticking to the classic recipe or experimenting with new variations, the key to a perfect Ambrosia Salad lies in balancing the sweetness, textures, and flavors to create a truly divine dessert.

Step-by-Step Recipe :

Creating the perfect Ambrosia Salad is an art that combines simplicity with a touch of creativity. Here’s a detailed, step-by-step guide to making this classic dessert, ensuring a delightful blend of flavors and textures.


  • 1 cup canned pineapple chunks, drained
  • 1 cup canned mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1 cup maraschino cherries, stemmed and halved
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
  • 1 cup sour cream or whipped topping (like Cool Whip)


  1. Prepare the Fruits: Begin by draining the canned pineapple chunks and mandarin oranges thoroughly to remove excess syrup. This step ensures the salad isn’t overly sweet or soggy.
  2. Mix Fruits: In a large mixing bowl, combine the drained pineapple chunks, mandarin oranges, and halved maraschino cherries. Gently stir to mix the fruits, being careful not to break them.
  3. Add Dry Ingredients: To the fruit mixture, add the sweetened shredded coconut and mini marshmallows. If you’re including nuts, fold them in at this stage. The nuts add a crunchy texture that contrasts nicely with the soft fruits and marshmallows.
  4. Incorporate Creamy Element: Spoon in the sour cream or whipped topping, depending on your preference. Fold the mixture together until well incorporated, ensuring the fruit is evenly coated. This step adds a creamy texture and binds the ingredients together.
  5. Chill Before Serving: Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the salad for at least one hour. This chilling time allows the flavors to meld together and the marshmallows to soften, enhancing the overall taste and texture of the salad.
  6. Final Touches: Before serving, gently stir the Ambrosia Salad to refresh the mixture. Serve chilled, garnished with additional maraschino cherries or a sprinkle of coconut for a decorative touch.

Tips for Variations and Substitutions:

  • Yogurt for Sour Cream: For a healthier version, substitute sour cream with Greek yogurt. It offers a similar creamy texture with less fat and more protein.
  • Fresh Fruits: Consider adding fresh grapes, strawberries, or kiwi for added freshness and a burst of natural sweetness.
  • Nut-Free Option: Omit the nuts for a nut-free version or substitute with seeds like sunflower or pumpkin seeds for added crunch without the allergens.

This Ambrosia Salad recipe is a testament to the dish’s versatility and enduring appeal. Whether you’re preparing it for a holiday feast, a summer picnic, or as a nostalgic treat, it’s sure to delight guests of all ages. The key to a perfect Ambrosia Salad lies in the quality of ingredients and the love with which it’s prepared.

For more creative dessert ideas and twists on classic recipes, visiting culinary blogs like Modern Honey can provide a wealth of inspiration. Additionally, for those interested in exploring the nutritional content of their culinary creations, resources like MyFitnessPal offer tools to track and analyze the nutritional value of homemade dishes.

By following these steps and incorporating personal touches, you can create an Ambrosia Salad that’s not only delicious but also a reflection of your culinary creativity.

Serving Suggestions :

Ambrosia Salad is not just a dish; it’s a versatile dessert that can complement a wide range of meals and occasions. Here are some creative serving suggestions to elevate your Ambrosia Salad experience:

  • Holiday Gatherings: Serve Ambrosia Salad as a festive side dish during Thanksgiving or Christmas. Its colorful appearance and sweet taste make it a hit among both adults and children, adding a touch of nostalgia to your holiday spread.
  • Summer Picnics: Pack Ambrosia Salad for a refreshing and easy-to-transport dessert option for summer picnics or barbecues. Its cool, creamy texture provides a delightful contrast to grilled meats and savory sides.
  • Breakfast Twist: For a unique breakfast option, serve a smaller portion of Ambrosia Salad alongside your morning yogurt or oatmeal. The fruits and nuts add a sweet and crunchy texture, making for a balanced and nutritious start to your day.
  • Dessert Parfaits: Layer Ambrosia Salad with granola and additional whipped cream or yogurt to create eye-catching dessert parfaits. This presentation not only looks impressive but also adds an extra layer of texture and flavor.
  • Potluck Favorite: Ambrosia Salad is a potluck favorite due to its easy preparation and crowd-pleasing qualities. Serve it in a large bowl with a serving spoon, allowing guests to help themselves to as much or as little as they like.

Regardless of how you choose to serve it, Ambrosia Salad is a versatile dessert that can adapt to any dining occasion. Its combination of sweet, creamy, and crunchy elements makes it a beloved classic that’s sure to bring smiles to your table.

