This classic ambrosia salad recipe is a delicious salad full of sweet fruit, nuts, and a creamy dressing! It’s the perfect dish to bring to family gatherings during the holidays or summer months!
I was making this ambrosia salad the other day and my oldest son heard me say that I was making ambrosia salad, and he immediately had to know what was in it.
They’ve been studying the Greek gods and Greek mythology all year and somehow knew that ambrosia was the food of the gods and was curious what type of salad I was making that would have the name ambrosia.
I’ll be honest, I had no idea that ambrosia was the food of the Greek gods, I just knew that it was a classic fruit salad that I’d had once or twice.
Someone said that my strawberry fluff recipe reminded them of an ambrosia marshmallow salad, so I wanted to try my hand at making one!
I know this is a family favorite for a lot of people and a recipe that’s been around for a while (apparently a classic salad that ages back to the time of Greek gods), so I tried to do it justice.
And I think the version that I came up with is a real treat. It’s a sweet salad without being too sweet because of the addition of the plain yogurt (Greek yogurt, ha!). And the nuts add just the perfect crunch!
I’m making it for our holiday table this year and maybe other special occasions and hope you can too!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Creamy texture – the combination of the cups of Cool Whip, Greek yogurt, and the crushed pineapple really gives this a nice creamy texture. Plus the best flavor!
- Simple ingredients – everything can be found at your local grocery store and most of the ingredients are actually pretty cheap! You don’t even need fresh fruit for this one!
- Simple recipe – this may be one of the easiest salads on my site. The great thing about it is that all you have to do is mix ingredients together and chill. And you have yourself a delicious fruit salad for your next holiday party!
- Maraschino cherries – make sure you drain these and remove any stems (if they have any). No one wants to eat cherry stems in their salad!
- Crushed pineapple – these are also sometimes called pineapple tidbits. Make sure you drain the juice from the pineapple before adding to your fruit salad.
- Mandarin oranges – drain these as well (if you haven’t gotten that already). I also recommend using canned mandarin oranges rather than fresh because they’re sweet mandarin oranges always, not just hit and miss like fresh ones.
- Chopped pecans – you can use either chopped pecans or pecan pieces or omit them altogether if you need to, but they give this a nice crunch. If you want to use different nuts, chopped walnuts are your best bet.
- Greek yogurt – you can either use Greek yogurt, sour cream, or whipped cream cheese. I like the Greek yogurt because it has a little less tang than sour cream, but sour cream works as well. If using Greek yogurt, I recommend using plain rather than vanilla Greek yogurt, so the dressing isn’t overly sweet. It really makes a perfect addition to the Cool Whip!
- Mini marshmallows – normal ones work great or if you want to get colored fruit flavored one, those are a fun addition to this too! Or you could do a combination of the regular and fruity marshmallows with one cup miniature marshmallows and two cups fruity or vice versa.
- Cool Whip – make sure your Cool Whip is thawed. You can either use the regular or extra creamy kind of Cool Whip, either one works just fine!
How to Make Ambrosia Salad
If this is your first time making ambrosia salad, just know that it’s pretty hard to mess this recipe up as long as you stick with the general ingredients and measurements. I think that’s why it’s been such a summer barbecue staple and the most popular side dish for family dinners for a long time.
1 – Toast the Pecans
Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees to toast the pecans. If you don’t want to toast the pecans (highly recommended), you can skip this step if you’d like.
Spread the chopped pecans out onto a baking sheet, making sure to keep them in one even layer.
Toast the pecans in the oven for about 10 minutes or until they’re slightly browned. Then let them cool before you add them to the salad.
2 – Mix the Salad Ingredients
Combine pineapple, mandarin oranges, cherries, coconut flakes, cooled chopped pecans, and vanilla extract in a large bowl.
Mix them all together so that things are well combined and if you were to take a spoonful, you’d get a little bit of everything.
Once that’s mixed together, add in the marshmallows, cool whip, and yogurt and stir again until everything is nice and creamy and mixed together. I like to add in one cup mini marshmallows at a time and stir so that it’s a little easier to mix.
Add a lid on the bowl or wrap with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill for at least four hours, longer if you have the time available. While technically you could eat it before it has chilled for four hours, for best results I really do recommending giving the salad the time it needs for all of the flavors to combine and mingle.
Serve immediately topped with even more chopped pecans, mini marshmallows, and maraschino cherries to make it a little prettier. Or just serve as is and it’ll taste great anyway!
Refrigerate any leftovers of this creamy fruit salad in an airtight container for up to five days, although it’s best within three days. You can technically eat it on day four and five, but the flavor is better earlier.
Make your ambrosia salad pink by adding a little bit of the maraschino juice when you add the creamy ingredients. I’ve seen a lot of the classic recipe options that are pink and if you want that version of ambrosia salad, this is an easy way to get that result!
Double this recipe and make it for your next potluck! It travels well, doubles well, and is typically a big hit with all ages.
Ambrosia salad is made of fruit like mandarin oranges, pineapple, cherries, and coconut combined with a creamy dressing that’s typically made with Cool Whip and Greek yogurt or sour cream.
People all over the country still eat ambrosia salad, just maybe not quite as much as they did years ago. It’s still a popular dish for holidays, special occasions, and even for summer parties!
This ambrosia salad tastes like a creamy fruit salad recipe, like a bunch of fruit combined with a whipped cream dressing.
More Fruity Desserts
If you like this ambrosia recipe, make sure to try out some of our other favorite recipes! It’s always fun to try new recipes, especially desserts!
- Cheesecake cones – this sweet treat combines ice cream cones, cheesecake filling, and fresh fruit in one delicious dessert!
- Mini fruit tart – these mini fruit tarts are made with a shortcut crust that makes them even better than traditional ones!
- Blueberry cheesecake bars – layers of shortbread crust, cheesecake filling, and fresh blueberries make this simple recipe one you’ll make over and over again!
- Lemon cupcakes with cream cheese frosting – bright and flavorful lemon cupcakes topped with the fluffiest cream cheese frosting!
- Pineapple bread – this quick bread is part breakfast part dessert, you decide!
Ambrosia Salad Recipe
- 1 cup chopped Pecans
- 20 oz crushed pineapple drained
- 15 oz mandarin oranges drained
- 12 oz maraschino cherries without stems drained
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 cups mini marshmallows regular or fruit flavored
- 8 oz Cool Whip thawed
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream or whipped cream cheese
- Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees to toast the pecans.
- Spread the chopped pecans out onto a baking sheet, making sure to keep them in one even layer. Toast the pecans in the oven for about 10 minutes or until they’re slightly browned.1 cup chopped Pecans
- Combine pineapple, mandarin oranges, cherries, coconut flakes, cooled chopped pecans, and vanilla extract in a large bowl.20 oz crushed pineapple, 15 oz mandarin oranges, 12 oz maraschino cherries without stems, 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut, 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Add in the marshmallows, cool whip, and yogurt and stir until everything is mixed together.3 cups mini marshmallows, 8 oz Cool Whip, 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
- Add a lid on the bowl or wrap with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill for at least four hours.
- Serve chilled topped with even more chopped pecans, mini marshmallows, and maraschino cherries for garnish.
Tips & Notes:
- Make sure to drain all of the fruit before adding to the salad.
- Greek yogurt can be substituted with sour cream or whipped cream cheese.
- Regular mini marshmallows or the fruit flavored ones work well.