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Grandma’s Best Ambrosia Salad

Grandma’s Best Ambrosia Salad Recipe – This marshmallow salad recipe is a fruity retro favorite that’s perfect for enjoying all summer long. This fruit salad may not be considered health food, it’s fluffy, refreshingly sweet, and completely irresistible!

Grandma’s Best Ambrosia Salad Recipe
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Summer Ambrosia Salad

Does anyone else feel super nostalgic when summer approaches?

Although it’s been many years since I’ve enjoyed a carefree summer break like when I was in school, as soon as the weather starts to get warmer I immediately think back to those days. Spending all day poolside, running through the sprinklers in the back yard, catching fireflies, and getting together with family and friends for barbecues and potlucks.

This bright, colorful Ambrosia Salad Recipe is one my Grandma used to make over and over each season, and was always a big hit at our neighborhood gatherings. Nowadays I make it often for my family, who love enjoying it as we make our own summer memories together!

You can easily make this fruit salad in only 15 minutes using many pantry staple ingredients, and it keeps well in the fridge for up to an entire week.

how to make fruit salad with marshmallows

The Original Marshmallow Salad

If you’re from the South then you’ve probably had Ambrosia Salad at a summer barbecue, or at your relative’s house.

You know how much of a yummy treat this fruit “salad” is. It’s also sometimes called Marshmallow Salad or Marshmallow Fluff Salad.

You might be asking yourself where this Ambrosia Salad recipe originated…

Although many people relate Ambrosia Salad to the South, there is no official record of its true birthplace.

Ambrosia Salad first appeared in a cookbook released in 1867 called “Dixie Cookery: or How I Managed My Table for Twelve Years.” It gained popularity in the 1870’s in a variety of different cookbooks as well.

classic fruit salad with cool whip and sour cream

The Best Ambrosia Salad Recipe We’ve Ever Made

Ambrosia Salad first started as a simple side, yet has transformed into a more complex dish of flavors and colors over the years.

Yet its simplistic roots remain, with the use of pantry staple canned goods that together still taste wonderfully refreshing and bright.

A good (modernized) Ambrosia Recipe offers 4 things:

  • The comfort of Grandma’s kitchen
  • A pop of fresh fruit flavor
  • Classic canned fruit add-ins
  • An unexpected ingredient or twist in the mix!

Some people like to use sour cream as the base, while others use Cool Whip. In my humble opinion a blend of both ingredients creates the best flavor.

I like to add green grapes for a bit of freshness in this fruit salad, as well as candied (crystallized) ginger for a surprise touch of sweet heat in each spoonful.

You simply can’t go wrong with these delicious ingredients!

Grandma’s Best Ambrosia Marshmallow Salad Recipe

What Ingredients You Need to Make Grandma’s Ambrosia Salad

  • Mandarin Oranges – The orange citrus adds delicate tangy notes and color.
  • Peaches – Fresh summer flavor from a can.
  • Pineapple – Adds a tropical twist to this classic recipe. 
  • Maraschino Cherries – For color and extra sweetness.
  • Green Grapes – Fresh, juicy, colorful.
  • Coconut Flakes – For a tropical underlying flavor.
  • Marshmallows – To lighten the texture with the perfect amount of fluff.
  • Pecans – Completely optional, but adds a bit of crunch.
  • Crystalized Ginger – Let’s spice it up! (This is my favorite secret ingredient.)
  • Sour Cream – Balances the sweet flavors. 
  • Cool Whip – The best quick creamy base!
  • Salt – To bring the vibrant flavor to the forefront.
How to Make Ambrosia Salad with Marshmallows and Fruit

How To Make Fruit Salad With Sour Cream

  1. Set a large colander in the sink. Pour the canned mandarin oranges, peaches, pineapple tidbits, and cherries in the colander. 
  2. Once the fruit is well drained, chop each peach slice into 3-4 pieces. Remove all cherry stems, then cut the cherries in half. 
  3. Cut the green grapes in half. Chop the pecans (if using) and dice the crystallized ginger pieces.
  4. Next, set out a large salad bowl. Pour the drained, chopped fruit into the bowl. Then add the grapes, coconut, marshmallows, pecans, crystallized ginger, sour cream, and Cool Whip. Add a good pinch of salt and gently mix the salad until everything is well incorporated.
  5. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Can be made up to 7 days in advance. 

Get the Full (Printable) Best Ambrosia Salad Recipe Below. Enjoy!

Best Marshmallow Salad Recipe

Ambrosia Marshmallow Salad FAQ

Can I Substitute Pecans for a Different Nut?

Of course! Try chopped almonds or your choice of nut as a substitution. You can also omit them if needed.

How Long Does Ambrosia Salad Last?

Cover it tightly, store it in the fridge, and your Ambrosia Salad with Cool Whip and Sour Cream can last up to 7 days.

Can I Substitute Something for the Cool Whip in this Recipe?

You can use a mixture of heavy cream and sugar to make fresh whipped cream to use in place of the Cool Whip.

Where Can I Find Cool Whip in the Grocery Store?

You can find it in the freezer aisle. Thaw it in the refrigerator.

Can You Freeze Ambrosia Salad with Sour Cream?

Sure you can, but it won’t thaw to the same consistency as before. The chunks of fruit will likely break into smaller pieces.

Grandma’s Best Marshmallow Ambrosia Salad

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Grandma’s Best Ambrosia Salad Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
0 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Grandma’s Best Ambrosia Salad Recipe – This marshmallow salad recipe is a fruity retro favorite that's perfect for enjoying all summer long. Although fruit salad may not actually be considered health food, it’s fluffy, refreshingly sweet, and completely irresistible!
Servings: 12

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Set a large colander in the sink. Pour the mandarin oranges, peaches, pineapple tidbits, and cherries in the colander.
  • Once they are well drained, chop each peach slice into 3-4 pieces. Remove all cherry stems, then cut the cherries in half.
  • Cut the green grapes in half. Chop the pecans (if using) and dice the crystalized ginger pieces.
  • Set out a large salad bowl. Pour the drained fruit into the bowl. Add the grapes, coconut, marshmallows, pecans, crystalized ginger, sour cream, and cool whip. Add a good pinch of salt and gently mix the salad until everything is well incorporated.
  • Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Can be made up to 7 days in advance.

Notes

I never add the pecans when I’m taking ambrosia salad to parties, in case of nut allergies.
This recipe can be easily doubled.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cup, Calories: 172kcal, Carbohydrates: 27g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 6mg, Sodium: 35mg, Potassium: 218mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 23g, Vitamin A: 675IU, Vitamin C: 16.5mg, Calcium: 40mg, Iron: 0.5mg
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Author: Sommer Collier

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11 comments on “Grandma’s Best Ambrosia Salad”

  1. Our new favorite recipe for ambrosia salad! So delicious! I can see why this was a family favorite!

  2. This was a huge hit at my house! Everyone loved it!

  3. I grew up eating this salad and this post brings back a lot of memories!

  4. This has been the best ambrosia salad that I have tasted! 

  5. The salad is delicious and delicious. I really like this salad.

  6. I’m from the South, born and raised! But I have never heard of an Ambrosia Salad until now. Yummy!

  7. Great  recipe – brings back memories of being a kid. 

  8. I’ve never tried making this salad with sour cream but it was so delicious!

  9. Such a delicious classic and perfect for any summer gathering!

  10. thank you for sharing this recipe, not one in my normal rotation but like the flavors and ingredients, even has and interesting history

  11. Absolutely lovely and well thought out delicious recipes that are diversified! Thank You Dear! 💖