Ambrosia Salad Recipe

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Ambrosia Salad is a creamy fruit salad loaded with mandarin oranges, pineapple, cherries, coconut, and Cool Whip. It’s always a hit at potlucks, parties, and cookies as a side dish or dessert. Best of all, it can be whipped up in 15 minutes or less!

Overhead view of a bowl of sweet hawaiian ambrosia salad

The Best Fruit Salad Recipe

Ambrosia Salad is something I’ve been eating my entire life as it was a staple at nearly every gathering, picnic, or holiday my family attended. It’s so quick and easy to pull together – literally just a matter of combining all of the ingredients – and so refreshing in the summer.

One of the great things about this creamy marshmallow fruit salad is that it can be served as a side dish or dessert. It’s a bit of a 2-in-1 recipe! No matter when you serve it, it’s sure to disappear quickly as everyone LOVES it.

Today’s version is what I consider to be Hawaiian Ambrosia Salad, with a focus on fun tropical fruits and a sweet flavor.

What is Ambrosia Salad?

Ambrosia salad is a super easy to make creamy fruit salad with marshmallows that’s always a hit at family gatherings. This delicious fruit salad recipe contains crushed pineapple, mandarin oranges, grapes, maraschino cherries, whipped topping, marshmallows, and shredded coconut. For those of us from the South, Ambrosia Salad Recipe is a staple side dish at most gatherings.

While many ambrosia fruit salads include sour cream, I chose to exclusively use whipped topping for this Hawaiian ambrosia salad. It’s so much sweeter and has no tang from the sour cream.

Overhead view of Hawaiian ambrosia salad ingredients

Ambrosia Salad Ingredients

This dessert salad is made with a handful of different fruits tossed in Cool Whip. See the recipe card for full measurements.

  • Mandarin Oranges – This recipe uses canned mandarin oranges, but you can use fresh orange slices if that is all you have.
  • Pineapple – I also used canned pineapple but fresh works too.
  • Green Grapes – Fresh green grapes are cut in half for this fruit salad. Red grapes will also work.
  • Maraschino Cherries – The addition of maraschino cherries is a favorite of mine personally, but can also be optional if you prefer to leave them out. The cherries also make this salad look pretty when serving.
  • Sweetened Coconut Flakes – Coconut flakes add a nice texture to this fruit salad.
  • Mini Marshmallows – My kids favorite part of this salad! Multi-colored, fruit-flavored mini marshmallows are great if you can find them.
  • Whipped topping – The best part of the salad! It makes it light and creamy and perfectly sweet.
Close-up of creamy fruit salad

Recipe Variations

There are many ways to switch up this fruit salad recipe, to make it less sweet or use your favorite ingredients. Here are a few suggestions.

  • Swap in your favorite fruits and nuts. Feel free to swap out any of the ingredients for something you prefer more or omit something you’re not a fan of. The great thing about this creamy fruit salad is just how versatile it is.
  • Use fresh fruits. Using canned fruits keeps this fruit salad quick and easy to prepare but feel free to use Cuties, clementines, or mandarins instead of canned oranges. Just cut each slice into pieces. Fresh pineapple can also be used.
  • Add more tropical fruits. Since this is a Hawaiian ambrosia salad, you can add lychee, passion fruit, dragon fruit, mango, or papaya for a more Hawaiian taste.
  • Add some sour cream. If you prefer your fruit salad a little less on the sweet side, replace a bit of the whipped topping with sour cream.

How To Make Ambrosia Salad

This creamy fruit salad comes together in just a few steps. Remember to prepare it ahead of time so it has plenty of time to chill!

  • Drain the fruits. Drain the juices from all of the canned fruits.
  • Combine ingredients. Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl.
  • Chill. Cover and chill in the fridge for several hours. Overnight is ideal, as it gives time for the flavors to combine and the marshmallows to soak up any extra liquid.
A bowl of fruit salad topped with maraschino cherries

Serving Suggestions

Side dish or dessert? You decide!

As I mentioned, ambrosia is a staple at pretty much any family function. It’s usually just served right next to all of the other sides.

But with the Cool Whip and marshmallows, it can definitely pass as a dessert too! For presentation, I like to top the bowl with maraschino cherries, and extra mandarin and pineapple slices before serving.

Close-up of creamy fruit salad

How Long Will This Last?

Ambrosia salad with Cool Whip will last for up to 3 days in the fridge, tightly covered with plastic wrap. Note that after a few days the marshmallows can become soggy.

I do not recommend trying to freeze this recipe.

More Dessert Salad Recipes:

Ambrosia Salad feature
5 from 1 vote

Ambrosia Salad

Ambrosia Salad is a creamy fruit salad loaded with mandarin oranges, pineapple, cherries, coconut, and Cool Whip. It's always a hit at potlucks, parties, and cookies as a side dish or dessert. Best of all, it can be whipped up in 15 minutes or less!
Servings: 6 servings
Prep: 10 minutes
Chill Time: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 10 minutes



  • In a large bowl, add the shredded coconut, marshmallows, mandarin oranges, pineapple chunks, and grapes.
  • In a separate bowl, stir whipped topping and milk until smooth.
  • Add the whipped topping to the fruit bowl and mix until well combined.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Garnish with cherries before serving

Last Step:

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Calories: 331kcal | Carbohydrates: 60g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 0.5mg | Sodium: 111mg | Potassium: 232mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 49g | Vitamin A: 75IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 50mg | Iron: 1mg


Ambrosia Fruit Salad

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2 comments on “Ambrosia Salad Recipe”

  1. I have been making ambrosia for over 45 yrs and I ALWAYS use heavy whipping family and friends would kill me if I used cool whip