This Ambrosia Salad recipe is a classic old-fashioned favorite. While many versions use artificially-flavored store-bought whipped cream, today we’re improving upon the flavor by making our own homemade whipped cream and tweaking this recipe to dessert salad perfection!
A Better Ambrosia Salad Recipe
Throwback to an old-fashioned favorite today! A recent favorite for me. Growing up, I honestly always avoided Ambrosia Salad. There was something about the fact that it was called a salad but that it also had marshmallows!? in it that I just couldn’t seem to get behind.
As far as unconventional, non-lettuce-based “salads” go, potato salad and macaroni salad were about as far as I ever ventured. Dessert salads like Ambrosia salad were often on the menu, but never on my plate.
Oh, was I ever missing out.
If you’ve ever had Ambrosia Salad in the past, chances are it was made with Cool Whip. Sure, Cool Whip is easy to use and works in a pinch, but the (artificial) taste simply doesn’t compare to making our own homemade, from-scratch whipped cream. This simple switch in ingredients changed me forever from a dessert salad skeptic to an Ambrosia Salad fan(atic).
What You Need
- Heavy Cream — rather than using Cool Whip, as so many Ambrosia Salad recipes do, we are making our own homemade whipped cream. It’s going to make the flavor so much better (and only takes 5 minutes)!
- Powdered Sugar
- Vanilla Extract
- Sour Cream — This ingredient is key for adding a great depth of flavor to this Ambrosia salad recipe and keeps it from being too sweet!
- Mandarin oranges
- Maraschino cherries — remove any stems.
- Pineapple tidbits — If you can’t find “tidbits” then pineapple chunks will work, just cut each piece in half so the pineapple doesn’t overwhelm things. Alternatively you can chop up your own fresh pineapple into small bite-sized pieces!
- Sweetened shredded coconut
- Mini marshmallows — regular, white, classic mini marshmallows will work just fine in this recipe, but personally I prefer the fruit flavored marshmallows.
- Nuts — optional! I don’t care for nuts in ambrosia salad, but if you are a fan then feel free to add ¾ cup of coarsely chopped nuts in with the marshmallows.
How to Make Ambrosia Salad
- Start by making a simple homemade whipped cream by using an electric mixer to beat together heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract.
- Stir in sour cream. It might seem like an odd combination, but give it a taste test. The sour cream adds such a nice depth of flavor (just like it does with my cheesecake). Soooo good.
- Stir in fruits and marshmallows, tossing everything together until completely combined.
- Cover and allow to chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.
How Far In Advance Can I Make Ambrosia Salad
I recommend making Ambrosia Salad 1-24 hours before you intend to serve, for best flavor and texture. However, Ambrosia Salad will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days (make sure to store in an airtight container). I do not recommend freezing as the quality degrades when thawed.
More Old Fashioned Favorites
I originally shared this recipe for Ambrosia Salad over on Real Housemoms!
Oh, and hey! Today’s new video was filmed in my brand new kitchen! I’m working on a post to show you everything we had done to the new space, so stay tuned, but I hope you enjoy today’s sneak-peek 🙂
Best Ambrosia Salad Recipe
- ¾ cups heavy cream (180ml)
- ¼ cup powdered sugar (35g)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup sour cream (120g)
- 11 oz can mandarin oranges well drained (312g)
- 10 oz ¾ cup maraschino cherries without stems
- 1 8 oz can pineapple tidbits well-drained
- 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut (120g)
- 4 cups mini marshmallows¹ (200g)
- Combine heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract in a large bowl. Use an electric mixer to beat until mixture is thick, billowy, and the consistency of Cool Whip.
- Stir in sour cream.
- In a separate bowl, stir together oranges, cherries, pineapple, coconut, and mini marshmallows.
- Add whipped cream/sour cream mixture and stir until completely combined.
- Cover bowl and chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving.
Nuts?Some people like to add nuts to their ambrosia salad. ¾ cup of coarsely chopped nuts such as pecans or walnuts would make a great addition.
Storing Ambrosia SaladI recommend making Ambrosia Salad 1-24 hours before you intend to serve, for best flavor and texture. However, Ambrosia Salad will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days (make sure to store in an airtight container). I do not recommend freezing.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.
I can’t wait to make this nostalgic salad tomorrow for my brother’s birthday! It’s so difficult to find in delis nowadays. I’d like to make enough so that he has plenty for himself, as well as to share. I was wondering how much this makes? I think I’ll double the recipe just to be sure. Thank you so much for literally making my younger brother’s birthday so much sweeter!
Hi Audrey! It makes about 10 servings, but of course that depends how big you like a serving to be. You can never have enough if you ask me! 🙂
Renee San Marco
Love the receipt but way too sweet. Next time I will cut the powdered sugar by at least half and maybe 2/3.
The best Ambrosia
Sam, I had never had ambrosia, so like you I realized I had been missing out. I followed your recipe without changing a thing and it came out delicious! Brought some to my mom who has a picky palate and she loved it too!
I’m so glad you enjoyed it so much, Dee! 🙂
I’m so glad I came across your recipe! It Turned out amazing!!! Thank you for sharing
I’m so glad you enjoy them so much, Seth! 🙂
Do you have a recipe for Waldorf salad ?
Hi Joyce! Unfortunately I do not. 🙁
What about lemon extract instead of vanilla?
If you like the flavor combination that will work fine. You will want to use less though as lemon extract is much more potent than vanilla. 🙂
Do I not drain the maraschino cherries? It does say to drain the mandarin oranges, but nothing about the cherries. I want to make sure. Looking forward to making this salad. TIA
Hi Mary! You do not want to add the liquid from the cherries. 🙂