Ambrosia Salad

12 servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Refrigerate 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Ambrosia Salad is a CLASSIC holiday no-bake dessert with whipped cream, marshmallows, coconut, cherries, mandarines, pineapple and grapes.

We love easy Holiday Dessert Recipes like Buckeye Balls and Oreo Balls so this recipe is a winner because it takes even less time!

Easy Ambrosia Marshmallow Fruit Cocktail Salad

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.

Creamy Ambrosia Salad in small glass cup

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

Can I make Ambrosia Salad with Cool Whip?

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.

How do I make homemade marshmallows?

Try making this ambrosia with Homemade Marshmallows, cut into small pieces similar in size to store-bought mini marshmallows.

What other fruit can be used in this Ambrosia Salad recipe?

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.

Can I use fruit cocktail to make Ambrosia Salad?

Certainly, you can use fresh fruit, or store-bought fruit cocktail for a faster version.

Does cream cheese go well in Ambrosia Salad?

Mix this salad with half whipped cream or cool whip and half cream cheese for a more indulgent dessert.

How can I lighten up Ambrosia Salad?

Make this ambrosia healthier by using greek yogurt instead of sour cream, or light cool whip instead of whipped cream.

What other flavorings can I add to Ambrosia Salad?

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.
Fruit Cocktail Marshmallow Salad

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Ambrosia Salad

Ambrosia Salad is a CLASSIC holiday no-bake dessert with whipped cream, marshmallows, coconut, cherries, mandarines, pineapple and grapes.
Yield 12 servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 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.



Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.


Calories: 272kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 29mg | Sodium: 71mg | Potassium: 152mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 30g | Vitamin A: 550IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 0.5mg
Ambrosia Salad Collage

Photo used in a previous version of this post.

Ambrosia Salad with a cherry on top

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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  1. One of the few recipes for Ambrosia Salad that actually look exactly what I’d like to eat. I don’t like a lot of weird stuff in my Ambrosia Salad. I don’t want peanuts nor peas nor anything like that. Also, the top part of the page (one of the blocks) is making this page have a huge right-width. In Chrome, it is scrolling over & over & over to the right side. So something might have been damaged in your HTML pairings.

  2. Thank you for a wonderful and easy recipe. I used a little different fruit because if what I had at home. We love the whipping cream, powdered sugar and sour cream combination with the marshmallow and fruit. Great tasting!

  3. Thank you! The great thing about this is that it’s easy! I forgot an ingredient and it didn’t affect it to add it later!

          1. Yes, the recipe calls for whipped cream (or cool whip) and sour cream.