Ambrosia Salad is a CLASSIC holiday no-bake dessert with whipped cream, marshmallows, coconut, cherries, mandarines, pineapple and grapes.
Ambrosia Salad is a quick and easy dessert, made with pieces of fruit and shredded coconut folded into whipped cream and sour cream. It’s sweet, fluffy, and ready in only minutes. This ambrosia has a really quick prep time of under 10 minutes, so it’s great to pull out when you have guests coming over.
Refrigerate this salad for a total time of two hours, and serve it cold, so all of the flavors have a chance to come together. This is a creamy, light, and sweet fruit salad recipe that’s great for potlucks and holidays. You can serve this right after assembly but it may not have the firmness and flavor you’re looking for.
This is clearly not a classic salad. It traditionally is referred to as salad because of it’s mixed ingredients (even though there isn’t a leaf of lettuce in sight), classic bowl presentation and because, it’s the holidays and you can get away with almost anything during the holidays.
More Easy Holiday Dessert Salad Recipes
Ambrosia Salad Origins
Ambrosia Salad is a sweet fruit salad that started in the united states in the 1800s. It’s a dish that’s named after the food of the gods in Greek mythology. You’ll find ambrosia commonly served in the south around Christmas, made with both whipped cream and cool whip.
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Tips for Making Ambrosia Salad
- Top ambrosia with chopped nuts for decoration. Try pecans, pistachios, walnuts, or cashews.
- Maraschino cherries will turn the whipped cream red. If you’re making this fruit salad the day before, add them right before serving.
- Do not over-mix the salad as it will cause the dressing to deflate.
- Refrigerate before serving, this helps preserve the structure of the salad.
This salad tastes the best when it’s served cold, so it’s perfect for making the night before and refrigerating until you’re ready to serve. If you want to make this salad ahead of time, make the whipped cream and freeze it or use store-bought Cool Whip instead for a quicker preparation. Then when you’re ready, defrost in the refrigerator, and add the fruit pieces right before serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely! Use store bought or make Ambrosia Salad with Cool Whip (homemade recipe) instead of the whipped cream in this ambrosia recipe if that’s what you have.
Try making this ambrosia with Homemade Marshmallows, cut into small pieces similar in size to store-bought mini marshmallows.
Different ambrosia recipes call for different types of fruit. Try grapes, mango, strawberry, kiwi, or banana. You can also use regular oranges instead of mandarin orange. You can use canned pineapple tidbits, crushed pineapple, or cut up fresh pineapple for this salad. If you’re using canned pineapple, make sure to drain it first.
Certainly, you can use fresh fruit, or store-bought fruit cocktail for a faster version.
Mix this salad with half whipped cream or cool whip and half cream cheese for a more indulgent dessert.
Make this ambrosia healthier by using greek yogurt instead of sour cream, or light cool whip instead of whipped cream.
Whisk ½ teaspoon of cinnamon into the whipped cream for extra flavor, or top this fruit salad with sprigs of fresh mint.
Holiday Main Courses to Serve with Ambrosia Salad
How to Store Ambrosia Salad
When working with whipped cream you need to be mindful of storing and serving. If you want something more stable to keep out longer, swap for store-bought Cool Whip which can stay out for up to 2 hours without melting.
- Serve: Do not leave Ambrosia salad out for more than 2 hours, the whipped cream dressing may start to melt after 30 minutes, so it is best served out of the refrigerator fresh.
- Store: Ambrosia salad will last in the refrigerator for 2-3 days, wrapped tightly.
- Freeze: Do not freeze Ambrosia Salad fully prepared and then defrost to serve as pictured because the ingredients will release water as they defrost and this will cause the whipped cream dressing to break. You can however freeze ambrosia salad in a baking dish, wrapped tightly. Then use an ice cream scoop and eat it like ice cream.
- 1 cup heavy cream , very cold
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 6 cups rainbow mini marshmallows
- 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
- 1 cup canned mandarin oranges , drained
- 1 cup maraschino cherries , rinsed and dried
- 1 cup pineapple tidbits , drained
- 1 cup green grapes , cut in half
- Whip the heavy cream and powdered sugar until it forms into whipped cream then fold in the sour cream.
- Fold in the marshmallows, coconut, mandarin oranges, cherries, grapes and pineapple tidbits.
- Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Photo used in a previous version of this post.