Remember, the key to a great Ambrosia Salad is in the freshness and quality of the ingredients. Whether you’re serving it as a standalone dessert or as part of a larger meal, this delightful dish is guaranteed to be a hit.

For those looking to explore more creative serving options and recipes, culinary websites like Delish offer a plethora of ideas to inspire your next meal. Additionally, for health-conscious individuals interested in balancing indulgence with nutrition, platforms like Eat This, Not That provide valuable insights into making healthier food choices without sacrificing flavor.

By incorporating these serving suggestions, you can ensure that your Ambrosia Salad not only tastes delicious but also adds a touch of elegance and creativity to your culinary repertoire.

FAQs :

What is Ambrosia Salad? Ambrosia Salad is a classic American dessert featuring a mix of canned and fresh fruits, mini marshmallows, coconut, and nuts, all bound together with a creamy element like whipped cream or sour cream. It’s known for its sweet, creamy texture and colorful appearance.

Can I make Ambrosia Salad ahead of time? Yes, Ambrosia Salad can be made ahead of time. In fact, it’s recommended to refrigerate it for at least an hour before serving to allow the flavors to meld together. However, for the best texture, consume it within 24 to 48 hours.

Is Ambrosia Salad healthy? While Ambrosia Salad contains healthy fruits, it also includes high-sugar ingredients like marshmallows and sweetened coconut. For a healthier version, use unsweetened coconut, fresh fruits instead of canned, and substitute the creamy element with Greek yogurt.

How can I store leftover Ambrosia Salad? Leftover Ambrosia Salad should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It’s best enjoyed within 2 days of preparation, as the fruits will start to release water, and the texture may change.

Can I add other fruits to Ambrosia Salad? Absolutely! Ambrosia Salad is highly customizable. Feel free to add other fruits like grapes, strawberries, or kiwi for added flavor and texture. Just be sure to adjust the amount of creamy element accordingly to maintain the desired consistency.

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Ambrosia Salad

  • Author: Easy Recipes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes


This Ambrosia Salad recipe is a delightful journey back to a classic American dessert that has graced tables for generations. A harmonious blend of sweet and tangy fruits, fluffy mini marshmallows, and the subtle crunch of nuts, all enveloped in a creamy dressing, makes this dish a timeless favorite. Whether you’re looking to revive nostalgic memories or introduce a new generation to this cherished treat, our Ambrosia Salad offers a perfect balance of flavors and textures. Ideal for holiday gatherings, summer picnics, or as a refreshing everyday dessert, this versatile salad is sure to captivate your taste buds and leave you craving more.



1 cup canned pineapple chunks, drained

1 cup canned mandarin oranges, drained

1 cup maraschino cherries, stemmed and halved

1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

1 cup mini marshmallows

1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

1 cup sour cream or whipped topping (like Cool Whip)


  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the pineapple chunks, mandarin oranges, and maraschino cherries.
  2. Gently stir to mix the fruits.
  3. Add the shredded coconut and mini marshmallows to the bowl. If including nuts, fold them in at this time.
  4. Spoon in the sour cream or whipped topping, depending on your preference. Fold the mixture together until well incorporated and the fruit is evenly coated.
  5. Cover and refrigerate the salad for at least one hour before serving, allowing flavors to meld and marshmallows to soften.
  6. Before serving, gently stir the Ambrosia Salad to refresh the mixture. Serve chilled.


  • Customization: Feel free to tailor the Ambrosia Salad to your dietary preferences or to accommodate what you have on hand. The recipe is highly adaptable; for instance, you can substitute canned fruits with fresh ones or opt for Greek yogurt instead of sour cream for a healthier twist.
  • Make-Ahead: This salad benefits from being made ahead of time, allowing the flavors to meld beautifully. However, for the best texture and freshness, it’s recommended to serve it within 24 to 48 hours.
  • Storage: If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Enjoy the Ambrosia Salad within 2 days for optimal taste and texture.
  • Serving Suggestions: While Ambrosia Salad is fantastic on its own, it can also be served alongside breakfast items, layered into parfaits, or featured as a sweet side dish at potlucks and holiday dinners.
  • Nutritional Considerations: For those mindful of sugar intake, consider using unsweetened coconut and fresh fruits. Adjusting the type of creamy element to a lower-fat option like Greek yogurt can also make the dish healthier without compromising its delightful taste.
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour


  • Serving Size: 8
  • Calories: 220 kcal

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