Grandma’s Ambrosia Salad is a creamy fruit salad filled with pineapple, mandarins, coconut, and miniature marshmallows. Use either fresh or canned fruit in this easy recipe with a simple homemade whipped cream. It’s so delicious it is considered the food of the Gods, hence the name Ambrosia Salad.

Ambrosia salad with a wooden spoon in the bowl.

Ambrosia Salad is a classic side dish recipe. It is always found at large family holiday dinners and potlucks, and it never lasts very long. Everyone always takes a giant serving, and there are certainly never any leftovers. It is just that dang good. True to The Stay At Home Chef fashion, you won’t find any Cool-Whip in this recipe. We are making ambrosia salad entirely from scratch! Depending on how big of a crowd you’re feeding, you may want to double this recipe, because you are going to love it!

This fruit salad originated in the late 1800s when tropical climate fruits like citrus and coconut were considered exotic treats. Because this would have been an expensive luxury dish, they considered it to be the food of the Gods, naming the dish after the Greek God, Ambrosia, the God of food and drink. The original recipes were nothing more than citrus pieces, shredded coconut, and sugar. The dish has evolved over time to include other fruits, a creamy topping, miniature marshmallows, and sometimes nuts.

Fruit Options for Ambrosia Salad:

Which fruits you add are a matter of personal preference, with the only real requirements being the use of citrus, usually mandarin oranges, and coconut. Here are the fruit options most commonly found in an Ambrosia Salad:

  • Mandarin Orange Slices (fresh or canned)
  • Shredded Coconut (freshly shredded or coconut flakes)
  • Pineapple Chunks (fresh or canned)
  • Banana Slices
  • Strawberries (quartered or sliced)
  • Maraschino Cherries
  • Diced Peaches (fresh or canned)
  • Diced Pears (fresh or canned)
  • Grapes


Nuts are a popular addition to ambrosia salad, but completely optional. Walnuts and pecans are most common, and you would want to add 1 cup of them, chopped. If you are serving this to a crowd, beware of nut allergies and ensure that the dish is labeled as containing nuts or that the guests are all informed.

Sweetened Vs. Unsweetened Coconut Flakes:

You can use either sweetened or unsweetened coconut flakes in this recipe. If you have a sweet tooth, you may prefer sweetened flakes, but either will be delicious!

Marshmallow Options:

You can use either standard mini marshmallows, or mini pastel-colored marshmallows, also sometimes known as Funmallows or Fruity Funmallows. Either works in this recipe, and it is simply up to your own personal taste preferences.

Ambrosia salad in a small bowl.

Make Ahead Instructions:

You can make this recipe in its entirety up to 24 hours ahead of time. Store covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Storage Instructions:

Ambrosia salad can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days in the fridge.

If you like this recipe, you may be interested in these other delicious summer salad recipes:

Watch the video below where Rachel will walk you through every step of this recipe. Sometimes it helps to have a visual, and we’ve always got you covered with our cooking show. You can find the complete collection of recipes on YouTube, Facebook Watch, or our Facebook Page, or right here on our website with their corresponding recipes.