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Since the kids and I are focused on the arctic this week, I wanted to make a side dish that looks like snow (and feels appropriate for winter). Once again, enter marshmallows!

Ambrosia 1

This Ambrosia Salad has been a staple on our Thanksgiving table for as long as I can remember. Turkey or ham dinners would not be the same without it. The sweet fruit and marshmallows provide the perfect contrast to the savory meats, dressing, and sides.

Ambrosia 2

And even though I associate this dish with the holidays, I feel free to include it in family dinners throughout the year. It’s a fun surprise for the kids when they see a sweet treat on their dinner plate – especially when it looks like little snowballs!

Ambrosia 3

When I originally asked my mom to share this recipe, what she handed me was a list of ingredients without any measurements. That’s typical of my mom, but in this case it’s really true – you can just change the amounts based on your family’s preferences. If you like pineapple more than oranges, use a larger can of the chunks. If you love coconut, by all means dump in some extra. As you can see from my recipe, we go heavy on the marshmallows!

Ambrosia 4

Quick note: use the sour cream sparingly. A little bit goes a long way towards thinning out the salad, especially because the sour cream mixes with the fruit’s juices as it sits in your fridge. You don’t want a runny ambrosia, so start with a small amount of sour cream and add more at the last minute to thin if necessary.

Ambrosia Salad

5 from 1 vote
Servings 4


  • 1 8 ounce can pineapple chunks, drained
  • 1 11 ounce can mandarin oranges, drained
  • ¼ cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows
  • 2 Tablespoons sour cream


  • Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve. As it sits, the juices from the fruit will loosen the salad; however, if it seems too dry, just add a bit more sour cream.
Course: Dinner, Salad, Side
Author: The Seasoned Mom

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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  1. Greedith Butler says:

    We call this 5 cup salad at our house. And as you said it is a must have on the holidays.

    1. Blair says:

      Hi Greedith! It’s funny to hear how many people enjoy this salad at the holidays, since I always kind of assumed that it wasn’t a common thing. Glad to know that our family is not alone! Happy holidays, and thanks for stopping by!

      1. Leona Ferranti says:

        5 stars
        We also have made ambrosia for at least 40+ years ours varies a bit:
        2 cans fruit cocktail
        2 cans chunk pineapple
        1 small can mandarins oranges
        1 jar cherries cut in half
        1 bag miniature marshmallows
        1/2 bag coconut
        Cup or so chopped walnuts
        Large tub cool whip

        1. Blair says:

          That sounds like a great combo too, Leona! Thanks so much for sharing your version!

  2. Diana Preissman says:

    Make this all the time except I add Marachino Cherry cut in half. Adds nice color! Always a Favorite!

    1. Blair says:

      Hi Diana! I like the idea of the added cherries — especially at this time of year. I bet it makes the salad very festive! Thanks for stopping by and thanks for commenting!

  3. Kaz @ Melting Moments says:

    I’ve never tried this but it looks great!

  4. IrmaOZumbaInstructor says:

    We have been enjoying this dish since I was a little girl, over 40 years 😉 Thanksgiving dinner is not complete without it.
    However we use 8 oz. Can Fruit Cocktail (in it’s Light syrup) along with the mandarin oranges. But add pieces of apple, red or granny smith green for a fresh bite 🙂

    1. Blair says:

      That’s wonderful, Irma! Your version sounds delicious, too!