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Ambrosia Salad is a creamy & fluffy fruit salad recipe with pineapple, mandarin oranges, and cherries in a homemade whipped cream and vanilla yogurt base. Sweetened with powdered sugar, coconut flakes, and marshmallows. This salad is a classic side dish recipe that’s perfect for gatherings, and summer cookouts.
Ambrosia Salad Recipe
Ambrosia fruit salad is a classic Southern recipe that has so many variations to it! Traditionally it’s a fruit salad with a creamy base like heavy cream, yogurt, or sometimes even sour cream.
This ambrosia salad has fresh fruit like mandarin oranges, cherries, and pineapple in a homemade whipped cream base with yogurt, mini marshmallows, coconut, and pistachios. It’s a colorful and fruity salad that is so creamy and fluffy. It’s always a hit!
Ingredients You’ll Need To Make Ambrosia Fruit Salad
Here are the ingredients that you will need to make this classic side dish recipe.
- Heavy Whipping Cream
- Powdered Sugar – This is the sweetener for the heavy cream.
- Vanilla Yogurt – Use one container (5.3 oz) or measure out 1/2 cup if using a larger container of yogurt.
- Sweetened Coconut Flakes
- Lemon Zest – This is optional. It does help to balance out the sweetness. I have made this salad using the zest and not using it. Both ways are delicious, it just depends on preference.
- Mini Marshmallows
- Pistachios or Pecans – Make sure that the pistachios are unsalted if using them.
- Mandarin Oranges
- Maraschino Cherries
- Chopped Pineapple – I prefer the flavor of fresh pineapple but canned pineapple can be used as well. All my tips for this are below in the recipe card.
How To Make It
Learn how to make this easy recipe for ambrosia salad at home. Be sure and scroll below to the recipe card with detailed instructions, all my tips, and the full recipe.
- Step One : Add heavy whipping cream + powdered sugar into a large mixing bowl. With an electric hand mixer, beat on low speed (increase speed as needed) until stiff peaks form. This will take about 3-4 minutes depending on how cold the cream is.
- Step Two : Gently fold in the yogurt, coconut flakes, and lemon zest (if using) with a wooden spoon or spatula.
- Step Three : Stir in the marshmallows and pistachios.
- Step Four : Add in the oranges, cherries, and pineapple. Stir until combined.
- Step Five : Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Serve the salad chilled.
Tips For Success
Here are some of my tips so that you can have success with this recipe in your own kitchen!
- Don’t Use Greek Yogurt : I have tried this recipe with vanilla Greek yogurt and it makes the salad too tangy and sour tasting. Of course, you can use it if wanted, but for best results use regular vanilla yogurt.
- Serve Chilled : This salad is so much better after it has chilled in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving. The fridge time helps with the taste and texture of the salad.
- Sweetened Coconut Flakes : Make sure you are using sweetened coconut flakes as it helps sweeten up the salad. My family does not like the long texture of the coconut flakes so I throw the 1 cup of flakes into a food processor and pulse/chop them until they’re are in smaller pieces. This is totally optional.
- Lemon Zest : This helps balance out the sweetness but it is optional. The flavor of the lemon zest can be too much for some people. When you are zesting the lemon, be sure that you are only barely zesting the top layer. If you zest too far into the skin the taste will be very bitter and unpleasant.
Variation & Substitution Ideas
There are several ways that this recipe can be switched up. Here are some things that I have tried and other substitutions.
- Mini Marshmallows : Instead of white marshmallows try using the multi-colored fruity mini marshmallows instead. This will enhance that fruit flavor more! My kids love when I use the colored marshmallows in this recipe.
- Nuts : Pistachios or pecans both work really well in this recipe.
- Pineapple : I normally just chop up some fresh pineapple into small pieces. You can also use 1 can (15 oz) of crushed pineapple in place of the fresh chopped pineapple. Pineapple tidbits can also be used. Just make sure that if you are using canned fruit that it is drained well before adding it into the salad.
- Cool Whip : If you don’t want to mix your own heavy cream (aka – cool whip) then feel free to use 1 cup of Cool Whip in it’s place. I recommend following the recipe as is, because the tase of whipping heavy cream is far superior to cool whip.
- Lemon Zest : If you don’t want that tangy, bright citrus flavor from the lemon zest then feel free to leave it out. Sometimes lemon zest can be overwhelming and too much (especially for kids) so just omit it if wanted. I don’t always add the lemon zest when I make ambrosia salad.
Ambrosia Salad FAQ’s
- Can I Make This Ahead of Time?
- Yes you can! This recipe actually needs 2 hours of refrigeration for the best taste and texture before serving it. It’s the perfect make ahead side dish!
- I prefer this salad chilled after it has been in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or chill it for up to 4-6 hours before serving.
- How Long Will Leftovers Last?
- Leftovers will keep well, in a covered container or bowl in the fridge, for up to 3 days.
- What Is Ambrosia Salad?
- It’s a classic southern recipe that is basically a fruit salad using whipped cream as a ‘dressing’ to hold it all together. It’s like a fluffy and creamy fruit salad that traditionally has marshmallows, coconut flakes, pineapple, cherries, and oranges in it.
- There are tons of variations of this salad!
More Fruit Recipes You’ll Love
- Strawberry Spinach Salad with Strawberry Yogurt Poppyseed Dressing
- Mozzarella Broccoli Bacon Salad
- Coconut Cream Fruit Dip
- Easy Chocolate Cherry Cake
- Orange Pineapple Cake
- Pineapple Pistachio Cake
- Cream Cheese Cherry Pie
Ambrosia Fruit Salad
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt (or a 5.3 oz container)
- 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
- zest of 1 lemon (optional)
- 2 cups mini marshmallows
- 1/3 cup unsalted pistachios OR chopped pecans
- 1 can (15 oz) mandarin oranges (drained well)
- 1 jar (12 oz) stemless maraschino cherries (drained, dried, and cut in half)
- 1 cup pineapple chunks
- Pour the heavy whipping cream into a large mixing bowl and add the powdered sugar. With an electric hand mixer beat on low speed, increasing speed as needed, until stiff peaks form. * This takes about 3-4 minutes
- Gently stir in the vanilla yogurt, coconut flakes, and lemon zest with a wooden spoon or spatula until mixed well. * If you don't want the long texture of the coconut flakes, put the 1 cup of coconut flakes into a food processor or chopper and pulse until they are in smaller pieces. I do this.
- Stir in the mini marshmallows and pistachios (or pecans) and mix until combined.
- Add the mandarin oranges, maraschino cherries, and pineapple chunks. Stir to combine.
- Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Serve chilled.