Ambrosia. Ambrosia Salad. It goes by a few different names. The folks over a Merriam-Webster say the word ambrosia means “food of the gods.” And I’ll say, I have to agree.
This sweet fruit salad (gotta love a place that calls dessert a salad, right?) is a perfect potluck recipe. You won’t find many summer soirees down South without some variation of the stuff on the menu. It’s a sweet – and somehow still light – dish that’s perfect for cooling off in the sweltering heat down this way.
This recipe varies a bit from the one in my cookbook because, well honestly, my tastes have changed over the years. I really like the sour cream in this version as it brings down the sweetness a little. My original version didn’t have it. I also didn’t include pecans in that version, but who doesn’t like a few pecans thrown in, right? For even more flavor, give the pecans a toast before adding them to the salad. Just bake them on a rimmed baking sheet in an oven at about 350°F until they’re fragrant – usually about 5 minutes. Then allow them to cool before adding to the mix.
If whipped topping (A.K.A. Cool Whip) is your foe, you can certainly use fresh whipped cream in this recipe, but I find that the whipped topping holds up a bit better being that this dish really benefits from a little time in the fridge to allow the flavors to meld before serving. If you go the fresh route, you’ll need to whip about 1 1/2 cups of whipping cream with 5 tablespoons of powdered sugar until stiff peaks, then use as the recipe calls. Just beware that some of the fruit juices can cause it to break down.
For even more deliciousness, check out these Frozen Cranberry Banana Salads from Southern Plate or the The Country Cook’s Southern Ambrosia (she puts grapes in hers – how cool!).
- 1 (20-ounce) can pineapple tidbits in juice
- 1 (15-ounce) can mandarin oranges
- 1 (10-ounce) jar maraschino cherries
- 1 (8-ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
- 1 cup mini marshmallows
- 1/3 cup chopped pecans
- Drain the pineapple and the orange segments very well. Set aside.
- Drain the cherries and slice each one in half. Rinse the cherries well and allow to drain. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix together the whipped topping and the sour cream. Add in the coconut and mini marshmallows. Fold in the drained pineapple, oranges, and cherries. Add the pecans and gently stir to combine. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for about an hour before serving.
If nutritional values are provided, they are an estimate and will vary depending on the brands used. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, I recommend grabbing your favorite brands and plugging those ingredients into an online nutritional calculator.
The version of this salad I learned to make while living in Oklahoma was called “Five Cup Salad,” which was pineappple, mandarin oranges, marshmallows, coconut, and sour cream. It’s really good, as I’m sure your version is also.
Oh that sounds great. Thanks for sharing!
What else can I use instead of coconut flakes
Are you wanting to avoid coconut altogether?
Just like I remember as a kid. My Aunt made
This every Easter and often for summer picnics.
I used Cool Whip No Sugar Added, Daisy Light Sour Cream. Both the pineapple and mandarins were organic and in their own juice (not syrup). Mandarins not as sweet as what I had as a kid but I actually preferred them slightly more acidic but still sweet as the cool whip and coconut bring plenty of sweetness.
Glad to hear you enjoyed it!
I like the sounds of this recipe however, I am not a fan of cool whip or marshmallows either. I use heavy cream (2 cups) instead then adding 3 oz block of softened cream cheese. The cream cheese along with the small amount of powdered sugar stabilize it so it doesn’t drop with the fruit juices. Normally I just leave out the marshmallows and add in another kind of drained fruit. Soo Good!!!
Thanks so much for the idea! I have certainly stabilized whipped cream with cream cheese before but didn’t think about that with this one.
Aunt Harriet added a little sugar & cream to mayo. Delicious.
Hi Stacey (or really anyone else who’d like to comment)! What do you think about making this recipe for a Bridal brunch I am helping to give in a few weeks? I have been tasked with bringing a dessert and I don’t want anything that’s too heavy and this sounds like it might work? Thanks for any responses!
I think this would be perfect for a bridal luncheon!
I don’t like cherries, can you recommend another fruit I can use instead?
I would simply leave them out.
You could use a can of mixed fruit.
My mother used to make this in the early 60’s, when I was very young. I remember her adding canned shrimp. Does anyone else remember that version?
Very interesting. I can’t say I’ve ever heard of adding shrimp.
Debra M Birmingham
I am really enjoying making your recipes. I’m amazed at how easy they are to make and taste so delicious.
I’m so glad you’ve had good luck with them! I hope you’ll find many more you enjoy!