A Spicy Perspective

Grandma’s Best Ambrosia Salad

Grandma’s Best Ambrosia Salad Recipe: A fun and fruity retro favorite for summer potlucks and neighborhood barbecues. This “salad” may not be considered health food, but it’s fluffy, chunky, and completely irresistible!

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Southern Ambrosia Salad

It’s summertime, and you’ve been invited to a barbecue with some friends. What do you do?

A). Search the internet for a quick fun summertime recipe.

B). Look through your mom’s favorite cookbook.

C). Go to the grocery store, pick up a box of pre-baked goodies and pretend that you made them.

D). Look through your grandma’s box of recipes. 

If you chose “D” then you’re a winner. Grandma has all sorts of classic recipes to taste-test, like this colorful Ambrosia Salad!!

Our Grandma’s Best Ambrosia Salad Recipe #ASpicyPerspective #ambrosia #marshmallow #fluff #summer

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 “salad” is, that is 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 that being linked together.

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. 

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Best Ambrosia Salad

Ambrosia Salad first started as a simple 3 ingredient dish, 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

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, as well as candied (crystallized) ginger for a surprise touch of sweet heat in each spoonful!

Whether you’re making this Ambrosia Salad recipe for your Christmas holiday, a summer family barbecue, or a work hangout, you can’t go wrong with these delicious ingredients. 

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Ambrosia Salad with Cool Whip Ingredients

  • 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.
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How To Make Ambrosia Salad With Sour Cream

  1. Set a large colander in the sink. Pour the 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. Set out a large salad bowl. Pour the drained fruit into the bowl. 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) Ambrosia Salad Recipe Below

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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.

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Looking for More Southern Style Salads?

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Grandma’s Best Ambrosia Salad Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
0 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
A fun and fruity retro favorite for summer potlucks and neighborhood barbecues. This “salad” may not be considered health-food, but it’s fluffy, chunky, 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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6 comments on “Grandma’s Best Ambrosia Salad”

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

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

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

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

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

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