Ambrosia Recipe

Maybe you remember your grandmother or a favorite family cook whipping up this delectable salad in the kitchen when you were younger. Well, what's old is now new again. Old-fashioned ambrosia has made a comeback, and it's even better than ever. This salad is rich with fruit and a sweet, creamy sauce. It's also easy to whip together this ambrosia recipe when you're short on time or you're just craving something to satisfy that sweet tooth. It only takes ten minutes to assemble, and it serves six to eight.

Some believe ambrosia is a salad and must contain coconut. Others say it's a dessert that dates back to mythological times and was a treat of the gods, according to the Alabama Chanin Journal. The word "ambrosia" means delicious or fragrant, and according to mythology, the gods on Mount Olympus ate ambrosia to remain immortal. Luckily, you don't have to be immortal yourself to try it out. Scoop up a hearty bowl, and sit down and relax with a tasty treat good enough for the gods.

Healthy fruit ingredients in this ambrosia recipe

Recipe developer Kate Shungu of The Gift of Hospitality, who specializes in giving old-fashioned recipes a fresh twist for today's cook, includes maraschino cherries, crushed pineapple, mandarin oranges, and coconut in her yummy ambrosia recipe. But the beauty of this particular recipe is it can be modified to meet anyone's taste preferences. Don't like mandarin oranges? Swap them out for another yummy fruit.

"The salad is really customizable. Bananas would be a great addition. If you don't like maraschino cherries, leave them out. If you'd like to add walnuts instead of pecans, that's a great option. Or leave out the nuts altogether if you prefer," she said.

It's fantastically easy to fix this ambrosia recipe

To begin this recipe, drain three-fourths of a cup of ruby red maraschino cherries and remove all of their stems. (Or just buy a jar of stemless and save a step.) Place one cup of crushed pineapple, fresh or canned, in a colander and drain well by pressing the pineapple down in with a spatula to remove most of the juice. Then, drain one cup of mandarin oranges, either fresh or canned. Is your mouth watering just yet?

"This ambrosia recipe is super-easy to put together — you just stir together all of the ingredients. Using canned fruit saves time, though you can use fresh fruit if you'd like," Shungu said.

Assemble the beautiful ambrosia recipe salad

Set aside several of the sweet red cherries for garnish and a splash of color when you're all done mixing the ingredients. Place the remaining cherries, pineapple, mandarin oranges, one cup of mini marshmallows, one cup of shredded sweetened coconut, and half a cup of pecans in a large bowl. Mix them together a bit so they get well-incorporated.

Remember you can swap out some of the fruit in Shungu's recipe for what you personally prefer. This old-fashioned ambrosia recipes makes a beautiful rainbow in the bowl and tastes like magic when it's assembled and ready to eat. 

Sour cream is the surprise ingredient in this ambrosia recipe

Smother the fruit and nut mixture with one cup of sour cream, and use a spatula to gently fold the mixture until it's thoroughly combined. It may sound odd to use sour cream in such a sweet salad, but it's the perfect counterbalance of flavors.

"Sour cream serves as the binder in this ambrosia recipe, holding all of the ingredients together. It does seem like an odd ingredient, but the creaminess of it pairs perfectly with the sweet fruit and crunchy nuts. Sour cream really does allow the fruit to shine in this salad. It's like adding whipped cream to a pumpkin pie — you're still enjoying the pumpkin pie itself, but the sour cream just adds a little extra creaminess to complement it," Shungu said.

Prepare to serve this delectable dessert

Once the salad has been thoroughly mixed, transfer it to a serving dish or into individual bowls if you're eating it right away. Top each individual serving with the maraschino cherries you held back. Then, prepare to dig in.

"Ambrosia can be enjoyed directly after making it, or you can keep it in the refrigerator for four to five hours before serving. Ambrosia is slightly sweeter than a fruit salad, courtesy of the sweetened coconut. If zero is not sweet at all, and ten is a piece of chocolate cake, I would rank this a five," Shungu said.

This ambrosia recipe is perfect for the holidays or any time

If you're wondering when to serve this incredible ambrosia recipe, basically anytime is a good time. It's a wildly popular dish both as a salad and a dessert at family reunions and other gatherings, for example.

"This is a classic holiday recipe. Many families serve it at Thanksgiving or Easter. It's one of those old-fashioned recipes that's always a hit, and if it doesn't show up on the table, everyone is asking for it," Shungu said.

Whether you consider your dish a salad or a dessert, be sure to enjoy every morsel of this tasty treat.

Ambrosia Recipe
4.9 from 19 ratings
What's old is now new again. Old-fashioned ambrosia has made a comeback, and it's even better than ever. Try out this recipe to serve as a salad or dessert.
Prep Time
Cook Time
ambrosia recipe with cherry on top
Total time: 10 minutes
  • ¾ cup maraschino cherries
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple, fresh or canned
  • 1 cup mandarin orange segments, fresh or canned
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup sour cream
  1. Drain the maraschino cherries and remove the stems. Place the pineapple in a colander. Drain well, pressing the pineapple with a spatula to remove most of the juice. Drain the mandarin oranges.
  2. Set aside several cherries for garnish. Place the remaining cherries, pineapple, mandarin oranges, marshmallows, coconut, and pecans in a large bowl.
  3. Top with the sour cream. Use a spatula to gently fold the mixture until everything is well combined.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a serving dish or dish into individual bowls using a cookie scoop. Top each portion with the reserved maraschino cherries.
Calories per Serving 318
Total Fat 19.8 g
Saturated Fat 9.9 g
Trans Fat 0.0
Cholesterol 19.9 mg
Total Carbohydrates 36.3 g
Dietary Fiber 3.6 g
Total Sugars 30.1 g
Sodium 66.8 mg
Protein 2.7 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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