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Ambrosia Salad

Ambrosia Salad is a creamy fruit salad loaded with pineapple, mandarin oranges, coconut and miniature fruit-flavored marshmallows. 

Overhead view of ambrosia salad in a serving dish

You guys, December is seriously flying by. My to-do list is a mile long and just seems to keep increasing.

But for some reason, I’m really not that stressed out about the holidays.

Maybe because 30 people won’t be crammed in our house and there aren’t any games to plan or menus to coordinate. While I have all the feelings about Christmas 2020, it’s sort of refreshing not to feel the stress creeping in.

But that’s pretty much how I’m feeling in the moment. Ask me again in a few days and I’ll probably be all kinds of sad eating Oreos dipped in peanut butter, or hopped on cold brew wrapping gifts at midnight. Who really knows?

One thing I do know is that this simple Ambrosia Salad is one of my fave dishes during the holidays and it’s still happening even if our typical Christmas dinner is not.

Also, don’t @ me about this not being a salad. I get it. There’s no lettuce, but there’s a bunch of stuff tossed together in a bowl and that’s salad enough for me.

Close up of ambrosia salad in a small white bowl

WHAT IS AMBROSIA SALAD?

Today’s recipe for Ambrosia Salad is a bit of a throwback.

I fondly remember my Nana making Ambrosia for pretty much every church function.

There are lots of different variations of Ambrosia and it seems like every grandmother had her own version. I’ve seen versions of this recipe that use cottage cheese, some that use sour cream or vanilla pudding, some leave out the nuts.

Ingredients for ambrosia arranged on a countertop

But all of the versions seem to include citrus fruit, coconut, and a creamy and tangy base.

Some could argue that this “salad” is really more of a dessert. But like my Cranberry Fluff, I am happy to eat this alongside some savory side dishes any day!

Spatula stirring together the base for ambrosia salad in a white mixing bowl

WHAT’S IN MY VERSION OF THIS CLASSIC RECIPE?

Even though we have my Nana’s recipes for Pumpkin Roll and Pumpkin Crunch Cake, my family has long since lost her exact Ambrosia Salad recipe.

Naturally, I had to get to the bottom of this. So I decided to start tossing ingredients into a bowl until the salad tasted similar to Nana’s.

Spatula folding in fruit, marshmallows, coconut, and nuts into a white mixing bowl

And with a little tweaking, I most definitely succeeded!

My version includes:

  • Frozen whipped topping
  • Vanilla yogurt
  • Shredded sweetened coconut
  • Canned mandarin oranges
  • Pineapple tidbits or crushed pineapple
  • Maraschino cherries
  • Chopped pecans
  • Mini fruit-flavored marshmallows
Ambrosia salad topped with a maraschino cherry in a small white bowl, surrounded by mandarin oranges and mini marshmallows

While you could totally use mini white marshmallows, I really like the added color and flavor that the fruit-flavored marshmallows add to the recipe.

You could also try making this with homemade Cool Whip, but I don’t know for sure how well it would work. If you try it, I’d love to hear about it!

Two small white bowls of ambrosia salad, topped with maraschino cherries

HOW TO MAKE MY EASY AMBROSIA

This is one of those recipes that’s so easy, anyone could make it! 

Start by stirring together the thawed whipped topping and the vanilla yogurt.

Using a spatula, carefully fold all of the remaining ingredients into the yogurt mixture. Do this gently so that you don’t break up the fruit or smash the marshmallows too much.

Close up of ambrosia salad in a small white bowl

Let the salad chill in the refrigerator for several hours before serving and you’re done! 

Since this needs to chill before serving, it’s a great recipe to make ahead. I would say you could make it as early as the night before you plan to serve it. 

If you’re feeling fancy, garnish the bowl with some additional maraschino cherries. Or just dig in with a spoon. I won’t blame you either way!

Ambrosia topped with three maraschino cherries in a white serving bowl
Overhead view of ambrosia salad in a serving dish

Ambrosia Salad

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Ambrosia Salad is a creamy fruit salad loaded with pineapple, mandarin oranges, coconut and miniature fruit-flavored marshmallows.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1 11-ounce can mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1 8-ounce can pineapple tidbits or crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 cup maraschino cherries, drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional
  • 1 1/2 cups mini fruit-flavored marshmallows

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, stir together the whipped topping and yogurt.
  2. Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold remaining ingredients into whipped topping.
  3. Chill before serving.

Notes

  • If you are not a fan of mainstream frozen whipped topping, you can find all-natural alternatives at Whole Foods or try a homemade version.
Nutrition Information
Yield 8
Amount Per Serving Calories 405Total Fat 16gSaturated Fat 10gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 5gCholesterol 1mgSodium 53mgCarbohydrates 69gFiber 7gSugar 55gProtein 4g

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