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Marshmallow Fruit Salad (Ambrosia Salad)

This Ambrosia salad is bursting with fruit, marshmallows and fluffy cream.  It is a marshmallow fruit salad that comes together in minutes and can be served as a side or dessert.

This recipe first appeared on Savory Experiments where I am a contributor.

Ambrosia salad with rainbow marshmallows topped with cherries in a small glass bowl.
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I remember the first time I had ambrosia fruit salad.  It was served as a side dish with Thanksgiving dinner and I couldn’t believe this fluffy, marshmallowy bowl of heaven was part of the main meal.  

It is a tradition in our family and is served with Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner as a side dish, but I usually steal an extra bowl for dessert and I’ve been known to eat it for breakfast the next morning too.  

What is Ambrosia Salad

Ambrosia salad is a mixed fruit salad with marshmallows and some sort of cream. 

It’s commonly made with a combination of sour cream and whipped topping such as Cool Whip, but can also contain yogurt or mayonnaise. 

Sour cream adds a nice contrast of flavor between the sweet fruit and marshmallows.

Ambrosia almost always contains pineapple and oranges, but you can add almost any fruit you like.  I always add a can of fruit cocktail and a handful of fresh grapes, but you could add chopped apple, pears, or even banana.

Adding nuts is optional, but adds a bit of crunch and texture.

Three bowls of marshmallow fruit salad topped with cherries.


There are a few key ingredients you will need to make this ambrosia salad, but what I love most is that you can really adjust most of the ingredients to suit your preferences.

Things you will need to make this salad are:

  • Marshmallows – You will want to use mini marshmallows for this recipe. You can use plain marshmallows or the fruity rainbow marshmallows depending on your preference.
  • Canned fruit – This can vary a bit depending on what you like. I use a combination of mandarin orange segments, pineapple tidbits, and fruit cocktail. But you could use peaches, pears, or whatever else you like.
  • Fresh fruit – I always like to add a bit of fresh fruit to balance the texture in the salad. Things like sliced grapes, or apples, add a bit of crunch.
  • Frozen Whipped Topping – Frozen whipped topping, like Cool Whip, is what you are looking for. This will add the fluffiness to the salad and it will not melt like fresh whipped cream.
  • Sour cream – This helps cut the sweetness of the salad with a bit of tang. If you don’t like sour cream you can use Greek yogurt instead.

Optional add ins include things such as chopped walnuts, pecans or shredded coconut for a bit of texture.

Ingredients for making ambrosia salad.


There are really only a few steps to making this marshmallow fruit salad.

Start by draining the fruit, then add the fruit, marshmallows and nuts to a large bowl and stir to combine.

Fruit,marshmallows and nuts mixed in a large bowl.

Next, fold together the sour cream and whipped topping, then gently fold the mixture into the fruit and marshmallows.

Cool whip added to a bowl of fruit, marshmallows and nuts.

Let the salad rest at least 4 hours before serving to allow the flavours to combine and the marshmallows to get soft and fluffy.

Marshmallow fruit salad topped with cherries and chopped pecans in a serving bowl.


Can I make Ambrosia salad ahead of time?

Yes! In fact, this salad is better when it is made ahead of time.
You can eat Ambrosia salad right away, and I have, but the longer it rests the fluffier it will become.
I recommend making this salad at least 4 hours ahead of time, but making it the day before you want to serve it is even better.

Can I freeze Ambrosia Salad?

No. I’m sorry to tell you that this salad will not freeze well.  Not at all, in fact.
If you try to put this in the freezer you will be left with nothing but a puddle of mushy fruit when it thaws.
The best way to store this salad is in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 3 days.

Is Ambrosia Salad a Side Dish or Dessert?

This is a matter of opinion. It can be both! It is common to see this salad served as a side dish on the holiday table for Thanksgiving or Christmas, but it is just a commonly served as dessert.

Three individual bowls of ambrosia salad.

More Easy Recipes

More Fruit Salads to Try

Honeydew Peach Salad – by 2 Cookin Mamas
Old Fashioned Watergate Salad – by Little Sunny Kitchen
Easy Grape Salad – by Mom On Timeout


Ambrosia salad with rainbow marshmallows topped with cherries in a small glass bowl.

Marshmallow Fruit Salad (Ambrosia Salad)

This Ambrosia salad is bursting with fruit, marshmallows and fluffy cream.  It is a marshmallow fruit salad that comes together in minutes and can be served as a side or dessert.
4.72 from 28 votes
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Course: Desserts, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Resting Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 222kcal
Author: Deanna


  • 1 11 oz can mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1 14 oz can pineapple tidbits, drained
  • 1 15 oz can fruit cocktail, drained
  • ½ Cup halved grapes
  • ½ Cup chopped pecans optional
  • 3 Cups mini marshmallows rainbow or plain
  • ½ Cup sour cream
  • 1 ½ Cups frozen whipped topping thawed


  • In a large bowl, mix the fruit then stir in the marshmallows and pecans.
  • In a small bowl fold together the sour cream and whipped topping then fold into the salad.
  • Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight before serving.


Estimated Nutrition Facts
Marshmallow Fruit Salad (Ambrosia Salad)
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more.

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