Ambrosia Marshmallow Salad

This Ambrosia Fruit Salad recipe is a creamy salad bursting with fruit, marshmallows and fluffy cream. Added bonus: it comes together in minutes and can be served as a festival of colors as a side or dessert! 

overhead close up of ambrosia salad


The perfect Ambrosia Salad Recipe for the holidays

I remember the first time I had ambrosia salad. It was served as a side dish with Thanksgiving dinner and I couldn’t believe this fluffy, marshmallowy bowl of heaven was part of the main meal.

It is a tradition for family gatherings and special occasions and is served with Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner as a side dish, but I usually steal an extra bowl for dessert and I’ve been known to eat it for breakfast the next morning too. It is also common at baby showers and bridal showers, probably for the pastel colors.

angle view of ambrosia salad in a glass bowl

What is Ambrosia Salad?

Ambrosia salad is a mixed fruit salad with marshmallows and some sort of cream. It’s commonly made with a combination of sour cream and whipped topping (not too be confused with real whipped cream), but can also contain plain Greek yogurt, vanilla yogurt, heavy cream, cottage cheese or mayonnaise. Cool Whip is my go-to.

Sour cream adds a nice contrast of flavor between the sweet fruit and miniature marshmallows and makes a creamy fruit salad with tang.

ingredients for ambrosia fruit salad

Ambrosia is technically considered a fruit salad and almost always contains pineapple tidbits (or crushed pineapple or fresh pineapple) and mandarin oranges, but you can add almost any fruit you like. Any mix of fresh fruits and canned fruit are both acceptable. There are many variations on ambrosia recipes.

I always add a can of fruit cocktail and a handful of fresh grapes, but you could add chopped apple, pears, or even banana. Sometimes I even add extra maraschino cherries.

Fresh fruit is also an option, but requires a lot more chopping taking away from the time-saving advantages. Adding nuts is optional, but adds a bit of crunch and texture. This is the base of an easy ambrosia salad.

Why is it called Ambrosia Salad?

The name Ambrosia salad comes from the Greek word Ambrosia which translates to immortality or “food of the Gods”.

In Greek mythology, only the Gods were permitted to eat Ambrosia, where it gets the definition “food of the Gods.”

overhead of dressed fruit salad with whipped cream

It is easy to see why this fluffy, fruit filled dish was given the name. Its cloud-like texture is like heaven in a bowl. 

Ambrosia Salad ingredients

Grab the following ingredients, but also know you can add some of your own customizations.

  • mandarin oranges 
  • pineapple tidbits
  • fruit cocktail
  • grapes
  • pecans
  • marshmallows
  • sour cream
  • Cool whip (or similar whipped topping)
chopped fruits in a glass bowl

Common add-ins are:

  • Chopped pecans
  • Chopped walnuts
  • Shredded coconut
  • Vanilla extract
  • Sour cream

How to make Ambrosia Salad

Mixing in stages is the key to keepings your juicy ingredients whole and not juiced. Gently strokes with a spatula are best and do not over mix. The prep time is minimal.

  1. First, toss the fruits in a large bowl. Then add nuts, if using and mini marshmallows. I like these tri-colored ones because it just adds to the party.
how to make ambrosia fruit salad
  1. Fold together whipped topping and sour cream until fully combined, then fold into mixture and chilling.
creamy ambrosia fruit salad

How to serve this Ambrosia Recipe

Ambrosia can be served in a variety of ways. It is most commonly a side dish, but some argue it is a dessert.

I like presenting it in a large serving bowl topped with a dollop of whipped cream or a sprinkle of shredded coconut for added texture and flavor.

Ambrosia can be enjoyed as a side dish or dessert on its own, or it pairs wonderfully with brunch spreads, picnics, and summer gatherings. Its combination of sweet and tangy fruit flavors.

Storing Ambrosia Fruit Salad

Yes! In fact, this classic salad is better when it is made ahead of time.

You can eat Ambrosia salad right away, and I have, but the longer it rests the fluffier it will become.

angle view of ambrosia fruit salad

I recommend making this salad at least 4 hours ahead of time, but making it the day before you want to serve it is even better.

