I must admit, I kind of pride myself on being a bit of a grandma while I am still in my mid-30s. I’ve had people point out (for most of my adult life) that many of the hobbies I enjoy, the decor I choose, and the dishes I like to make remind them of their grandmothers. Lol.
I think this ambrosia salad is no exception.
To me, this is a side dish (or dessert!) that I’ve seen served at bridal showers, baby showers, and other potluck meals.
If you’ve never had ambrosia salad before, it’s a creamy fruit salad that might sound a bit odd based on the ingredients, but don’t knock it until you try it!Jump to Recipe
Why is it called ambrosia salad?
My understanding is ambrosia means “fragrant” or “delicious” and is also associated with fruit from Greek mythology. This is certainly a very delicious fruit salad, so the name fits.
I suspect that ambrosia salad may be kind of a southern (U.S.) thing. But if you’re from another region, I’d love to know if it’s something that you saw or ate growing up. Being from southwest Missouri, we have of a mix of Southern cooking and Midwestern dishes, too.
Ambrosia Salad Ingredients:
- Whipped Topping (Cool Whip, or the off-brand version)
- Vanilla Yogurt
- Sweetened Coconut Flakes
- Mandarin Oranges – canned
- Pineapple – canned tidbits
- Maraschino Cherries
- Sliced Almonds
- Chopped Pecans
- Fruit-Flavored Mini Marshmallows
These are the ingredients I use, which are mostly traditional. The main thing I do a little different with my ambrosia salad recipe is add more nuts than you typically see.
I like some crunch along with the creaminess and sweet fruit flavors of this recipe. It adds a little more dimension.
Substitutions & Variations:
- Whipped cream can be substituted for whipped topping. The dish will not store for as long, but if you think it will be consumed in a day, then this won’t matter
- Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt can be substituted for vanilla yogurt. This will make the ambrosia salad a little less sweet. However, this is meant to be a rather sweet side dish, or even dessert.
- Fresh fruit can be used instead of canned, but the recipe card below lists measurements in canned quantities, so you’ll need to convert those.
- Almonds or pecans can be substituted for another nut option (like pistachios) if needed.
Fruit-flavored marshmallows can be hard to find. When I was grocery shopping for these supplies, they did not have these at two of the three stores I went to. And I suspect it may be kind of a southern thing (let me know in comments), so it may be hard to find in certain areas.
You can substitute these for regular flavored mini marshmallows OR leave them out of the recipe completely. The ambrosia salad will still be very delicious and sweet without them—it’s just a traditional ingredient that adds an interesting texture.
So, if you’re preparing for a meal like that, here are some other side dish recipes you might like:
- 3 Easy Pasta Salad Dressings
- Easy Jalapeño Popper Dip
- Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Whipped Feta
- Classic Potato Salad
- Best Baked Macaroni and Cheese
- Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes
I love this ambrosia salad! Next, I’ll have to get the official family recipe and share my great-aunt Ina’s cranberry jello salad. It’s also one of these sweet salads that just reminds me of big family meals. Enjoy. xo. Emma
- 8 ounces whipped topping
- 5 ounces vanilla yogurt about 1 cup
- ½ cup coconut flakes sweetened
- 20 ounces pineapple tidbits drained
- 15 ounces mandarin oranges drained
- 10 ounces maraschino cherries drained
- ½ cup almonds sliced
- ½ cup pecans chopped
- 1 cup fruit-flavored mini marshmallows or regular mini marshmallows
- If the whipped topping is frozen, allow it to thaw in the refrigerator until it can be folded.
- In a small mixing bowl, fold the whipped topping in with the vanilla yogurt.
- In a large mixing bowl, add all the other ingredients.
- Mix the cream mixture into the other ingredients until everything is well coated.
- Serve chilled.