Ambrosia salad recipe with with cool whip, fruit and marshmallows is the perfect for your upcoming picnic. Kid friendly with just the right amount of sweet, this is a classic recipe that will remind you of what grandma used to make! The mandarin oranges, pineapple and sweet maraschino cherries make such a fun and festive and fresh fruit salad!
It’s so easy to get caught up with side salads during the spring. Salads remind everyone of summer and healthy food and picnics. And it’s true, I do love me some cucumber tomato feta salad, Caprese, and even zesty Italian pasta salad pretty much any day of the week.
But I always remember ambrosia salad for all the holidays as well.
I have eaten this throw back, traditional, and old fashioned recipe every Thanksgiving and every Christmas as long as I can remember. Between that and Watergate salad, it was a real treat for us as kids. So while the adults started on all the turkey and ham, we ran to the other side of the table for the marshmallows, fluffs, and cool whip combined with fruit!
Ambrosia Salad Ingredients
This classic ambrosia salad recipe with cool whip is just the tip of the iceberg as old Southern Favorites go. Truly a retro dessert, Ambrosia Salad, Watergate salad , and Cranberry Waldorf Salad are as timeless as your childhood.
The cherries, oranges and pineapples allow the citrus of the fruits to mix in gently with the cool whip topping and vanilla yogurt for an expansive fruit salad.
Here are all the best Ambrosia Salad ingredients you need to gather for this infamous dessert salad recipe.
- Mandarin Oranges, drained
- pineapple chunks, drained
- maraschino cherries, drained
- vanilla Greek yogurt
- shredded coconut
- mini marshmallows
- chopped pecans (Optional)
- whipped topping
Ambrosia Salad Video Recipe
Make sure you watch my easy Ambrosia Salad Video recipe and check out the cool whip options. YUM! Plus it shows how EASY it is to make and a few recipe alterations we made to make this ambrosia salad totally the BEST version of itself.
What is Classic Ambrosia Salad?
Classic ambrosia salad is often up to the maker, from J-ello and sour cream additives to the original pistachio and Watergate salad feel, its an old fashioned salad rooted in huge pot lucks that you would find at your church.
A traditional Southern holiday dish, I love ambrosia mainly because of the creamy Cool Whip. And it’s true that Ambrosia “salad” is more of a dessert than a salad but I try to convince myself the fruits make it “healthy.” (P.S. It’s not meant to be healthy).
Also, in this simple Ambrosia fruit salad recipe, I leave the traditional plain whipped topping in the recipe, but I have also used the Birthday Cake Cool Whip (as shown in the video) and its SO GOOD!! So if you see flavored cool whips out due to the season, feel free to branch out on that. The birthday cake cool whip is slightly pink too which is a lot of fun and gives a soft pink hue to the dessert.
Ambrosia Fruit Salad with Cool Whip
You may be looking at this recipe for a family gathering or holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas to balance out all the vegetable side dishes, but fluff salads are also amazing and under appreciated for summer salads, potlucks and picnics. There really is no such thing as a “traditional fruit salad” but if any recipe is more well known than this one, I’d love to hear it.
- To get started on Ambrosia Salad, make sure fruit is completely drained and prepped.
- Mix mandarin oranges, chunks of pineapple and maraschino cherries together in a mixing bowl.
- Add Vanilla Greek yogurt, shredded coconut and mini marshmallows (you can also use fruit flavored marshmallows) and mix well.
- In this ambrosia salad recipe we used a Vanilla Greek yogurt, but it is easy to change up the yogurt flavors and make a different version. (for example, try strawberry or lemon yogurt for a bit of sweetened flavor). Do not feel married to Vanilla if you know that you love a flavor of something else. Half the fun in the kitchen is making it your own!
- Using a spatula, fold in whipped topping slowly, making sure to cover all fruit and marshmallows.
- Stir Ambrosia Salad Well before serving to ensure equal flavoring and remove any settling.
- What I love about this recipe is that it’s minutes, I mean minutes, until its done! I think it can be so stressful to have to prep meals in a holiday setting and this ambrosia salad is basically a dump and mix scenario.
- Make sure you have enough time to let this dessert fluff salad sit in the fridge and get good and cold. The flavors need a chance to blend and solidify and it just tastes better this way.
- I like the consistency and flavor in vanilla yogurts, but its OK to experiment and try flavors like strawberry and cherry yogurts as well!
- Try to make Ambrosia Salad at least an hour a head of time but up to four hours for best flavor and fluff.
- I am also showing a picture of the Birthday Cake Cool Whip so you know what to look for in the store if you choose that.
- Can Ambrosia Salad be served instantly? It is fine to serve Ambrosia Salad immediately or refrigerate salad with the bowl covered for at least 4 hours or overnight if you can to really solidify the flavors and allow the full fluff.
- Can this salad be left on a table outside during a potluck? Because this salad has dairy in it, putting and leaving it in the heat outside for long periods of time is not recommended because it will melt down. Leave inside a cooler.
- Is Ambrosia Salad actually Southern? It is!
- Is there a way to prevent fruit from turning brown (like adding bananas) ? – the only way to prevent sliced fruit from changing colors is typically acid like lemon juice, but that can alter the flavor. Its best to add fruits (like bits of apples and bananas) that brown just before serving. There are also brands of spray that are supposed to be flavorless and colorless that prevent fruit from altering colors, but I haven’t found one to test yet.
Fruit Salad with Marshmallows
While there is an often used recipe for this type of salad, there really is no wrong way to enjoy fruit. Here are some changes to Ambrosia Salad to really make it your own or may bring back specific memories from your house.
- Peeled and sliced Grapes
- Fresh Sliced Bananas (add right before serving so they don’t turn brown)
- Chopped up fresh Strawberries
- 1/2 cup of Shredded coconut
- Crunchy toppings like pecans, pistachios or walnuts – in this ambrosia salad I left them out as I didn’t have them in my pantry at the time but they are super common to use and I do prefer them when I make the recipe for holidays.
Easy Sweet Dessert Salads
Need more recipes that are perfect for holiday tables?
If you loved this fluff salad or made any changes, please leave me a comment and let me know how you enjoyed it in your house!
- 1 can, 15 oz, Mandarin Oranges, drained
- 1 can, 20 oz, pineapple chunks, drained
- 1 jar, 12 oz, maraschino cherries, drained
- 3/4 cup, 6 oz container, vanilla Greek yogurt
- 1 cup coconut
- 1 cup mini marshmallows
- 1 tub, 8 oz, whipped topping, thawed
- pecans, chopped / optional
- Mix drained Mandarin oranges, drained pineapple chunks and drained maraschino cherries together in a mixing bowl.
- Add Vanilla Greek yogurt, shredded coconut and mini marshmallows and mix well.
- Fold in whipped topping with a spatula. NOTE: There are flavored toppings out in the fall and feel free to use flavored cool whips for an extra treat. I love the Birthday Cake one!
- Place in fridge for at least 1 hour prior to serving.
- Serve Ambrosia Salad immediately or refrigerate, covered, until ready. This salad can be made ahead.
- Stir well before serving to prevent any fruit or cool whip settling.
Like crunch? Add some chopped pecans or walnuts as a top layer.
Serving Size:1 Servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 254Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 42mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 3gSugar: 39gProtein: 3g
Nutritional information is automatically calculated with ingredients and serving size and may not be accurate. Please always double check with your own nutritional apps as well.