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Ambrosia Salad is filled with mandarin oranges, pineapple, maraschino cherries, coconut,  and marshmallows and mixed in a fluffy cool whip! This is a potluck classic! 

Quick and easy side dishes that can be made in minutes with ingredients that you already have on hand are the best! Creamy grape salad, pea salad with bacon or classic potato salad are a few more of my go-to potluck side dishes.

Ambrosia Salad on a black plate.

What is Ambrosia Salad?

Now I will be the first to admit that I am not above cool whip or marshmallows in a fruit salad. I mean, we grew up on this Pistachio Salad when I was little. And no potluck is complete in Utah without a cool whip marshmallow salad. I love them! I am always making Ambrosia Salads for potlucks. Because let’s be honest, have you ever met someone that doesn’t love it? Why haven’t I put this out on the blog until now!? This is a true potluck classic.

Ambrosia is an American variety of fruit salad. Most ambrosia recipes contain canned fruit, miniature marshmallows, and coconut. But the great thing about this is that you can put whatever you want in it which is why everyone loves it! The combination of pineapple, cherries, mandarin oranges, crunchy pecans, and then mixed into a cool whip sour cream fluff of glory is absolutely heavenly to me! So add in other fruits, different nuts, and then make this again and again! Because no potluck is complete without this cool and creamy summer salad, and I know that your family will love it!

Ingredients in Ambrosia Salad

These ingredients are so fresh and delicious, and when you combine them, it makes my mouth water! See the recipe card at the bottom of the post for exact measurements and then get mixing!

  • Cool Whip: Make sure that the cool whip is thawed so that it mixes up nice and fluffy!
  • Sour Cream: I know, it doesnt seem like this would be in a salad like this but trust me. It’s so perfect!
  • Mandarin Oranges: Drain your cans.  
  • Fresh Pineapple: You can use canned pineapple tidbits (drained) but fresh is always best!
  • Maraschino Cherries: When you take the cherries out, take off the stems and slice them in half!
  • Marshmallows: I like using the multi-colored flavored marshmallows
  • Coconut: Shredded coconut adds the perfect texture and flavor.
  • Pecans: Chop the pecans up into small pieces so that you can have some in every bite!

How Do You Make Ambrosia Salad?

  1. Combine: In a large mixing bowl add thawed cool whip and sour cream and stir until combined. Then, add in the mandarin oranges, pineapple, cherries, marshmallows, coconut and pecans.
  2. Stir and Chill: Stir until combined and then chill salad for at least 1 hour or overnight.
Ambrosia Salad ingredients in a glass bowl.


Sometimes, you just don’t have on hand what a recipe calls for! If that’s happened to you before then here are a few ideas on making this still work!

  • I don’t have any cool whip, what can I use? Mix 1/3 cup softened butter with 3/4 cup milk for a whipping cream substitute. Using an electric mixer will help achieve the desired consistency. This is not a dairy-free option, but it works if you are out of whipping cream and need it for a recipe. This ratio is the equivalent of 1 cup of cream.
  • No sour cream? No problem! Go for whole-milk Greek yogurt: The yogurt closest in texture and flavor to regular sour cream is whole-milk Greek yogurt. While you can use plain regular yogurtinstead, it might be worthwhile to strain some of the liquid out of it first so that it thickens up slightly.
Ingredients being mixed in a glass bowl with a wooden spoon.

Ingredients to Mix-In

Additional fresh fruit will taste great with this ambrosia salad. If you decide to add in more fresh fruit then you will want to pat the fruit dry before adding it to the salad.

  • Mango
  • Strawberry
  • Kiwi
  • Grapes
  • Banana
  • Pistachios
  • Walnuts
  • Cashews
Close up on ambrosia salad.

Leftover Ambrosia Salad

  • Can you make ambrosia salad a day ahead? Yes! You can make ambrosia salad a day ahead. It is always best to let fruit salads chill to let the cream settle and fruits to chill.
  • How long can you keep ambrosia salad in the fridge? Properly stored fruit salads will last 3-5 days in the fridge.
  • Can you freeze ambrosia salad? You can; however I do not recommend it. You will want to place the Ambrosia Salad in a airtight container. Serve while it is still frozen with an ice cream scoop or something similar. Leave the Ambrosia Salad in the fridge to defrost if you would like to enjoy it fresh. Add the Mandarin oranges after it is defrosted.

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Best Ever Ambrosia Salad

4.50 from 4 votes
By: Alyssa Rivers
Ambrosia Salad is filled with mandarin oranges, pineapple, maraschino cherries, coconut, and marshmallows and mixed in a fluffy cool whip! This is a potluck classic!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 6 Servings


  • 8 ounce cool whip thawed
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 (15 ounce) can mandarin oranges drained
  • 1 cup chopped fresh pineapple
  • 3/4 cup maraschino cherries without stems, sliced in half
  • 3 cup marshmallows I like using the multi-colored flavored marshmallows
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 3/4 cup pecans chopped


  • In a large mixing bowl add thawed cool whip and sour cream and stir until combined. Add in the mandarin oranges, pineapple, cherries, marshmallows, coconut and pecans.
  • Stir until combined and chill salad for at least 1 hour or overnight.



Originally Posted June 3, 2019
Updated March 23, 2022


Calories: 437kcalCarbohydrates: 66gProtein: 4gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 104mgPotassium: 204mgFiber: 3gSugar: 49gVitamin A: 224IUVitamin C: 14mgCalcium: 92mgIron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @alyssa_therecipecritic or tag #therecipecritic!

About Alyssa Rivers

Alyssa Rivers is the author of 'The Tried and True Cookbook', a professional food photographer and experienced recipe-developer. Having a passion for cooking, her tried and true recipes have been featured on Good Morning America, Today Food, Buzzfeed and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    My family loves this salad. It’s perfect for a light dessert and the kids REALLY devour it. I like that you can tweak this by adding different fruit and nuts if you choose, but I love it as written! I do prefer canned pineapple tidbits in it because you never know how good the fresh pineapple is going to be, and it gives off more liquid as it sits in the salad and breaks it down quicker.

  2. Oh my gosh! Thank you for putting this out there! Perfect for where I live and all the potlucks! Do you have any idea as to the size of the bowl as I would probably have to double it, in what? Looks delish, only I would leave out the marshmallows; think I am the only person in the world that thinks they are icky…unless roasted over an open fire until they turn crackling black!! Thanks again!

  3. I have been looking for this recipe. I used to make this all of the time and lost the recipe. THANK YOU!!!!

  4. I’m not crazy about Mandarin oranges. Would it mess up the flavor i you left them out or substitute them with something else? .

  5. 4 stars
    Fours stars because this is usually a good recipe. However, make sure you have very ripe pineapple, otherwise this comes out tart rather than sweet even with all that other flavors.

  6. I would omit the walnuts because some people cannot have them or chew them. Best to leave on the side and people will take some if they want to. All the rest of the ingredients look good! I would make and serve this at a gathering or maybe just to eat and enjoy at home.