I’m sorry to tell you that this sweet salad will not freeze well. Not at all, in fact. If you try to put this in the freezer you will be left with nothing but a puddle of mushy fruit when it thaws. The best way to store this salad is in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 3 days.

Ambrosia Marshmallow Salad FAQs

When was ambrosia salad popular?

Ambrosia salad gained popularity in the United States during the mid-20th century, particularly in the 1950s and 1960s. It became a staple at potlucks, holiday gatherings, and picnics, reflecting the era’s fondness for canned fruits and creamy, gelatin-based dishes.

What does Ambrosia mean in Greek?

In Greek mythology, “ambrosia” refers to a divine food or nectar that grants immortality to the gods and bestows exceptional longevity and strength to those who consume it.

What to put on fruit salad to keep it from turning brown?

To prevent fruit salad from turning brown, you can add a small amount of lemon juice or citrus juice. You can also pick apples, like Envy, that do not oxidize (turn brown).

ambrosia fruit salad for pinterest

More Fruity Salads

Fruit Fluff Salad is a classic side dish for the holidays combining Cherry Fluff, Pineapple Fluff and Cranberry Fluff Salad into one! #fruitfluffsalad #fluffsaladrecipe

Fruit Fluff Salad with Cranberry, Cherry and Pineapple

5 from 10 votes
Fruit Fluff Salad is a classic side dish for the holidays combining Cherry Fluff, Pineapple Fluff and Cranberry Fluff Salad into one! 
See The Recipe!
overhead of cream cheese fruit dip in blue bowl

Cream Cheese Fruit Dip Recipe

4.72 from 14 votes
This Fruit Dip recipe combines both a cream cheese fruit dip and a yogurt fruit dip for the most amazing dessert dip for any summer party!
See The Recipe!
Peach Salad is a scrumptious summer salad filled with delicious peaches, gorgonzola cheese, shallots, candied walnuts and a tangy peach dressing. The perfect summer salad! #peachsalad #summersalads

Peach Salad Recipe

4.80 from 5 votes
Peach Salad is a scrumptious summer salad filled with delicious peaches, gorgonzola cheese, shallots, candied walnuts and a tangy peach dressing. The perfect summer salad!
See The Recipe!
close up overhead of ambrosia salad for pinterest
overhead of ambrosia salad

Ambrosia (Fruit Salad)

4.63 from 16 votes
Bursting with fruit, marshmallows and fluffy cream, this Ambrosia Salad comes together in minutes and can be served as a side or dessert!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Chilling Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 8


  • 1 11-ounce can mandarin oranges , drained
  • 1 14-ounce can pineapple tidbits , drained
  • 1 15-ounce can fruit cocktail , drained
  • ½ cup grapes , halved
  • ½ cup pecans , chopped and optional
  • 3 cups mini marshmallows , rainbow or plain
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 ½ cups frozen whipped topping , thawed (such as Cool Whip)


  • In a large bowl, mix the oranges, pineapples and fruit salad. Then stir in the marshmallows and pecans.
    how to make creamy fruit salad
  • In a small bowl fold together the sour cream and the whipped topping. Folded blended mixture into the salad.
    mix cool whip into fruit salad
  • Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight before serving.
  • If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or ratings.


Calories: 168 kcal, Carbohydrates: 22 g, Protein: 2 g, Fat: 9 g, Saturated Fat: 4 g, Cholesterol: 8 mg, Sodium: 37 mg, Potassium: 79 mg, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 16 g, Vitamin A: 112 IU, Vitamin C: 1 mg, Calcium: 32 mg, Iron: 1 mg
Author: Deanna Hill
Calories: 168
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American, Greek
Keyword: ambrosia fruit salad, ambrosia salad, creamy fruit salad, fruit salads
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
how to make ambrosia fruit salad
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and food lover behind Savory Experiments. She is obsessed with butter, salt and bacon and spends all her time in the kitchen and behind a camera. Jessica is a contributor to PopKitchen by Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal Food + Travel and more!

Read More About Jessica

Join The Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

Questions and Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    Enjoyed this classic recipe with dinner and it does not disappoint! Adding this to my Easter brunch menu, indeed! Perfectly light, fluffy and delicious!