Grandma’s Best Ambrosia Salad Recipe
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Grandma’s Best Ambrosia Salad Recipe – This marshmallow salad recipe is a fruity retro favorite that is perfect for enjoying all summer long. This fruit salad may not be considered a healthy food, but it’s fluffy, refreshingly sweet, and completely irresistible!
Best Ambrosia Salad
Does anyone else feel super nostalgic with each new season?
This bright, colorful Ambrosia Salad dessert 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.
The Original Marshmallow Salad
If you’re from the South then you’ve probably had Ambrosia Salad at a summer barbecue, or at a relative’s house.
This throw-caution-to-the-wind fruit “salad” is more of a guilty pleasure than anything else. 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. However, some sources actually claim it originated in Vermont.
Many believe 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.
Why Do They Call It Ambrosia?
The word Ambrosia literally means immortality in Greek. Believe it or not, at the time this recipe started gaining popularity the ingredients involved (various canned fruits, marshmallows, and coconut) were considered exotic and hard to find. Therefore, this salad was named after the elusive nectar, or drink of the gods, in Greek mythology. Food of the gods is the official latin translation.
Decades later, many of these same ingredients were considered pantry staples in the United States. So Ambrosia salad continued on as a popular American side dish because it was quick and easy to throw together for us mortals. *wink*
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 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!
What Ingredients You Need to Make Grandma’s Ambrosia Salad
- Mandarin Oranges – The orange citrus adds a delicate tangy note 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 light and quick creamy base!
- Salt – To bring all the vibrant flavor to the forefront.
How To Make Fruit Salad With Sour Cream
- Drain. Set a large colander in the sink. Pour the canned mandarin oranges, peaches, pineapple tidbits, and cherries in the colander.
- Cut. Once the fruit is well drained, chop each peach slice into 3-4 pieces. Remove all cherry stems, then cut the cherries in half.
- Dice. Cut the green grapes in half. Chop the pecans (if using) and dice the crystallized ginger pieces.
- Combine. Next, set out a large salad bowl. Pour the drained, chopped fruit into the bowl. Then add the remaining ingredients – grapes, coconut, marshmallows, pecans, crystallized ginger, sour cream, and Cool Whip. Add a good pinch of salt and gently fold the salad until everything is well incorporated.
- Cover or Serve. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Can be made up to 7 days in advance.
Get the Full (Printable) Best Ambrosia Salad Recipe + VIDEO Below. Enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
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 This Fruit Dessert 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. I have also heard of people using vanilla greek yogurt or plain vanilla yogurt.
Where Can I Find Cool Whip in the Grocery Store?
You can find it in the freezer aisle. Be sure to 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. For best results, eat it fresh after mixing.
Looking For More Southern-Style Salads?
- Best Classic Egg Salad Recipe
- Perfect Macaroni Salad Recipe
- Red White & Blue Chopped Salad Recipe
- Dorito Taco Salad Recipe
- Irresistible Broccoli Salad Recipe
- Nana’s Epic Tuna Salad Recipe
- The Best Ever Potato Salad Recipe
- Retro Cornbread Salad Recipe
- The Ultimate Southern Chicken Salad Recipe
- Apple Chopped Salad with Herb Vinaigrette
Find all our summer side dishes here!
Grandma’s Best Ambrosia Salad Recipe
- 15 ounce can mandarin oranges
- 15 ounce can peach slices, drained
- 8 ounce can pineapple tidbits
- 5 ounce jar maraschino cherries, stems removed
- ¾ cup fresh green grapes, halved lengthwise
- ¾ cup sweetened coconut flakes
- ¾ cup mini marshmallows
- ½ cup chopped pecans, optional
- ¼ cup diced crystalized ginger, candied ginger
- 4 ounces sour cream
- 4 ounces cool whip
- pinch of salt
- 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.
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It’s also very good with whipped coconut cream, if you’re not a fan of Cool Whip.
this is super tasty and also so fun! I love a nice fruit salad, and this elevates it so much!
This brings back some serious nostalgia of holiday dinners past! Fun recipe to recreate!
Our new favorite recipe for ambrosia salad! So delicious! I can see why this was a family favorite!
This was a huge hit at my house! Everyone loved it!
I grew up eating this salad and this post brings back a lot of memories!
This has been the best ambrosia salad that I have tasted!
The salad is delicious and delicious. I really like this salad.
I’m from the South, born and raised! But I have never heard of an Ambrosia Salad until now. Yummy!
Great recipe – brings back memories of being a kid.
I’ve never tried making this salad with sour cream but it was so delicious!
Such a delicious classic and perfect for any summer gathering!
thank you for sharing this recipe, not one in my normal rotation but like the flavors and ingredients, even has and interesting history
Absolutely lovely and well thought out delicious recipes that are diversified! Thank You Dear! 💖